'UFC: Best of 2010' opens with two recap features, the first a little too "pat yourself on the back" for my tastes, as the company touts its growth, its records made and shattered, its debuts in new countries, expanding the brand. The second is a focus on Frankie Edgar, whose lightweight championship battles against B.J. Penn being the predominant focus of his year-in-review, featuring clips of the two bouts. It would have been nicer to have one of the bouts in full...
From here, we move on to our first fight to make the countdown/highlight reel, as Sean Sherk takes on Evan Dunham (9/25/2010, UFC 119). This is what I came here to see, personally. This non-title lightweight bout is absolutely fantastic, a meshing of styles, as Sherk takes to takedowns and blows early, as Dunham repeatedly attempts chokes. As the bout rolls on, you're reminded that you have to keep gas in your tank should the bout last the distance, as the tide turns dramatically. This fight features some great fighting action, although the first minute and a half of the third round is an absolute joke. There's also a ton of blood, as Dunham gets opened up early from an elbow to the head, a nasty gusher that drops massive globs of red goo all over his body and the octagon.
Immediately after the Sherk-Dunham bout, this compilation moves on to another lightweight battle, with Joe Stevenson taking on George Sotiropoulos (2/21/2010, UFC 110). This bout is a fantastic three round technical affair, with lots of slipping and sliding in and out of submission holds and guards, a bout that isn't big on punches and kicks, but the constant battle for dominance in the round. As a wrestling fan, this one is all sorts of win. A Sotiropulous recap follows this bout, for those interesting in the spider-monkey like grappler, before delving off to other lightweight contenders, including some WEC footage.
Three more features are to follow, first focusing on the added weight classes to the UFC, particularly batntam, before moving to a spotlight on the year in review for Georges St-Pierre, who doesn't have a single match featured in the 'Best of 2010' program (extras do not count). Matt Hughes, a regular foe of GSP, gets the next spotlight, including a shot look at his Hall of Fame induction, before making a segue to the next bout.
The third battle highlighted in this compilation is the third match between Matt Hughes and B.J. Penn (11/20/2010, UFC 123). Sneeze, fart, cough, or blink and you might miss this one. I bet everyone in attendance felt pretty damned cheated! Best return on investment for UFC, perhaps. Yeesh. The last bout on the first disc features Carlos Condit facing off against Rory MacDonald (6/12/2010, UFC 115). This high impact bout has one of the damned coolest end finishing hits you'll ever see in the UFC. Seriously, round 2, final second, fast forward to it, it's worth it. Wrapping up the first disc in this set is another focus point, this time on welterweights.
Disc two in this set is almost all fights, few features, just little lead-in promos. First up is Yoshihiro Akiyama vs Chris Leben (7/3/2010, UFC 116). An injury replacement match, we see one of the best matches in this set. Leben and Akiyama go toe to toe, throwing heavy blows, in an awesome slobberknocker with a fantastic technical finish after a bruising, nasty battle. Just awesome. A feature on middleweight contenders comes next, before the next match.
Anderson Silva takes on Chael Sonnen (8/7/2010, UFC 117), after a feature on Silva's poor behavior in the ring in recent events. Honestly, since I think Silva fights like a little ***** (figure it out, any five letter expletive works), I enjoyed seeing him get his ass kicked for most of this match. Perhaps that's why this fight is on the release, as Silva keeps his hands down and doesn't defend his face early, and gets rocked for it. Repeatedly. Beautiful.
An Ultimate Fighter spot follows, before we get four matches (!) in a row, the first of which is a Brazilian battle with Shogun Hua facing Lyoto Machida (5/8/2010, UFC 113) for the second time, after a judge's decision five round bout their first time against each other. This time, the championship bout won't go the full five rounds. It won't even entertain for one round, as the fighters don't really give anything electric or exciting, and the ending is hardly climactic. Best of 2010? If there were only ten bouts all year long in all of UFC, I'd rank this one eleventh. Horrible.
Next up, in an attempt to wash that taste out of your mouth comes Rampage Jackson taking on Rashad Evans (5/29/2010, UFC 114), with a level of animosity all but ensuring a more emotional bout. Oh, wait, no, the first round features about two minutes of prolonged hugging before we see anything worthy of being in this compilation, before another non-event hug gets broken up. What gives? Since when does any match featuring a referee doing more than the fighters belong in a "best of" compilation? Since when does any match featuring fans booing at the combatants deserve praise? This fight has some heavy hits, but a ton of absolute time wasting, and if anything, this Blu-ray should have only included the final round. Pathetic!
Brandon Vera vs Jon Jones (3/21/2010, UFC Live) now has to wash the taste of two bad matches out of our mouths. Quite the task! It's kind of tough to watch this bout as Vera looks like Skeletor's long lost brother, but this one is really a unique fight, as very few penalties include resuming a hold, rather than starting fresh. Some nasty hits, including the illegal one. Next up is Jon Jones taking on Vladimir Matyushenko (8/1/2010, UFC Live), as Bones takes on the Janitor. The Janitor? Seriously? Anyways, this one ends before it even starts, though it is entertaining, to say the least.
A focus on the innovative light heavyweight up and comers follows, before a recap of the heavyweight grapplers, and then a spotlight on Junior Dos Santos. These three features really roll together well, with no real discernible gap or halt in transition. Next up are the final three matches of this compilation, the first of which has Minotauro Nogueira battling Cain Velasquez (2/21/2010, UFC 110). Anyone who has seen any UFC in the past 20 months should know the outcome of this one, as the punching bag (see all previous UFC compilation discs) takes on one of the hottest properties in the UFC. Heck, at the end of this one, Herb Dean trips over Nogueira, kicking him in the face, giving him one more hit landed than the actual fighter had in the match!
The last two fights both feature WWE wrestler-turn-UFC combatant Brock Lesnar, whose UFC career got sidetracked by a nasty bacterial infection. The first is the title unification match, where the interim champ takes on the true champ who couldn't compete for a long, long period of time, as Brock Lesnar battles Shane Carwin (6/3/2010, UFC 116). Now we're talking. This is a fantastic bout between two behemoths, two rightful champs battling for supremacy. The blows are heavy and nasty, the finish a real surprise. The final feature in this compilation is the headliner, the biggest bout of the year, with Brock Lesnar and his mighty beard going toe to toe with Cain Velasquez (10/23/2010, UFC 121). This one starts out as quick and nasty as any heavyweight bout can, and doesn't let up. This is nonstop ass kickery, and quite possibly the bloodiest you'll ever see one of these two men. An awesome fight, and as of this moment, the last time we've seen Lesnar in the octagon.
The UFC is still going strong in 2011, gaining more and more momentum, stealing the traditional leverage found in the boxing organizations with the most recognizable fighters active today. With a number of weight classes providing their own stories and drama, with a constant flow of hungry and talented newcomers testing the battle weary veterans and legends, it's never the same fight twice in the UFC, and each and every year, we get another release like this to remind us of as much.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'UFC: Best of 2010' arrives on Blu-ray across two Region A locked BD50 discs. The main feature is spread across both discs, with each also sporting their share of extra bouts. There is no audio setup of any kind on the menu, just a play, a chapter search, and a supplement tab. In an odd note, the number of any UFC event is not touted, as dates and competitors are the only things shown on the title cards. It's odd, as if showing how many events have come and gone will dilute the brand's value. Hint: if you feel you have too many events and are ashamed to show the event where any fight comes from, then you can fix this at any time, UFC.
Like all other UFC releases have been, the 2010 compilation disc is presented in 1080i. This disc is about par for the course, with some small steps forward, then random oddities pushing back, so fans should know exactly what to expect in terms of the video presentation.
In terms of detail, there is the same solid boost that we've seen in UFC Blu-rays, with great bruising, bloody details and solid, sometimes bold colors (watch for red trunks, they're the color highlight of this release), with some banding, but nothing all that major (save for one really bad shot in the water in Abu Dhabi). Skin is again the major factor in disc quality, and at times we see amazing details in faces, hair, and trunks, though other times, bodies are horribly blocky and clumpy, with bonus chroma fringing in an odd shot here and there to make up for the moments that don't have visible artifacting. Skin tones are splotchy, as well, and color consistency is a bit off. Hair on top of the fighters' heads can protrude awesomely, but this hair, stubble, and leg hair, can find itself being flat, blurry, and undefined in more than a few shots.
There is an odd cut at 1:01:23 of the second disc, in the intros for the Machida/Hua fight that draws the eye, as a quick couple of frames from a wrong camera show up before shifting to the proper shot. It's...ugly, but not the fault of this disc. The title cards for each fight, well, the blacks are almost grey they're so unsaturated and weak. The worst offense on this set is the entire Jackson/Evans fight, as it has a significant hike in grittiness and grain, with artifacts galore coming through on each fighter, with awful skin tones, no saturation to speak of, and textures that look like cardboard.
The lone audio option on 'UFC: Best of 2010' is a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 track. As is the case with all of these releases, the end result isn't all that pretty. There are too many competing factors in any bout, with audience reactions, commentary and in ring action battling, while feature portions have music and voice overs also fighting over dominance. The end result leaves no portion unaffected by the others, as prioritization is subpar. Even the opening of this disc, the music tries to get loud and starts swelling, then dialogue comes in and music drops, and swells again in any gap in discussion, leaving for a wavy, unnatural sound that, quite simply, is annoying. In ring action is way too soft and is constantly dominated by the color commentary and crowd, with little sound to be heard in swooping fists, take downs, or embattled wheezes. There's some odd static from time to time, an audio drop out for a brief second in the second round of the Sherk/Dunham fight, and a here one minute, gone the next audience roar in the MacDonald/Condit bout that fades in and out in a very bizarre, unnatural manner.
Someone really needs to help the UFC make better sounding releases. The fact that live events sound as they do, even a year later, I get that, but the problems in the footage compiled and produced for this disc, the voice overs, that's just not acceptable.
There's such a thing as excess, and then there's this. Combined with the actual bouts in the main feature, these extras make for a ton of fights for a low price, even if the 100 bout compilation released last year still reigns superior.
Dustin Hazelett vs Rick Story (9 min) - This one starts out filthy, and starts to get annoying, despite the heavy, bulldog attack brought by Story which turns excessively one-sided, due to the way Hazelett refuses to get up. I'd make a joke, but he could probably kick my ass from wherever he is without even leaving. Efrain Escudero vs Charles Oliveira (17 min) - Lowwww blowwwww. Man oh man oh man, there's some serious man damage in this one. A great fight otherwise, and no, this match wasn't win by a punch to the groin. Matt Serra vs Chris Lytle (second bout) (19 min) - A battle of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, only it's damn near a boxing match. An interesting fight, but definitely not the best of 2010.
Dan Hardy vs Carlos Condit (7 min) - A good match that ends in one absolutely fantastic punch. Diego Sanchez vs Paulo Thiago (20 min) - Three heavy hitting rounds of great UFC battling. A solid match, with enough excitement and technical expertise to make for an interesting, though somewhat plodding battle. Dennis Siver vs Andre Winner (5 min) - A fun battle that ends abruptly out of nowhere. Very entertaining.
George Sotiropoulos vs Joe Lauzon (10 min) - This fight is far from pretty, and is the furthest thing from being polished, but damn is it entertaining, with some great mat work and a ton of hits and counters. Really, really enjoyed this one! Matt Riddle vs Sean Pierson (19 min) - The best clobbering of a ginger all year? Perhaps. I had to rewind and play the hit Pierson gave Riddle after a failed knee that knocked the freckles off his opponent it was so nasty, but amazingly Riddle has fight left in him as this one isn't so one-sided. Jim Miller vs Charles Oliveira (4 min) - It doesn't last long, but it's pretty damn funny. Those legs are like arms! Georges St-Pierre vs Josh Koscheck (second bout) (33 min) - Yep, a half an hour. Insane. What's more insane is how ridiculously one sided and monotonous this fight is. Dude suffers a horribly swollen eye early, and for four more rounds fights one of the best in the world as a cyclops. This is not entertaining. It's pitiful.
Mirko Cro Cop vs Pat Barry (19 min) - Imagine fighting your hero. Imagine your hero showing you respect mid-contest. Barry lives the dream here, this had to be the night of his life! This three round bout is as close to a feel good experience as two sweaty dudes beating each other can be! Chuck Liddell vs Rich Franklin (7 min) - The old man wasn't ready to go 'Old Yeller' just yet, and was a heavy hitting badass even in his advanced (by UFC standards) age here, but one punch and out. Insane. Brendan Schaub vs Chris Tuchsherer (3 min) - I kind of got hypnotized by the jiggling, but it ends fast. I really don't see what the big deal is.
Krysztof Soszynski vs Stephan Bonner (second bout) (11 min) - Why this fight got relegated to the extras is beyond me. This one has a ton of rushing punches, a ton of retreats, a constant back and forth, and an absolute ton of impact hits. A great watch!!! Stefan Struve vs Christian Morecraft (9 min) - An almost seven footer against a guy with his last name tattooed on his stomach. This shouldn't be entertaining, but man is it. This would be a great candidate for an "Ultimate Comebacks" release. Insane finish.
Junior Dos Santos vs Roy Nelson (20 min) - A nasty slobberknocker that goes the distance. You may need a shower after this one! Big Country is impressive and fast for a big guy, but this one comes down to stamina. Randy Couture vs James Toney (6 min) - Is this legend-service? Couture did a lot for the sport, but is a bout featuring the Hall of Famer a requisite for a best of compilation now? This is hardly great, or even good, let alone a highlight for the year in MMA. CB Dollaway vs Joe Doerksen (4 min) - Best Of by way of being a short bout that's all technical. Meh. Phil Davis vs Tim Boetsch (11 min) - A back and forth technical bout that's entertaining though hardly innovative. A nice match, though, what could count as a well-rounded fight.
'UFC: Best of 2010' is a notable step back from the other compilations that have found their way to Blu-ray. The fights chosen for the actual program are beyond questionable for the most part, with a number of bonus fights readily outdoing the ones featured due to their "big names" involved. The promotional footage and quick segues really are done very well and transition the release perfectly, but when you switch from one underwhelming fight to another, what does it matter? This Blu-ray release has the same troubles as other UFC event releases, though this time the extras package is astonishingly deep. By the strength of the extras alone, and the sheer content versus price, this set is worth a look, but for newcomers, there are way better sets to recommend. Don't let this be your introduction or primer to MMA or the UFC.