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UFC 17

Coming out of UFC 16, the UFC promised us three things at UFC 17: Vitor Belfort’s return, Tank Abbott’s return, and Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman for the UFC Heavyweight Title.  Unfortunately, the only one of those things that we’ll see at UFC 17 is the return of Tank Abbott.  Vitor Belfort is nowhere to be found, while an apparent injury forced Randy Couture off of this card.

We still have some interesting fights ahead of us, as Lion’s Den product Pete Williams is substituting for Couture to take on Coleman in a heavyweight superfight.  We will also see a middleweight tournament at this event featuring four UFC newcomers, two of whom will go on to make indelible impressions on the world of MMA.

Perhaps the most unusual note from this event is that Frank Shamrock will defend his Middleweight Title against Jeremy Horn – except the fight wasn’t featured on the pay-per-view broadcast.  The contest was taped for a later UFC home video release, a very unusual decision considering that Frank Shamrock was becoming a big name in the UFC with his impressive wins.  Nonetheless, I’ve located footage of this fight and I will be including it as part of the UFC 17 recap.

This is the twentieth UFC event and that should be a big deal, except that the numbering is fucked on account of the non-numbered events like Ultimate Japan and the Ultimate Ultimates.  Still, it looks like we’ve got a pretty good card in store for us.  This event has a tough act to follow in UFC 16, but I’m anxious to see what’s in store for us at this event!

UFC 17: Redemption – May 15, 1998

Previous Editions

So UFC 17 begins like some kooky avant garde film by showing the definition of the word redemption in black and white.  This could also be for the sake of members of the UFC audience in 1998, most of whom likely had no clue what redemption was prior to this event and probably still don’t know on account of illiteracy.  Now they’ll at least know that redemption (or ridemshun) has something to do with men who get paid to punch each other for a living.

We get a highlight video which doesn’t shy away from the violence, prominently highlighting Frank Shamrock’s attempted murder of Igor Zinoviev from UFC 16.  The voice over growls that this could be the defining moment in the careers of two returning heavyweight stars, Tank Abbott and Mark Coleman.  You would think that both fighters would be defined by tournament runs and title shots as opposed to random matches against Hugo Duarte and Pete Williams – maybe that’s just me.

Let’s play a new game called “Where is this UFC event taking place?”  You can generally figure this out with two or three simple questions.  Is the UFC in America?  Yes.  They’re in the south!  Not just anywhere in the south, but Mobile, Alabama!  We all know Mobile best as a fierce opponent of desegregation, but tonight, Mobile’s legacy of racism will take a back seat to men fighting each other in a cage!

Smirking buffoon Mike Goldberg welcomes us and calls the UFC “the ultimate finishing school” and “the house of guts and glory.”  Rejected names include “the temple of douchebaggery” and “Bob Meyrowitz’s punching factory.”  Oh, this shit gets worse when Goldberg goes on about Mark Coleman’s knee injury and new daughter, saying Coleman is a “new father, a new man with a new heart.”  Seriously, I feel ill.  Just watching this asshole talk makes me want to cut my own sideburns in an attempt to distance myself as much as possible from young Goldie.

Goldberg then goes on to threaten the audience by saying this is the last time we might be seeing the UFC.  Goldie begs for viewers to call their cable and satellite providers to say how much they enjoy ordering UFC pay-per-views.  Things must be getting bad if the UFC is shilling so early in the broadcast – either that, or Mike Goldberg read a really scary news story about MMA being human cockfighting and gave out this edict unwarranted.  The latter is the best choice, if only because I can visualize Bob Meyrowitz throwing chairs and monitors against the walls backstage while cursing the name of Mike Goldberg.

Jeff Blatnick begins to hype the middleweight tournament and it looks to be for good reason.  The opening round bouts will pit Olympic wrestler Dan Henderson against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master Allan Goes while kickboxer Bob Gilstrap will take on Canadian grappler Carlos Newton.  In retrospect, it’s very easy to see that this talent has some great talent and it should be a good one.

I should note right away that this will be the last tournament that the UFC will hold in the United States.  There will be one more single night tournament before the 1990’s are over, but this will be the last time we see one take place in America.  This is a little bittersweet, since the tournament has been a staple of the early UFC events, but it’s the right decision as the UFC tries to move closer to sport and further away from spectacle.  Still, this should be a really great tournament and a good way to end the format in the U.S.

Goldberg and Blatnick do some kind of goofy countdown to inform us that we’ll see three heavyweight superfights tonight, including Mike Van Arsdale from the Hammer House vs. Royce Gracie product Joe Pardo, Tank Abbott will fight Hugo Duarte, a man who defeated the legendary Harold Howard in just 30 seconds in 1996, and Mark Coleman will fight Pete Williams from the Lion’s Den.

We’re told that Vitor Belfort was injured prior to this event, where Joe Rogan tells us that Belfort is suffering from a herniated disc.  Rogan goes on to editorialize about Belfort, saying that a year ago he was primed to be one of the stars of the UFC and now he’s dealing with regular injuries and cycling through coaches at an unusual pace.  It will be interesting to see when and if Belfort will be returning to the UFC in the near future.

I want to spend a little bit of time discussing the unaired middleweight preliminary fight, which pitted newcomers Noe Hernandez and Chuck Liddell.  I’ve only been able to find highlights of this video, so I unfortunately can’t rate the fight itself, but this is notable as the debut of the man who would later become known as “The Iceman” and spend time as one of the more dominant fighters in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.

It’s a shame that there isn’t an easy place to find this video, as I would really love to view and rank this fight with the rest of this event.  I would like to note that Chuck Liddell in trunks looks pretty terrifying.  He appears to be a lot thinner, but the middleweight limit was 200 lbs. in 1998 and was in line with what would later become the heavyweight division.  Either way, it’s good that Chuck moved from trunks to shorts for the sake of his appearance, even if he did always wear the same dingy Iceman blue trunks.

This fight resulted in Chuck Liddell taking a unanimous decision victory over Hernandez, earning his place as a middleweight tournament alternate.  In another unaired fight, Andre Roberts knocked out Harry Moskowitz in heavyweight competition.

The first bout of the evening will be the middleweight tournament semifinal between Dan Henderson and Allan Goes.  Look at the little baby Dan Henderson!!  He looks about 100 years younger than the man who just turned 41 years old mere days ago.  He looks like he should be bagging groceries at Jewel instead of preparing to do battle with this Brazilian man.

As he enters the cage, Goldberg labels Henderson with the nickname “Hollywood”, which is perhaps the least fitting nickname you could give Dan Henderson.  I’m not sure if this was something that already existed or if Goldberg is trying to make his nickname work, kind of like how Mauro shouts that we just saw Henderson land “AN H-BOMB.”  Goldie and Mauro should know damn well that you can’t make fetch happen.  It’s not going to happen.

Henderson talks about having worked on his boxing prior to this fight and feels like he’s very well-rounded.  Allan Goes feels like Henderson is very one-dimensional and that he’ll be able to win this fight.  Of course, this is coming from a man who is a BJJ black belt with iffy striking, so who knows?  Goes does have a two inch height advantage, so that could come into play.  Surprisingly, Goes gets a really nice hand from the crowd here.  Oh wait, that’s just the Alabamans hooting and hollering at the ring girls.

I briefly mentioned this in my UFC 16 write-up, but I think the beacon of truth known as Wikipedia is letting somebody have too much fun with these UFC entries.  Someone saw fight to add some comments about Bruce Buffer’s performance at UFC 17, stating “Bruce Buffer is really coming into his own here as one of the best ring announcers today, using his deeper tone voice, and more volume to his voice, and emphasizing the names of the fighters with more assertiveness.”  Initially, a lot of this seems to be true.  Two things: this doesn’t need to be on Wikipedia, and the person who wrote that as a single sentence should be pushed into a well.

Joe Hamilton is the referee for this opening bout and UFC 17 is under way!  Goes opens up with some leg kicks and tries to find his range with some jabs, while Henderson looks a bit more hesitant in the first minute.  Goldberg mentions the resemblance between Allan Goes and Vitor Belfort, which happens to be nonexistent.  But you know how the UFC is with their sweeping generalizations about Brazilians, unless Goldie is yet again going into business for himself.

Henderson backs Goes against the cage and throws a big right, immediately backing away after making decent contact with the punch.  We’re just 90 seconds in and the crowd is booing for the lack of activity thus far.  Goes then lands a nice left hand that catches Henderson off guard and drops the American to the mat!  Goes follows Henderson to the crowd, but gets caught in a heel hook when standing over his opponent!  Goes escapes the hold and this allows Henderson to get back to his feet.

Goes clinches with Henderson but is easily thrown aside by the wrestler.  Goes and Henderson clinch once more with Henderson backed against the cage while Goes liberally grabs the fence.  Henderson works to reverse positions and grabs the fence himself.  Goes then drags Henderson down into his guard, which is exactly where he wants this fight to go.

Both fighters are initially pretty inactive from this position.  Goes is looking for a submission opportunity, while Henderson isn’t doing a whole lot of anything.  He at least has Goes pinned against the fence, but Goes is grabbing the fence to try and adjust positions and find a better spot to lock in a submission hold.  It looks like some occasional punches and elbows from Henderson have busted Goes’ nose open.  Henderson’s ground and pound is getting a lot cleaner as the fight goes on, landing some really nice elbows to the face and body.

Goes is becoming increasingly comfortable from the bottom and Goes is now working hard for a potential kimura and Henderson stands back up.  Goes follows back to his feet and neither fighter is particularly interested in engaging on their feet.  Goes drops down and attempts what looks like an Antonio Inoki leg sweep, which prompts jeers from this understandably intolerant Alabama crowd.

After that move from Goes, both fighters seem to fire up a bit.  Henderson lands a knee from the clinch, while Goes answers back with some leg kicks and errant punches.  Goes feints a leg kick and Henderson rushes in on the attack, except that Goes is able to answer with another left hand that drops Henderson!  Goes then follows up with an illegal soccer kick to Henderson’s head before sinking in a rear naked choke, but referee Joe Hamilton halts the action having seen the illegal blow.  I’m pleased that a guy who misses such blatant fence grabbing is at least able to recognize such a huge rule violation.

Henderson seems angry with the stoppage at first and Hamilton does a shitty job of informing both fighters until he briefly confers with the officials at cageside.  Hamilton lets both fighters know that the stoppage was due to an illegal strike and he restarts this fight with both men on their feet with 90 seconds left in regulation.

Goes opens up swinging, missing with a left and landing with another.  Goes moves into a body lock with Henderson, but the hold is quickly broken.  The Henderson moves in with a right hand and Goes answers back, both men largely missing with their strikes.  Both men do a lot of nothing up until the buzzer rings for the end of regulation.  Now it’s time for a break and then a three minute overtime.  Here’s a quick summary of the advice from both fighters’ corners: Goes’ team says a lot of things in Portuguese, while Henderson’s cornerman says the F-word – a lot.

I don’t really have a good grasp on who is winning this fight right now, but I’m leaning toward Goes.  The only time Henderson was in control was when Goes pulled him into guard, while the Brazilian also has two knockdowns.  The illegal strike is probably the only real negative for Goes, but nothing has been noted in regards to a point deduction.

So the overtime opens and Henderson rushes in after a leg kick from Goes.  He clinches with his opponent but takes a knee to the body and eats some punches on the break.  Goes lands some nasty leg kicks and Henderson answers by clinching with some uppercuts that land.  Goes responds with a series of leg kicks that appear to do some damage before Henderson starts to check the kick.  Goes drops to the mat in another trip attempt, which is surprising giving the success he’s had on his feet.  Goes’ striking has been pretty good, especially considering he knocked Henderson off his feet on multiple occasions.

Henderson keeps looking for the clinch in an attempt to throw some uppercuts, but with one minute remaining, the fight is briefly halted to fix Goes’ torn glove on his left hand.  The fighters spend the last 45 seconds of this fight trading blows, Henderson favoring uppercuts and Goes opting for some low kicks.  With just 20 seconds left, Goes pretty much gives up on the fight by flopping to the mat and doing everything except engaging with Henderson.

The buzzer sounds and I wonder if Henderson did enough to steal this fight away.  I think the striking was even, but the knockdowns could have been enough to sway the judges.  Henderson didn’t score any takedowns, but he did have some nice ground and pound when he was pulled into Goes’ guard.  Bruce Buffer announces that Dan Henderson has won this fight by unanimous decision and will advance to the middleweight tournament finals.

We quickly move to the second semifinal bout in the middleweight tournament between Bob Gilstrap and Carlos Newton.  Gilstrap is accompanied to the cage by Maurice Smith and has also been training with Frank Shamrock and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, which might be enough to give him an edge in this fight.  Gilstrap also holds wins over former UFC fighters Jason Fairn and John Matua, who you might remember from being mocked by Tank Abbott after being knocked unconscious.

Goldberg harps on how philosophical of a fighter Carlos Newton is.  What say you, Goldie?  “In reading and talking to Carlos Newton, he’s got a complete inner mastery over one’s self – a sense of oneness with nature.  He fights the fight in his head – will it be able to be the fight we see inside the octagon?”  Oh God, does he ever stop talking?  Will Mike Goldberg, now or in the next decade of fights, please shut his stupid mouth?  I’d like nothing more than to set this man on fire and we’re only at UFC 17.  This is very bad news, my friends.

Bob Gilstrap holds a five inch height advantage over the 5’9″ Carlos Newton.  The weight difference isn’t significant, as the 187 pound Newton is only 12 pounds lighter than Gilstrap, but I wonder if Gilstrap’s size is going to present any problems in this fight.  I once again get tricked into thinking that these fans are cheering for Carlos Newton when they’re simply cat-calling at the ring girls.

Any additional thoughts before the fight, oh wise Mike Goldberg?  “Carlos Newton has said the only thing that limits your technique is your own imagination.  Art – even in artial mart – is creativity.  That is the only way there is evolution.”  I hope for Mike Goldberg’s sake that these are direct quotes because he sounds like a total jag right now.  Remember how much I hated Rich Goins?  Forget that shit – I’d rather be beaten about the head with hammers than listen to this jerk any longer.

To the fight, where Carlos Newton hoists Gilstrap up and slams him back to the mat about ten seconds into the fight.  Newton is immediately in side control and transitions into full mount with ease.  Newton immediately locks in an armbar on his opponent’s left arm and Gilstrap rolls out of the hold and moves into guard – only for Newton to work for an armbar with Gilstrap’s right arm!  Newton gets enough leverage to pull Gilstrap from guard onto his back, incredible!

Joe Hamilton warns Gilstrap to tap out if he needs to and Goldie repeats the same exact thing like a parrot.  After Newton rolls Gilstrap over, he sinks in a triangle choke and this looks tight!  Gilstrap struggles briefly, but is ultimately forced to submit in under one minute!  That was an incredible showing from Netwon, what a great submission win.  I wonder if the fight Carlos Newton imagined was able to be the fight we saw in the cage?  Ugh, typing that made my head hurt.

The middleweight tournament final is set with Carlos Newton squaring off against Dan Henderson.  This fight will take place later this evening, but I’ll be anxious to see how Newton’s performance against the wrestler compares to Goes’ performance from earlier in the evening.

Onto the first heavyweight superfight of the night between Mike Van Arsdale and Joe Pardo.  As noted earlier, Pardo has been trained by Royce Gracie who is not present at the event tonight.  Van Arsdale won an NCAA wrestling title about a decade earlier so we have two potential ground fighters with very different backgrounds.  Van Arsdale has a slight edge in size, standing one inch taller and weighing nine pounds more than Joe Pardo.

Van Arsdale opens up the fight with a quick right hand and Pardo follows that up with a takedown attempt.  Van Arsdale successfully defends with a sprawl and throws a quick elbow to the back before pushing away from his opponent.  Van Arsdale lands a nice body kick when both fighters stand and is being more aggressive with his strikes very early.  Van Arsdale is throwing some big body kicks and has quickly grown impatient with his opponent’s lack of striking.  Van Arsdale drops his hands and turns his back to Pardo, who still opts against engaging.

Pardo’s attempt to strike consists of rushing in wildly and missing with every punch.  Van Arsdale is throwing crazy looping combinations, my favorite being the inside leg kick/diving overhand right combo.  The fighters exchange a bit before Van Arsdale lands a vicious side kick to Pardo’s body which knocks Pardo to the mat.  Van Arsdale decides to follow Pardo to the mat this time and is in Pardo’s half guard.

Van Arsdale gets a little too high on Pardo, who slips out from underneath his opponent and is working for a heel hook!  It looks like Van Arsdale taps at one point, but I must be mistaken since the hold doesn’t look that tight.  Van Arsdale rolls with the hold and is easily able to escape, moving into Pardo’s guard and landing some big punches.  Van Arsdale rests a bit before throwing a bit more, both from the guard and standing over his opponent.  Van Arsdae brfiefly moves back to the ground, but opts to stand back up.  Pardo reluctantly stands back up at the urging of Big John McCarthy.

Van Arsdale seems to have tired a bit as he’s keeping a much less frantic pace at this point.  Of course, just as I say that, Van Arsdale throws a leg kick and follows that up with a series of shots to Pardo’s head and body.  With his back against the cage, Pardo weakly shoots in and Van Arsdale tries to take his opponent’s back after the sprawl.  Pardo does a decent job defending and Van Arsdale moves into his opponent’s guard where he spends a significant amount of time resting.

Big John rushes in to restart the fight due to inactivity, though it doesn’t seem like he gave the fighters much time.  Van Arsdale’s corner quickly fixes his glove and the fight is started back on the feet.  Both men seem extremely tired.  Van Arsdale’s offense has reduced significantly, while Pardo hasn’t had much offense to begin with.  His approach here is to shoot in whenever he feels threatened, which is a losing proposition.  Pardo does just that once more and Van Arsdale briefly stays in guard, but stands back up.  The crowd boos Pardo who is very reluctant to stand.

Once again: Van Arsdale on the attack, Pardo shoots, Van Arsdale defends and take control.  This time, he’s actually in side control at the ten minute mark and begins throwing some elbows.  Pardo gives up his back and turtles up as Van Arsdale throws some big punches.  This is bad for Pardo as he turns on his back, Van Arsdale continuing the assault!  Van Arsdale’s punches go unanswered and it looks like the end is near!

Van Arsdale is standing over his opponent throwing punches before pushing Pardo’s legs aside and moving back into side control.  Van Arsdale begins to work for Pardo’s right arm and quickly sinks in a kimura and Pardo taps out!  Van Arsdale had a pretty good showing here, though I might think more fondly of him since his opponent mounted little offense.

It has to be embarrassing for a Royce Gracie product to get submitted by a wrestler like that.  Pardo showed very little in this contest, only gaining control with a very brief heel hook attempt.  Van Arsdale’s striking was quite unusual and it probably would have been less effective against a more seasoned boxer, but it got the job done in this fight.

Time for the second heavyweight superfight, this one pitting Tank Abbott against Hugo Duarte.  This Alabama crowd is chanting wildly for Tank Abbott and why not?  Surely no fighter more closely represents the people of Alabama than Tank Abbott.  Also, no fighter punches more wildly than Tank, winning him additional points with the southern audience.

Tank says that he’s lost thirty pounds and it really shows right now.  He looks to be in really good shape by his standards and it’s probably the best shape he’s been in during his UFC run.  He’s billed at only 250 pounds and is just 23 pounds heavier than his opponent, but that kind of weight loss is only going to help Tank at this point.  He’ll still have his power, only now he’ll be able to go a bit longer in fights.

Duarte is summarily booed since he’s both Brazilian and not Tank Abbott.  The crowd goes absolutely nuts for Tank, who does his best to pump the crowd up.  Mike Goldberg notes that Duarte’s fights typically don’t last long and I think Tank is a very good fighter to test that theory out with.  If Tank Abbott is fighting a guy whose fights are short, then this fight is over before it even begins.

Daurte rushes Tank for a takedown but Abbott defends and throws some punches.  Duarte manages to bring Tank down and takes his back, going for a rear naked choke!  Duarte gets too high and tries to transition to an armbar, but Tank shrugs him off and then takes Duarte’s back!  Tank is throwing big punches with Duarte now pinned against the cage!  Tank keeps throwing heavy punches and Duarte’s mouthpiece falls out before Big John sees fit to stop the fight!  True to form, this fight was stopped in under a minute – just not in Hugo Duarte’s favor.

With the fight over, Tank grabs one of his t-shirts and lays it out in front of Duarte and then exits the cage without being announced the winner.  Tank meant business here today and if he can stay in this kind of shape, he’ll pose some serious problems to the top heavyweights in the UFC.  Conditioning has been the real hurdle keeping Tank out of the upper echelon and he appears to be taking steps to resolve that issue.

So Joe Rogan interviews this guy Campbell McLaren, who apparently has been working with the UFC since day one and is now in charge of SEG Motorsports.  They’re trying to push this ridiculous racing show called Street Legal which McLaren calls the UFC of racing.  I mostly stopped listening when I realized this guy wasn’t going to be talking about the UFC, he couldn’t have said anything too important.

Now it’s time for the middleweight finals between Dan Henderson and Carlos Newton.  Hopefully Goldberg has all of those Carlos Newton quotes out of his system – I don’t know that I could bear any more ridiculous pseudo-philosophy at this point in time.  Newton might have the advantage here, given the impressive display we saw earlier.  He spent about 14 minutes less in the cage than Dan Henderson, which could definitely influence this fight.

I ate Indian food and ice cream tonight, I’m feeling very, very sleepy.  My stomach is full of awesome food and I am so tired.  This had better be a great fucking fight or else I might be unconscious in a matter of minutes.  I’m trying very hard to power through this, I promise that I am.

Now you can see why this crowd is in love with these ring girls, am I right?  Nothing is hotter in 1998 Alabama than a girl with a big ass in high-waisted bikini bottoms – damn!  Arianny Celeste should be on her hands and knees thanking women like this for paving the way for further objectification of women.  Similar to Arianny, the above pictured ring girl also has a music career so long as you consider singing Sheryl Crow at karaoke a music career.  It’s still marginally better than that shit Arianny has pumped out.

Yep, that says it all.

It sounds like Frank Shamrock has joined the commentary team for this fight?  I’m not sure where he came from and why I wasn’t aware of this until I heard his voice, but here we are.  Frank Shamrock and Mike Goldberg sharing a broadcast booth.  In related news, I’m currently praying for the sweet release of death.

It’s time for the fight and Newton lands early with a nice body shot.  Newton throws a nice combo and drops Henderson with a body kick and a big left hand!  Big John rushes in and almost stops the action – he even yells “that’s it!” – but he decides to back off and let the fight continue.  It’s probably good that he opted against that since Henderson lands a nice takedown and has Newton pinned against the fence.

Henderson seems interested in recovering in Newton’s guard, prompting the Canadian to complain to Big John.  Henderson is landing some big punches as Newton continues his complaints which I can’t quite understand.  McCarthy says “I can’t stop it” and “we gotta work through it”, which leads me to believe Newton might have an issue with his equipment.  Henderson continues to throw punches and is being pretty productive from guard, but Big John sees fit to stop the action for crybaby Newton.

Apparently, the dope forgot his mouthpiece.  Really?  He also appears to be having issues with his glove, the third time that’s happened tonight.  I wonder if SEG got a deal on gloves that was too good to be true, only to find out that they were defective or made in Burma or something like that.  Newton pops in the mouthpiece and Big John repairs his glove and we’re back to the action.

Both fighters come out swinging from the restart until Newton lands a big takedown of his own!  It doesn’t last for long as Henderson is able to work back to his feet and we finally get our first “U.S.A.” chants for the night.  Henderson responds with a few big right hands and Newton goes for the clinch.  Newton goes for another takedown and Henderson avoids the attempt, landing knees and punches as he defends.

Henderson clinches with Newton from the restart and he’s landing a huge series of knees!  Henderson lands maybe ten unanswered knees before Newton tries to escape, what incredible attack!  Henderson easily regains the clinch and lands some more knees.  Newton tries to roll out of the clinch but Henderson maintains control and follows Newton to the mat, moving into guard.  Shamrock seems very impressed by Henderson at this point and has been quick to praise all aspects of his game.

Henderson is staying busy enough from guard to not get restarted.  He throws a series of punches and elbows and then rests for a little while.  Shamrock confirms that he’s no longer with the Lion’s Den, as noted by loyal reader and commenter Kyle on my last post.  He says that the Lion’s Den fighters will come train with his Alliance, but that his main camp is no longer the Lion’s Den.

Henderson decides to stand up and throw punches to his downed opponent as the crowd roars in approval.  Henderson backs off and gives Newton the chance to stand up, but Newton is hesitant even with Big John saying “this is what you wanted, get up!”  Newton has been quite the whiner in this fight and I’m pretty disappointed about that.  I hope Dan Henderson knocks his head into the fourth row.

We have four minutes left in regulation and both fighters seem a bit winded.  Henderson is still throwing some punches and Newton lands an occasional leg kick, but neither fighter is stringing together prolonged combinations.  Newton throws a leg kick and follows it up with a huge right hand!  Henderson backs off and tries for a shot just as Newton moves in with a knee and this is bad news for Henderson!  He is knocked to the mat for the fourth time tonight and seems out of it, but he quickly secures the legs of Newton when he moves in for the attack.

Newton is trying to strike and regain control from the bottom, but Henderson actually moves into side control.  Newton is landing elbows and tries to escape, but he is only able to reposition Henderson into guard.  Newton appears to be bloodied at this point, understandable given Henderson’s success with strikes thus far.  Newton locks his arms around Henderson, who decides this would be a good time to pick his opponent up and slam him back to the mat.  Quite the show of strength from Dan Henderson at this point in the fight.

Henderson spends the last minute of the fight laying flat on top of Newton and having some success with strikes.  Newton appears to be very vocal and is either complaining to Henderson or McCarthy, maybe just anybody who will listen to him.  The 12 minute mark hits and now we’ll go into overtime!

Newton seems a little fresher at this point and opens up with some great jab/low kick combinations.  Henderson misses with a number of punches while Newton lands some clean counter shots.  Newton is landing some nice body and leg kicks and his punches look pretty crisp.  Big John implores both fighters to not leave this fight up to the judges, a cry that remains true to this day.

Newton winds up and knocks Henderson silly with a huge right hand half way into the overtime period!  Newton follows up with big punches and kicks and Henderson is trying to recover!  Newton moves in with a low kick, but Henderson is successful with another takedown to slow the action.  Newton is working for a key lock, but Henderson manages to free himself from the potential submission.Henderson is back in guard and is connecting with some punches from here and time expires with Newton getting back to his feet.

The crowd gives both fighters a really nice hand at the end of this very good, even great fight.  It was a real battle and Newton seemed to come close to a potential knockout or TKO victory, but Henderson kept fighting and went the distance.  Frank Shamrock thinks that Newton won this fight and he could be right – the two, almost three knockdowns certainly scored points.  Newton showed great power, but I think Henderson was more consistent with his strikes early on, but he tired himself out.  He also spent more of the fight on top, which could certainly influence the judges.

Bruce Buffer announces that we have a split decision.  Gene LeBell, one of the greatest judo practitioners in American history, scores the fight for Carlos Newton – but Dan Henderson takes the last two scorecards and has won this fight!  I can’t disagree with this decision, but both fighters put forth tremendous effort here.  Newton has nothing to be ashamed about aside from his incessant whining while being grounded and pounded by Henderson.  That is somewhat shameful.

Bearded Bob Meyrowitz is out to congratulate Dan Henderson and present him with his medal for tonight’s victories.  Dan Henderson said he would love to be back in the UFC, though he’s focused on his wrestling at this point.  Henderson will indeed be back in the UFC, but not for another decade or so.  He won’t fight again in MMA until late 1999 and will spend the bulk of his career fighting in Japan.  It will be a little while until my PRIDE series catches up to Henderson, but I certainly look forward to that point in time.

Mike Goldberg hypes an upcoming highlight pay-per-view called the Night of Champions, which will also be the card where the Frank Shamrock vs. Jeremy Horn fight is shown.  As a reminder, I will be recapping that fight here as part of the UFC 17 event since…you know, it basically happened at UFC 17.

Goldie also announces that Jeff Blatnick has been named as the new commissioner of the UFC.  Blatnick says he looks forward to developing the UFC as a real sport and will work toward national sanctioning of MMA fights.  Goldie proceeds to verbally fellate Blatnick and runs down his accomplishments and says it’s good to have such an important figure in wrestling to hold this position in the UFC.  Goldie again reminds us to call our cable providers to try and keep the UFC on the air, but he also says that we should buy some sweet UFC merchandise.  What a shill!

It’s time for the third heavyweight superfight between Lion’s Den product Pete Williams and Mark Coleman.  Coleman vs. Couture would have been a far more intriguing match, but we’ll have to see what Pete Williams brings to the table.  Williams isn’t too worried about taking this fight on short notice as he had already been in training for a fight with Dan Severn, another fighter we haven’t see in quite some time.  Coleman expects a lot from his opponent and says he’s been studying submissions in anticipation of this fight.

Well, this is a nice sign.  Steve Austin was pretty hot in 1998 and it was a booming time for the sign industry.  Lots of young adults needed to scrawl “[Insert Name Here] 3:16 says I just [insert action here]” on cloth or poster board.  As much as I enjoyed wrestling at that time, I am in staunch opposition of inbreeding and have a hard time looking back at wrestling fans from the 1990’s.  I feel like I’m going to get scabies just looking at them.

It’s fight time and Pete Williams stalks Coleman early on.  Williams rushes in and Coleman works for a takedown, but Williams does a pretty good defending the hold at first.  Coleman manages to gain control and take Williams down, even though Williams grabs the fence twice.  Coleman is in control and we haven’t even hit the one minute mark – bad news for Pete Williams.

Coleman is slow to start throwing punches and once he starts to get active, Williams locks in an armbar that appears to be tight!  Coleman struggles a bit and looks to be in pain, but he manages to break free from the hold and starts landing some punches from guard.  Coleman seems to be pacing himself as he’s not particularly busy right now, though Williams is doing a nice job of controlling Coleman’s wrists.  Coleman still manages to land some nice right hands as Big John threatens to stand the fighters up.

Mark Coleman looks like a different fighter here and not for the better.  He’s very methodical with his ground and pound, but it looks like he has opportunity to do some damage.  He’s throwing single punches and elbows while struggling with Williams, though I would figure Coleman has the strength to break through and land some nice shots.  Big John has seen enough here and stands both fighters up at the six minute mark of the fight.

Incredibly, Coleman already seems to be tired.  He lands a big right hand immediately after the restart, but he does absolutely nothing to follow that up as Williams backs away.  Williams is trying to find his range and feints some strikes before catching another right from Coleman.  Williams answers back with a nice low kick and is trying to get close, but Coleman is fighting like a wounded animal here throwing wild punches any time Williams gets close.  I’m not sure what we’re seeing here, but I hope it has something to do with Mark Coleman being high on psyhcedelic drugs while fighting.  That’s just a shot in the dark.

Coleman is backed against the cage and is completely stationary, Williams now throwing some leg kicks that are doing damage.  At 8:30 into the fight, Coleman catches a body kick and takes Williams down.  He manages to briefly take Williams’ back and land some big punches, but Williams recovers and grabs a front face lock while backed against the cage.  Coleman is grabbing the fence and throwing knees, occasionally posturing for a takedown.

Williams manages to throw some knees of his own after releasing the headlock and Coleman works hard for a takedown.  Williams defends this by grabbing the fence with both hands and Big John barely protests the blatant rule violation.  Mike Goldberg emphasizes how great Williams’ technique is in regards to takedown defense, though I don’t know how you can call something so blatantly illegal a successful technique.  I guess since he wasn’t taken down and wasn’t disqualified that it’s okay.

Eventually, though, Williams releases the fence and is taken down to the mat.  Coleman is in Williams’ guard and is enjoying a nice rest with one minute left in regulation.  Williams briefly works for a submission, but the buzzer sounds before he can do anything with the hold.  It’s now time for a brief break until the overtime period begins.  Notable fighters in Williams’ corner include Tra Telligman, Mikey Burnett, and Jerry Bohlander.

The overtime begins and Williams starts up with a leg kick and an incredible flurry of punches that has Coleman stunned!  Coleman shoots in for a takedown but Williams successfully sprawls and avoids Coleman’s grasp.  As Coleman gets back to his feet, Williams lands a big knee!  Coleman is up and swinging, though Williams appears to be 100 feet away at this point.  Williams is goading Coleman and encouraging him to throw, but he’s not landing anything at this point.  Williams moves in and begins to throw a kick, but Coleman misreads the strike and ducks what he believes is an incoming punch.

We end up with Mark Coleman in a heap on the mat and Big John stops this fight!!  Pete Williams has come from behind to knock out the former UFC Heavyweight Champion in stunning fashion!  This crowd is nuts and Williams is absolutely ecstatic in victory.  The Lion’s Den is in to celebrate with Williams, and most interesting is that Ken Shamrock is in the house!  He hasn’t been mentioned by name, but he’s in the cage celebrating with the victorious Pete Williams.

My goodness, that was some awesome offense from Pete Williams during the overtime.  Absolutely awesome.  Williams must have been waiting for Coleman to tire out before unleashing on the veteran UFC fighter.  The 22 year old has just scored a huge upset victory and has immediately made a name for himself in the UFC.

So ends the pay-per-view broadcast, but we’ve got one more fight ahead of us: the UFC Middleweight Title is up for grabs as Frank Shamrock defends against Jeremy Horn.  There’s no fanfare and no pre-fight hype, just Frank Shamrock about to square off against a very pale man.

The footage might be a bit grainy, but I’m excited for this one!  Shamrock opens up with some leg kicks, but he ends up getting a kick caught and is taken down by Horn!  Shamrock has his feet up against the cage and Horn is in side control but moves to north/south position.  Horn is throwing some knees while Shamrock throws some elbows.  Horn appears interested in a submission hold and Frank tries to reverse, but Horn blocks and moves to full mount!

Shamrock is able to shrug Horn off and Horn looks for an armbar, but Shamrock defends and tries to sink in a heel hook of his own.  Horn pulls out and moves into Shamrocks’ guard.  Both men are active with strikes, but we’re not seeing a lot at this point.  Honestly, Shamrock is landing more strikes from the bottom as Horn tries a number of odd positions to gain control.  Horn has some kind of body lock on Shamrock from guard, but it doesn’t do much and Shamrock breaks the hold.

Horn is not very much fun right here as he’s utilizing the wet blanket offense against Frank Shamrock.  I give credit to Shamrock for continuing to work as he tries to strike horn from the bottom, but this is going nowhere.  At seven minutes, Big John finally restarts this fight so hopefully we’ll see something new here.

Horn and Shamrock trade kicks and Horn goes for a takedown.  Shamrock tries to roll through and grab Horn’s leg, but Horn blocks and moves into full mount once again!  Of course, he did nothing with it earlier so I don’t have very high expectations right now.  Shamrock is able to buck Horn and reverse positions, now moving into Horn’s guard.  Horn is quick to close the guard, even before Shamrock commits to the position.

Shamrock stands and looks interested in a potential heel hook, but Horn keeps a very tight closed guard and won’t allow that to happen.  The moment Horn loosens his grip, Shamrock locks in the heel hook but has no success.  Horn breaks free and Shamrock decides to stand up with Horn.

Horn shoots in and Shamrock briefly goes for a guillotine but lets go of the hold with Horn on top.  Shamrock quickly reverses and moves back into Horn’s guard, again trying for a heel hook.  Shamrock gives up the hold once more when he sees that it’s going nowhere, both fighters standing again.  Blatnick calls Horn “a Gumby” and I wonder if this is where the nicknamed is coined?

Shamrock closes in on Horn, who is backed against the fence, with some punches.  Horn drops for a takedown but Shamrock sprawls and starts throwing body shots.  Horn drives forward and finishes the takedown, but Shamrock works for a key lock submission.  Horn not only breaks Shamrock’s grip, but he takes full mount once again.  After maybe 30-45 seconds in mount, Big John calls for a ridiculous restart.  Horn may not have been busy, but that was full mount and it wasn’t nearly enough time to let him work.

Horn comes out of the restart with a high kick.  Horn shoots in for a single leg takedown with 30 seconds left in regulation.  Shamrock rolls through and Horn ends up in side control.  Horn is throwing some knees to the body and head of Shamrock as the 15 minute regulation expires.  Horn has spent so much of this fight on top, and even though he’s been pretty inactive, I have to wonder if he’s ahead on the scorecards at this point.

Professional fighter and amateur motivator Maurice Smith tells Frank Shamrock, “You are not fucking tired.  He is fucking gassed.”  Pat Miletich is in Horn’s corner and say “Don’t get fucking sloppy.  Don’t let him know you’re tired, even if you are.”  What I’ve learned from this is that coaches who are fighters like to say fuck.

Horn opens the overtime with some leg kicks and Shamrock attempts a knee as Horn shoots for another takedown.  Horn works hard for a takedown but Shamrock grabs hold of the fence a la Pete Williams to defend.  Horn looks close to taking Shamrock’s back and ends up dragging Shamrock to the mat, but Shamrock quickly locks in a kneebar and Horn submits!  What an incredible turn of events!  Horn seemed to be controlling this fight and Shamrock pulled off the submission from out of nowhere!

Shamrock manages to retain his title against what turned out to be some stiff competition.  Horn hung in there the entire fight, but Shamrock found one opening and took advantage.  Shamrock didn’t dominate like he did in previous fights, but the win against Horn is just as big as any of his other fights.

We’ve been given no indication of what we can expect from the UFC’s next show, but if these last two cards are any indication, we should have some awesome fights ahead of us.  UFC 16 and 17 have been my favorite two events thus far and I’m anxious to see what the promotion has in store for us next time.

Greatest Fights of UFC 17

  1. Dan Henderson vs. Carlos Newton
  2. Frank Shamrock vs. Jeremy Horn
  3. Pete Williams vs. Mark Coleman
  4. Tank Abbott vs. Hugo Duarte
  5. Carlos Newton vs. Bob Gilstrap
  6. Dan Henderson vs. Allan Goes
  7. Mike Van Arsdale vs. Joe Pardo

Top Ten Fights Through UFC 17

  1. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo – UFC 3
  2. Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort – UFC 15
  3. Don Frye vs. Tank Abbott – UU96
  4. Maurice Smith vs. Mark Coleman – UFC 14
  5. Dan Henderson vs. Carlos Newton – UFC 17
  6. Mikey Burnett vs. Eugenio Tadeu – UFC 16
  7. Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn – UFC 4
  8. Frank Shamrock vs. Jeremy Horn – UFC 17
  9. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
  10. Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott – UFC 6

Greatest Fighters of UFC 17

  1. Dan Henderson (2-0)
  2. Frank Shamrock (1-0)
  3. Pete Williams (1-0)
  4. Carlos Newton (1-1)
  5. Tank Abbott (1-0)
  6. Mike Van Arsdale (1-0)
  7. Andre Roberts (1-0)
  8. Chuck Liddell (1-0)
  9. Jeremy Horn (0-1)
  10. Allan Goes (0-1)
  11. Mark Coleman (0-1)
  12. Noe Hernandez (0-1)
  13. Harry Moskowitz (0-1)
  14. Hugo Duarte (0-1)
  15. Joe Pardo (0-1)
  16. Bob Gilstrap (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 17

  1. Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
  2. Mark Coleman (6-2)
  3. Dan Severn (9-3)
  4. Ken Shamrock (6-2-2)
  5. Don Frye (9-1)
  6. Randy Couture (4-0)
  7. Oleg Taktarov (6-2-1)
  8. Maurice Smith (2-1)
  9. Vitor Belfort (4-1)
  10. Frank Shamrock (3-0)
Categories: Ranking the UFC
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