by Rich Klein
When I was a bit younger; boxing was a popular sport. Of course, that popularity was helped by Muhammad Ali, who was extremely charismatic. What made it simple to follow was that there was one and only champion per weight division. There was a natural order from Heavyweight to Light Heavyweight to Middleweight to Welterweight, and so forth. Today? Just trying to name all the divisions is a chore in itself. Out of that confusion, boxing is now facing its biggest enemy. For once, the biggest enemy is not boxing's various federations but instead, the UFC. The premier segment of martial arts is not only more action packed but also has a great advantage by having one cohesive organization. If you want confusion, just make a list of all the different boxing organizations today.
Since the UFC is very popular and has one focal point; creating a card product becomes far easier. In case you ever wondered why sports like boxing, tennis and even golf never seem to have a lot of products, it's because most of those negotiations are individual instead of with one group.
Against that backdrop, Topps has printed several UFC products in 2011. The latest one produced is UFC Finest. It's the first time Topps has used its popular Finest brand to create UFC cards...quite a step up in class over the earlier issues, which were still popular.
2011 Topps Finest UFC comes in a Master Box of 2 "Mini-Boxes" with each master box promising a total of six autographs and/or relics in each master box, The boxes have five cards per pack and six packs per mini-box so a master box has a total of 60 cards. Leading on-line retailers currently have this product at the $90-100 range per master box while my local card shop has the master boxes at $104.50. The store owner had sold 47 of the 48 master boxes he had ordered as the week began so the product is just about a complete sellout.
Here's what we pulled from our master box:
Base Set: 38 of 100
Refractors: (#d to 888): Thiago Alves, Joseph Benavidez, Dan Hardy, Scott Jorgensen, Gray Maynard, Chad Mendes, Anthony Njokuani, Matt Wiman
Xfractors: (#d to 388): Ryan Bader, Phil Davis, Mark Hominick
Gold Refractors: (#d to 88) Demian Maia
Atomic Refractors: Matt Hughes, Mauricio Rua
Moments: Mauricio Rua
Threads: BJ Penn, Dustin Poirier (jumbo relic)
Threads Refractor: (#d to 388) Jake Shields
Fight Mat Jumbo Relic: Stephan Bonnar
Autographs: Donald Cerrone, Ben Henderson
We were heavy on relics and not so much on autographs but UFC fans have to be happy to see the sport given a slightly more royal hobby treatment and if this is a typical master box a collector understands why at the right price point was a near sellout on the retail level. We did get our six hits (two autos and four relics) plus some extra cards.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]