A fight card is a delicate entity. Nobody ever knows for sure which matchups are going to produce and which ones are going to disappoint.
So it's often obvious that a handful of things need to fall precisely in place in order for the word "good" to even be associated with a fight card.
But sometimes, when all the pieces find a home in the puzzle, and each and every fighter does his part, a fight card shatters expectations in the eyes of millions.
This was never more evident than Saturday night in Houston, Texas for UFC 166.
On a card centered around a heavyweight trilogy for the ages, every single round of every single fight offered something to boast about.
Whether it was four TKO's, three first-round knockouts, one polarizing submission or various nail-biting decisions, it seemed as if the Texas air truly made all things bigger.
What was a night for heavyweights turned out to be a night for all. One draped in lightweight blood, female ferocity, welterweight lightning, flyweight speed and heavyweight punishment.
So is it fair to call UFC 166 the best card ever? Is it fair to discard titanic events like UFC 100 and UFC 140?
In the eyes of sheer heart, will, determination and gusto, absolutely. UFC 166, for now, could be considered the best fight card of all time, from top to bottom.
The main card didn't necessarily incorporate endless legends and torchbearers of the sport, but every single round of action displayed in front of a ravenous Houston crowd spilled a certain barbarism resembling a throwback street brawl.
It was fighting at it's absolute simplicity. It was human heart and animal terror wrapped into one perfected beauty. In some cases, the devastating and profound action at hand seemed simply unexplainable.
Whether it was Junior dos Santos' iron chin being smashed into oblivion or Diego Sanchez brutalizing a game Gilbert Melendez despite having a gaping cut the size of his entire eyebrow, every fighter gave it his all.
From Jessica Eye and Sarah Kaufman's back-and-forth battle to Adlan Amagov's prolific punishment of TJ Waldburger, Tim Boestch and C.B. Dollaway's barnyard throwdown to Andre Fili's fill-in finish, the action was relentless.
So for casual fans this was a rude awakening. It was a chance to see mixed martial arts at its purest and most violent form. It was a chance to see how skilled and professional the women truly are and that Facebook prelims aren't just throwaway bouts put together to fill time.
But for hardcore fans, the ones who remember shallow rosters, limited matchups and sometimes hazy Octagon action, UFC 166 was a blessing undisguised.
It was a throwback for the flag-waving patrons who drunkenly boo transitions. It was a throwback for old-school fans who rapidly cheer as more and more blood spews onto the canvas. It was a throwback for all of us.
Even more so, it was a chance to see how far the UFC has come from its adolescent days. Names like Tony Ferguson, KJ Noons and Kyoji Horiguchi are proof that the sport is growing exponentially.
It's no longer a game of checkers. The sport is so evolved and so intricate these days that brutally outstanding fight cards like UFC 166 will gain relevance heading into the future.
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