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Sunday, August 14, 2011
Inaugural MMA Fight Pit a stretch for PPV

By Chuck Mindenhall

The inaugural MMA Fight Pit card was held on an otherwise MMA-free Saturday night, with hopes of prying $30 from those with A) money burning a hole in their pockets and B) a jones to see Houston Alexander lay waste to somebody. The alternative was to try and find a stream of Kimbo Slice knocking out James Wade in 17 seconds in his boxing debut (now also available in bootleg form).

Some people did both -- but most did neither. The UFC Live on Versus weigh-ins still generated more interest, particularly with Dan Hardy trying to shake that last half pound. If you missed it, here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the particularly ugly of the Fight Pit in Albuquerque.

Worth it?

There were a few hiccups with the inaugural Fight Pit pay-per-view (audio, mispronuciations, glitches, obstructed views), but it began with the asking price to watch what most people might consider semi-marketable retreads. Is catching the process of re-establishment really worth $30? Probably not, but hard to fault the optimism in play here.

The card was headlined by Alexander against Razak Al-Hassan, each a UFC castoff. Jens Pulver was rolling out in bantamweight form for the first time since high school against Coty “Ox” Wheeler, but he has been fighting on fumes for years. The rest? A class of misfires (Jamie Yager) and misfits (Junie Browning), with a peculiar sort thrown in here and there ... like Tyler East.

Stick a fork in Browning

Those who played along were treated to Jacob Clark -- a late replacement for Lenny Lovato -- tapping out what was left of Junie Browning. Browning showed up well overweight (162.5 pounds), and fought with the kind of disinterest usually associated with deadbeats. He was worried about his cardio not holding up at altitude beyond Round 1, a legit concern when your heart’s no longer in it. He tapped out due to strikes in the first round.

Botched suspense

Ring announcer Mike Adams missed his opportunity to milk the suspense of a split decision between Angelica Chavez and Diana Rael. Instead of reading 29-28 for each side and then divulging the winner by going to the decisive third judge’s card, he cited Chavez 29-28 and then clumped the last two together for Rael. Buzzkill. Poor Chavez looked more disappointed that the moment didn’t grow to its proper crescendo than with the decision itself.

Pulver still alive

Jens Pulver beat Coty Wheeler while the “re” words began stacking up around him (words like revived, revitalized, and reborn). All of them are of course too generous. But Pulver looked good at 135, and he all but pleaded for the referee to stop the fight not once but twice after landing big shots on Wheeler in lieu of going in for the finish. Finally the referee consented in the second round after a bizarre chase scene and more mercy pleas from Pulver.

Best exchange

It wasn’t in the battle between Houston Alexander and Razak Al-Hassan, which ended when Al-Hassan’s severely dislocated finger couldn’t be assembled back to its original shape. It was between Fight Pit commentators Ron Kruck and Jason Chambers, who shared this non-sequitur moment right before the heavyweight tilt between Tyler East and Prince McLean:

Kruck: “That’s a lot of beef in the cage.”

Chambers: “Almost as much beef as you at the Brazilian streak house last night.”

This free-association conjured something awfully close to cannibalism, and it’s at least possible that wasn’t the aim. Kruck and Chambers did a good job otherwise, though they did keep things pretty loose.

Otherwise ...

Jamie Yager raised his record to 4-2 by choking out Willie Parks (guillotine) in the second round ... Tyler East did a dance before his fight with Prince McLean that let Mark Madsen off the hook for that Lakers victory thing he pulled in 2008 ... Keith Jardine was in evidence everywhere (with cameos by Jon Jones and Carlos Condit), but it was a rough night for local icon Greg Jackson as his fighters Coty Wheeler, Willie Parks and Angelica Chavez all lost … the promoters behind MMA Fight Pit say they’ll try it again in the future.