If Zuffa puts on a better top-to-bottom card than its event in San Jose on Saturday, then lucky us. As it is, UFC's latest effort on Fox should at least register as one of the top fight bills of 2013. It offered everything, including eight intense stoppages perpetrated by prospects and veterans alike.
This card was made possible after Zuffa's acquisition of Strikeforce, such is the goodness of consolidation. Prior to his fight with Benson Henderson, I asked Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez if he thought it was fair that fighters had to make a name for themselves in the UFC to be recognized as any good. He didn't think so, but Melendez also conceded that because most fans do, then that's just how it is.
I've always tried to resist the temptation of linking a fighter's worth to his promoter, like simply signing a contract with the UFC somehow makes him better than before -- a written PED of sorts. Marketing can be a funny thing sometimes.
After Melendez's performance, Josh Thomson's impressive return to the UFC, or Daniel Cormier easily dictating what happened against Frank Mir, maybe people will realize that MMA outside the UFC maintains an enormous amount of value. If you chose not to watch Strikeforce because it wasn't the UFC, your loss. Just look at how much former Strikeforce fighters have made an impact in the UFC. In the same way, some fans continue to react dismissively of fighters promoted by Bellator. You're missing out by not bothering to know Pat Curran, Michael Chandler or Ben Askren.
So keep this in mind the next time there's a card and you decide it's not worth your time because the brand attached uses a fighting area other than an Octagon. You'll only end up missing excellent fighters and top-notch MMA.