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UFC: Best of 2008(TV) (2008)
Looking back on a year packed with explosive mixed martial arts action, this collection of memorable Ultimate Fighting Championship matches rounds up the best bouts of 2008 and stacks them together in one convenient package. From mettle-tested world champions defending their reputations to title-hungry rookies on the rise, these are the most exciting and entertaining battles the UFC has to offer.
For more about UFC: Best of 2008 and the UFC: Best of 2008 Blu-ray release, see UFC: Best of 2008 Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on June 17, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Anthony Gordano
Writers: Kyle Stuart, Aaron Cohen
Starring: Mike Goldberg
» See full cast & crew
UFC: Best of 2008 Blu-ray Review
Mixed martial arts never looked this good...
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, June 17, 2009
The increasing popularity of UFC has had a profound impact on the sport of mixed martial arts. I began watching UFC back when it was a tournament that brought together some of the greatest fighters from various schools of martial arts, and had them battle through one opponent after another within the same night. It made for grueling entertainment, as the no-rules bouts often led to bloodied opponents and the occasional broken bone. Above all, it was spectacular to watch men beat fighters twice their size through sheer skill (that's right, I'm referring to the Gracie family) and prove that fighting involves a great deal of finesse rather than strength. But alas, those days are over, and in their place we now have rules, padded gloves, and a weight-class system meant to even the playing field. I'm not saying the UFC has lost its charm, I'm simply saying it's a new beast, requiring the learning of multiple fighting disciplines to become as well-rounded as possible. Whether you prefer the old UFC or the new UFC, there's still something to be said for inviting over a big group of buddies, stocking the fridge with beer, and kicking back to watch your favorite fighter defend his belt.
UFC hadn't really picked up steam prior to 2006. In the past, there were nearly five events per year, so it was pretty easy to mark your calendar and catch every one. Since 2006, there have been approximately twelve official UFC events per year, plus a host of Fight Night events on Spike TV as well as continuing seasons of the Ultimate Fighter television show. It's only worth mentioning, because no matter how hard I try to catch every UFC event, I always find myself missing one every now and again. For that reason, I was sufficiently pleased at the prospect of this Best of 2008 Blu-ray release, since it provides fans an opportunity to view the highlight fights they may have missed. The following fights are included on the disc:
BJ Penn Vs. Joe Stevenson (UFC 80)
BJ Penn Vs. Sean Sherk (UFC 84)
Matt Sera Vs. Georges St-Pierre (UFC 83)
Wanderlei Silva Vs. Keith Jardine (UFC 84)
Brock Lesnar Vs. Frank Mir (UFC 81)
Randy Couture Vs. Brock Lesnar (UFC 91)
Minotauro Nogueira Vs. Frank Mir (UFC 92)
Forrest Griffin Vs. Quinton Rampage Jackson (UFC 86)
Quinton Rampage Jackson Vs. Wanderlei Silva (UFC 92)
Chuck Liddell Vs. Rashad Evans (UFC 88)
Forrest Griffin Vs. Rashad Evans (UFC 92)
I'd hate to spoil the suspense for anyone picking up this Blu-ray with little to no knowledge of the fight outcomes included as the main feature on the disc. What I will mention, is my curiousity in the method of selecting the best fights of 2008, since there were several I recall from last year that were substantially more impressive than some of the inclusions on this feature. For one thing, I wish Frank Mir hadn't been given a single minute of attention on the disc (just my personal opinion, so no offense to any Mir fans). His rise within the UFC has been marred with questionable opponents that seemed destined to take a fall for the sake of Mir's success. I know he has some skill, but I was infuriated when referee Mazzagatti stopped his fight with Lesnar because of a grazing blow to the back of the head that Mir clearly turned into. Ah well, I guess every sport needs their golden boy and at least he gives me someone to root against.
Regarding the structure of the production, I loved the swift pacing from fight to fight. As soon as one fight comes to a conclusion and the winner is announced, we're swiftly taken to a brief interlude that describes some aspect of the prior year in UFC (benefit for the troops, untimely death of Evan Tanner, Ultimate Fighter television show, etc.). Then it's straight back into the action with a 10 second intro that discusses the physical stats of each fighter, but skips the lengthy walking-out ceremony from the pay-per-view events. Essentially, your getting over two and a half hours of hardcore fighting without any fluff. One strange aspect of the Blu-ray set, is the separation of the feature across 2 discs. Both discs are BD-25 discs, so why not just manufacture a BD-50 disc with everything on it and avoid the hassle of making people switch out discs halfway through. While not a major concern, it seems like a peculiar decision on the part of the studio.
UFC: Best of 2008 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080i utilizing the VC-1 codec (at an average bitrate of 35Mbps) UFC: Best of 2008 looks surprisingly good on Blu-ray. Simply put, nothing elevates the enjoyment of a sporting exhibition like high-defintion. Having suffered through years of watching old UFC tournaments on VHS, followed by years of buying UFC events on highly compressed pay-per-view, this is finally the way MMA was meant to be viewed. Every drop of sweat or blood is clearly visible on the face of the fighters and I was impressed with how easy it was to read the fine lettering of the sponsor names on the shorts of the opponents. Colors are completely natural, and accurately reflect the hues digitally captured with various high-definition cameras placed around the ring. I only have two minor complaints about the video quality of the feature. First, I noticed a slight bit of aliasing from time to time on the Bud Light sign in the middle of the ring (nothing terribly distracting, and won't deter the overall viewing experience). Second, though it's not the fault of the transfer, there are occasional shots that appear out of focus immediately when the fight switches to a new camera angle. Since this is a source issue, it can't be helped, but it's still worth mentioning if your considering picking up this Blu-ray set.
Note: taking screen captures of 1080i material containing fast movement has an unfortunate tendency to create blurring or blocking that doesn't accurately portray the viewing experience. I've done my best to include shots that demonstrate the visual clarity, but there may still be some shots that contain some nasty blocking or blurring in certain areas of the screen (where movement is present).
UFC: Best of 2008 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The only audio offering on the disc is a measly English Dolby Digital 2.0 track. I keep hoping UFC will eventually catch up with other sports with the use of audio equipment that puts you square in the middle of the action. Football has implemented this in recent years, and I doubt it would take much to place some decent audio equipment over or around the octagon. As it stands, you can make out some faint sounds from within the octagon that are picked up in the background of the announcer's microphones. I've never been a big fan of the commentary by Joe Rogan or Mike Goldberg, but I've grown accustomed to their constant chatter throughout the fights and the audio track reproduces the dialogue with sufficient clarity. Overall, this is an entirely unremarkable audio experience, but it mirrors the quality most fans have grown accustomed to on pay-per-view cable.
UFC: Best of 2008 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Top Five Knockouts (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 3:37 min): There are three knockouts presented in this supplement that aren't included in the main feature, making this an inclusion that's well worth your time.
Top Five Submissions (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 4:26 min): Considering the lack of submission finishes in the main feature, I was excited to see three finishes not included as "best-of" fights, but still given the credit they deserve as extras on the disc.
Behind The Scenes (1080i, Dolby Digital 2.0, 31:34 min): This lengthy featurette includes interviews with fighters, coaches, and other prominent figures in the world of mixed martial arts. The majority of the discussions analyze the strengths and weaknesses of several UFC fighters, and offer a brief background on the fights featured on the disc. If you're an avid UFC fan, you'll find a lot to like in this extra.
Lastly, there's a brief commercial for the UFC: Ultimate Comebacks Blu-ray (presented in 1080i).
UFC: Best of 2008 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you're a UFC fan, don't hesitate in picking up this disc. I'd seen the majority of the fights included on the discs, but found a great deal of entertainment value in watching the fights for a second time (especially in high-definition). Nothing can replace the adrenaline-fueled experience of watching a given fight for the first time, but a second viewing allows you to appreciate the fight on different level, by focusing on the strategy and mistakes of each fighter. Considering the quality of the video presentation and the budget price of this set, I'm recommending this release to anyone with even a faint interest in the sport of mixed martial arts.
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