Archive for the ‘Ranking the UFC’ Category

UFC 19 – Ultimate Young Guns

August 4, 2012 Leave a comment

OH HI EVERYONE! Look, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these, so bear with me. I no longer operate my blog and it’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything of substance. I figure why not try and get one of these recaps done like old times?  I woke up today and have been working on this, despite the power outage that briefly left me in the dark.  But anyway – so many people have had so many nice things to say about my previous entries in this series and I figure why not give this another shot.

I forget how these things start, what do I do? Do I just talk about how much I like it when people punch and kick and choke each other? Uggggggh, this is haaaaaard. I have to make soooo manyyyy wordsssss. Alright, STOP COMPLAINING. Let’s make this shit happen.

When we last left of at UFC 18: Evan Tanner and Bas Rutten made their UFC debuts, the latter of whom came one step closer to competing for the UFC’s vacant Heavyweight Title. Vitor Belfort made it known that he wants to make an impact at middleweight, challenging Frank Shamrock during the pay-per-view broadcast. Mark Coleman continued his slide from relevance after a tough split decision loss to Pedro Rizzo. And of course, Pat Miletich zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

What will we see at UFC 19? Well, no Pat Miletich thank goodness. Kevin Randleman, a wrestler and all-around terrifying human, will be making his long awaited UFC debut. A couple of familiar names from UFC events will be squaring off as Chuck Liddell and Jeremy Horn will go head to head. We’ll also see Tito Ortiz compete against Guy Mezger in a rematch from their bout at UFC 13 – hey, I wonder if anything interesting will happen in this fight? No, probably not.

Seems like I’ve chosen a nice UFC event to return to, let’s dig in and see how this goes!


UFC 19: Ultimate Young Guns – March 5, 1999

Previous Editions

Time for a super awkward video montage of the fighters during the UFC 19 weigh-ins (and physicals). We get to see Chuck Liddell try and cut weight and John McCarthy addresses the fighters during this event.  It’s actually pretty interesting hearing a bit of dialogue between McCarthy and Kevin Randleman discussing how McCarthy intends to officiate a fight.  It’s good to have that communication between officials and the fighters, it’s one of the first times I’ve seen that.  Then again, I haven’t written one of these things in nine months, so maybe I have seen it?

We’re welcomed to Casino Magic in (probably not) lovely Bay St. Louis, Mississippi by noted buffoon Mike Goldberg.  Since we last left off, I’ve had a chance to meet Mike Goldberg and…well, he’s a nice guy.  I feel bad saying anything about him because he was nice, but then again, he was EXTREMELY drunk and kept telling me how Michael Jordan loved him when he worked in Chicago.  Then Chandella Powell had to help him to his room.  So you know what, I’ll still say dumb things about Mike Goldberg, but remember that I don’t HATE him.  I just hate when he makes words for fighting.

The UFC was previously at Casino Magic at UFC 15 and this will be the last time they make an appearance here.  However, seven months from now, Casino Magic will be host to a fake (or scripted) combat sports event known as Heroes of Wrestling.  This event is notorious for Jake Roberts getting drunk and being embarrassing and for Yokozuna weighing a billion pounds.  Oh, and the whole event was a nightmare.  If any of you feel like taking your own life, maybe track the event down and enjoy!

Okay, tangent over and now back to fighting!  Mike Goldberg is joined once again by Jeff Blatnick and I’m glad to see and hear him once again.  We learn that Maurice Smith will take on Kevin Randleman in one of the featured bouts tonight.  We’ve heard the name Kevin Randleman thrown around on previous events as a potential UFC competitor and I’m glad to see that come to fruition.  Randleman has apparently had some success fighting in Brazil, so it will be interesting to see how he looks in the octagon.  Randleman and Smith both give their thoughts about the fight and neither man says anything particularly stupid or embarrassing.  OH COME ON HOW FUN IS THAT??

OH SHIT MMA TRIPLE THREAT MATCH!!!  No, I wish that was the case.  But actually, it looks like the winner of Smith vs. Randleman will square off against Bas Rutten for the vacant UFC Heavyweight Title.  Smith vs. Rutten would be an absolutely ridiculous fight.  I’m sure Randleman would be great competition for El Guapo, but man do I want to see Bas take on Maurice Smith.

Here’s something interesting – Goldberg lists the judges for this event and the second one he mentions is “Dan Miragliotti”.  Surely Goldie is just fucking up the name of current MMA referee Dan Miragliotta, right?  Holy shit, Miragliotta judged UFC fights?  We’ve had some really odd judges between Miragliotta and Dave Meltzer, though I really see no reason why either wouldn’t be competent.

Before moving onto the main card, there was a single preliminary fight which was Sione Latu vs. Joey Roberts.  It doesn’t appear that this fight will be broadcast, but Latu won the contest by TKO due to Roberts being cut open.

Onto the first televised contest of the night, pitting heavyweights Pete Williams and Jason Godsey.  You guys might remember Pete Williams from his highlight reel knockout win over Mark Coleman in a tremendous upset.  Meanwhile, none of you remember Jason Godsey from anything.

We get prefight interviews with both fighters throwing out cliches and general complements at their opponents.  However, midway through Godsey’s interview, judge Dan Miragliotta has seen fit to stand both fighters up.  I…umm…I don’t think that’s how this is supposed to work.  Jason Godsey looks as unintimidating as possible on his way to the cage, if only because he’s rocking the grandpa waistband on his vale tudo style shorts.  Pete Williams is accompanied to the ring by fellow Lion’s Den competitor Mikey Burnett.

Bruce Buffer opens up strong enough with a “WE ARE LIVE!” but then immediately pronounces Mississippi with eight or nine M’s.  Seriously, Bruce? “Mmmmmmmississippi”??  Bruce’s opening grows exceedingly ridiculous and he carries on about HOLY SHIT GET EXCITED PEOPLE THE FUCKING UFC IS HERE.  Soon, Bruce Buffer will learn to tone things down and put on a more composed performance, developing the “less is more” style we all know Bruce for.

Kidding, Buffer is a loud idiot.

I am terrified by referee Tony Mullinax.  Maybe it’s that dead creepy smile, maybe it’s rubbing his gloved hands together as if he’s going to dig his hands into a fresh corpse, maybe it’s the “thank you” he offers to Bruce Buffer after being introduced.  In reality, it’s definitely all of those things.

This opening contest kicks off and the fighters briefly clinch before breaking.  Godsey is extremely aggressive right away, but it’s misguided aggression.  His idea of striking is to run straight ahead at his opponent, swinging weak and wild shots.  Pete Williams recognizes that he might be fighting an invalid and scores an easy takedown.  After landing the takedown, I think I can hear Ken Shamrock shouting advice out for Pete Williams.

Williams is in full guard and landing some body shots and Godsey looks way uncomfortable on his back.  He’s throwing useless short punches and is ineffectively trying to control Williams’ hands.  Referee Mullinax makes a quick comment about the fighters being inactive and Williams makes his move to side control.  Godsey adjusts and moves back into the half guard, where Williams stands and cinches in a knee bar!  It doesn’t take long for Williams to lock in the hold and score the submission victory in under two minutes.  The replay shows that Godsey may have been also attempting some kind of leg lock, but he never had a chance.

Godsey had nothing for Pete Williams.  He never looked comfortable in any aspect of this fight, and I feel comfortable making this statement after only having seen him fight for 114 seconds.  Williams is a capable heavyweight fighter and has one of the better camps of the time in the Lion’s Den.  With the heavyweight picture in flux, Williams could potentially become an interesting name.  Jason Godsey will go on to work at a Baskin Robbins.

I should stop being so mean – Godsey is actually a far better fighter than I give him credit for.  He has wins over Jeremy Horn and Yuki Kondo and in just a couple of months, he’ll go on to defeat everyone’s least favorite fighter ever Bobby Southworth.  Godsey will end his career in 2006 losing to Roy Nelson, but we still haven’t seen the last of him in the UFC…

These people are shown in the crowd.  Caption: “HEY LOOK, I’LL BE ON TV WITH THIS PROSTITUTE I PAID TO WATCH THE UFC WITH ME!”  Do you guys think that the disposable camera he’s holding will be used as evidence in the ensuing hooker murder?

Goldie interviews Pete Williams post fight and Williams said he planned to stand and strike until Godsey came out with his braindead flurry of punches. Williams says he felt very comfortable with his submissions and had no problem going to the mat.  Williams is working hard to get in better shape and is keeping his eyes on the UFC Heavyweight Title picture.  He also has very nice things to say about the Lion’s Den, which is different from the stories we’ve all heard about rampant caning and sodomy out of that camp.  (I’M KIDDING LOL PROBABLY NOT)

We then get an odd little video package for an upcoming PPV event called Ultimate Ken Shamrock.  It looks like it will just be highlights of the current WWF star’s previous fights.  We then get to see Goldie interview Shamrock cageside.  Shamrock makes some odd comments about self-doubt and resiliency, saying that guys like him and Dan Severn have proven to have intestinal fortitude and guys like Royce Gracie and Mike Tyson haven’t “bounced back” from their defeats and down moments in life.  I’m…not sure what to make of that, except you’re the one who went to the WWF?  I love wrestling and I love Ken Shamrock, but I hate stupidity and THAT was a dumb as fuck statement.  Goldie concludes that we may indeed see Ken Shamrock make a return to the UFC somewhere down the line.

Next up is a middleweight contest featuring the great Evan Tanner and Valeri Ignatov from Bulgaria.  Tanner has a ridiculous MMA record at this point in career at 17-1 with wins over Paul Buentello, Heath Herrig, and MINOWA (!!!!) and he defeated Darrel Gholar by submission at UFC 18.  Valeri Ignatov is apparently a member of Shamrock 2000, Bob Shamrock’s new MMA fight team.  Ignatov is one of the centerpieces of this new team, but with no fights in his MMA career at this point, it will be interesting to see how Ignatov fares.  Evan Tanner gets a nice hand from the crowd and I’ll give you one guess why.  Here’s a hint – people from Mississippi only love America!

Tanner opens up with a big punch and backs Ignatov against the fence.  Tanner is way aggressive to start and has landed some nice punches, but Ignatov is trying to answer back with strikes of his own.  Tanner scores a knockdown/trip of Ignatov and moves into guard and quickly works to pass.  He manages to get a hold of Ignatov’s left leg and tries to hold onto it so he can move into side mount, but Ignatov is staying active and is being wiley (he’s flailing).

Ignatov is controlling Tanner’s right arm, but Tanner frees himself and lands a series of really big punches from guard.  He starts to work the body and lands some disgusting sounding punches that are uncontested.  Tanner drops back for a leg lock and Ignatov works to lock in a submission of his own.  Tanner breaks the hold and gets the better of a scramble, ending up in side control and quickly mounting Ignatov.  Tanner lands some absolutely brutal elbows from mount and Big John stops this fight.  Sweet god, Evan Tanner just did his best to turn that Bulgarian man into skull soup.  That was RIDICULOUS.  Evan Tanner was about to kill Valeri Ignatov and Big John deserves major kudes for stopping the fight then.  But man, those elbows.

That was a great performance and now I want to see Evan Tanner fight everyone.  Or at least more shitty Bulgarian fighters that he can elbow really hard in the head.

In the post fight interview with Goldie, you can see that Evan Tanner is just in outstanding shape.  He’s a really big middleweight, which translates to a modern light heavyweight.  Tanner says he wants to go for the UFC Title, but humbly acknowledges that he’s got a lot of work to do before he gets there.  Could you imagine a Frank Shamrock vs. Evan Tanner fight in 1999?  Christ, I need a new pair of underpants.  As the interview ends and the camera cuts away, you can hear Evan Tanner ask “do I have time to say something?” and Goldie replies with a dismissive “no”.  WELL NOW EVAN TANNER IS DEAD SO I HOPE YOU CAN LIVE WITH YOURSELF MIKE GOLDBERG.

In all seriousness, watching this fight makes me sad that Evan Tanner isn’t around.  He was just so good at this and he seemed like such a nice guy.  I know Evan struggled with a lot of issues, but he very clearly had a good heart and wanted to help others and we need more people like that.  It’s quite sad that addiction hampered Evan’s life and career for a number of years.  In the end, a fighter as good and a man as decent as Evan Tanner should never, ever have to lose a fight to Kendall Grove.  That makes me want to throw up.

HOLY SHIT, Bas has joined Goldie and Blatnick!  Bas talks about how great things have been since his UFC debut and he implores everyone to check out his television debut on Martial Law as NITROMAN.  I can’t find video of his appearance, so instead, here’s a video of him dancing on set of Martial Law.  Bas reveals that he was injured prior to his UFC 18 bout with Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and could barely train in grappling and almost couldn’t train in striking, so it’s a wonder he was able to beat such a game opponent.  Bas says he’s never fought a wrestler before, so he’s curious about how he’d fare against Kevin Randleman, but he’s also confident in his chances if he needs to fight Maurice Smith.  Bas beams at the prospect of becoming the UFC Heavyweight Champion and I’ll be anxious to see that title fight when it takes place.

Oddly enough, the third fight on this card is Kevin Randleman against Maurice Smith.  Given the title implications here, I’m stunned that this fight is third on a six fight card.  But hey, time for a great fight!  At least it should be a great fight – most of the heavyweight battles we’ve had in the UFC have been very dramatic and interesting.  Mark Coleman’s fights with Pete Williams and Maurice Smith both come to mind.

Interestingly, the UFC has been short on graphics tonight.  No time clock, no tales of the tape, only the fighters’ names in blue letters against the chicken wire background.  When asked for comment about this, SEG’s owner Bob Meyrowitz said, “When I close my eyes, I see this thing…a sign.  I see this name in bright blue neon lights with a purple outline.  And this name is so bright and so sharp that the sign – it just blows up because the name is so powerful…”  He then pulled out his dick and got the shit beat out of him by a half dozen guys.

Kevin Randleman supposes that he’s the man to beat in this fight and that he won’t underestimate Maurice Smith like his teammate Mark Coleman did.  Then Randleman tells us that he only watched footage of Maurice Smith’s fights one time.  Umm…okay?

Randleman sprints to the ring and looks like an absolute monster.  He enters the cage looking like some kind of insane science experiment with muscles upon muscles upon muscles.  He stands in place and leaps in the air about a hundred feet and then dropkicks a hole in Bruce Buffer’s chest.  I am terrified for Maurice Smith, who looks to be in good shape but is decidedly less frightening.  My nipples are hard, does this mean I’m in love with Kevin Randleman?  Goodness, I hope not.

Randleman proceeds to shout and run in place while he’s announced by Bruce Buffer while Maurice Smith looks across the cage at the object of his destruction.  Because at a certain point, someone as freaky athletic and strong as Kevin Randleman ceases being a human and just turns into some borderline inanimate wrecking machine meant to pulverize and destroy.  Such musculature can only serve a handful of purposes – you can crush automobiles between your bare hands, wrangle disobedient elephants either in zoos or in the wild, propel NASA equipment into space like you’re throwing a javelin, or you can punish people until they start to cry spinal fluid.  Kevin Randleman has chosen the latter and I just hope Maurice Smith has a generous life insurance policy.

The fight begins and the fighters seem to be feeling each other out, surprising since I expected Kevin Randleman to lunge at Maurice Smith and rip his arms off like Jax from Mortal Kombat.  Goldberg reveals that Randleman will be content to stand and strike with Maurice Smith to open the fight and I’ll be curious to see how this works for both men.  One minute in, the crowd is already throwing out boos for inactivity.  Seriously, it’s hard to shit on today’s crowds when you look at the mouth breathers who comprised UFC fandom in the late 90s.

Bas is apparently still with Goldie and Blatnick, which I wasn’t aware of, and he feels like Randleman will go for the takedown once Smith starts to seriously engage with the strikes.  Randleman lands the first punches of the fight, but Maurice Smith is backing away and the strikes aren’t super clean.  Smith is measuring distance and lands a really nice leg kick on Randleman.  Smith feints a bit, but doesn’t do anything to follow up.  Both fighters are approaching this quite deliberately thus far.  Smith throws another couple of leg kicks, but each time, Randleman answers back with some nice punches and backs Smith against the cage.

This is not the place Maurice Smith wants to be given Randleman’s size.  Smith desperately wants to escape and is only successful when Randleman relents.  As they break, Smith lands a really sharp straight right hand, his best in the fight so far.  Randleman looks really twitchy and is ready to react to basically anything Smith does.  Randleman’s corner is now calling for the takedown, which would likely be wise.  And when Smith throws his first body kick, Randleman catches it and scores the first takedown of the fight.

Randleman seems perfectly content in Smith’s guard and throws some big punches that all seem to be blocked by Smith.  Randleman is pushing Smith forward and isn’t working much beyond throwing an occasional strike.  About six minutes in, Randleman hasn’t really sustained any consistent offense, so it’s quite clear he’s been learning from Mark Coleman.  Big John gives some warnings for inactivity, but Kevin does little to adjust.  Smith is working to control Randleman’s arms, which appears to be hampering the offense of the collegiate wrestler.  Big John follows through with his threat to stand both fighters up.

Immediately after the stand up, it looks like Smith dives in to possibly clinch with Kevin Randleman, but is taken down once again.  Goldberg says that Randleman is “strong like Mark Coleman”, but he doesn’t specify if they were sharing needles at the time.  Oddly enough, Randleman stands up out of guard and lets Smith back to his feet.  Both El Guapo and Jeff Blatnick are quite surprised.  Once their back on their feet, Randleman clinches Smith against the cage once more and then lands a third takedown.

With Randleman in half guard, Maurice is working for an arm submission but is unsuccessful.  Bas marvels at the size of Randleman’s arms as Smith works in vain to lock in a submission.  Randleman moves back into full guard with both fighters near the cage wall.  Randleman has done so little with his advantageous position, but he’s winning this fight by maintaining this control and throwing occasional punches  At this time, regulation has ended – I think we’re at the 12 minute mark?  Again, we haven’t seen a single fight clock, so this has been hard to track.  It seems we’ll have a three minute overtime, after which the fight would end and go to the judges.

Maurice opens the overtime with a really brutal looking leg kick, but once again, Randleman takes Smith down when the kick is thrown.  Randleman is a little more active and looks to pass guard, but I must say, Maurice’s defense on the ground has been quite solid.  He’s kept Randleman from landing any shots or advancing to a dangerous position while working for submissions of his own.  I don’t think Smith has done enough to win this fight, but his performance has not been terrible by any means.

Randleman, once again, stands up from guard and implores Maurice to do the same as Mark Coleman FREAKS THE FUCK OUT in Randleman’s corner, wanting his teammate to keep the fight on the ground.  Randleman goes back to the clinch and gets his fifth takedown of the fight, at which point the fight concludes.  Smith appears to be pretty gassed while Randleman is hopping around the cage like a monster again.  Randleman’s performance was far less destructive than I had hoped, but he was effective and fought a decent fight.  He would have been wise to avoid standing with Maurice Smith, but he didn’t really take much damage.

Bas supposes that his next opponent will be Kevin Randleman, and indeed, Randleman is announced as the winner of this fight by unanimous decision.  That fight was not great by any means, but it about fit the mold of dominating grappler versus dangerous striker.  Randleman’s strength and his takedowns were certainly the difference here and he got a deserved win for his efforts.

Randleman thanks two men for this victory: God and “the greatest man on this fucking planet” Mark Coleman.  I’d be willing to dispute that point about Coleman being the greatest man on the fucking planet, but I don’t know that I’d do it to his face.  Randleman emphatically expresses that kicks “don’t mean shit” to wrestlers like him and that you could kick him “five more time” and not hurt him.  So there’s the gameplan, kick Kevin Randleman six or seven times and you’ll probably be okay.

Randleman says that any future opponents are going to have to train hard for their fight, and Bas Rutten says he’ll be doing just that.  Randleman gives some love to Bas and calls him the greatest martial artist in the world and he guarantees their fight will be great.  He also says “Tyson vs. Holyfield don’t have shit on us”.  Mike Goldberg says Randleman is “boiling over with enthusiasm”, and I’m just glad they didn’t test these fighters for enthusiasm back then.  Kevin Randleman’s piss would have melted plastic.

Bas reveals with Jeff Blatnick that he indeed won’t be kicking Randleman’s legs because the wrestler is “inviting it”.  Bas suggests he may focus on punching or maybe even some wrestling and that he’s a quick learner.  I’m very anxious to see how this fight goes, since I think Bas is a much more dynamic fighter than Maurice Smith and probably even Kevin Randleman.

After the fight, Maurice Smith’s left eye appears to be swollen and closed shut, but the source of the injury wasn’t entirely apparent.  He’s very gracious in defeat and says he isn’t disappointed in his performance and he shouldn’t be.  He was patient with his strikes, his ground defense was very good, and he hung around for the whole fight.  But Kevin Randleman is just another breed of athlete and has power that few can deal with.  Randleman’s cardio is far superior than his teammate Mark Coleman’s, so I feel like Randleman is in a good position to have some success in the UFC.

It’s revealed that Randleman vs. Rutten will take place at UFC 20, the next event, on May 7.  Bas says he’s going to train hard and he’ll do double the work that Kevin Randleman could do.  We’ve got two confident and talented guys here and I’m amped to see this fight.

Until then, we have some more fights here at UFC 19.  This next one features a couple of familiar middleweights in Jeremy Horn and Chuck Liddell.  Chuck Liddell is much more soft spoken then we’re accustomed to seeing in his prefight interview.  Goldie expertly mispronounces Chuck’s last name as LIE-dell.  Aw, Goldie, I love it when your incompetence is on display.  Horn is cornered in this fight by UFC’s reigning Lightweight (170 lbs.) Champion Pat Miletich.

God, it’s weird seeing Chuck in those little shorts and wrestling shoes.  But anyway – Horn opens the fight with some quick leg kicks and Chuck answers back with some punches.  Horn throws a really big headkick and it’s unclear if Liddell got his arm up in time to block.  Regardless, Chuck seems to be unfazed and the fighters clinch with Horn successfully pressing Liddell against the fence.  The fighters jockey for position and Liddell ends up grabbing Horn, bringing him to the mat in a facelock, and landing some knees to the head.  Liddell maintains control and Horn tries to roll through, but Chuck maintains position.  He throws some punches at the downed Horn, but is admonished for holding onto the fence.  Horn leaps to pull guard, but is unsuccessful and falls flat on his back.

Liddell is back in control in Horn’s guard and he begins throwing some right elbows to the head.  Horn is holding onto Liddell tightly to keep Chuck from landing much, but Chuck tries to stay active with punches to the body.  Liddell works to half guard and throws some left punches that don’t do very much damage.  Horn is trying to sit up and escape position, but Liddell is really pressing forward and putting pressure on Horn.  When Liddell stands over Horn, Jeremy tries to lock in a heel hook that Chuck appears to escape, but Horn doesn’t lose the grasp on Chuck’s right leg.  Liddell is locking his legs and trying break the hold, but Horn is really relentless.

Chuck’s corner tells him to “key lock [Horn’s] foot”, which is the most brilliant of advice that is clearly yelled by someone who has no idea what he’s saying.  Liddell proceeds to fumble with Horn’s foot as his corner says “NO, THE OTHER WAY”.  Am I watching footage from some alternate reality where Chuck Liddell ends up being a really bad fighter never holds the Light Heavyweight Title?  This is really sad to see.  Lucky for Chuck, he’s able to break free from Horn’s submission attempt.  Horn still has Chuck’s leg, but is working to push for a takedown as Chuck answers with punches.  Horn does manage to pull Chuck down to his butt and presses him against the cage, but he doesn’t do much with it.

Big John issues a number of warnings to Horn, who initially does very little.  He does manage to get into half guard, but Chuck is against the cage and Horn appears to be working for an arm triangle while using the cage for leverage.  He gives up on that hold but doesn’t do much else.  He throws maybe a punch or two from half guard and he’s working to pull his leg out to move into side control.  Horn starts to work for the arm triangle again, but Big John channels cageside judge Dan Miragliotta by standing the fighters up.  Yes, they were largely inactive, but you could’ve given Horn maybe 20 more seconds to see what he does.  But instead, we get the restart.

Chuck throws some punches and leg kicks, but doesn’t seem to have a ton left in the gas tank – there’s not much behind the strikes.  We’re around the ten minute mark and it’s been a pretty tight fight, though I’d give the edge to Horn thus far.  He’s had Liddell in more danger, even though it’s the difference between no danger and very little danger.  Horn backs Liddell against the cage and scores a takedown, this time in full guard a little further away from the cage.  Horn works to get out of guard with just one minute left in regulation and he does advance to half guard.  Horn is again working for the arm triangle and is rolled over onto his back by Liddell, but Liddell is still in the submission hold!  Horn is cranking and judging by the lack of resistance, Liddell seems to be out!  The horn sounds for the end of regulation and…yep, Chuck is OUT.  Rather than the end of regulation, it looks like this is the end of the fight!

Big John tells another official that Liddell went out just as the buzzer sounded, but Chuck didn’t seem to move for about 10 seconds toward the end of that fight.  I agree that it was hard to tell, but McCarthy should have done more to check on Liddell during that process.  Either way, Horn pulled off a nice submission win and was working harder to finish that fight.  This is Horn’s first win in the UFC after taking a couple of tough losses in action thus far, including one to Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock.

Horn says in his postfight interview that he got a little gassed and will have to work on that for the next fight.  And he doesn’t have much else to say because man is he a boring talker.  He makes me want to nap time when his words come out.

Goldie begins to hype the Tito Ortiz vs. Guy Mezger rematch for later in the evening and that stands to be one of the first grudge matches in the UFC.  We’ve had some mean guys fighting in the UFC and probably some guys who don’t like each other, but Tito and Mezger are taking it to the next level based on both the first fight between these two and Tito’s win over Jerry Bohlander.  There haven’t been a ton of rematches in the UFC thus far, so it will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments both men will make.

This is perhaps my favorite screen shot in all of the UFC events thus far.  Even better than Gary Busey in the crowd with Don Wilson behind him, even better than Rich Goins doing something stupid – Bruce Buffer, three late 90s ring girls, a box full of contest post cards.  And this isn’t just some contest – it’s the ULTIMATE contest.  This is apparently some drawing where the winner will be flown out to the next UFC event.  Because if there’s any kind of contest I want to win, it’s the one where I’m flown to do fucking anything in the American south.  Congratulations, Travis Mulroy (sp?) of Milwaukee – the good news is you get to see the UFC live, the bad news is you’re going to fucking Alabama.  Enjoy!

Seriously, how many post cards are in there?  Maybe 200 or 300?  Why on earth would you make a box containing so few entries transparent??  You didn’t even have to go through this quarter-assed production, Goldie could have just said congratulations to whatever his name was and moved on.  Instead, we get 45 seconds of the drawing and that awesome picture.  Jeff Blatnick does give a nice thank you to all UFC fans for their support, though he does make a mistake and call the contest winner “a friend of his”.  I’m hoping that’s just a euphemism and this guy doesn’t really know Jeff Blatnick, but I also don’t think anyone would care otherwise.

Fight number five is a heavyweight contest and we’ll see the return of Big Daddy!!  That’s right, Gary Goodridge is back to take on Andre Roberts.  Goodridge fought in the very first PRIDE events, going 2-2 while fighting on each of PRIDE’s four events including a victory over UFC tournament champion Oleg Taktarov.  We get to see the highlight of Goodridge elbowing Paul Herrera to death in what I still consider one of the most brutal knockouts in MMA history.  Goodridge hilariously claims in the prefight package that everything he knows about his opponent, he learned in the last five minutes.

Andre Roberts, known as “The Chief”, is undefeated in his MMA career including a win over Harry Moskowitz at UFC 17.  The Chief is a 370 pound fighter and is one of the few men bigger than Gary Goodridge in the UFC.  Something tells me that Big Daddy might be in slightly better shape than the Chief.

Goodridge’s earlier comments are clarified, as Roberts is apparently a late replacement for Tank Abbott!  Man, now I’m disappointed that I won’t get to see and hear Tank.  My return to UFC recaps would have been made so much better getting to write about Tank, but noooo, Tank goes and gets sick 13 years ago.  HOW INCONSIDERATE.

Bruce Buffer announces Big Daddy as “243 pounds of raw steel and sex appeal”.  In an ideal world, Bruce took it upon himself to add that little twist, but I have to imagine Goodridge may have made that request.  Wow, what an original line!  I think I had friends on my middle school wrestling team who said she like that, c’mon Gary.

Big Daddy opens the fight with a left hand and is bullrushed by Roberts, but Goodridge dodges the attack.  Gary lands a leg kick and is siwnging with wild punches and is quite busy.  Goodridge lands a nice combo of punches that causes Roberts to turn his back and wave his hand to signal that he wants to quit.  Well…that was brief.  Gary Goodridge came to fight and Andre Roberts is apparently more than glad to collect a pay day.  Hey buddy, at least fall down and make it look a little convincing!

Nonetheless, Gary Goodridge is your winner.  He was quite active and he looked like a different fighter than from his earlier UFC appearances.  He appears to be a bit leaner and was quite aggressive from the start, though I have to wonder how much of that was because Goodridge knew he was facing a big fat pud.  I feel like he may have been a bit more tentative had Tank Abbott not pulled out of this fight.

Once the fight is done, instead of a Gary Goodridge postfight interview, we get more discussion between Rutten and Randleman about their upcoming fight.  Jeff Blatnick interviews both men and not much of substance is said, though Bas says he wants to put on the best fight in UFC history.  Oh, and Kevin Randleman says he loves Mark Coleman with all his heart and would “give his life” for him.  Okay, moving on.

…Wait, what?  Kevin Randleman would give his life for Mark Coleman?  Is that something written in the Hammer House contract he was required to sign?  Did Mark Coleman inject Randleman with some kind of poison like in Escape from L.A.?  I know you love the guy, but give your LIFE?  Your life?  For some dude you train with?  God damn, the shark testosterone Randleman was taking must have really turned his brain into Jello.

John Perretti, the UFC’s match maker comes out and says some really boring and generic stuff about the UFC fighters.  Perretti really did do a good job making matches and bringing in good talent, but I don’t have a lot of interest in what he has to say.  All the while, they’re showing Randleman and Coleman signing autographs and interacting with fans.

So Randleman is signing an autograph and is using Coleman’s chest as a surface, and we get to see some fan holding up a sign that reads “Ultimate Fo Cheese”.  Look, I have nothing to say about this.  There’s an idiot holding up some ridiculous gibberish sign, what CAN I say?  Let’s just take a moment to digest this and then move on.  But seriously, ultimate fo cheese?  Ugh, the 90s.

It’s now time for the main event of the evening between Guy Mezger and Tito Ortiz.  Mezger is an undefeated 4-0 in the UFC to this point, while Ortiz is 2-1 with the sole loss at the hands of Mezger.  Mezger emphasizes prefight that this isn’t personal, just business, but Tito begs to differ.  He says Mezger is a cocky guy and that he’s lost respect for his opponent because of that.  It certainly doesn’t sound like Tito to hold a grudge, go figure!

As the fight starts, Blatnick reveals that Vitor Belfort was originally slated to face Mezger but Belfort was hurt and replaced by Ortiz.  Wow, very interesting.  So Belfort vs. Mezger seems like a title eliminator kind of fight, I wonder if the same could be said for Mezger vs. Ortiz?  After all, Frank Shamrock has to fight somebody…

And here we go!  It’s Tito Ortiz scoring early, landing a takedown on Guy Mezger after a low kick attempt from Guy.  John Perretti has a terribly obnoxious voice and, unlucky me, he’s going to just keep talking during this fight.  While Perretti makes me mad, Ortiz backs Mezger against the cage on the ground, but Mezger escapes and then backs Ortiz against the fence.  Ortiz reverses positions and lands some knees, and the fighters break.  Ortiz goes for an ankle pick, but Mezger avoids and stays on his feet.

Ortiz is really persistent with his takedown attempts and works to bring Mezger down, but Guy grabs hold of Ortiz’s right arm and goes for the submission.  You can hear Ken Shamrock shouting in Guy’s corner for him to break Tito’s arm, which I’m sure Ortiz isn’t particularly pleased with.  Ortiz breaks free and in half guard with Mezger pressed against the fence.  Ortiz is landing some big punches on Mezger and as Guy tries to escape, Ortiz smothers him and presses him back against the fence.

Ortiz is clearly a very powerful fighter and is resisting Guy’s efforts to escape.  Guy does manage to free himself and Ortiz immediately goes for an ankle and is able to take Guy’s back.  Ortiz is landing elbows and punches to Guy’s head, but Guy turns over and attempts to lock in a triangle.  Ortiz escapes and is back in full guard.  Mezger stays very busy from the bottom, working for submission and focuing on Mezger’s left arm now.  Ortiz is just too strong and is able to avoid a potential submission.

Ortiz is not particularly busy and this allows Guy back to his feet.  Mezger sees fit to try a clinch or a takedown or the clinch and Ortiz sprawls and takes Mezger’s back.  John Perretti calls Tito Ortiz “lazy”.  Yeah John, good insight.  You’re such a welcome addition to this broadcasting team and I want to throw hockey pucks at your head.  Perretti then goes on to call Ken Shamrock a “terrific” cornerman.  Oh goodness, now everything out of Perretti’s mouth makes sense – he’s basically fellating Ken Shamrock.

Back to the fight, Ortiz is landing some ground and pound and Mezger is not answering back.  Ortiz’s shots are powerful and it’s starting to look not so great for Guy Mezger.  Ortiz keeps throwing shots from Mezger’s back and Big John stops this fight!  Tito Ortiz has won this fight by TKO as a late replacement and…

Oh.  Well then, that’s how we’re going to play this.  The crowd responds very violently, either for or against Ortiz, and John Perretti makes the expert comment that Ortiz “doesn’t give a fu…give a damn”.  Now you can hear Shamrock arguing the decision with Big John, as any world class cornerman would do.  Ortiz puts on a T-shirt mocking the Lion’s Den as some in the crowd begin to chant his name.  Buffer announces Tito as the winner and then we have this!

Hey guys, I don’t think these two like each other.  Big John immediately pulls Tito away from that corner and wisely so, since I don’t know that Ken Shamrock can be trusted to control his emotions here.  Jeff Blatnick speculates that this might cause Shamrock to decide to make a return to the UFC, even though his timeline might be off by a few years.

Ortiz is interviewed by Tito after the fight and Tito says he got pretty gassed during the fight.  He says that Mezger was very tough, but he wishes the fight kept going so he could “beat the shit” out of Mezger.  Ortiz says Shamrock has good reason to be upset since he beat his two fighters, or more appropriately, he beat “their two alley cats and sent them to the litter box”.  Tito says he wants to fight for a title and names Vitor Belfort and Frank Shamrock specifically.  John Perretti is actually important when it comes to match making and he suspects Ortiz vs. Tanner will be the title eliminator, and that should also be a really fun fight.

As the event ends, we get some unremarkable words from Mark Coleman about Kevin Randleman’s performance.  Coleman does talk about working on his striking skills and he anticipates regaining the UFC Heavyweight Title, though he’d prefer not to fight his teammate Randleman.  The highlight package is shown recapping the night and we’re done for the night.

UFC 19 was a fun card and we got to see a lot of fighters responsible for building the UFC’s upcoming rise.  Yeah, spoiler alert, the cable companies pick up the UFC, they have PPVs and eventually get signed by Fox and everything is fine.  SORRY FOR SPOILING, but I’m not stuck in 1999 – this is 2012!  UFC 20 should be interesting with a Rutten/Randleman title fight, but what of the middleweight (205 lbs.) division.  John Perretti has his eyes on a Tanner vs. Ortiz fight and that could be good, but it’s way too long since I’ve seen Frank Shamrock.  And what about Pat Miletich’s Lightweight (170 lbs.) Title?  There seem to be few contenders at that weight, when will we see that title defended again?

So many questions moving forward with the UFC and we’ll have to wait and see what the future has in store!

Greatest Fights of UFC 19

  1. Tito Ortiz vs. Guy Mezger
  2. Evan Tanner vs. Valeri Ignatov
  3. Jeremy Horn vs. Chuck Liddell
  4. Pete Williams vs. Jason Godsey
  5. Kevin Randleman vs. Maurice Smith
  6. Gary Goodridge vs. Andre Roberts

Top Ten Fights Through UFC 19

  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 19

  1. Evan Tanner (1-0)
  2. Kevin Randleman (1-0)
  3. Tito Ortiz (1-0)
  4. Pete Williams (1-0)
  5. Gary Goodridge (1-0)
  6. Jeremy Horn (1-0)
  7. Sione Latu (1-0)
  8. Maurice Smith (0-1)
  9. Chuck Liddell (0-1)
  10. Guy Mezger (0-1)
  11. Joey Roberts (0-1)
  12. Valeri Ignatov (0-1)
  13. Jason Godsey (0-1)
  14. Andre Roberts (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 19

  1. Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
  2. Mark Coleman (6-3)
  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. Vitor Belfort (5-1)
  9. Frank Shamrock (4-0)
  10. Pedro Rizzo (2-0)
Categories: Ranking the UFC

UFC 18

November 5, 2011 1 comment

The UFC has returned from a Brazilian vacation and is back home in the United States for UFC 18. More specifically, the UFC has returned to its home in the American Southeast.  Little has changed in the homefront in 1999 as the UFC is still a long ways from public acceptance.

Still, that hasn’t stopped the UFC from putting on some good shows as of late.  UFC 18 looks to be no exception and is as star studded a card we’ve seen in some time.  As expected, Bas Rutten will be making his UFC debut against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka but that’s far from all.  Pat Miletich will be defending his UFC Lightweight (170 lbs.) Championship against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner Jorge Patino.

I usually wait to discuss the full card, but this one is too good to wait any longer.  We’ll see three battles between a series of UFC veterans: Mikey Burnett vs. Townsend Saunders, Tito Ortiz vs. Jerry Bohlander, and a great heavyweight bout between Pedro Rizzo and Mark Coleman.  This is a great lineup that is complimented even further by the debut of the late, great Evan Tanner.

The UFC looks to start 1999 with a bang before that dreaded Y2K virus hits.  Then what will happen?  Without power, the UFC won’t be capable of putting on big shows and the fighters will resort to putting on backyard fights.  What a sad, sad reality that would be.  Oh well, I guess we’ll have to get to UFC 18 and enjoy our wired society while it’s still in tact.

UFC 18: The Road to the Heavyweight Title – January 8, 1999

Previous Editions

As the name of the event would indicate, the UFC is working to crown a new Heavyweight Champion and they’ll continue the journey here tonight in Louisiana.  Coleman vs. Rizzo and Rutten vs. Kohsaka should go a long way to determining who will be claiming that title.  Mike Goldberg and Jeff Blatnick are both back as the broadcasters of this event and I’m happy about half of that.  I’ll let you guess which half.

Jeff Blatnick starts by hyping up the UFC’s commitment to staying on the air in 1999 amidst all of the turmoil we’ve seen between the UFC and cable providers.  Blatnick encourages fans to draft letters to cable companies but to send them to the UFC first, where one winner will be chosen to attend the UFC Heavywight Title bout at UFC 20.  Blatnick gives many thanks to the fans who have stuck with the UFC.  It’s very interesting to hear Jeff Blatnick discuss the UFC’s initiatives to push forward and stay televised knowing he’s both the color commentator and the commissioner of the UFC.

Now from the looks of this, the winners from these two bouts will square off for the Heavyweight Title.  Or maybe the question mark indicates a completely undetermined future in which some of these fighters may or may not be competing for the title.  Or maybe they’ll be competing in a big heavyweight battle royal!  Oooh, I want that one!

Of course, the big deal is Bas Rutten making his UFC debut after an extremely successful run in Pancrase.  Says Mike Goldberg, “How much hype can be behind the entrance into the octagon for the first ever time for Bas Rutten?”  How much hype can be behind the enrance into the octagon for the first ever time for Bas Rutten, indeed.

We get a brief clip of an interview with Bas where he says that Kohsaka is a dangerous grappler and will present some serious challenges.  I can’t tell if he really feels that way or if Bas is being modest, though I don’t know if modesty is a trait of a man who calls himself El Guapo.

Pat Miletich defends his Lightweight Title against a man who is said to be very explosive in Jorge Patino.  He’ll have to be extra explosive when fighting a guy whose fighting style resembles that of a net.  Mikey Burnett looks to get back into title contention when he takes on Townsend Saunders, who lost in his UFC debut against Miletich.

In discussing Jerry Bohlander, Goldie reveals that Bohlander was Vitor Belfort’s original opponent in Brazil before being injured.  I guess that means Wanderlei Silva wasn’t supposed to be fighting at that event – funny how these things happen.  Still, we’ll see Bohlander make his return against California product Tito Oritz.

Oh sweet Jesus, would you look at that?  Mr. Wrestling Observer himself Dave Meltzer is a ringside judge tonight.  Goldie tells us that Meltzer is a respected wrestling journalist, which is true, but he fails to note that Meltzer writes about professional wrestling and not amateur wrestling.  Blatnick must not have a problem with that since he’s the man in charge here.  Meltzer has certainly become a great source for MMA these days, though that may not have been quite the story 12 years ago.

Before we begin our first pay-per-view contest, it’s time for a preliminary bout between lightweights Laverne Clark and Frank Caracci.  I actually found this preliminary fight in a pack of downloadable prelims for the early UFC events.  I’m not sure where this come from and I guess it’s possibly shown on the main card, but I’ll just go ahead and start with this.

Caracci is very white and he’s wearing a gi.  It looks like he could be Fred Ettish’s brother, though he doesn’t have a moustache and is markedly less terrified.  Laverne Clark is a product of Miletich Fighting Systems and Pat is actually in Laverne’s corner.  Good on Pat for cornering one of his men even with a title defense scheduled for later in the evening.  Clark stands more than five inches taller than his opponent and will enjoy a nice reach advantage.

Bruce Buffer is back announcing and he does a great job for the first fight.  He’s really toned things down, sticks to the facts, doesn’t try to stuck the crowd’s collective dick, and puts on a solid performance.  I don’t even have anything bad to say about that!  Caracci gets a great hand from the crowd as he’s from the state of Louisiana.

The size difference is very noticeable as the fight begins.  Caracci seems interested in striking but tries for a takedown on Clark, who easily defends the attempt.  Caracci keeps pushing forward and Clark is able to avoid being taken down.  He actually scores some nice strikes as Caracci is on his knees and he’s able to move into Caracci’s guard.

Clark has busted Caracci open with his punches, which have looked very strong thus far.  Clark has Caracci’s left arm pinned under his own head and Clark lands a number of unanswered punches and elbows before losing control during a failed attempt to pass guard.  Clark isn’t throwing a ton, but he’s pushing forward and being active enough to keep from being restarted.

Clark postures up from guard and lands some punches from guard as Caracci is pinned against the fence.  Clark stands over his opponent which prompts Caracci to attempt a knee bar, but it’s a poor try and Clark is landing some really big shots.  As he lands a number of heavy shots, referee Tony Moulinex pauses the action to fix an issue on one of Clark’s gloves.

The fight is restarted past the five minute mark with both fighters on their feet.  I’d complain about the restart not being on the ground, but I feel like the referee can’t prevent Caracci from inevitably being injured in this bout.  Caracci somehow thinks it’s a good idea to try a takedown after the restart, but Clark avoids and lands some really heavy punches.  Caracci is pretty much just writhing and trying to survive and Clark is easily able to move into side control and then full mount.

I’m really impressed with Laverne Clark thus far.  He’s not facing much of a fighter, but his punches have all looked very heavy and he’s been dominant throughout this contest.  Clark is just muscling his opponent around, backing Caracci against the cage and landing some more big punches, prompting Caracci to submit due to strikes.  Laverne Clark has easily won this contest on the strength of heavy hands and the weakness of a completely inept opponent.

I feel like Frank Caracci is one of the worst fighters we’ve seen in the UFC for a long time.  It’s good that he’s on the preliminary card since there’s nothing he can offer that would titillate the viewing audience.  Clark just pulverized Caracci.  Badly.  After the fight, Mike Goldberg praises Caracci’s stamina because he’s a fucking nitwit.  Yeah, way to take an ass kicking.  Great job.

Now it’s time for the first main card contest, a middleweight bout between Darrell Gholar and Evan Tanner.  Oh, young Evan Tanner.  This kid came into the UFC with some absolutely incredible credentials.  He was 16-1 in MMA competing largely in Pancrase.  He holds wins over Heath Herring, Paul Buentello, Justin McCully, and Ikuhisa Minowa and has submission victories in 12 out of 16 victories.  Tanner is the reigning USWF Champion, which should not be confused with the USWA Heavyweight Wrestling Title that Jerry Lawler won about a billion times.

Darrel Gholar is a wrestler – what, you need more than that?

Bruce Buffer opens the card off with a “We are live!” but then stumbles through an excessively long introduction.  Bruce, come on!  Things were so promising in the prelim bout, what happened to you in the last 30 minutes?  I guess he really turns it on when things go live, but he really does better in a more subdued way.  Why doesn’t he take some cues from…I don’t know, his half-brother Michael?  You’d think the guy would maybe try to announce in a more calm, deliberate way instead of yelling into the microphone like he’s Oprah giving out prizes to a big group of middle-aged women.

Ugh, whatever.  The fight is on!  Tanner opens the fight with a big leg kick.  Gholar tries to push forward with punches, but Tanner is on his toes and avoids contact.  When Gholar does manage to sneak in a punch, it looks pretty weak.  Tanner throws another leg kick, but Gholar catches it and takes Tanner to the mat!  Gholar is in Tanner’s full guard and Tanner seems fairly relaxed from the bottom.

Gholar’s corner sounds like a bunch of fucking geniuses since we have one guy saying, “Pick him up and slam him like in training!”  Fucking what?  Yeah, great idea.  Pick a guy up from his guard and slam him down.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that move utilized to perfection.  What on earth would that accomplish?

Just as his corner shouts that out, Tanner sinks in a triangle with control of Gholar’s left arm.  Gholar then utilizes the slam, but Tanner is unphased and works to sink this triangle in deeper.  Gholar manages to adjust and get his head out and ends up in side control.  Tanner almost immediately throws up his legs to try for an armbar.  Blatnick notes how clueless Gholar seems on the ground.  It’s true that while Gholar is maintaining control, he’s not doing a good job of staying out of danger.

Tanner never manages to sink in the armbar, but he works to improve his position and moves Gholar into his full guard.  Darrel Gholar’s cornerman is the most obnoxious fucking person on earth.  This guy is awful.  The fight is in Gholar’s corner so all we hear is this asshole yelling, “DARREL HIT HIM IN THE FACE.  HIT HIM IN THE EYE.  PUT YOUR HEAD IN HIS FACE.  STAND UP AND PASS THE GUARD.  DARREL WATCH FOR THE CHOKE.  KNEE HIM IN THE HEAD.  LET’S GO KEEP PUNCHING HIM IN THE FACE AND PASS HIS GUARD.  DON’T BRING THOSE PUNCHES TOO WIDE HE’LL DO THE TRIANGLE AGAIN.  PUNCH HIM IN THE EYE.”

I swear to God, he says all of these things in a 1-2 minute span where Darrel spends the entire time on top of Tanner.  That has to be the most terrible advice I’ve ever heard from a corner.  Seriously, I think it’s the worst.  When judging corner advice, this is the gold standard of awfulness.  I thought Bisping on the Ultimate Fighter was bad, but yeesh.  Of course, as we all know, the best corner advice ever is “GO GET SOME DONALD CE-RRON-AY.”

As Gholar tries to move into side control, Tanner turns over on all fours as Gholar’s cornerman is beside himself screaming for knees.  Instead, Gholar allows Tanner to get back to his feet and pin him against the cage.  Tanner lands a couple of knees to the stomach before the fighters break.  Tanner is now throwing some heavy leg kicks and is really opening up his striking!  Gholar is clinching out of desperation, but Tanner is landing some big knees in the clinch against the cage!

Tanner is really letting loose now, landing some big elbows along with the knees!  Big John McCarthy is looking on closely as Tanner is unleashing on his opponent!  After the clinch is broken, Tanner is landing some damaging leg kicks!  Gholar seems exhausted and is just stumbling around the cage as he gets beaten down!  Gholar gives up his back, while standing no less, and is submitted by Evan Tanner!  What a spectacular comeback!  This crowd is absolutely loving this and some am I!  That was a really great win after spending a lot of the fight on his back.

Darrel Gholar was fairly clueless in there.  He worked hard to put himself in good positions, but did nothing when in those positions.  Evan fought pretty effectively off of his back and took advantage when he ended up back on his feet.  Goldie interviews Tanner after the fight and says he prepared to fight off of his back and he’s hopeful that he’ll be back in the UFC again.

The next contest is a lightweight fight between Mikey Burnett and Townsend Saunders.  Burnett has established himself as a very powerful lightweight who puts on exciting fights and is so pale that he’s almost clear.  Saunders is a decorated wrestler with an Olympic silver medal, but he lost a tight decision to Pat Miletich in his UFC debut.  Burnett says in his post fight interview that his strategy is to “take it to him.”  This man is a winner.

We’re accustomed to Burnett being the smaller fighter since he’s built like a little tank at 5’6″ and 170 pounds, but Sanders stands one inch shorter than that at 5’5″.  We get to see Ken Shamrock in Burnett’s corner, the first time we’ve see Shamrock in a little while.  At the time, Ken Shamrock is the reigning WWE (then WWF) Intercontinental Champion and was making quite the living fake fighting.

The fight opens and it looks like Burnett has some kind of tassels coming down from his trunks.  Upon further examination, it just appears to be some kind of Native American garb.  Saunders opens up the fight with leg kicks and Burnett tries to respond with punches of his own.  Saunders seems pretty comfortable with his kicks and I’m sure he’s just setting up his takedowns.  Still, Burnett is the more adept striker and is working to put together some combos.

About two minutes in, Mikey Burnett drops Saunders with a three punch combo!  Saunders is working to get back to his feet but Burnett is relentlessly pushing forward with punches.  Saunders is out of it and tries to gather his wits, but Burnett keeps pushing.  Saunders tries for a takedown but Burnett backs off and lets Saunders get back to his feet.  Saunders seems to have regained his composure at this point, but Burnett continues to pick his spots and throw combos.

Saunders is still working to take Burnett down since he clearly wants nothing to do with Burnett’s striking.  Saunders is still throwing leg kicks and punches to set up his takedowns, only he’s having no success bringing Burnett down.  Saunders is on the defensive while standing with Burnett pushing forward.  He lands a few strikes and ends up backing Saunders against the cage.  Burnett actually grabs the cage but is admonished by referee Tony Moulinex who is enforcing one of the newest rules in the UFC.

As Burnett throws knees, we get some weird little cathedral window view of Ken Shamrock giving advice.  Burnett follows Shamrock’s instructions and nicely attacks Saunders’ legs before they break the clinch and move back to the center of the cage.  The action has really slowed at this point with Saunders not doing much of anything right now.  Burnett is still throwing some combos, but Saunders’ strategy at this point is too avoid.  Burnett’s combos look decent and he lands a few knees.  Saunders is really absorbing punishment here.

When Burnett throws his punches, Saunders is just ducking down at this point and Burnett considers sinking in a choke twice.  Burnett releases the first time, but puts in a little extra effort the second time but can’t finish the hold.  With just two minutes left in regulation, Saunders finally lets his hands go a bit but he doesn’t consistently string anything together.  It makes sense since he’s clearly the inferior striker.  An interesting point that Blatnick brings up is that the UFC finally instituted a rule to ban grabbing of the trunks, which is long overdue.

There’s just one minute left in regulation and Saunders is doing absolutely nothing right now.  He basically seems to have given up as all he’s doing is backing away when Saunders throws punches.  The buzzer sounds at 12 minutes and regulation is done and Saunders has three minutes to do something.

And actually, he starts off overtime very aggressive.  He rushes in with a nice takedown attempt, but Burnett maintains great balance and avoids the attempt but Saunders throws a few punches on the break.  Saunders seems to realize that he has work to do to win this fight, but I don’t know that he can do anything worth while in three minutes.  He clinches Burnett against the fence and lands some body shots, but Burnett reverses positions and begins to throw knees.

Shamrock yells out for Burnett to throw some knees to the head and the Lion’s Den product obliges his coach.  Burnett has done a good job following Shamrock’s instructions during this contest, but I don’t know how much that matters.  Saunders hasn’t looked very good in this bout and Burnett has been in control.  Overtime ends with this Louisiana crowd chanting “bullshit”, apparently mad that somebody didn’t die.  Saunders looks visibly disappointed after this contest as Burnett seems to have clearly won this fight.

And the judges unanimously agree that Mikey Burnett has won this fight.  The crowd sounds less than enthusiastic about the decision, but it wasn’t too bad of a fight.  Mikey Burnett stayed busy and tried to get some action going, but Saunders was strangely content to just bounce around the cage for the better part of 15 minutes.

Burnett is disappointed after the fight that he didn’t score the knockout.  He’s pleased that he avoided the takedown, but he figured he would be able to stay off of his back.  He felt his training was strong for this contest, both with wrestlers in Oklahoma and with Ken Shamrock.  Burnett then calls out Pat Miletich and says he wants a shot at the title.

Interestingly enough, Burnett notes that he and Ken Shamrock will not only be in Jerry Bohlander’s corner, but also Mark Coleman’s corner later this evening.  Coleman has apparently been working with the Lion’s Den in anticipation of this contest.  I haven’t heard anything about Coleman’s Hammer House, though I imagine it was dissolved after a massive illegal pharmaceuticals bust.

Before the next contest, Vitor Belfort is out to talk with Goldie and Blatnick.  Vitor comes out and drops a bombshell, saying he wants to fight Frank Shamrock for the UFC Middleweight Title!  Belfort actually says he spoke with Bob Meyrowitz and that Shamrock doesn’t want to fight Belfort on a proposed March date, but Belfort says he still wants the fight.  He explains that if Shamrock declines this public challenge, then Belfort will fight the winner of Ortiz vs. Bohlander in March and the winner of that fight will get a title shot.

Belfort clarifies that he doesn’t feel like Shamrock is ducking him, but at the same time, he feels like he was more deserving of a title fight than John Lober.  They show the video of Belfort vs. Wanderlei from Ultimate Brazil to support Belfort’s request for a title shot.  Belfort says he trained more to box during that fight, but his fast hands are a gift from God.

I would love to see either of these scenarios play out, but you know what they say about best laid plans.  Vitor Belfort will not fight Frank Shamrock, he won’t fight Tito Ortiz or Jerry Bohlander, and he won’t fight for the UFC again until 2002.  Vitor Belfort will compete in a few months for an up and coming Japanese MMA promotion where he’ll take on the best they have to offer.  I won’t get into the specifics right now, but I am very, very excited to write about this fight.

Speaking of the middleweights, it’s time for the bout between Jerry Bohlander and Tito Ortiz in what should be a fun contest.  Ortiz, who has been christened “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy”, will be back in the UFC after a tight loss against Guy Metzger.  Bohlander feels that Tito is very one dimensional and says that there’s nothing Tito can do that he can’t counter.  At 6’2″. Ortiz is three inches taller than the 5’11” Bohlander.  Tito doesn’t only look taller than Bohlander to start the fight, but he looks bigger all around.

Tito starts quick with a nice right hand and takes Bohlander down with a really slick body lock.  Tito is in guard with Bohlander pinned against the fence and Bohlander is working to roll out of the position, but Tito maintains a solid base.  Ortiz begins with the ground and pound throwing some nice punches and elbows.  Big John warns Tito to improve his position and continues with the strikes as Bohlander tries to escape.

Tito tries to sink in a guillotine, but both men are back on their feet.  Tito is now throwing some serious punches with Bohlander against the cage and scores another takedown.  This time he moves into side control, but Bohlander uses the cage to adjust and move Tito into his guard.  Blatnick notes that Tito does look massive for a 200 pounder and suspects he cut at least ten pounds to make weight.

Tito is putting a lot behind his punches and you can hear it on impact.  His ground striking has been good, but Big John feels like he hasn’t been throwing enough and stands the fighters up.  Both fighters seem hesitant to strike and Bohlander opens up with a leg kick, but Tito catches it and throws some heavy punches before Bohlander backs off.  Tito is definitely landing more and starts to put together some combos as Bohlander staggers back toward the cage.

Tito moves into the clinch with Bohlander and takes him down once more.  He takes north/south position and throws some big knees with a tight grasp on Bohlander’s head.  Shamrock is calling for Bohlander to throw knees from the bottom, but Ortiz is firmly in control at this point.  He starts to throw a bit more but Bohalder escapes.  The fighters struggle and Ortiz shoots in, eventually moving back into Bohlander’s guard.

Bohlander has spent a lot of this fight on his back and though Ortiz hasn’t been constantly busy, he’s done enough to do damage and score on the judges’ scorecards.  Ten minutes into the fight, Big John stands the fighters up once again.  You can really see the difference in striking as Bohlander’s punches are more wild while Tito is calm and throwing controlled shots.

Bohlander rushes in, but again, Tito scores a takedown and is in half guard.  I think that’s the fourth or fifth takedown from Ortiz compared to none from Bohlander.  Ortiz finished the regulation period throwing weak punches while laying on Bohlander.  The fighters head back to their corners and Bohlander appears to have a pretty nasty cut on his forehead.

Bohlander is aggressive to start overtime and tries to pin Tito against the fence, but Ortiz is clearly the much stronger fighter.  Bohlander is doing his best to gain control, but he’s being rag-dolled by Tito and is taken down to the mat once again.  Bohlander is throwing weak punches from the bottom while Ortiz seems perfectly happy to maintain top control.  About half way through the overtime, Tito starts throwing some elbows and punches while controlling Bohlander’s right arm.

Big John stops the fight with just 30 seconds remaining to look at a cut around Bohlander’s eye.  Ortiz is covered in blood, but it is all Bohlander’s.  Big John and the doctors think the cut is bad given how close it is to the eye.  It’s decided that the fight will be stopped and Tito will be declared the winner which is definitely the smart move.  Tito had this fight in hand and there was no need to risk a potential injury in 30 second of action.  The decision surely would have been his had this gone to the judges’ scorecards.

Goldie interviews Tito after the fight and is not bashful.  He says he caught Bohlander’s ass “on fire” and Tito says he wants to fight for the title next.  Tito actually makes a really good point about the criticisms of the UFC saying that people are only scared of it because it’s a new thing and that people are already used to boxing.  He feels like boxing is much more violent since it’s 12 rounds of punching people in the head versus UFC fights that can be as short as a few minutes.

What might get Tito into some trouble is the gesture pictured above, where he shot his fingers like pistols toward the Lion’s Den after the victory.  Something tells me there may be an unhappy party or two out of the Lion’s Den, but that’s just an educated guess.

Goldberg tells us that the UFC will be back with UFC 19 in March in an effort to show nine UFC events in 1999.  Boy, nine events…the UFC flew through nine events in just five months this year.  John Perretti, the UFC’s match-maker, says that a Belfort vs. Frank Shamrock fight all depends on Frank and his willingness to fight.  I’m surprised he’s turned down that fight at the moment with such success at middleweight so far.  Goldie basically sucks Perretti off on live TV, telling him how good of a job he’s doing.  Jesus Christ, is Mike Goldberg such a pompous kiss ass.  I’d love to shove him down an elevator shaft.

This should be a great contest between black Mark Coleman and Pedro Rizzo.  Wait, what?  Goldie thankfully clarifies that the picture is actually of “Laverne Turner”.  Oh, great clarification.  Laverne Turner, what the fuck.  Goldie is such a twit.

I love hearing Mark Coleman talk because he basically slurs everything he says.  When he says “Rizzo”, he actually pronounces it with the traditional R and not the Portuguese R, which is unsurprising and fairly funny.  Mark Coleman gets a nice hand and will certainly be the recipient of a number of “USA!” chants tonight.  Can’t wait!

The fight starts slowly but Coleman scores a takedown in the first minute.  I think John Perretti is doing commentary on this first fight and he sounds like Regis Philbin.  It’s fucking obnoxious.  Coleman has managed to back Rizzo against the cage, but Rizzo manages to position himself away from the cage using his feet against the fence.  Coleman is doing very little right here save for a punch or two.  I get the feeling that we’ll see a stand up very soon.  Coleman’s punches sound hard, but he’s landing very few of them.

Now Coleman has worked to pin Rizzo against the cage once more and is trying his best to keep Rizzo pinned, but Pedro is doing a nice job maneuvering away from the fence using his feet.  John Perretti inquires about a hold that Coleman is using and Blatnick reveals it’s the half nelson to which Perretti replies, “You guys have all these great names for things!”  Seriously John Perretti?  You make matches for an MMA organization and don’t know what a fucking half nelson is?

Big John continues to urge Coleman to improve his position, but he’s doing very little.  Rizzo is nicely obstructing Coleman’s punches by sticking his hands up and moving around as much as he can and we end up with a stand up at the five minute mark.  Coleman is exhausted and that’s a surprise to nobody.

Coleman starts throwing lunging punches at the opening of the restart, but that doesn’t last very long.  Now Rizzo is opening up a little bit with leg kicks and some big counter punches!  Coleman’s throwing big shots, but only one or two at a time and very infrequently.  Rizzo has Coleman backed against the fence, but doesn’t do anything with the advantageous position for fear of offense from Coleman.  “The Hammer” is unsuccessful with a shot and the men are back on their feet.

Rizzo throws a leg kick with Coleman against the cage, but Coleman nicely grabs the kick and takes Rizzo to the mat.  Coleman is in the closed guard of Rizzo and starts with the elbows, but again, he’s way too tired to string anything together and there are six minutes left in this fight.

Coleman is doing so little from the top, though it’s in part due to Rizzo being able to hold onto Coleman’s arms and keeping him from throwing much.    Coleman is working to put something together but Big John restarts the action with one minute left in regulation.  Ken Shamrock is imploring Coleman to take Rizzo down, which is really the only way he’ll be able to survive being so tired.

Rizzo seems fairly hesitant to engage and is working to time Coleman’s shots.  Rizzo sprawls on Coleman’s first takedown attempt with 35 seconds left in regulation.  Rizzo throws a nice leg kick but doesn’t do much of anything for the remaining 20 seconds of the round.  Regulation ends and Coleman spend much of the first 12 minutes in control, but did very little damage.

In overtime, Coleman starts off with a strong low kick of his own.  Rizzo throws a nice left hand/right low kick combo.  Coleman tries for a takedown, but Rizzo again sprawls and nicely avoids the takedown.  Rizzo responds with a 1-2 combo and then Coleman throws another leg kick of his own.  Rizzo is doing very little in this overtime against a very tired opponent.  With about 30 seconds left, Rizzo scores a leg kick and then a couple of punches, but nothing else.  The overtime ends and I’m surprised by Rizzo’s approach.  I think he could have done some serious damage like Pete Williams did against Coleman and I don’t know that he did enough to win.

Bruce Buffer reads the judges scorecards and announces we have a split decision.  I’ll give you Bruce Buffer’s exact words in announcing the third and decisive decision.  “And doctor…excuse me, referee…judge Dave Meltzer calls it for the winner on his way to the Heavyweight Championship…Pedro Rizzo!!”  I’m somewhat surprised by the decision, but I’m certainly not too upset.  Coleman tried to lay and pray his way to victory and I guess Rizzo’s defense and sparing striking was enough for the win.  John Perretti disagrees, but John Perretti is also a clown so who really cares?

After the fight, Blatnick throws to “Mike Goldman” for the interview with Pedro Rizzo.  I hope this is a conscious effort from Blatnick to throw Goldberg off his game because he’s a dope.  Rizzo said it was a tough fight and worried about his conditioning a bit, but felt he trained hard enough to survive the fight.  Rizzo gives a lot of credit to the great Marco Ruas for preparing him for tonight’s fight.

Rizzo looked very impressive in his debut against Tank Abbott, but this contest with Mark Coleman left a lot to be desired.  He survived a grueling fight against a tough opponent, but he didn’t do very much to impress.  Still, Rizzo is 2-0 in the UFC with wins over big time veterans.  He’ll certainly be a prime candidate for a shot at the UFC Heavyweight Title.

It’s time for the Lightweight Title match between first ever champion Pat Miletich and Jorge Patino.  Pat Miletich looks very strung out in the above picture and is kinda scare.  Jorge Patino is nicknamed “Macaco”, which apparently means monkey.  I think I know who I want to win this fight.  (The guy nicknamed “Monkey”)  Miletich holds a two inch height advantage in this fight, though I don’t know how much of a difference this will make.

The fight opens with Patino circling around Miletich, who has taken a central position in the cage.  Patino shoots in for a takedown of his own, but Miletich defends and moves to the center of the cage with Patino in the clinch.  Patino tries for a trip, but misses and falls to his back.  Miletich enters Patino’s guard but surprisingly stands up without incident.  Interesting…

Patino takes some time before shooting in for another takedown, but ends up dragging Miletich into his guard.  Again, Miletich stands back up and clearly shows he’s interested in fighting on his feet.  However, Miletich isn’t doing very much while standing.  He moves in with some punches and backs Patino against the fence, but doesn’t do anything with that position.  Patino tries for an axe kick, but Miletich avoids the potentially dangerous move.  Miletich charges in with a single right hook and backs off.

After five minutes of this fight, I would like to take a nap.

You can see that Patino is trying to work in some interesting high kicks, but Miletich seems to have no problem avoiding these strikes.  Miletich seems to be frustrated with his opponent’s inactivity, but Miletich isn’t doing a whole lot himself.  The fighters briefly exchange before entering the clinch against the fence.  Patino reaches for a leg but can’t score the takedown and is tossed aside by Miletich.  Miletich starts to get a bit more active with his strikes and Patino responds in kind, but this gives Miletich the opening to lock Patino in a front headlock against the fence.

Patino is not pleased in that spot and tries to push forward to gain control, but Miletich releases the headlock.  Just after the eight minute mark, Miletich lands a glancing head kick and backs Patino against the fence, eventually taking Patino’s back.  The Brazilian hits a nice roll through and tries to lock in a leg submission, but Miletich scurries and escapes the position!  That was a close call, but we’re back on the feet.  Patino is getting a little more aggressive with leg kicks, but the action still leaves a lot to be desired as we’re at the ten minute mark of the fight.

Nothing is happening really.  Big John warns both fighters to engage and Patino responds by grabbing Miletich and dropping into guard.  Miletich is throwing body shots from guard and again escapes that position, thinking better of trying to grapple with Patino.  Miletich now rushes in with Patino backed against the cage, but Patino scores a nice takedown and ends up in side control with 90 seconds left in regulation.

Patino attempts to move into full mount, but Miletich does a nice job making adjustments and moving Patino into his guard.  Patino now stands up and backs off, but then rushes forward with a running, jumping stomp on Miletich’s head!! What an incredible move!!

Oh, except it’s illegal.  Kind of an important detail.  Big John issues a foul to Patino as the round ends.  Though there isn’t any exact criteria regarding how to apply a foul, Jeff Blatnick further clarifies the tool by saying judges can use it at their discretion and should be considered when making a decision.  With a fight as close (boring) as this, the foul could make a serious impact.

Time for the first three minute overtime and Miletich lunges forward with some strikes.  He ends up in the sprawl position over Patino and backs away at the one minute mark.  Patino continues to make attempts to bring Miletich down to the ground, but Miletich is not interested in that.  Patino is trying to close the distance with Miletich, who is landing a bit more with his longer arms and legs.  No strikes of incident, but he’s still landing more.  The very crappy first overtime is over.  We still have three minutes left.

Patino starts to swing a bit during the opening of the second overtime, but Miletich ducks the punches and takes Patino down to the mat.  Patino opens up his guard to seemingly allow Miletich to escape.  Miletich stands up, only to move in with a surprising punch!  Very smart move by Miletich to catch Patino with a surprising shot.  After a little while longer in guard, Miletich gets back to his feet only for Patino to not only bring him back into guard, but he tries for a guillotine!  He holds onto Miletich’s neck for the remainder of the round as this fight ends.

An important question is who won this fight?  My answer is I don’t give a shit, but all three judges feel like Pat Miletich won this contest.  I can’t argue with them, especially given the foul to Patino, but that certainly wasn’t the performance of a champion.  That may have been a win, but that wasn’t truly a victory.  I guess you take what you can get.

That fight really was bad.  It wasn’t technically awful or particularly unpleasant, but it just makes me feel bad.  Like…as bad as you can feel while being indifferent, which is even worse than just watching a bad fight.  These are two talented guys who put on an absolutely miserable fight and now…I don’t know?  I don’t care enough about this fight to have a real opinion, I just know I didn’t like what I just saw.

Thank God for this last fight because if there’s anything to snap me out of a Pat Miletich funk, it’s Bas Rutten.  In the main event, we’ll see Bas Rutten take on Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in what should be an extremely important heavyweight bout.  Finally, Bas fucking Rutten in the UFC!!

This is a man you should be afraid of.  I’m terrified of Bas Rutten even though he’s a very nice guy and is tons of fun.  This guy could destroy me whether or not he was paid to do so.  Here, he’s getting money to beat a man down and I would really hate to be Kohsaka at this point.  After such a distinguished career in Pancrase, the man is finally in the UFC.

Bas Rutten’s last loss: in March of 1995 to Ken Shamrock.  Fighters he defeated during this time period: Maurice Smith, Minoru Suzuki, Guy Mezger, and Masakatsu Funaki.  He might be a smaller heavyweight at 211 pounds, but Kohsaka is not much bigger at 228 pounds.  Bas also holds a two inch height advantage over Kohsaka.  Bas gets a great hand from the audience prior to this fight.

Bas starts quickly throwing a deflected head kick.  Kohsaka rushes in for a takedown but eats a couple of punches.  Bas defends the takedown and Kohsaka stands back up, only to get punched even more.  Kohsaka relentlessly pushes forward and Bas can’t stop the takedown, but Kohsaka only manages to get to Bas’ guard.  Kohsaka is throwing some punches with Bas pinned against the cage and the Dutchman tries to answer back with punches of his own.  Kohsaka advances to side mount and starts to throw some big punches and elbows, but Bas bursts out and moves to his feet.

Bas throws a kick, but Kohsaka catches the kick and scores another takedown.  He’s in Rutten’s closed guard and lands a number of good punches.  Bas tries to control Kohsaka’s right arm, but Kohsaka frees himself and continues throwing some nice punches.  Rutten is quite active on his back, but there’s a lot of power behind Kohsaka’s punches.  TK advances to side mount once again and throws some elbows to Bas’ left thigh.  Kohsaka throws punches to the body, the head, and the thigh and is scoring some points right now.

Bas now grabs hold of Kohsaka’s head and is eating some punches to the body, but Big John decides to stand the fighters back up.  I disagree with the restart.  Big John insists that Kohsaka needed to advance positions, but I thought that his striking was effective enough to let them continue fighting.  We’re at 5:43 in the fight.

Bas is stalking toward Kohsaka and throws an inside leg kick that seems to bother Kohsaka.  He lunges and misses with a punch as Kohsaka dances away from Rutten.  He dives in for a punch but Kohsaka ducks and lands a very nice double leg takedown!  Kohsaka quickly assumes half guard before Bas adjusts and moves Kohsaka into his guard.  K0hsaka is much more inactive in guard this time around, though he’s still landing and appears to have busted Bas open a bit, but TK is apparently cut as well.

At the nine minute mark, Kohsaka starts to throw a bit more while Bas is doing his best to answer back.  Big John again stands the fighters up and oddly helps Bas up to his feet.  Seriously, Big John grabs Bas’ arm and hoists him back to his feet.  That’s…strange.

After the restart, Kohsaka is circling before Bas lands a powerful inside leg kick just past the ten minute mark.  Kohsaka is stomping and shaking his leg to indicate that he’s in great pain.  Bas thinks he struck Kohsaka in the groin and reaches out his hand to apologize, which is accepted by Kohsaka.

Bas is starting to unleash with his kicks and he’ll need to after spending much of regulation on his back.  Kohsaka shoots near the eleven minute mark but Rutten sprawls and keeps the fight standing.  He’s whipping kicks at Kohsaka both high and low, notably missing with a very scary looking high kick.  Kohsaka throws a kick of his own and Bas doesn’t even flinch.  Bas moves in with some punches and lands a nice right hand as regulation ends.  I think that Kohsaka is ahead at this point, but Rutten is starting to get a lot more comfortable.  Can he do enough in the next three minutes to win?

Big John opens the overtime by yelling, “Don’t leave it to a judge!”  Jesus, even in 1999 were they spouting that bullshit line.  Bas opens the round with some nice punches and then throws a couple of huge shots followed by a high kick!  Bas throws some low kicks and TK seems a little antsy at this point.  Bas lands some punches with his opponent backed against the cage, but Kohsaka responds with a knee!  Bas gives Kohsaka a look as if to say, “Alright mother fucker, you wanna play that game with El Guapo?  I guess I gotta fuck you up!”

Kohsaka moves in to size up Rutten but eats a body kick.  Bas pushes forward with a huge 1-2 combo and is really making an effort to win this fight in overtime.  He has TK backed against the cage and throws some punches before landing some knees.  Bas is landing some big shots and Kohsaka drops to the mat as Big John stops this fight!!!  Kohsaka was taking a lot of punishment for the last 15 seconds and Bas managed to drop a very tough fighter for the TKO victory with just 45 seconds left.  Bas and Kohsaka embrace and Bas is mobbed in the cage by his corner.

Once Bas got warmed up, he was unstoppable.  With Kohsaka backed against the cage, Bas landed some amazing punches that all got through cleanly.  Bas seemed to consider kicking Kohsaka once he was down, but wisely avoided the move.  Once Bas is announced the winner, he and Kohsaka share a nice laugh and Bas honors his opponent with a nice hand.

After the fight, Bas says he got the advantage in overtime knowing Kohsaka was too tired to shoot.  He was conscious of the time in the cage and really let loose when his corner notified him there was one minute remaining in the fight.  Goldie confirms that Bas will be fighting Pedro Rizzo next.  Bas acknowledges that he’ll be fighting a friend, but is positive that he’ll be winning the UFC Heavyweight Title.

While I’m a massive Bas Rutten fan and may come through like a bit of a homer, Kohsaka was really great in this fight.  He might have gotten a bit tired, but dished out an ass-kicking just as good as he got.  TK is a very tough dude and I’m hopeful we’ll see him in the UFC some more.

This is why you have to love Bas Rutten.  He took a little permanent marker and scribbled a soul patch on the UFC logo before laying down next to it for the sake of comparison.  Bas is a huge goof who likes to kick ass and disliking him means you have no soul.  I really mean that.  If you’re reading this and you don’t like Bas Rutten, set yourself on fire.  You can disagree with him and think he’s a little out of touch nowadays, but to dislike him is a fucking miserable act tantamount to treason.

So UFC 18 is done and we’ll end up seeing UFC 19 in just a couple of months.  I really liked this card and was so happy to see Bas make his debut in the UFC.  It was nice seeing Rizzo and Ortiz in action as well.  Goldie says they’re hopeful that Frank Shamrock will be fighting at UFC 19, but it’s far from a sure thing.  We know that Belfort has moved on to greener pastures at this point.

The UFC is really in a groove right now, putting on some really good fights despite the consistent issues with limited exposure.  They’re working toward the crowning of a new Heavyweight Champion and Rizzo vs. Rutten seems like a potential title fight.  Guys like Tito Ortiz and Mikey Burnett are really emerging as more fan friendly fighters given their particularly powerful and violent offenses.

I’m anxious to see the shape that UFC 19 will take with all of these changes and I really expect the promotion to keep the momentum going.  Whether we see more UFC veterans or newcomers going forward should also be an interesting development, but there will always be talent out there ready to come into the UFC to compete.

Greatest Fights of UFC 18

  1. Bas Rutten vs. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka
  2. Evan Tanner vs. Darrel Gholar
  3. Mikey Burnett vs. Townsend Saunders
  4. Tito Ortiz vs. Jerry Bohlander
  5. Pedro Rizzo vs. Mark Coleman
  6. Laverne Clark vs. Frank Caracci
  7. Pat Miletich vs. Jorge Patino

Top Ten Fights Through UFC 18

  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 18

  1. Bas Rutten (1-0)
  2. Evan Tanner (1-0)
  3. Tito Ortiz (1-0)
  4. Mikey Burnett (1-0)
  5. Laverne Clark (1-0)
  6. Pedro Rizzo (1-0)
  7. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (0-1)
  8. Pat Miletich (1-0)
  9. Mark Coleman (0-1)
  10. Darrel Gholar (0-1)
  11. Jerry Bohlander (0-1)
  12. Townsend Saunders (0-1)
  13. Jorge Patino (0-1)
  14. Frank Caracci (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 18

  1. Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
  2. Mark Coleman (6-3)
  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. Vitor Belfort (5-1)
  9. Frank Shamrock (4-0)
  10. Pedro Rizzo (2-0)
Categories: Ranking the UFC

UFC Ultimate Brazil

October 21, 2011 2 comments

The UFC had a really great first half of 1998, putting on two of the better events in the promotions history.  UFC 16 and 17 showed off some lighter weight fighters and more talented fighters than we’re accustomed to seeing as a whole.  I also think the UFC reducing their tournaments from eight men to four men have made for more competitive events.

Unfortunately, it seems that most of the momentum the UFC built has deteriorated.  It’s now October 1998, five months since the last UFC event.  They’re struggling to stay on pay-per-view, are only active in a handful of states in the U.S., and are often relegated to put on international cards to stay alive.

The UFC is in Brazil for the first time ever, but they’ve left the tournament format back in America.  We’ll see just six main card fights, but they all look to be pretty interesting contests.  Frank Shamrock will defend his Middleweight Title and we’ll see the very first Lightweight Champion crowned in the UFC.  Vitor Belfort and Tank Abbott will both be in action against two familiar names making their UFC debuts.

Jeremy Horn and Pete Williams will also be in action during this event and this event looks as packed as any other we’ve seen in the UFC.  Only in the Ultimate Ultimate events did we see this kind of talent, since most of the early, non-superstar tournaments featured bar fighters and unqualified fat men.  Those days are fading away, though we’re getting closer to seeing Sean fucking Glennon in the UFC.  Ugh.

But forget that, we’re still seven or eight years away from that debacle.  For now, we’re in Sao Paulo and it’s time for the UFC!

UFC Ultimate Brazil – October 16, 1998

Previous Editions

Mike Goldberg and Jeff Blatnick open up the show by discussing the early success of Royce Gracie and his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Is Gracie competing tonight?  Well no, but why not mention a fighter who hasn’t competed for your company in a number of years?  Certainly, it would do some good to discuss a competitor whose brothers are fighting for the rival PRIDE Fighting Championships instead of some of the men we’ll see in action tonight.

Goldie compares the popularity of MMA and all of combat sports in Brazil to that of Pele, a soccer player who was then 57 years old and who had retired from active competition 21 years ago.  I need to go back and watch UFC 134 to make sure Goldie didn’t say something like that during the broadcast.  I seriously wouldn’t doubt it.

Frank Shamrock will be defending his UFC Middleweight Title against John Lober, a Pancrase veteran who actually owns a split decision victory over Shamrock.  Lober’s 3-5-2 record is not very impressive, but it should be interesting since he’s apparently put on competitive fights with Frank in the past.

Blatnick goes to full hyperbole mode by saying that Lober is the only blemish on Shamrock’s record, disregarding his Pancrase losses to Manabu Yamada, Masakatsu Funaki, Yuki Kondo, and Kiuma Kunioku, along with two defeats to the legendary Bas Rutten.  Still, this will be a good fight.

The first Lightweight Title match features Mikey Burnett vs. Pat Miletich, a fight we would have seen in the tournament finals at UFC 16 if not for an injury sustained by Burnett.  We’ll also see Vitor Belfort make his UFC return against a newcomer in Wanderlei Silva.  Not a lot of people remember these early appearances by eventual PRIDE stars Dan Henderson (UFC 17) and Wanderlei, but they most certainly did happen.  Knowing both Vitor and Wandy, this could be a very awesome fight.  It should be noted that Wanderlei’s name is spelled as “Vanderlei” by the UFC.  Yeesh.

Tonight, we get a very special third man in the broadcast booth.  Is it Bruce Beck?  Joe Rogan?  No kiddies, it’s everybody’s favorite – “El Guapo”, Bas Rutten himself!  What a treat this is!  As Bas is presented, Goldie announces that Randy Couture will not be defending his title, which is a fancy way of saying he has left the promotion.  The heavyweight fights tonight will go a way to determining the new champion, while Bas will be in action at the next UFC to further clarify the title picture.  Bas is very excited to be competing in the UFC and says that the UFC Heavyweight Title is the most important in the world.

Before we proceed with these fights, there were two unaired preliminary fights from earlier in the evening featuring four Brazilian fighters.  Tulio Palhares defeated Adriano Santos and Cesar Marcucci defeated Paulo Santos, both fighters winning by TKO.

But now it’s time for the first contest between middleweights Ebenezer Fontes Braga and Jeremy Horn.  Though Braga is making his UFC debut, he has fights against some top competition.  He has losses to Dan Severn and Kevin Randleman, while he defeated future UFC fighter Branden Lee Hinkle earlier in 1998.  Horn lost in his UFC debut against Frank Shamrock, but looked pretty impressive in defeat.

Bruce Buffer has returned and looks absolutely preposterous in this white tuxedo.  My hope is that he lost his luggage on the way to Brazil and this was the only suit he could find on such short notice.  Either that, or the Brazilian fighters played a prank on Bruce and told him that Brazilian law only allows white tuxedos to be worn during sporting events.

Buffer seems to have regressed a bit, as the word he emphasizes the most during his prefight announcement is “the”.  I don’t think you’re supposed to do that.  I should note that the production for this event is absolutely atrocious.  The crowd is louder than any of the announcers and the video is also poor, though both could be due to this being an old VHS tape.

In a very welcomed instance of reverse xenophobia, Jeremy Horn is booed by the Brazilian crowd.  I guess I shouldn’t support a man being booed on racial grounds, but I’m so damn sick and tired of these stupid fucking “USA” chants and foreign fighters being booed for the sake of being foreign.

The fight starts quickly with Braga bull-rushing horn and pinning him against the cage in the clinch.  Horn is a little busier with glancing knee shots while Braga is working to respond in kind.   Horn attempts to push off the cage and take Braga down to the mat but is unsuccessful.  Braga is showing good balance by resisting these attempts from Horn.  The fighters continue to jockey for position, but Horn spends most of this fight with his back against the cage.

Goldie makes a point of telling us that Bas is still around, which Bas obliges by throwing out some disinterested thoughts about this fight.  Goldie and Blatnick seem to be in a bit of a groove together so I can understand him not wanting to speak up.  I wonder if he was even aware that he would be doing commentary here since Bas is generally the loquacious type.

Braga opens up with some strikes around 2:45 but goes back to the clinch.  Horn seems to have a tight body lock on Braga even though he’s up against the fence.  Braga is successful with a trip at the three minute mark and is throwing punches while standing in Horn’s guard.  As Horn works back to his feet, Braga sinks in a very, very tight guillotine choke!  Horn is forced to tap out, giving Braga a very impressive victory a 3:28!  The Brazilian crowd is absolutely elated by Braga’s victory.

The first heavyweight contest of the evening will pit Pete Williams against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka.  Both men are a perfect 1-0 in the UFC, Kohsaka defeating Kimo at UFC 16 and Williams brutally knocking out Mark Coleman at UFC 17.  These men are understandably top contenders for the now vacant UFC Heavyweight Title, though a win over the fairly overrated Kimo only means so much.

Kohasaka is a member of the Alliance fighting camp with Frank Shamrock and Maurice Smith, while Pete Williams is fighting out of Shamrock’s former camp, the Lion’s Den.  Goldie reveals that Jerry Bohlander was supposed to be competing tonight but couldn’t do so on account of an injury.  We see a clip of Williams’ knockout win over Coleman, where Williams reveals that he “knew” he would beat Mark Coleman.  Easy to say that now, pal.  Williams makes no assertions about his fight with Kohsaka, though I’m sure he’ll do so after the fight.

Both men are on the lighter side of heavyweights, William weighing 230 pounds while Kohsaka is at 224 pounds.  Williams also holds a two inch height advantage in this contest.  Goldie claims that Kohsaka is in the best shape of his life, having worked on “sprint training” and “running”.  Wow, such extensive training!  I’m sure it was more complex than this, but we’re talking about a statement made by Mike Goldberg.  I’m sure he fucked it up somehow.

Williams opens up with a low kick and a high kick that’s off the mark.  Kohsaka weakly shoots and Williams is able to back away from the takedown attempt.  Williams is throwing head and body kicks like they’re jabs, but doesn’t have a lot of success.  Kohsaka lands a nice left on Williams and the fighters trade a bit before clinching.  Kohsaka lands a very impressive hip toss and quickly moves into half guard!

With Kohsaka in control, Bas apologizes for being so quiet since he’s working hard to scout these fighters.  Apparently, the winner of Kohsaka vs. Williams will likely be taking on Bas Rutten in the next UFC event.  Jeff Blatnick, who is also the commissioner of the UFC, won’t officially commit to that but says that Bas could likely fight one of these men.

Williams is able to adjust and move Kohsaka into full guard, but Kohsaka is able to regain half guard fairly quickly.  Kohsaka doesn’t seem interested in striking from the top and is working to advance positions and is threatening submissions.  Kohsaka works for a kimura on Williams’ left arm and is unsuccessful.  Blatnick interestingly notes that striking on the ground is not allowed in RINGS, so this is a real adjustment for Kohsaka.

Kohsaka moves into side control and briefly into north/south position before Williams turns over onto his knees.  Kohsaka tries to pull a guillotine choke, but Williams frees himself and now briefly claims half guard before standing up.  Unsurprising since Williams is a very formidable striker.  However, Kohsaka lands a nice right hand that drops Williams!  Petey is still with us, but this allows Kohsaka to move into Williams’ guard and transitions quickly to half guard.

Kohsaka is consistently working on Williams’ left arm for a submission but is unable to secure the hold.  He is, however, able to move into the full mount.  Williams quickly gives up his back and bucks Kohsaka off, getting back to his feet.  Williams is opening up with some leg kicks and Kohsaka responds in kind.  Kohsaka works to clinch with his opponent, but Williams shrugs him off.  Bas suspects that takedowns will be more difficult with both fighters being so sweaty at this point.

Kohsaka grabs onto Williams and tries for another judo throw, but he can’t finish the throw and Williams ends up in full mount after both fighters fall to the mat.  It doesn’t last long as Kohsaka attempts to reverse the position, but Williams is able to maintain half guard.  Kohsaka successfully reverses positions, though it’s not clear how he moves into Williams’ guard since Big John McCarthy is obstructing our view.

Williams looks for a triangle but never has the hold secured and Kohsaka moves to half guard upon his escape.  Kohsaka maintains the illusion of activity as he’s constantly moving and working to advance despite a lack of strikes or real submission attempts.  The Brazilian crowd is getting restless and Bas acknowledges as much.  Williams escapes and moves back to his feet with just 15 seconds left in regulation.  The fighters trade a bit before time expires with a three minute overtime ahead of us.

Both fighters open the overtime with some strikes, though neither gains a clear advantage.  Williams is a little more active though Kohsaka is landing some cleaner punches.  Kohsaka is able to trip Williams down to the mat after a kick attempt.  Kohsaka is in guard and has Williams backed against the cage.  Williams is able to reverse positions as Kohsaka tries for an arm submission, but Williams isn’t able to do much from Kohsaka’s guard.  He gets back to his feet with only ten seconds remaining.  Both fighters land some punches and Williams threatenes with a head kick, but this fight is over.

The decision seems pretty clear to me since Kohsaka spent the majority of the fight on top of Pete Williams.  Williams might have had more of an advantage on the feet, but not enough to outweigh Kohsaka’s effectiveness in controlling this fight.  Sure enough, all three judges score this fight in favor of Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in a fairly unimpressive victory.

We move on to the first ever Lightweight Title fight between Mikey Burnett and Pat Miletich.  Though Miletich won the first ever lightweight tournament, it was Burnett who impressed in a TKO victory over Eugenio Tadeu at UFC 16.  Miletich is certainly the more boring of these two fighters, but he very well may be the more effective of the two fighters.  We’ll have to see if Burnett’s striking is more effective than Miletich’s grappling.  The crowd seems indifferent to both fighters, though Burnett gets a nicer hand since the ring girls come out when he’s announced.

While both men are around the lightweight limit, Miletich is four inches taller than his opponent.  Burnett is an extremely muscular 170 pound fighter and has great power, so that can’t be disregarded in this contest.  You know, since it’s MMA and fighters often punch one another.

As the fight begins, Mike Goldberg calls the UFC “the Super Bowl of mixed martial arts”.  Oh dear, how to pick this one apart.  The UFC isn’t a singular event like the Super Bowl, so wouldn’t it be the NFL of mixed martial arts?  Also, I’d argue that the fighters in PRIDE as a whole are more talented, though Goldie is a noted shill.  I’ll just leave it at that since he’s making my head hurt right now.

Mike Goldberg makes me mad, mostly because I know I could do his job better than he does.  I’m half-way good looking, smart, a good talker, and I know MMA.  Plus, I’m not mentally retarded.

Miletich opens up immediately with a lunging takedown attempt but Burnett sinks in a guillotine choke!  He maintains the hold and is squeezing tight as Miletich has Burnett backed against the fence.  After about a minute, Miletich frees himself though he liberally grabs Burnett’s shorts.  Big John briefly stops the action to physically adjust Burnett’s shorts in a moment of MMA homo-eroticism.  The fighters clinch after the stoppage and Burnett returns the favor by pulling up on Miletich’s trunks.

Burnett scores the first takedown of the fight, pulling Miletich down and moving into full guard.  Burnett hasn’t been very active and when he works to posture up, Miletich quickly kicks his opponent away.  Burnett moves in to strike when back on his feet and Miletich responds with some low leg kicks of his own.  Burnett shoots into the clinch when Miletich goes to kick.  The fighters jockey for position against the fence, trading control regularly.  The crowd hoots and hollers at Miletich, whose trunks have basically been wedgied by Mikey Burnett.

Big John stops the action again so Burnett’s shorts can be adjusted.  McCarthy tells Burnett to make the necessary adjustments, but he gestures toward Burnett’s nether-region.  Big John gets awful handsy with Burnett, tugging up his trunks himself while making this request.  Is this something that Big John teaches during his referee camps?

Miletich shoots again after the restart and Burnett again grabs Miletich’s head.  He doesn’t get close to a guillotine but is working to maintain control.  Mikey Burnett has no hair but does have sideburns in what appears to be an awful hair decision.  I also believe he’s a ginger which is bad news bears.

Miletich quickly changes levels and works for a takedown but Burnett defends the attempt.  Since that didn’t work, Miletich goes back to tugging on his opponent’s trunks.  Did I miss something or wasn’t this banned a number of events ago?  Has this change yet to happen?  I guess there’s no point in asking since this is the early UFC and they’re in Brazil.  It’s essentially a free-for-all at this point.

Burnett drags Miletich to the mat as he works for an arm submission.  Miletich almost ends up in control, but Burnett wisely rolls and ends up in Miletich’s guard.  Miletich is the more active fighter, throwing a lot of punches from the ground.  Burnett is landing punches of his own, but he’s not throwing as frequently as Miletich.  He seems content to just maintain position at this point.  Big John restarts the fight at 11:30 due to inactivity.  They also fix an issue with Miletich’s glove at this point.

Burnett has yet to land any significant strikes in this contest and Guy Mezger is yelling out that Pat Miletich is hurt.  I’m not sure where he’s getting this from since Burnett hasn’t done very much in this contest.  I think that’s just how Miletich fights: like he’s constantly hurt.  The fighters are clinched and the crowd seems very displeased.  They react by whistling at such high frequencies that the collective sounds like a dog whistle.  Burnett lands a low blow with little time left in regulation and he’s fouled by Big John.  This apparently only applies if the fight ends in a draw, though I’m not sure how that happens since judges have to pick winners.  Regulation expires as Big John goes to restart after the low blow.

The first three minute overtime begins and Miletich rushes in early for the clinch.  The fighters trade knees and Mikey is throwing some more punches.  He tries for a trip with no success.  Blatnick and Beck note how much the fighters are using the trunks for an advantage, leading me to believe that this is actually legal.  I remember that after excessive fence grabbing by Jerry Bohlander, the rule was change to disallow fence grabbing.  Let’s hope that trunk grabbing is corrected at UFC 18 or shortly thereafter.

At the one minute mark, Miletich pulls Burnett into his guard.  The next two minutes are spent with the fighters trading shots from this position.  Burnett opens the second three minute overtime with a nice right hand that drops Miletich!  Burnett moves into Miletich’s guard briefly but stands back up, opting to stand with Miletich.

The fighters clinch and Burnett starts to land some knees, but both men opt to grab each others shorts.  Miletich is pushing forward in this overtime and is trying to land some punches, but Burnett is landing harder elbows, knees, and punches from the clinch.  Burnett grabs Miletich’s head just as the fight expires rather uneventfully.

I feel like Mikey Burnett has won this fight, though it was a pretty even contest.  Both men spent time in advantageous positions on the ground and the fighters spent significant time in the clinch, though Burnett seemed to land more damaging strikes from that position.

The judges score a split decision in favor of Pat Miletich, who is the first ever UFC Lightweight (soon to be welterweight) Champion.  This was definitely a close fight, though I don’t necessarily agree with this decision.  Burnett angrily walks away as the decision is announced.  Miletich may have won this contest, though he didn’t do a whole lot to impress.  Still, he has won UFC gold at 170 pounds.

In his post fight interview, Miletich appropriately says that the fight was too close for either man to be declared the undisputed champion.  Despite having just won this title, Miletich talks about “eating some cinnamon rolls” to move up to fight Frank Shamrock if he’s successful against John Lober.  I definitely think that talk is premature with guys like Jerry Bohlander out there waiting to challenge for a title.

This next heavyweight contest features veteran Tank Abbott against the debuting Pedro Rizzo.  We know what Tank is all about, while the young Pedro Rizzo is a bit of an unknown.  Rizzo has a kickboxing background and holds a win over PRIDE veteran Vernon White so this should be an interesting bout.

I thought that we’d hear the Brazilian Rizzo get a bigger hand, but the crowd goes nuts when Tank makes his way to the cage!  Rizzo definitely has some support here, but Tank Abbott is truly a worldwide phenomenon at this point.  During his introduction, Tank gets a bit more of a mixed response.  Both fighters are around the same heights, though Tank does hold a 40 pound weight advantage.

Tank rushes in quickly to start the fight and is throwing some big punches, but Rizzo connects with a huge right that drops the veteran!  Rizzo follows Tank to the ground, but Tank is quickly back up and swinging!  These two are going at it and are slugging it out very early on!  The pace slows as Rizzo sinks in a couple of underhooks.  Tank breaks free from the clinch and follows a kick from Rizzo with a few big punches.

Tank is stalking after the circling Rizzo, who works for some leg kicks.  Tank tries to follow Rizzo’s leg kicks with punches, but to no effect.  Tank goes to clinch with Rizzo but is tossed aside as this crowd begins to chant for the Brazilian!  Rizzo’s leg kicks elicit a response from Tank every time.  After one kick, Tank pushes forward with some punches and is able to take Rizzo to the mat!  Tank ends up in Rizzo’s full guard at the three minute mark.

Tank’s not very active at this point and already seems gassed.  Tank briefly postures up to strike but gives up that idea when his body remembers that it’s not in very good shape and quits on him.  Rizzo is working to strike from the bottom, but Tank spends minutes laying on top of Rizzo and throwing weak punches.  At the 6:40 mark, the fight is restarted.

To nobody’s surprise, Tank is exhausted and is moving forward on fumes.  Rizzo is throwing a number of leg kicks while Tank lunges with his punches.  Rizzo ends up dropping Tank with a big 1-2 combination and Rizzo follows him to the mat, but Tank works back to his feet after eating some punches.  Tank has his hands on his knees as Rizzo follows up with a leg kick followed by a right hand that drops Tank!  Abbott is out and this fight is over!  Pedro Rizzo has convincingly knocked out Tank Abbott with a great striking display!

As he is wont to do, Mike Goldberg is sucking this fight’s dick, talking about how great of a heavyweight contest this was.  I mean, it was a good fight, but Tank spent half of the contest laying on top of Rizzo because he was too tired to do anything else.  How does that make a great fight?  Oh right, your an imbecile who doesn’t know how to use words.

Nonetheless, Rizzo should be very pleased with this result.  A big win over the biggest name in the UFC in his home country?  It doesn’t get much bigger than that.  Rizzo is mobbed by his entourage and this crowd is chanting his name with great enthusiasm.  This is the same story as we normally get in Tank Abbott losses, though the power we saw from Pedro Rizzo is very real and very scary.

This next fight is between middleweights Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva.  The graphic above incorrectly labels this contest as a Title fight, yet another failure of the UFC production team.  Still, this should be a pretty good contest.  We know that Belfort has awesome skills, but Wanderlei is a bit more of an unknown.  Silva holds a win over Mike Van Arsdale, who we saw in the last UFC event.  The crowd reacts very favorably to the popular Vitor Belfort.

Silva opens the fight throwing some strikes that are off the mark, but lands a body kick.  Wanderlei moves in as if he wants to throw some punches, but he gets absolutely eaten alive by Vitor Belfort!  Belfort pushes forward with a brilliantly fast punching display the likes of which we’ve never seen in the UFC and is pulled off of Wanderlei as he slumps back against the cage!

You can see it sped up a bit above, but this was an absolutely brilliant showing by Vitor Belfort.  The moment he had an opening, he just unleashed on Wanderlei and won this fight in only 44 seconds.  Absolutely incredible.

Just like that, we move on to the actual Middleweight Title fight between Frank Shamrock and John Lober.  Shamrock has been running through each opponent in the UFC middleweight division, though he faced a bit of resistance in his fight with Jeremy Horn.  Lober has his sights on Shamrock’s Middleweight Title and hopes for a second win over Shamrock in this bout.  John Lober, any thoughts on tonight’s fight?

“My strength against Frank Shamrock is my striking.  So I intend to stand up and strike him until he falls to the mat again, and then I’m going to let him get back up, and then I’m going to knock him to the mat again, and then I’m going to let him get back up, and then I’m going to knock him to the mat again.  I’m definitely in Frank’s head right now and he knows that I’m superior mentally and physically than he is.  I think he’s worked real hard to catch up and…I think that night I’m still going to be in the back of his head.  And if I take it to him first, it’s going to remind him really quick of what happened last time.  And it’s going to be a long night for him.”

Umm…what?  So this guy holds a win over Frank Shamrock?  Was their first fight under modified MMA rules where the winner is the guy who slurs the most nonsense in a 30 minute time span?  Because I see no other way that Frank could have lost against Lober.  Goldie tells us that Frank Shamrock feels like he’s ten times better now than he was then, but I still can’t fathom this.  John Lober?  Really?  This guy seems to lack a human brain?

I’m really flummoxed by this.  Seriously.  What did I just hear?  It’s 5:22 in the morning as I’m typing this, did I just imagine this?  Is John Lober a fake fighter who never existed and I’m just hallucinating a fictional fight?  Frank Shamrock’s interview was coherent so I’m worried that this is actual footage of something that happened.  Jesus, this is bad.  John Lober is bouncing around in his corner and has a nasty goatee.  This guy somehow beat Frank Shamrock?  Are we sure it’s the same Frank Shamrock?  Are we even sure it’s the same John Lober?

Whatever, let’s just start the fight.  Lober’s initial strategy appears to be stay as far away from Frank Shamrock as possible, preferably by jogging around the outside of the cage.  Lober tries to take Frank down after Shamrock lands some leg kicks, but Shamrock grabs Lober’s head and maintains his balance.  He’s working to choke Lober who is forced to let go of Shamrock’s leg.  Shamrock is cranking this choke and is lifting lober off the ground.  It looks like Lober even tries to use the cage to get out of the hold, though it’s possible that Shamrock simply lifted Lober and dropped him to the mat.

Shamrock ends up in side control and Lober works to escape, but Shamrock works for another guillotine.  Lober pushes Frank back against the cage and manages to pull a takedown and move into half guard.  As Lober pulls free from the guillotine attempt, he’s moved back into full guard.  Shamrock works back to his feet, grabbing Lober’s head yet again.  Lober lifts Shamrock for a slam, but Shamrock does a nice job maneuvering in midair to wrap his legs around Lober to sink in the choke even tighter.

Shamrock quickly gives up the choke and Lober moves into half guard.  It looks like he’s trying for an arm triangle, but he’s not in much of a position to get any leverage.  He gives up the hold and throws some elbows, but Shamrock is able to maneuver himself near the cage.  He is able to push himself off the cage and reverse positions and both men are back to their feet.

Shamrock has Lober backed against the cage at the five minute mark and is throwing some low knees.  Lober gets a tight body lock and he enters Shamrock’s guard, though I can’t tell if Shamrock worked to pull Lober down or if Lober scored the takedown.  Lober is in half guard but Shamrock scores a nice sweep and moves into Lober’s guard.

Goldie claims that Lober calls himself “the Rodney Dangerfield of MMA”, not getting any respect after his win over Frank Shamrock.  Maybe because Lober has since gone 0-5-1 after that fight and is functionally illiterate?  I don’t know.

Shamrock decides to back off and allows Lober to get back to his feet.  Lober throws an ugly high kick while Shamrock lands a low kick of his own.  Lober’s high kicks are really ugly compared to Shamrock’s crisp and picture perfect kicks.  Lober moves in with a low kick but gets dropped by a right from Shamrock!  He gets back to his feet and clinches with Shamrock where he eats a big knee.  Lober is dropped and Shamrock moves into guard.  Shamrock is landing some punches and putting some pressure on Lober while he’s pinned against the cage.  Out of nowhere, Big John stops this fight and Frank Shamrock is the winner!

I can’t tell exactly what happened at first, but the replay shows us that Lober actually tapped out following some really big body shots from Shamrock.  This was a much better fight than I thought it would be and Lober had some success, but Shamrock came out on top in the end.  Shamrock said his gameplan was to beat the crap out of Lober and make him quit, which is exactly what we saw.  Shamrock was none too pleased with Lober’s pre fight comments.  Shamrock says that the UFC can bring on any and all comers, including the very devastating Vitor Belfort.

That wraps up a pretty fun night of fights, though it was a bit lacking compared to UFC 16 and 17.  The card was still pretty good overall and gave us something great to look forward to: Bas Rutten competing in the UFC.  Bas will indeed take on Tsuyoshi Kohsaka at the very next UFC event, though we don’t know anything else about the card.  Randy Couture’s departure is a big blow, but the UFC seems ready to recover with a new crop of heavyweights.

The UFC also teased at a Pat Miletich vs. Frank Shamrock fight, though I think Miletich needs to defend his title before we see him move up at all.  I’m not sure why he’s already looking past the title he won, but Miletich seemed set on a fight with Frank Shamrock.  We’ll have to wait and see what the UFC has in store for Miletich, Shamrock, and the heavyweight division in their coming events.

Greatest Fights of Ultimate Brazil

  1. Frank Shamrock vs. John Lober
  2. Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva
  3. Pedro Rizzo vs. Tank Abbott
  4. Ebenezer Fontes Braga vs. Jeremy Horn
  5. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka vs. Pete Williams
  6. Pat Miletich vs. Mikey Burnett

Top Ten Fights Through Ultimate Brazil

  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 Ultimate Brazil

  1. Vitor Belfort (1-0)
  2. Pedro Rizzo (1-0)
  3. Ebenezer Fontes Braga (1-0)
  4. Frank Shamrock (1-0)
  5. Tulio Palhares (1-0)
  6. Cesar Marscucci (1-0)
  7. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (1-0)
  8. Pat Miletich (1-0)
  9. Mikey Burnett (0-1)
  10. Pete Williams (0-1)
  11. John Lober (0-1)
  12. Tank Abbott (0-1)
  13. Paulo Santos (0-1)
  14. Adriano Santos (0-1)
  15. Jeremy Horn (0-1)
  16. Wanderlei Silva (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through Ultimate Brazil

  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. Vitor Belfort (5-1)
  9. Frank Shamrock (4-0)
  10. Maurice Smith (2-1)
Categories: Ranking the UFC

UFC 17

August 26, 2011 Leave a comment

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

UFC 16

August 21, 2011 2 comments

The UFC is back in America with UFC 16 after their first ever event in Japan.  UFC Ultimate Japan was a very strange event, since we saw the same fight happen twice in a single elimination tournament and Frank Shamrock debuted by submitting Kevin Jackson in under 30 seconds.  There were certainly some more unusual circumstances at this event, while UFC 16 should be fairly interesting as well.

The middleweight division will finally be in between two different weight classes as the UFC will debut the lightweight division, which features fighters at 170 pounds or less.  This weight class is of course better known as the welterweight division today, but it will feature the smallest fighters in the UFC to date.  We’ll see a four man lightweight tournament featuring fighters all making their UFC debuts.

Along with that, Frank Shamrock will be putting his Middleweight Title on the line and we’ll see the return of Kimo Leopoldo in the UFC.  Middleweight contenders Jerry Bohlander and Kevin Jackson will also be competing in a Superfight that should make for an interesting battle.  We’ll see all of this and slightly more at UFC 16!

UFC 16 – March 13, 1998

Previous Editions

Oh God, the generic blues music during the opening video is only made more ridiculous by the visuals of a girl walking around in a thong during Mardi Gras and cooks cracking open oysters.  Of course, the ever-grating voice of Mike Goldberg isn’t helping matters much.  Goldberg says the UFC is back in Japan after a “highly successful global venture”, though I think the only accurate word in that phrase is “global.”

Goldberg and Jeff Blatnick are hyping up the main event between Frank Shamrock and Russian fighter Igor Zinoviev, who has yet to lose in a career that has consisted of Pancrase and Vale Tudo fights.  Goldberg hypes Zinoviev’s military background and says that Shamrock will have to “push it to the limit” to score the win.  Frank Shamrock is shown backstage pushing his digestive limits by eating an apple.  Apples are considered a negative calorie food so you know his insides are working overtime!

Kimo’s opponent is announced as Japanese fighter Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, who has made a name for himself in the RINGS promotion and holds a victory over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Maurice Smith.  In discussing the fight between Kevin Jackson and Jerry Bohlander, Goldberg says that Jerry Bohlander is the leader of the Lion’s Den despite having mentioned Frank Shamrock by name in the same sentence.  Hmmm.

The lightweight tournament bracket is shown and we’ll see Mikey Burnett take on Eugenio Tadeu and Townsend Saunders will fight a familiar name in Pat Miletich.  Burnett is a Lion’s Den product taking on Eugenio Tadeu, a man who once fought Renzo Gracie until rioters brought the fight to a screeching halt.  Saunders won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Summer Olympics, while Miletich is a former wrestler who has spent time fighting in smaller Midwestern MMA promotions.

Mike Goldberg says that we’ll be hearing from Tank Abbott and Mark Coleman tonight, which should make things a little bit more interesting.  Goldberg throws it to Joe Rogan, who verbally fellates the quality of this card.  He gives new matchmaker John Peretti the credit for adding a new weight class and putting this event together.

Prior to the main card, there were two alternate bouts for the lightweight tournament.  Laverne Clark defeated Josh Stewart by TKO, while Chris Brennan submitted Courtney Turner.  Neither fight lasted more than 90 seconds, but hopefully we won’t need to see either alternate here tonight.

The first match of the night will pit Mikey Burnett against Eugenio Tadeu.  Burnett looks pretty muscular for a 170 pound fighter with Goldberg and Blatnick talking about Burnett’s power-lifting background.  It looks to me like he might be spending a little too much time training with Coleman and Mark Kerr at the Hammer House instead of the Lion’s Den.  Goldberg claims that Tadeu is a Brazilian legend with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills and very good striking.  Tadue is a much leaner fighter at 5’8″ and 160 pounds, while Burnett is a very compact 5’6″ and 170 pounds.

Bruce Buffer has returned to yell at us just like in previous UFC events.  He’s definitely turned down the volume a little bit and has somewhat simplified his introductions, though he mistakenly says that John McCarthy will be the referee when it’s actually Joe Hamilton.

It should be noted as the fight begins that Mikey Burnett might be the palest fighter in the UFC to date.  He’s bald, but appears to be ginger based on his red sideburns and beard.  So is Mikey Burnett the first ginger in UFC history?  I really haven’t paid attention to this, but one thing that’s for sure is that Burnett is a white, white man.

To the fight where Tadeu scores a quick takedown that Burnett easily escapes.  The fighter trade strikes a bit after Burnett’s escape and Burnett is landing some pretty big punches.  Blatnick notes that it’s amazing how fast these guys are compared to the “big guys”, a stark contrast from the weight classes today.

The fighters continue to slug it out and Burnett is landing the better punches, though Tadeu is landing punches of his own.  Burnett locks in a guillotine and Tadeu appears to be in trouble.  Burnett backs his opponent against the cage and looks interested in a mounted guillotine, but Tadeu frees himself with Burnett ending up in full guard.

The pace of the fight has really slowed with Burnett on top of Tadeu.  Burnett attempts to transition to half guard, but Tadeu defends the attempt successfully.  Burnett is landing some nice body shots from guard, while Tadeu is doing very, very little except defending.  Burnett’s at least staying busy with some punches, though they don’t appear to be doing a ton of damage.  He’s still winning points on the referees’ scorecards.

Burnett is actually consistently throwing combinations, but about eight minutes in, referee Joe Hamilton restarts the fight.  After the restart, it’s clear that Tadeu is interested in fighting out of the clinch with Burnett.  Unfortunately for Tadeu, Burnett clearly is the harder hitter and connects with some big knees to the body and violent uppercuts.

After breaking the clinch, Burnett makes his best effort to knock Tadeu’s head off his shoulders!  Burnett is unloading with some huge punches that has Tadeu reeling!  Tadeu is trying to clinch Burnett tightly against the cage to avoid these blows and Burnett attempts another guillotine, but that is quickly broken.  Burnett reverse positions and back Tadeu against the cage, landing some big knees to the body.

Burnett breaks the clinch and lands some more big punches with the fighters moving to the center of the octagon.  Burnett keeps throwing devastating uppercuts and straight punches that damage Tadeu badly until Joe Hamilton steps in to stop the fight!  Tadeu hadn’t been knocked to the ground, but he took some massive damage and certainly appeared to be wobbled.  I like this stoppage, if only because I haven’t heard anything about Tadeu suffering from cronic traumatic encephalopathy nowadays.

That was a really destructive display from UFC newcomer Mikey Burnett.  Tadeu took some big shots and even dished out some punishment of his own, but Burnett is built like a 170 pound tank.  Burnett looks to be wiped out after this war, but he’ll hopefully be able to recover in time for the lightweight tournament finals.  Tadeu does not look right as he stumbles away from the octagon with some assistance.  This was an awesome opening bout to UFC 16.

And almost right away, Mike Goldberg tells us that Burnett is injured and cannot continue in the tournament.  Chris Brennan will be the alternate taking the place of Burnett, which is highly disappointed.  Burnett’s opening performance was such a thrill and I would have loved to see him compete in another fight.

The second lightweight semifinal bout features Pat Miletich and Townsend Saunders.  I have to say that the thin-faced goatee look isn’t very flattering on Mr. Miletich, who apparently asked the UFC to lie about his age and say he was 29 and not 30.  Townsend is a strong wrestler, but we’ve seen some mixed results from wrestlers in the UFC thus far.  Despite both fighters weighing the maximum of 170 pounds, Miletich holds a five inch height advantage at 5’10” versus Saunders’ 5’5″.

The fight starts uneventfully, with Miletich going for an early clinch and both fighters trading knees.  Both fighters are hesitant to trade punches and the moment Miletich lands some clean shots, Townsend quickly moves in for the takedown and is Miletich’s guard.  Miletich manages to stick in a butterfly hook and attempts to shove Saunders out of guard, but Saunders scurries back after a brief struggle.

Saunders has Miletich backed against the cage and is throwing some punches, but Miletich explodes out from underneath Saunders and gets back to his feet!  He attempts to roll through and grab a hold of Saunders’ leg, but is unsuccessful and Saunders ends up back in guard.  Miletich actually attempts an arm triangle from underneath Saunders, but he can’t secure the hold and escapes.

As Saunders stands over Miletich from guard, Miletich gets in two butterfly hooks.  Saunders leaves his arm open and Miletich quickly works for an armbar, but Saunders is able to free himself and he moves for a heel hook of his own.  Miletich defends the hold and Saunders is once again in close guard.  It’s clear that Miletich is much more comfortable on the ground as he’s doing more work from the bottom to secure a submission and he’s been successful in keeping Saunders at bay.  Saunders hasn’t done much more than posture up over Miletich.

Saunders tries for another heel hook but gives it up quickly again.  Saunders seems interested in advancing positions, but Miletich just won’t let that happen.  Miletich brings both of his legs up to butterfly guard with Saunders in a standing position, and out of nowhere, Miletich grabs both of Saunders’ ankles, sweeps him to the mat, and moves into half guard!  What an amazing reversal!

Miletich quickly moves to full mount and has quickly taken control of this fight.  Miletich is keeping his weight on Saunders and punching him in the head before attempting a key lock.  As Miletich tries for the hold, Saunders reverse positions and moves into Miletich’s guard again.  Saunders is starting to throw more punches from this position with just two minutes left in regulation.

Throughout all of this, Joe Hamilton is basically encouraging both fighters to keep working while adding in some unnecessarily compliments like “outstanding effort” and “good effort, good job”.  I’m not sure if it’s required from a referee to be so positive and complimentary, it just seems extremely odd.

The regulation period ends with Saunders pressing Miletich against the cage and landing an occasional strike while Hamilton is incessantly nice, telling both fighters that they’re putting forth a “supreme effort”.  Saunders spent the bulk of that period on top of Miletich, but he didn’t do a whole lot.  Miletich was more impressive in minimal bursts, so I’m not really sure how this fight is being scored thus far.  The overtime will go a long way to determine the winner here.

Miletich begins the overtime with a leg kick, prompting Saunders to immediately clinch with his opponent.  The fighters trade knees from the clinch and Miletich backs Saunders against the fence.  Miletich actually grabs onto the fence, resulting in admonishment from referee Joe Hamilton in the form of praise.  Upon further reflection, there was no admonishment and Hamilton is just doling out praise like it’s going out of style.

Miletich is starting to score points right now with Saunders backed against the cage, but I’m not sure it will be enough right now.  Miletich lands a big knee to the body and punches Saunders in the face with just a minute left in this fight.  Miletich tries another leg kick and is immediately taken down by Saunders, who spends the last 20 seconds of the fight throwing punches to his downed opponent before time expires.

This is a pretty tough fight to score, as it feels like Miletich was busier even though Saunders enjoyed more dominant positions in this fight.  I really think it could go either way, but Saunders’ late flurry could be enough to seal the deal.

Bruce Buffer reveals the first scorecard for Pat Miletich, the second for Townsend Saunders, and the third scorecard goes to the winner by split decision – Pat Miletich!  The crowd boos this decision heartily, but I certainly think this was close enough where either fighter could have won.  If Saunders was just a little more active and consistent from the top, I think he would have come out as the winner.

It’s now time for the middleweight Superfight between Kevin Jackson and Jerry Bohlander.  So far we’ve had two good fights tonight and this third contest should be another competitive bout.  Bohlander has looked very good in the UFC to date, while you can never diminish the credentials of an Olympic gold medalist.  Jackson’s last loss to Frank Shamrock may have been quick, but I don’t think we’ll see that again here tonight.

For whatever reason, the crowd decides to boo Kevin Jackson.  I’m not sure how you can justify booing a fucking American hero, but leave it to the fine folks in Louisiana to find a way.  We’ll now see Big John for the first time tonight and I’m thrilled to no longer have to hear Joe Hamilton’s motivational officiating.

Both fighters open up with some tentative strikes, exchanging jabs that largely miss and low kicks.  Jackson counters a punch from Bohlander by rushing in with punches of his own and taking Bohlander down against the fence.  Jackson moves into guard while Bohlander tries for an armbar on multiple occasions.  At one point, Bohlander looks close to securing the hold but Jackson roles out and ends up on the bottom of the sprawl position.

Jackson easily reverses that and takes the top of the sprawl position.  He begins to throw some dangerous looking 12 to 6 elbows that are aimed at Bohlander’s spine, which Bohlander doesn’t seem to like.  He adjusts and is then able to escape positions, both men now going to their feet.

Somehow, we’re already four minutes into this unusually fast moving fight.  Maybe the vicodin I just took is impacting my perception of time.  Maybe I need to do more of these write-ups under the influence of vicodin.  Before I know it, I’ll have missed four days of work writing nothing but UFC and PRIDE event recaps that are somehow filled with gibberish and screen captures from the Land Before Time movies.  I think this idea is out.

Bohlander somehow sees fit to shoot on an Olympic wrestler and the result is predictable: Jackson sprawls and is able to briefly take his opponent’s back, but a struggle ends with Jackson in half guard.  Jackson postures up and lands some big punches and Bohlander is working hard to defend.  He’s clutching Jackson’s head, neck, and arms in an effort to keep from being punched in the face.  Jackson is fairly inactive and is unable to advance positions since Bohlander has his right leg grapevined.  Big John stands both fighters up after warnings to stay active.

I would like to take this time to note that Jeff Blatnick and Mike Goldberg are perhaps the least funny announce team in this history of MMA.  Seriously, going between the UFC and PRIDE events is so difficult because Quadros and Bas are riotously funny at times while Blatnick and Goldberg inspire me to do my taxes.  Seriously, they’re adding absolutely nothing to this broadcast.  I guess it was pretty similar with Beck and Blatnick, but those two men at least had a rapport where they wouldn’t make me want to die.  Goldberg is still a very young commentator, though it does pain me to know that he doesn’t improve much beyond this point.

After the restart, Bohlander tries to punch Jackson, who responds by catching his opponent by the head and arm and throwing him with a great hip toss.  Jackson maintains the headlock to the mat and is working to secure Bohlander’s arm to throw some unanswered strikes.  Bohlander is trying very hard to bridge out of this position, but Jackson is effectively holding his opponent down.  Jackson looks interested in moving to full mount, but Bohlander defends the advance and Jackson goes to full guard.

Bohlander has threatened Jackson from guard consistently with this fight, as he’s been working for the arm bar consistently.  I bet that he saw some vulnerabilities in the brief fight Jackson had with Frank Shamrock and he’s working to capitalize on those.  Jackson avoids the arm bar here and is working to smother Bohlander while moving between full guard and half guard.

At just over ten minutes, Jackson moves back into full guard and Bohlander immediately catches Jackson’s right arm and sinks in the arm bar!  Kevin Jackson refuses to tap out and Big John is forced to stop the fight!  Jackson immediately protests the stoppage, but it was clear from the position of the hold and Jackson’s thrashing that Bohlander had the potential to do some serious damage with that submission.

This was fairly similar to the Miletich/Saunders fight, since both fights featured wrestlers in control for the duration of the bouts while more well-rounded fighters worked to pull off submissions from the bottom.  Lucky for Bohlander, he was able to secure the arm bar and scored the big victory over Kevin Jackson.

We quickly move on to the lightweight tournament finals between Pat Miletich and alternate Chris Brennan.  These men actually have fought twice before in 1997, the first fight going to a draw and Miletich winning the second fight by decision.  Goldberg brings up the fact that Miletich owns his own MMA store in Iowa, which I’m guessing is a precursor to the soon to be famous Miletich Fighting Systems camp.  Either that, or Mike Goldberg calls training camps “stores” – either option is possible.

Pat Miletich looks strange at 170 pounds.  I know he competed at welterweight (then known as lightweight) for the duration of his career, but Miletich’s face makes it look like his body should be at 210 or 220 pounds.  Miletich has a big frame and his face looks oddly thin.  Am I the only one who feels this way?  I don’t like looking at Pat Miletich in general, but his fighting appearance was slightly terrifying.  Maybe I’m just weak (or, again, it could be the vicodin).

Both fighters work to find their range in the opening minute of the fight, Miletich trying all sorts of punches and kicks.  Brennan catches a low kick and quickly takes Miletich down, advancing to half guard with relative ease.  Unfortunately for Brennan, he does absolutely nothing when he gets to that position and Miletich explodes out from the position.  As quick as Miletich is up, Brennan catches him in a guillotine and brings him to the mat but Miletich escapes and is now in full guard.

Miletich and Brennan are both busier from this position, throwing strikes at one another though nothing seems to damaging.  Miletich mostly seems content to hold this position and score points right now, though Brennan is keeping busy with punches from the bottom.  This match has gone quickly as well since we’re just over five minutes in.

I’m surprised why Big John has yet to stand these fighters up since the only offense has been largely ineffective punches.  We’re now at the 7:30 mark with little changing: Miletich on top throwing unremarkable combinations and Brennan taking punishment while trying to be mindful of the cage location.

Miletich stands and is able to transition into half guard, though he looked like he wanted side control.  Out of nowhere, Chris Brennan taps out and Miletich has won the inaugural lightweight tournament.  Upon further examination, it looks like Miletich was choking Brennan by digging his left shoulder into Brennan’s throat while his head was pressed against the cage.

One thing I’ve noticed about this event is the lack of excitement surrounding these victories tonight.  That is, we haven’t had any post fight interviews or any kind of pre-fight videos for any of these fighters.  The UFC has really pared down on these things, which explains why I haven’t had as much to make fun of.

Of course, right as I say that I get to see a braces-free Frank Shamrock talk about his impending fight with Igor Zinoviev.  He says that even though he and Zinoviev have been friends, he’ll have no problem kicking his butt tonight.  Even in 1998, Frank was still a huge goof.  To be honest, it’s kind of endearing except for the fact that he’s a noted bully and all-around jerk.

We also get to see a preview of UFC 17, where Vitor Belfort and Tank Abbott will both be returning to the octagon.  Along with those items, Mark Coleman will challenge for Randy Couture’s UFC Heavyweight Title.  Unfortunately for us, only one of those three announcements will end up coming true.  We’ll have to wait and see how the UFC intends to disappoint us at their next event.

Time for the heavyweight superfight between Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and Kimo Leopoldo.  Kohsaka has apparently been training with Maurice Smith prior to this fight to improve his striking, as he’s more of a submission artist.  Smith predicts a TKO win for Kohsaka prior to the fight, but it might be tough to do that against Kimo.

I should note that the Wikipedia entry for UFC 16 says that Kimo “did not carry the cross into the ring this time like he did at UFC 3.”  Yes, that is absolutely true and completely worth noting on Wikipedia.  We all know Wikipedia as an internet wasteland originally intended as a space for peer-edited mastery.

And my God, Tank Abbott is here!  This will be Goldie’s first exposure to Tank and I’m interested to see whether or not Goldie wets himself.  Tank has grown his hair out and appears to be far less intimidating and his demeanor seems to have softened a bit.  He says he’s been impressed by the lighter weight fighters throughout the evening and…fails to say anything really offensive.  Christ, what have they done to Tank Abbott!?  He better say something awful during this fight.  Does Tank hate Japanese people?  Because he could possibly say something racist.

Speaking of racist, the Louisiana crowd begins to boo Kohsaka the moment he’s announced as hailing from Japan.  Kimo gets significantly more cheers since he’s actually from America and has a cross tattooed on his back.  Yes, Kimo has darker skin, but I think the people of Louisiana still resented the Japanese for the attacks on Pearl Harbor, even in the year 1998.  In this case, it’s probably the audience cheering for the person who is least different from everyone else – you know, typical bigotry.  What’s the over/under on when the “U.S.A.” chants begin?  I say two minutes.

Kimo rushes in quickly with a big left hand and Kohsaka goes for a double leg takedown.  Kimo sprawls and Kohsaka looks like he’s going for an armbar, but Kimo avoids it and is standing over his downed opponent.  Kimo throws a big punch and looks to pass guard, settling on half guard.  Kimo almost immediately drops for a heel hook and it looks like this could be it!

What’s remarkable thus far is one, Tank is providing some pretty good insight on the fight action, and two, we’re only thirty seconds into the fight.  Tons of action so far in this one!

Kimo torques on the heel hook for about thirty seconds and Kohsaka defends the hold nicely.  Kohsaka and Kimo both stand after the submission attempt and Kimo takes Kohsaka back down to the mat.  Kimo is in the half guard and looks interested in passing again, but he’s occasionally throwing punches.  Kohsaka has Kimo’s right leg grapevined and is throwing some soft punches from the bottom.  Tank is pretty surprised that Kohsaka was able to escape the earlier heel hook as it was locked in pretty tightly.

Given how quickly Kimo came out of the box, it’s surprising to see how little he’s doing from the half guard just three minutes into the fight.  Kimo appears to have added some weight so he might be having some trouble carrying around his 250 pounds.  As Kimo adjusts positions, Kohsaka unsuccessfully tries for a leg lock of his own and forces Kimo to stay in half guard.  Kohsaka repeats this again maybe a minute later and this time, Kimo escapes back to his feet and Kohsaka follows.

Kimo throws another quick punch and he stuffs a weak takedown attempt from Kohsaka.  Kimo is back in side control once more.  He postures up and lands a very big right hand, but he seems too tired to follow that up with anything else.

The announcers bring up the fact that Kimo has his own website, which is listed as  Tank says he doesn’t expect to have an official web presence since he doesn’t have time to play with computers, though he does acknowledge that there are a number of Tank Abbott fan sites.

Kimo brings Kohsaka closer to the cage fence and is then able to move into full mount, which could be trouble for Kohsaka.  The only problem is that Kimo isn’t doing anything.  He’s either laying on Kohsaka or posturing up, only to have Kohsaka try to buck him off.  Kimo is throwing some short punches that don’t do much damage.  Amazingly, Kohsaka is able to grab one of Kimo’s legs and is able to escape from the mounted position while going for a heel hook.  Kohsaka gives the hold up with little hesitation as he seems perfectly content to stand back up with Kimo at this point.

As Kimo throws a left hook, Kohsaka throws a counter left that appears to stagger the Hawaiian!  The contact really fires up Kohsaka who has to feel like he’s gaining control of this bout over a tired opponent.  Kohsaka is moving in and out with quick low kicks and punches, only to have Kimo shove him away when Kohsaka gets near.  Kimo is extremely flat-footed while Kohsaka is bouncing around, throwing combinations and landingwith some heavy punches!

There are two minutes left in regulation and Tank suspects that Kimo is catching his breath, but he better hurry and catch a second win as Kohsaka is throwing a number of unanswered shots.  Kimo is throwing single punches of his own, but there’s not a lot behind the punches.  Kohsaka is working hard at the leg kicks and Kimo isn’t doing anything to check the kicks at this point.  Kohsaka is landing serious combinations and Kimo is just trying to keep up!  Tank is cheering on both fighters as he just wants to see a good fight.

Kimo wants no part of Kohsaka as he continues to shove his opponent away when he moves in to strike.  Kimo’s left eye appears to be in bad shape and Kohsaka looks ready to move in for the kill just as time expires.  Kohsaka really turned up the action toward the end of the regulation period and he has to be ahead on the scorecards.  Kimo is tired and battered and I don’t know that he’ll be able to survive this three minute overtime.

Kimo immediately shoots in for a takedown at the start of overtime, but Kohsaka sprawls and catches Kimo with a huge knee!  Kimo shoots again, only to have Kohsaka sprawl and land yet another knee!!  Kimo pushes for a third takedown and is finally successful, quickly moving into mounted position.  Kimo is really working to take this overtime and steal the fight.  Kimo drops back for an armbar in a last ditch effort to win, but Kohsaka avoids the hold and moves into Kimo’s guard.

Kimo is really sucking in air as Kohsaka is throwing punches, staying very busy on top.  Kohsaka seems to favor a body/head combination and he’s landing the majority of his shots right now.  Kohsaka knows there is short time remaining and finishes this fight aggressively, landing a number of big punches as time expires.  That was a great showing from Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and the crowd is giving a nice hand to these fighters.  If not for Kimo gassing out so quickly, he would have had a very good chance to win this fight.  Kohsaka took advantage of Kimo’s exhaustion and I think he’s the clear winner.

Bruce Buffer announces the unanimous decision in favor of Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and the crowd is definitely in agreement with this.  I’m really proud that there wasn’t a single “U.S.A.” chant and the crowd is decent enough to cheer for a fighter who put on a great show.  Kohsaka seems to have made a fan of Tank Abbott, who exclaims “Kohsaka me more!”  Blatnik and Goldberg speculated that the winner of this fight could take on Tank at UFC 17, but we’ll have to wait and see if that comes to fruition.

It’s now time for the main event between UFC Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock and Igor Zinoviev.  This card has been nothing short of stellar so far and this main event should be a fantastic way to finish.  Zinoviev is a Russian military veteran with sambo and judo experience and could be a very good challenge to Frank Shamrock.  However, Shamrock has proven to be perhaps the best MMA fighter in the world during his time with Pancrase and his very quick win over Kevin Jackson.

Maurice Smith accompanies Shamrock to the cage and is hoping to see a second teammate score a win tonight.  The dominance of the Lion’s Den can’t be questioned and we’re seeing that tonight.  Kohsaka and Bohlander were successful earlier and Frank Shamrock will look to cap the night off by retaining his Middleweight Title.

So at Ultimate Japan, I speculated that Kevin Jackson vs. Frank Shamrock would be a very lengthy fight with lots of ups and downs, but Frank Shamrock opted to submit Jackson in just 16 seconds.  I’ll now say that I expect this to be a competitive, lengthy fight between two tough guys who will look to take home the title belt.

Big John calls for the fight to start and we’re under way.  Shamrock opens up with some leg kicks, prompting Zinoviev to rush in with some punches.  Shamrock quickly ducks the punches and hoists Zinoviev up, slamming him down to the mat with incredible force.

…Well fuck me, this fight is over!!  Shamrock’s takedown was so powerful that Zinoviev appeared to lose consciousness the moment his head and neck hit the mat!  In just twenty two seconds, Frank Shamrock has retained his UFC Middleweight Title!  Even more incredibly, Shamrock became the first ever Middleweight Champion and successfully defended his title in under 40 seconds against two world class competitors.  This man is frightening!

The crowd is absolutely insane after that win and Shamrock briefly enjoys the attention before going to check on his opponent.  Zinoviev has yet to move since the completion of this fight, though he appears to have opened his eyes and is talking to the ringside physicians.  The replays show Zinoviev immediately stiffening up once he hit the mat and I suspect that the Russian has been seriously concussed.  Zinoviev also appears to be clutching his left shoulder which is a bad sign.

Bob Meyrowitz, the SEG Sports CEO, congratulates Frank Shamrock after the fight and says this will be the start of a long relationship.  As Meyrowitz says those words, I can almost see an asterisk above his head with the words “until Dana White takes over and buries your legacy, LOL.”  I think they’ll actually enter that text comic book style should the UFC ever get around to release this event on DVD.  Either that, or Frank Shamrock will be cut out altogether and Chuck Liddell will be superimposed over any images of Shamrock.

Frank Shamrock thanks his chiropractor in his post fight interview, along with his “big brother” Maurice Smith.  Hmm, could that possibly be a dig at Ken Shamrock?  Yes, it certainly is.  Of course it is, why even ask?  Frank also thanks his girlfriend or wife – I’m not sure since he introduces her as “my sweetheart here.”  The little lady responds with a couple of obnoxious wails that resemble an emergency siren.  Yuck.

Shamrock also says  that Zinoviev is a tough fighter and will be back in the octagon one day, but that isn’t exactly true.  You see, Frank slammed Zinoviev so hard that he destroyed the Russian’s collarbone and he will never be able to fight again.  I’m sure that wasn’t Frank’s intention here, but he’s effectively ended the career of a promising Russian fighter.  UFC 16 has ended in perhaps the most devastating fashion possible.

So the UFC is still relegated by the American public as a niche sport and is far from publicly accepted.  The only places in the U.S. that they can fight are the south, since athletic commissions are either lenient or basically nonexistent.  However, the cards have been quietly getting a whole lot better.  We’re now five years from the UFC debut and the sport of MMA has grown in a number of significant ways.  Rules are now enforced in the cage, there are loose weight classes, and there are more experienced fighters in these fights.

In the short term, this means that we just saw a really great UFC 16 card and can expect some more great fights in the future.  Long term, it’s good to have some consistent and sustainable rules in place to allow for more significant and real growth as the UFC seeks to become a legitimate athletic endeavor on the level of the NFL or NBA.

Given the recent UFC network television deal with Fox, I’m especially happy to have just watched this card.  This was the first UFC event that actually felt like a modern MMA event, though the promotion and the sport has a long way to come from 1998.   Even though it’s still early in the UFC, this brand of MMA feels miles away from the freak shows we saw with guys like Emmanuel Yarborough and Thomas Ramirez.

UFC 16 was a fun show and a good sign of things to come for America’s largest MMA promotion.  I’m anxious to see what’s in store for us at UFC 17, especially with talent in the fold such as Frank Shamrock, Pat Miletich, and Mikey Burnett.  The growth of the UFC has been something fun to see and I feel like we turned a corner with this event.

Greatest Fights of UFC 16

  1. Mikey Burnett vs. Eugenio Tadeu
  2. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka vs. Kimo Leopoldo
  3. Jerry Bohlander vs. Kevin Jackson
  4. Frank Shamrock vs. Igor Zinoviev
  5. Pat Miletich vs. Townsend Saunders
  6. Pat Miletich vs. Chris Brennan

Top Ten Fights Through UFC 16

  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. Mikey Burnett vs. Eugenio Tadeu – UFC 16
  6. Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn – UFC 4
  7. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
  8. Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott – UFC 6
  9. Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock – UFC 1
  10. Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn – UFC 6

Greatest Fighters of UFC 16

  1. Frank Shamrock (1-0)
  2. Mikey Burnett (1-0)
  3. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (1-0)
  4. Jerry Bohlander (1-0)
  5. Pat Miletich (2-0)
  6. Laverne Clark (1-0)
  7. Chris Brennan (1-1)
  8. Townsend Saunders (0-1)
  9. Kimo Leopoldo (0-1)
  10. Eugenio Tadeu (0-1)
  11. Kevin Jackson (0-1)
  12. Josh Stewart (0-1)
  13. Courtney Turner (0-1)
  14. Igor Zinoviev (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 16

  1. Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
  2. Mark Coleman (6-1)
  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. Mark Kerr (4-0)
Categories: Ranking the UFC

UFC Ultimate Japan

July 17, 2011 3 comments

The UFC goes to Japan, how exciting!  The UFC is in Japan for the very first time featuring their latest non-numbered event, UFC Ultimate Japan.  With few friendly locales left for the UFC, Japan is a country that has already been exposed to mixed martial arts.  Pancrase has been putting on successful shows in Japan for years, while we just saw the debut of the PRIDE promotion not too long ago.

Regarding Ultimate Japan, we’ve got some pretty good fights ahead of us.  Randy Couture will challenge kickboxer Maurice Smith for the UFC Heavyweight Title.  Couture shocked the world by defeating Vitor Belfort at UFC 15, while Maurice Smith has won consecutive fights against Mark Coleman and Tank Abbott.  Olympian Kevin Jackson will be making his return to the UFC’s middleweight division when he takes on Pancrase veteran Frank Shamrock in the first ever UFC Middleweight Title match.

We’ll see another heavyweight tournament featuring Tank Abbott and Japanese professional wrestler Kazushi Sakuraba and Vitor Belfort will be participating in a heavyweight Superfight against the man with the best nickname in the UFC, “Ghetto Man” Joe Charles.  Please note that the term Superfight is used loosely when it involved Charles, a fighter who is 5-8 in MMA at this point in his career.  Nonetheless, we still have a nice card taking place in the Land of the Rising Sun.

UFC Ultimate Japan – December 21, 1997

Previous Editions

We open up with the typical UFC highlight package which just includes a few extra mentions of Japan.  However, one noticeable difference is that Bruce Beck isn’t doing the voice over on these highlights – it sounds like current UFC play-by-play announcer Mike Goldberg.

Holy shit, it is Mike Goldberg!  Look how young he is!  Yes, he still looks an sounds like an all-around doofus, but a much younger and more fresh-faced doofus.  Jeff Blatnick is back with us, but I guess Bruce Beck is now done with the UFC.  Beck always did a decent job and he and Blatnick seemed to have a good rapport and I will certainly miss him.

Along with the aforementioned bouts, the matches for the evening include Tank Abbott vs. Yoji Anjo and Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Marcus “Conan” Silveira in the heavyweight tournament semifinals with Brad Kohler fighting Tra Telligman in an alternate bout. Footage of the Kohler vs. Telligman fight isn’t shown, but Telligman is successful in this contest winning via submission at 10:10.

The “laws of the octagon” seem to be ever expanding and it takes Goldberg a while to go through the list.  All of the rule changes over the last events have taken away the mystique of “no holds barred” combat and have changed the UFC into more of an actual sporting organization.  This is something that I’m sure fans like the “just bleed” guy aren’t happy about.

We move on to the first bout, which is the heavyweight tournament semifinal contest between Tank Abbott and Yoji Anjo.  We all know Tank Abbott as the most average ass-kicker in the UFC at 6-6, while Anjo is a professional wrestler for Japan’s Kingdom promotion.  This is the same promotion that Nobuhiko Takada and Kazushi Sakuraba compete under, but we’ll have to wait and see if Anjo has more success in MMA than Takada did at PRIDE 1.

Anjo enters the cage to some kind of bass-thumping club music, which is markedly different from the normal gladiator themed music we’re treated to in the UFC.  Abbott enters the cage to Devil’s Dance from Metallica’s ReLoad album.  I really liked that album in 1997 as well, but I was only 13 – what’s your excuse, Tank?  Oh right, that he’s criminally insane.

Bruce Buffer is back and has still yet to hone his announcing style.  I worry that the Japanese crowd will confuse Buffer’s shouting style of announcing with outright hostility, leading to some kind of international incident.  We know that Buffer was never brutally murdered by the Yakuza, so I’m guessing this never occurred.

Abbott is the much bigger fighter in this contest having an extra two inches and 55 pounds over his opponent.  Tank is typically the bigger fighter in these contests, but he’s also the fighter who typically gasses out after five minutes.  We’ll have to see if Anjo is able to capitalize on this.

Abbott opens up the fight stalking Anjo and he moves in for some punches, but Anjo is quick to clinch.  Tank pushes Anjo against the cage and he scores a quick takedown.  Tank is opening up with some big punches while postured up in Anjo’s guard.  We’ve seen Tank have great success with fighters pinned against the cage and this is bad news for Anjo.

Tank is being fairly patient from this position, throwing occasional left hands and spending ample time resting.  We’re only two minutes into the fight so I’m not sure that resting so soon is a very good sign.  Abbott doesn’t seem to be doing a ton of damage, but Anjo is clearly uncomfortable having his head shoved into the cage wall by his opponent.  Tank leaves himself open for a submission and Anjo tries to lock in an arm bar, but Tank is able to adjust and avoid the hold.

Just four minutes in, referee John McCarthy restarts both fighters on their feet.  It seems like Big John is much quicker to restart a fight as of late, since I remember earlier fights where he would allow fighters to spend significant portions resting.  Then again, I wonder if some of this is bias against Tank Abbott.  We know that Abbott was suspended for an altercation involving McCarthy’s wife and I don’t think Big John is above fucking with Tank in the cage as a form of retribution.  Big John doesn’t seem to be as lenient with Tank’s need to recuperate in a dominant position, so I don’t think we can rule out some kind of bias.

Just four minutes in, Tank seems to be very tired and is breathing heavy with his mouth open.  Anjo attempts a leg kick after the restart, but Tank swings wildly in response.  Anjo tries for a weak takedown, which Tank takes advantage of by pushing forward on the takedown defense, ending up in guard yet again.  This time, Anjo seems to be the more active fighter.  He’s striking from the bottom and looking for some kind of submission as Tank lands single strikes.

Whenever Tank moves to posture up and throw multiple punches, Anjo moves to lock in an arm bar.  Abbott seems to be cognizant of this and avoids any holds, while he’s powerful enough to muscle out of bad positions with brute force.  We’re seeing typical Tank Abbott here, which involves brief periods of heavy strikes followed by longer periods of inactivity.  Anjo is mounting little offense and has spent the vast majority of this fight on his back.

At nine minutes we get another restart in the fight.  Anjo is now in a much better position, landing leg kicks on his exhausted opponent.  Tank leans forward and rests his hands on his knees while Anjo is bouncing around the cage and looks much fresher.  With each leg kick from Anjo, Tank moves in with some heavy punches that Anjo is able to avoid.  Unfortunately for Anjo, he isn’t aware of his surroundings and gets backed against the cage.  Tank scores another takedown and we’re back on the mat.

The last minute of regulation involves Tank standing over Anjo and doing a whole lot of nothing.  The buzzer sounds and that means it’s time for the three minute overtime.  Anjo is definitely in a position to win this fight.  If he keeps throwing leg kicks and avoids Tank’s power, he might be able to do some damage.

Anjo lands maybe two leg kicks, but Tank backs Anjo against the cage and is taken down yet again.  Anjo is at a severe strength disadvantage and has no answer for Tank’s takedowns, regardless of how tired he is.  Overtime plays out like the rest of the fight, with Tank in a dominant position and throwing infrequent punches.  This was a pretty unremarkable fight.

And unsurprisingly, Tank is declared the winner via unanimous decision.  He definitely was the better fighter in this one, but that’s not saying a whole lot.  Tank moves on to the tournament finals, though I’m sure he spent quite a bit of energy in this one.  If Sakuraba or Silveira could win their fight quickly, they might have a pretty easy time in the tournament finals.  Tank tells Jeff Blatnick that he injured his left hand early in the fight, so the prospects of Abbott advancing seem slim right now.

It’s time for the second heayweight tournament semifinal fight between Marcus Silveira and Kazushi Sakuraba.  Silveira enters the cage to a song that’s inaudibly heavy.  Since Silveira is Brazilian and I have no clue who the artist is, I’m going to guess Brazilian metal band Sepultura.  Sakuraba comes out to dance music similar to what teammate Yoji Anjo used.  I feel like Sakuraba and Anjo may have accidentally gone to a gay bar the one time they were in America and mistook their dance music for American pop music.  It’s probably just a cultural thing.

Silveira is the bigger fighter in this contest as he’s more than five inches taller and 35 pounds heavier than Sakuraba.  Silveira is a very good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and I’m not sure if Sakuraba will have the submission skills to keep up with Silveira.  Sakuraba was submitted by Kimo in his very first MMA contest, definitely not a good sign for the Japanese fighter in this contest.  Oddly enough, the tale of the tape lists Sakuraba at 5’9″ but he’s announced at 6’0″.  A quick search on Sakuraba indicates that the 6’0″ figure is correct, so I wonder where 5’9″ came from.  Regardless, Silveira is the bigger fighter.

Sakuraba seems interested in scoring a takedown early in this contest.  He shoots in on Silveira from very far out and it looks like Silveira defends the takedown, but Sakuraba pushes forward and ends up on top.  Sakuraba is standing over Silveira and the Brazilian grabs Sakuraba’s leg for a potential submission.  Sakuraba is looking for a leg lock of his own, but Silveira is throwing up kicks that prevent Sakuraba from setting anything up.

Silveira seems to have a grapevine around Sakuraba’s right leg as he tries to control his opponent’s right wrist.  Silveira is still throwing up kicks and is largely able to control Sakuraba from this position.  Controlling Sakuraba’s right arm and leg, Silveira is able to drag his opponent to the mat and take his back!  That was a really nice move by Silveira to significantly advance positions.

Sakuraba attempts to stand out of this position, but Silveira brings him back to the mat.  Silveira goes to sink in a submission from Sakuraba’s back, but he gets too high and is shrugged off by Sakuraba.  Silveira attempts a kimura and appears to be close, but Sakuraba changes positions to eliminate Silveira’s leverage.  Silveira does not want to let go of the arm, but he can’t lock in a submission and both men are back to their feet.

Here’s where things get interesting.  Silveira starts to land some big punches with Sakuraba backed against the cage.  Big John is watching the action closely as Sakuraba moves in for an ankle pick takedown.  However, Big John mistakes Sakuraba’s takedown attempt for a knockdown due to Silveira’s strikes.  Big John calls a stop to the action and declares Silveira the winner.  Big John emphatically tells Sakuraba’s corner that the fighter went out, but I’m pretty sure he’s wrong.  This is very disappointing since this fight was exciting for all of two minutes.

This Japanese crowd is extremely displeased with the decision as Silveira is announced the winner via knockout.  Sakuraba tries to grab the microphone from Bruce Buffer after the result is announced and Sakuraba is visibly angry about this stoppage.  The replays show that Sakuraba seemed to be conscious for the entirety of the final sequence and Big John simply made a mistake.  Sakuraba ends up getting a microphone and rallies the crowd behind him, but this decision has been made.

And now we’re learning that Tank Abbott has broken his hand and is out of the tournament.  The UFC has also determined that the stoppage in Silveira/Sakuraba was too quick, so now the two fighters will compete again in what will be the tournament finals.  It’s good that the fighters will have a chance to fight once more, but let’s not forget the real victim in all of this: alternate fighter Tra Telligman.  Can’t we just declare Telligman the winner of the tournament and move on?

Now it’s time for the inaugural UFC Middleweight Title fight between Kevin Jackson and Frank Shamrock.  Shamrock chooses the Scorpions’ No Pain, No Gain as his entrance music, breaking all boundaries when it comes to fighting cliches.  Kevin Jackson uses some kind of rap song, which sounds more upbeat than I’m accustomed to.  I’m very grateful that the fighters are using actual music during their entrances, since it’s the late 1990’s and the music selections have the potential to be awesome, terrible, or just plain weird.

Jackson and Shamrock are both 5’10” and within six pounds of one another, but that’s according to the tale of the tape which has been wrong at least once tonight.  A search reveals that the tale of the tape is actually correct, so here we have two fighters who are similarly sized with tendencies to fight on the ground.

This fight should be pretty competitive since both fighters are very decorated.  Jackson won a single UFC tournament but has an Olympic gold medal to his name.  Shamrock is 14-7-1 at this point in his career and is a former interim King of Pancrase.  He holds wins over Bas Rutten, Vernon “Tiger” White, and Minoru Suzuki and is long overdue in making his debut for the UFC.  I anticipate this being a very close fight to crown the first ever UFC Middleweight Champion.

And this fight is over!  In a matter of sixteen seconds, the fighters trade punches before Kevin Jackson lands a takedown.  It takes Shamrock just four seconds to lock in the arm bar and score the submission victory!  That was an absolutely incredible victory and this Japanese crowd has been thoroughly excited by Shamrock’s very quick arm bar win.  Shamrock effortlessly locked in the arm bar just moments after being taken to the mat and has become the UFC Middleweight Champion!

This is pretty surprising and I guess it’s safe to say that Kevin Jackson has a lot of work to do on his submission game.  He may be a world class wrestler, but he just got submitted by an MMA veteran in less than twenty seconds.  You never see submissions this quickly unless Anthony Macias is throwing a fight and this just proves that Jackson is still a bit of an MMA novice.

For whatever reason, Mike Goldberg talks over Shamrock’s post fight speech like a giant knob.  You can make out Shamrock saying how much he appreciates the support of the Japanese fans.  I really would have liked to hear Shamrock’s victory speech, but I’ll just have to settle on hearing Jeff Blatnick interview Shamrock.  Shamrock gives thanks to his team at the Lion’s Den and gives Jackson credit for being a great athlete.  For those who are wondering, it doesn’t look like Shamrock is wearing braces – it just feels like he’s been wearing the braces for 15 years.

Now we move on to the heavyweight bout between Joe Charles and Vitor Belfort.  Charles makes his way to the cage to Metallica’s Sad But True, making me wonder if these fighters are actually choosing their entrance songs.  I wouldn’t guess that a guy known as “The Ghetto Man” is much of a Metallica fan.  I’m unfortunately unable to make out Belfort’s entrance music, but it is somewhat heavy.  Whatever, now I’m disillusioned about this entrance music thing.  I was expecting so much more from “The Ghetto Man” and now I’m sad.

Charles is one inch taller and 35 pounds heavier than Belfort.  He was also 18 years old when Vitor Belfort was born, which would make this fight interesting if the identity of Belfort’s father was unknown and if Charles spent time in Brazil during his youth.  We definitely need something to make this fight interesting since I don’t think Joe Charles will be able to do it himself.

Charles opens up with a leg kick but is backed against the cage by Belfort.  Vitor successfully takes Charles to the mat and moves to side control.  He effortlessly moves to full mount where Charles does his best to hold onto Belfort.  Vitor surprisingly moves from full mount and goes back to side control where he attempts a kimura.  Charles is able to escape the hold but gives up his back to Belfort, but Charles quickly reverse the positions and is on top of Belfort.

This doesn’t last long as Belfort moves back to his feet and takes Charles down again, quickly taking Charles’ back with little effort.  Charles tries to roll out of the hold, but Belfort maintains control and tries for a rear naked choke.  Belfort has both hooks in and is working for the choke, though it doesn’t appear to be tight at this point.

This is a very embarrassing performance by Charles so far, as he seems absolutely clueless with this fight on the mat.  For a guy who is supposed to know judo, Joe Charles appears to not have the first clue regarding how to fight.  Charles doesn’t even have the strength advantage as he’s just fatter than Belfort.  He has these skinny legs and a massively distended stomach and he’s letting his leaner, smaller opponent impose his will.  So far, not a good showing for “Ghetto Man” Joe Charles.

After some time working the choke, Belfort tries to transition to full mount.  In defending the transition, Charles gives up his back once more.  Belfort keeps working to move to full mount, but Charles is writhing and thrashing about sufficiently to keep Belfort from assuming the position.  At the four minute mark, Belfort looks to throttle Charles with both hands and then is able to pull mount.  It takes Belfort all of three seconds to lock in the arm bar for the submission victory.

This fight didn’t seem to be completely legitimate to me.  I wondered why Joe Charles was in a Superfight and that could just have been to get Belfort back to winning ways.  Either that, or Joe Charles is amongst the worst judo practitioners in the world.  His primary means of defense was flailing his limbs about like a turtle pinned on its back.  I would say Kevin Jackson was more impressive in his sixteen seconds against Frank Shamrock since Jackson actually scored a takedown.  I’m so mad that I had to just watch Joe Charles, but I’m glad this is the last time we’ll see him in the UFC.

Goldberg and Blatnick note that Belfort didn’t throw any punches during this fight, something I probably wouldn’t have realized had the announcers not drawn attention to it.  This wasn’t the most impressive performance from Belfort, but that’s solely because of his opponent.  Belfort was in control for the entirety of this bout and was the decisive victor, even if his opponent was terrible.

Blatnick interviews Belfort after the fight, who makes a point of saying he wanted to display his ground work in this contest.  Belfort also says that he was sick coming into this contest, which explains why Belfort didn’t finish Joe Charles in a matter of seconds instead of minutes.

There are just two fights remaining in the evening and the next contest will be the heavyweight tournament finals which will be a rematch of Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Marcus Silveira.  This feels very familiar, with Sakuraba entering to his dance music and Buffer introducing both fighters again.  It’s so strange seeing a fight take place twice in a single evening, especially under these circumstances.

Both fighters come out swinging, though neither connects with punches.  The men clinch and Silveira uses his strength to force Sakuraba against the cage.  Silveira takes Sakuraba to the mat, but Sakuraba is working for an arm submission.  Sakuraba is unable to get leverage as Silveira has taken Sakuraba’s back.  Sakuraba tries to roll into a more advantageous position and he is not letting go of his opponent’s arm.  Silveira is finally able to free his arm and pushes forward to try and take a dominant position, but both men end up back on their feet.

Now it’s Sakuraba scoring the takedown, though Silveira is now working for a submission of his own.  Silveira is staying busy enough to keep Sakuraba from claiming a dominant position.  Sakuraba is strangely crouched near Silveira’s legs as the Brazilian is trying to torque Sakuraba’s left arm.  Sakuraba quickly spins from Silveira’s right side to his left and moves into side control, which alleviates the pressure being put on his arm.  Sakuraba then transitions into an arm bar of his own and Silveira is forced to submit!  Out of nowhere, Sakuraba has scored the submission victory in this rematch!

Sakuraba has been redeemed following the early stoppage from his first bout with Silveira.  Though it’s come in a roundabout way, Kazushi Sakuraba has won the UFC Ultimate Japan heavyweight tournament.  Sakuraba was very relentless and was impressive in submitting a talented opponent.  The crowd cheers wildly as Sakuraba is victorious, clearly behind their native fighter who had been wronged earlier in the evening.  Sakuraba is awarded his tournament medal and is then repeatedly thrown into the air by his corner.  The UFC needs more Japanese fighters so we can see celebrations like this.

We’re down to the last fight of the evening, pitting UFC Heavyweight Champion Maurice Smith against Randy Couture.  This is a styles clash if we’ve ever seen won, though Couture has proven to be a more than capable fighter.  I’m not sure if he can match the kickboxing of Maurice Smith, though Smith’s wrestling isn’t on the level of Couture’s.  The Star Spangled Banner is played prior to this contest which seems strange since the fight is taking place in Yokohama, Japan.

Couture has busted out the full length tights for this fight, though they’re just plain black instead of being awesomely colorful like Shinya Aoki’s trunks.  These two fighters are evenly matched with both fighters at 220 pounds and Smith being just an inch taller than his opponent.  It’s amazing to see Couture listed at 34 years old all the way back in 1997.  I can’t emphasize enough how strange it is to me that Couture had such great success in the octagon up until his late forties.  No one can say that Couture didn’t take care of his body all of these years, that’s for sure.

The fight opens with Smith landing a leg kick and a clean right hand to Couture.  Smith keeps working the leg kick but is taken down by Couture in the opening minute.  Smith is holding onto Couture’s head to keep Couture from advancing, but Couture frees himself and is in side control with Smith pinned against the cage.  Couture throws some short elbows but is mostly content driving his left bicep and shoulder into Smith’s face and throat.

Smith shows that he’s been working on his submissions by trying a kimura but quickly releases the hold.  Couture has been pretty inactive from this position, though he seems interested in moving to full mount.  When that doesn’t work, Couture stands in side control and throws some punches.  He tries for a keylock that isn’t successful, but is able to move into full mount.

Again, couture seems mostly content to maintain position, though he does stay busy.  He initially tries for an arm triangle, but isn’t able to finish the hold from the mounted position.  Couture throws short punches and is really smothering Smith with his body weight.  Couture is doing a good job making Smith uncomfortable from this position, but his offense has been far from devastating.

Smith goes to sweep Couture and forces his opponent from full mount to half guard.  Smith has Couture’s left leg grapevined which keeps Couture from moving back to side control, though Randy is still keeping his arms locked around Smith’s head to keep Smith uncomfortable.  Smith is still staying busy and trying to keep Couture off guard, maneuvering the wrestler into the closed guard.

Couture postures up from the guard but doesn’t do much of anything.  He tries to push Smith’s leg aside to move into side control, but Smith reacts with wild up kicks that keep Couture in guard.  Smith has a butterfly hook on Couture and then pushes Couture off of him with his legs, but Couture is just too fast and gets right back on top of Smith.  Couture might not be throwing a lot of strikes, but he’s fighting a smart fight and staying in control.

This has been a pretty uneventful fight, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it boring.  Both fighters are active enough to keep the action on the mat and Smith has shown enough ground skills to keep Couture from having his way.  We’re ten minutes into this fight and Couture has to be ahead on the judges’ scorecards.  He’s spent the duration of this fight in dominant positions, though he hasn’t done significant damage to his opponent.

From half guard, Couture is able to posture up and he begins to throw some big left handed punches.  Couture also throws some big elbows during the sequence and lands some unanswered strikes.  I wonder if part of Couture’s strategy was to soften Smith up before using his strikes.  Smith has survived the wrestling of fighters like Coleman and Tank, though neither of those fighters have the gas tank of Randy Couture.

In a very quick sequence, Couture tries to go into full mount but gets swept by Smith.  It looks like the kickboxer is going to escape, but Couture again is quick enough to stay on top of Smith and moves back into guard.  Smith is pinned against the cage and Couture postures up, throwing some more punches.  Smith does a nice job defending and blocks some of the strikes and Couture drops back into side control.

You can hear Frank Shamrock in Smith’s corner, imploring Smith to throw knees to Couture’s side.  Smith briefly obliges but Couture unleashes again with some big left hands.  Smith gives up his back in an attempt to defend and again rolls to his back with Couture in side control.  Couture postures up again just as the buzzer sounds ending regulation at fifteen minutes.  From here, we have two three minute overtime periods with Smith surely behind on the scorecards.

After a brief break, the overtime period begins.  When Smith attempts his first leg kick, Couture catches the kick and score a takedown.  Couture is back in side control with Smith trying to grapevine Couture’s right leg.  Couture throws a couple of knees to Smith’s head but isn’t very active.  Smith tries for a sweep but Couture maintains side control for the duration of the first overtime.

Between the first and second overtimes, Mike Goldberg refers to this competition as mixed-match martial arts.  This is the first time I’ve heard anybody refer to the sport as anything even resembling MMA and MMMA is pretty close!  I’m not exactly sure why “match” needed to be added in there.  Mixed martial arts is a self-explanatory label while mixed-match martial arts is just a little confusing.

The second overtime opens with Smith moving in quickly with some punches and he ends up landing some pretty clean shots.  Couture doesn’t seem hurt, but Smith’s punches land right on the chin.  As expected, Couture lands yet another takedown and moves quickly from side control into the north-south position.  Couture throws some knees to the top of Smith’s head from the position and moves back into side control, where Randy Couture has spent the majority of this fight and where this fight ends.

Of the 21 minutes in this fight, I’d be surprised if Smith spent any less than 19 of them on his back.  One of the judges scores the fight as a draw, surprising since I thought judges had to pick one fighter as the winner.  The other two judges have the winner listed as the new UFC Heavyweight Champion, Randy Couture!

Maurice Smith speculates that Couture won the fight because he spent more time on top.  I wonder how he came to that conclusion?  He did just spent 20 minutes laying on his back, I’m sure he had lots of time to think about why exactly he wouldn’t be keeping his title.  Smith does confirm that he’ll be returning to the octagon very soon.

Couture is as humble as ever during his post fight interview with Jeff Blatnick.  Couture says he’s not much of a showboat, but he’s a good competitor and he’ll always give his all in the UFC.  Another notable thing coming from the interview is Jeff Blatnick accidentally calling the sport “mixed martial arts”, though he corrects himself afterwards and adds the unnecessary “match”.  Dammit Jeff, we almost had it!

Ultimate Japan is complete and this wasn’t a terrible card, though it was a bit lackluster.  We had the strange happenings of Sakuraba vs. Silveira, we had Vitor Belfort dominating an outmatched opponent, and we now have a new UFC Heavyweight Champion in Randy Couture.  Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Couture defend this title as he will leave the promotion due to a contract dispute.  Couture will go on to fight for the RINGS promotion over the next three years and the UFC Heavyweight Title will be vacated.

We have yet another talent leaving the UFC due to contract disputes, as Couture, Mark Kerr, and Don Frye have all left the promotion for greener pastures.  This regular defection is doing serious damage to the UFC, who can’t seem to hold on to their more talented fighters.  UFC 16 will take place in a few months and it will be interesting to see what fighters will be featured on this card.  Nothing is announced coming out of Ultimate Japan, so we’ll have to patiently wait to see what fighters will be in action.

Greatest Fights of Ultimate Japan

  1. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Marcus Silveira 2
  2. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Marcus Silveira 1
  3. Frank Shamrock vs. Kevin Jackson
  4. Randy Couture vs. Maurice Smith
  5. Vitor Belfort vs. Joe Charles
  6. Tank Abbott vs. Yoji Anjo

Top Ten Fights Through Ultimate Japan

  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. Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn – UFC 4
  6. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
  7. Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott – UFC 6
  8. Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock – UFC 1
  9. Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn – UFC 6
  10. Marco Ruas vs. Paul Varelans – UFC 7

Greatest Fighters of Ultimate Japan

  1. Frank Shamrock (1-0)
  2. Randy Couture (1-0)
  3. Vitor Belfort (1-0)
  4. Kazushi Sakuraba (1-0, 1 NC)
  5. Tank Abbott (1-0)
  6. Marcus Silveira (0-1, 1 NC)
  7. Maurice Smith (0-1)
  8. Yoji Anjo (0-1)
  9. Kevin Jackson (0-1)
  10. Joe Charles (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through Ultimate Japan

  1. Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
  2. Mark Coleman (6-1)
  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. Mark Kerr (4-0)
Categories: Ranking the UFC

UFC 10 and UFC 14 Updates

July 16, 2011 2 comments

I’ve been able to locate two preliminary fights that I was previously unable to find for my UFC recaps.  I’ve added the recap for Dieusel Berto vs. Geza Kalman for UFC 10 and Alex Hunter vs. Sam Fulton for UFC 14.  Both recaps have been added to the end of the original posts.

Honestly, I hadn’t missed much prior to seeing these fights.  Neither were particularly impressive or important, though Berto vs. Kalman was a bit of fun.  Still, I don’t feel any more fulfilled having seen these fights.  I’m at least very glad to have been able to add these fights to my cumulative rankings.

I’m hoping to have Ultimate Japan recapped sometime this weekend and PRIDE 2 will follow not too long after.  Ideally, I’ll be able to complete both this weekend.  Unfortunately, having to be an adult with adult responsibilities might get in the way of that.  If I had my druthers, both would be completed this weekend.  I’m just not sure how likely that is at this point.

If someone would like to donate enough to cover my annual salary, I’d be glad to pump out these recaps on a daily basis.  Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in contributing a significant amount of money to further the well-being of this blog.

Categories: Ranking the UFC

UFC 15

July 10, 2011 2 comments

Less than a week after PRIDE made their debut in Japan, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has returned with their UFC 15 pay-per-view event.  The UFC has only ever seen competition from Pancrase, a promotion that seemed to have a bit of a working relationship with the UFC.  Ken Shamrock, Maurice Smith, and Yoshiki Takahashi are among the fighters who have competed for both promotions, but things with PRIDE seem a bit different.

PRIDE put on two fights with four of the UFC’s biggest names just six days before the UFC’s next event and on the other side of the world.  It seems that the UFC fighters were put in UFC style fights just days before a UFC event and it’s clear that PRIDE is trying hard to capitalize on the fame of these fighters.  Will there continue to be overlap between the UFC and PRIDE?  Can the two promotions broker some kind of agreement regarding talent?

As previously noted during my PRIDE 1 write-up, Dan Severn was in a unique position for these two events.  Severn was slated to fight Kimo for PRIDE before a UFC 15 Heavyweight Title shot against kickboxer Maurice Smith.  Severn’s fight with Kimo went an excruciating 30 minutes, but it didn’t seem like Severn had any physical difficulties with the fight.  Will he still be competing on this event?

And long gone are those other big names who fought at PRIDE 1.  We haven’t seen Kimo, Oleg Taktarov, or Gary Goodridge for sometime and now there’s a new crop of stars in the UFC.  Smith, Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture, and Mark Kerr have recently emerged as the best the UFC has to offer.  Smith vs. Severn has the makings of an interesting striker vs. grappler contest, while we’ll see Belfort fight Couture in a Superfight for a heavyweight title shot.

We’ll also see a heavyweight tournament featuring Mark Kerr and the returning Dave Beneteau, while the middleweight tournament is taking an event off.  There are only five main fights along with two alternate bouts, so this definitely seems to be an abridged UFC event.

As we’ve seen in the last few UFC events, rules and formats have been altered to protect fighters and to regulate the UFC in the face of mounting opposition.  UFC 15 will make some more radical rule changes that will directly impact the fights in the promotion.  I’ll discuss more of those changes in this write-up, but I can safely say that the UFC is well on its way to going from spectacle to sport.  On with the show!

UFC 15: Collision Course – October 17, 1997

Previous Editions

The show opens up with highlights of Maurice Smith’s upset victory over Mark Coleman, where Bruce Beck claims in a voice over that Smith had “no chance”.  You have to love the UFC tearing down their new Heavyweight Champion like that.  You can play up the fact that it was an upset, but don’t act like Smith is some bum who scored a fluke win.  Just say Coleman is great but Smith was better.  It’s not very hard.

We learn right away in the highlight video that Smith won’t be taking on Dan Severn, but rather, “the most dangerous man in the octagon” Tank Abbott.  I would say that his loss to Vitor Belfort automatically prevents Tank from claiming that moniker, but what good is reasoning in the SEG days of the UFC?

As an aside, it’s no wonder that SEG quickly became bankrupt and were forced to sell the UFC.  They had no clue how to market fights and fighters and did an exceedingly poor job publicizing their rule changes that were made in an effort to become a mainstream sport.  SEG seemed perfectly content being some underground phenomenon regardless of how much debt they took on.

Bruce Beck welcomes us to Mississippi, hosting the UFC for the first time.  He clarifies that Dan Severn injured his hand, forcing him out of tonight’s main event.  How on earth could Severn have injured his hand in that fight?  He landed maybe two punches in that miserable contest.  I’m just going to speculate that Severn had an ingrown fingernail and couldn’t compete this evening.

They had apparently asked Mark Coleman to rematch with Smith, but Coleman couldn’t accept the fight due to injury.  Now we have a fight with a sloppy, barroom striker against a more technical kickboxer.  It should be an interesting fight for about one or two minutes.  Should the fight go past that mark, Tank Abbott will likely wear himself out.

The UFC has held true to form in their longstanding tradition of not announcing key rule changes.  For the first time in the UFC, headbutts, groin strikes, kicks to a downed opponent, and strikes to the back of the head have all been outlawed.  These are all serious rule changes that will really impact the competition we see during this and all future UFC events.

The heavyweight tournament will feature Mark Kerr against Greg “Ranger” Stott and Dave Beneteau against Gracie jiu jitsu practitioner Carlos Barreto.  Beck makes a note that the alternate fights will be aired on this broadcast, though I’m not sure why two alternate fights are needed for a four man heavyweight tournament.  I guess that is for the unlikely event where both finalists can’t continue?

Beck throws to Joe Rogan who is with Dr. Richard Istrico, the UFC’s lead doctor, to discuss the injury to Dan Severn.  He basically injured the ring finger on his right hand and Istrico says that Severn can’t compete, but that thankfully the injury isn’t “life threatening.”  Holy shit, this guy is the best doctor ever.  Imagine the work he had to do to make sure Severn would survive such a crippling injury.  Why on earth would he need to clarify that the injury won’t kill Dan Severn?  What kind of a freak finger injury would end in death?  Maybe a brown recluse spider bite or necrotizing fasciitis, but certainly not an injury sustained in a fight with Kimo.

The first contest of the evening will be the alternate fight between BJJ practitioner Alex Hunter and Harry Moskowitz, who is a “freestyle fighter”.  I think freestyle fighter just means he’s a big guy with no skills who was brought in as a warm body.  The announcers don’t mention any specific disciplines, but Jeff Blatnick says that “size and power” is Moskowitz’s best trait.  Oh, he sounds good.

Alex Hunter actually defeated Sam Fulton at UFC 14 in an alternate fight, so he’s previously had success in the UFC.  Harry Moskowitz is a taller fighter by eight inches and he weighs 83 pounds more than Hunter, so there’s a serious size difference in this fight.  We’ll have to see if this size advantage makes up for Moskowitz’s apparent skill deficiency.

Bruce Buffer has returned as the announcer and he is still pretty bad.  To open the event, he asks the crowd if they’re ready for “THEEEEEE ULTIMATE FIGHTING CH-HAMPIONSHIIIIIIIIP”.  The poor guy couldn’t even get out the word “championship” without sounding like a tool.  Bruce Beck clarifies that the alternate bouts will only be twelve minutes long with no overtime periods.

The fight begins slowly and Hunter starts the action with a takedown.  Moskowitz defends the attempt and tries for a guillotine choke, but the hold never seems to be threatening.  Moskowitz even picks Hunter up from this position, but the choke isn’t deep.  Hunter pulls out of the hold, but takes some knees prior to breaking the clinch.

Moskowitz moves in for some punches, but Hunter tries for a double leg takedown and backs Moskowitz up against the fence.  Moskowitz attempts another guillotine and tries to secure the hold based on strength alone.  He’s landing some knees and elbows on Hunter, who has yet to mount any significant offense in the first third of this fight.

Hunter is able to break free and and land some big punches of his own before trying another double leg takedown.  Moskowitz is again able to defend the attempt and is backed against the fence by Hunter.  Moskowitz is working to land strikes from the clinch, while Hunter breaks free and lands some more punches of his own.

Hunter inadvertently gives up his back and Moskowitz takes the opportunity to sink in a rear naked choke.  Unfortunately, he’s more on Hunter’s side than on his back and can’t hold onto the hold for long.  Moskowitz tries to finish the hold on the mat, but Hunter escapes and ends up in side control!  Hunter quickly moves to the mount position and is now firmly in control.

Moskowitz is working to keep Hunter from posturing up and landing big strikes.  Moskowitz tries to buck Hunter but is unsuccessful.  Hunter is landing very infrequent strikes and has done very little from the mount.  Thank goodness there are only two minutes left in this fight – it’s not been a very exciting affair.

Beck and Blatnick suspect that Hunter is in the lead and I can’t argue with that.  Moskowitz didn’t look too impressive on his feet, though he did a good job defending takedowns and staying busy.  Hunter’s time in full mount might have been enough to secure the victory, but it’s still a pretty close fight.

Hunter does so little from full mount that referee Joe Hamilton stands both fighters up with one minute remaining.  Both fighters are exhausted and are completely uninterested in engaging.  Hamilton restarts the fight and both men slowly circle.  With about 20 seconds left, Moskowitz misses some punches and gets taken down.  The fight ends with Hunter on top of Moskowitz, which might be enough to sway the judges.  In a fight where very little happened, the fighter who spent more time on top will likely be the winner.

And indeed, Hunter ends up taking a split decision victory in this contest.  Moskowitz doesn’t seem very pleased with the decision, but it’s tough to argue with that.  Moskowitz looked much more comfortable on his feet, but did very little.  His strikes didn’t do a lot of damage and his submission attempts were never threatening.  Hunter wasn’t active himself, but spending a third of the fight in full mount was enough to score the victory.

The second alternate fight will be between Houston Dorr and Dwayne Cason.  You might remember both of these fighters from…I don’t know, the one time that you saw UFC 15 many years ago?  Maybe you’re a member of the Door or Cason family, then you might also have some vague recollection of this fight.

Cason does have some big names in his family, as Beck tells us that he is the nephew of boxers Leon and Michael Spinks.  Cason is also an amateur wrestler so it seems like he has the pedigree to compete in the UFC.  Dorr, a kickboxer, will be the fan favorite in this fight as he’s a Mississippi State Trooper.  Dorr is also twice as old as the 20 year old Cason, which could be a detriment to the elder fighter.  Bruce Buffer is nice enough to pronounce Cason as “Carson”, perhaps correcting the fact that the fighter was born without the letter “r” in his last name.

When the fight begins, you can see that Houston Dorr has also curried the favor of the crowd with his American flag trunks.  Dorr opens up with a quick leg kick but gets taken down.  Cason is throwing some big punches to his downed opponent.  Cason is postured up in Dorr’s guard and the crowd is chanting for Houston Dorr to recover from this.  Dorr is able to grab both of Cason’s arms and Cason is unable to do very much from full guard.

Cason is able to free his arms and Dorr then attempts to hold down Cason’s head.  Dorr has kept Cason from being very busy, with Cason mostly landing some light body strikes.  Dorr is throwing some shots from the bottom that don’t bother Cason.  At the 3:30 mark, Cason really picks up with his offense and starts throwing some big punches!  Cason is landing a number of these blows and Dorr appears to briefly go unconscious!  Referee Joe Hamilton stops the fight in favor of Dwayne Cason.

Cason was in control for that entire fight.  The only offense Dorr was able to muster was the opening leg kick and some punches from the bottom.  Cason didn’t have to do a whole lot in this one.  He scored his takedown, landed big punches, and won the fight.  Pretty simple for Dwayne Cason.

Beck and Blatnick check in on the UFC chat on AOL, but they don’t show the actual chat in progress.  It’s very disappointing that I just have to hear Michael DePasquale describe some of the tamer comments instead of seeing the insane chat logs that I’ve grown accustomed to.  There’s still a lot of fighting left so it’s possible they’ll show some of the chat room later in the evening.

Beck also tells us that the UFC will be making its debut in Japan on December 21, 1997.  The event will be appropriately titled Ultimate Japan, where the winner of Couture/Belfort will fight the winner of Smith/Abbott, so we’ve basically got a four man tournament tonight heading into UFC Ultimate Japan.

A clip of Randy Couture is shown discussing his skills and his upcoming fight with Vitor Belfort.  Couture is looking quite accurately like a wrestler from the 1990s in his ASICS shirt and dingy U.S. Olympics hat.  I have to say that the state of MMA apparel hasn’t improved very much in the last 15 years.  Yes, it looks like Couture hit up a Salvation Army prior to being interviewed, but is it that much worse than having an ugly t-shirt covered in dragons and tribal patterns.

It’s now time for the main draw of the heavyweight tournament.  The  first match in the tournament semifinals will feature Greg Stott and Mark Kerr.  Kerr is the reigning tournament champion having gone 2-0 in the UFC 14 Heavyweight Tournament.  Greg Stott is apparently a former U.S. Army Ranger who has developed his own style called RIP – Ranger International Performance.  He calls it the most “expeditious and effective” fighting style, so he thinks rather highly of himself.

Mark Kerr looks as frightening as ever.  He seems to have taken some extra…vitamins since his last UFC appearance.  He is massively muscular and is purported to weigh 253 pounds.  At 6’1″, that’s an absolutely massive frame.  He’s also six inches taller and thirty pounds heavier than Stott.

Look who it is!  It’s the “just bleed” guy!  During the prefight introductions, they show this fine UFC fan amongst the crowd.  For some reason, I didn’t think this guy would come until many events down the road, but here we are.  Staring straight at the tortured, grimaced face of MMA fanhood in 1997.

To be fair, the guy is probably drunk right now.  It’s also possible he was drunk when he commanded his wife or mother to paint his head and body prior to attending this event.  Just by looking at him, my guess is that this guy lives his life in a constant drunken stupor.

As Mark Kerr is introduced, one of his cornermen is busy massaging Kerr’s humungous shoulders.  I can’t imagine the work that goes into maintaining such muscles.  I’m assuming that Kerr’s coach is rubbing in topical horse tranquilizers to ensure that his muscles don’t gain sentience and turn against Kerr during the fight.

Greg Stott is absolutely lacking the physique of Kerr.  I figured that being in the military would require a certain amount of physical fitness, but Stott looks more like a fat baby in shorts that are way too small.  He looks like Patton Oswalt from the twin men have a conversation parody video.

Thankfully for all parties involved, it’s a very short fight.  Stott opens up with some ridiculous punches that miss Kerr by a few feet.  Stott actually stomps the mat as he punches, reminding me of a professional wrestler who does a poor job disguising the fakeness of his strikes.  Kerr quickly grabs Stott and lands an incredibly powerful knee to the head.  The crowd groans as Stott falls to the mat in a heap.  Kerr landed the single knee and didn’t need to follow it up with any additional strikes.  In just nineteen seconds, Mark Kerr broke Greg Stott’s skull into a million tiny pieces.

Stott manages to get back to his feet as Jeff Blatnick wonders if that was the fastest fight in UFC history.  Perhaps he forgets gems like Don Frye knocking out Thomas Ramirez or Gary Goodridge elbowing Paul Herrera until Herrera’s head fell off.  This certainly was a quick bout, but not the quickest we’ve seen to date.

Joe Rogan inexplicably calls this the fastest fight in UFC history before interviewing Mark Kerr, who will probably be 100% fresh for the finals of the tournament.  When the interview is done, Bruce Beck clarifies that both of the fights I previously mentioned were quicker than Kerr’s victory tonight.

Bruce Beck discusses Ultimate Japan a little further and says that Kevin Jackson will be returning to action at that event.  Jackson previously looked impressive in winning the middleweight tournament at UFC 14 and it will be good to see him back in action.

Maurice Smith and Tank Abbott are interviewed in anticipation of their fight later this evening.  Smith says that he’ll be wary of Abbott’s power, but suspects that Tank will tire out as the fight goes on.  Smith must have brought in some very smart people during camp to help him figure that one out.

We move on to the second semifinal bout between Dave Beneteau and Carlos Barreto.  I’m sure we all remember Beneteau for his early UFC losses to Dan Severn and Oleg Taktarov.  Since then, the Canadian lost to Dan Bobish in Brazil but picked up a win over Patrick Smith in Japan.

Carlos Barreto gives a prefight interview in Portuguese, but thankfully, his extremely quiet and slow translator is here to clarify nothing.  Barreto is a Carlson Gracie BJJ practitioner, so he definitely has some skills that can be capitalized on in the UFC.  Barreto is undefeated in 1997 with wins over Paul Varelans, Kevin Randleman, Dan Bobish, and Geza Kalman.  He’s got the skills and an impressive resume, so this will probably be a great fight.

The fighters seem pretty evenly matched in size, though Barreto has a height advantage.  Both fighters are near the current heavyweight limit, which doesn’t happen very frequently in the UFC.  A lot of heavyweight are still around 225 pounds or less, so we’ve definitely got a couple of bigger guys ready to square off.

Beneteau moves in for the clinch early and the fighters trade shots.  Barreto backs Beneteau against the cage and seems to be working for a takedown, but ends up landing a headbutt when the attempt fails.  True to the new rules, Big John McCarthy warns Barreto and issues the fighter a foul.  We’ve never seen a disqualification in the past, but it will take three fouls to disqualify a fighter.

Beneteau is trying to grab Barreto’s head, but Barreto is able to stay free of Beneteau’s grasp.  Barreto is liberally grabbing the cage, which is really preventing Beneteau from being able to do anything while backed against the cage.  Big John is very quick to break the clinch, presumably due to the fence grabbing.  Oddly enough, Barreto is only penalized for the headbutt and not the fence grabbing.

Barreto is quick to work for the takedown after the restart and is successful.  During the scramble, Beneteau gives up his back and Barreto sinks his hooks in!  Barreto starts throwing some big punches to the back of Beneteau’s head, another foul that goes uncalled by Big John.  If we’re going by the three strike rule, we’ve got three pretty clear fouls with only one having been called.

As Barreto is throwing those punches to the back of the head, he gets too high and Beneteau is able to buck his opponent and escape!  With both men back on their feet, Barreto seems a bit more comfortable striking though I’m sure both men would like to be on the mat.  Beneteau rushes Barreto and doesn’t even attempt a takedown, so Barreto initiates the clinch and backs Beneteau against the cage yet again.

It looks like Barreto goes for a takedown, but now Beneteau grabs the fence which clearly prevents Barreto from completing the takedown.  This allows Beneteau to claim a half guard position, where he postures up and lands some serious punches.  Beneteau is actually forcing his knee into Barreto’s chest and this makes the punches look a lot more devastating.  During this flury, Barreto works back to his feet and breaks free from the clinch at the four minute mark.

Barreto is definitely getting the best of the striking, throwing some powerful body and head kicks that appear to affect Beneteau.  Barreto lands a big left and moves in for some more strikes, but Beneteau scores a takedown.  Beneteau doesn’t stay there for long as he moves back to his feet and allows Barreto to stand.  Beneteau might have some trouble in this fight.  He doesn’t want to deal with Barreto’s BJJ, but Barreto also seems to be getting the best of striking exchanges.

Barreto lazily moves into the clinch, which allows Beneteau to take control and back Barreto against the fence.  Barreto lands an occasional knee, but Beneteau connects with some big uppercuts.  Beneteau breaks from the clinch again and both fighters seem very tired.  Both Barreto and Beneteau spend time resting their hands on their knees.  When Beneteau leans over to rest, Barreto nearly connects with a big kick to Beneteau’s head.

The fighters circle a bit and Barreto attempts a low kick, but Beneteau catches the kick and lands a takedown!  Beneteau is in guard and Barreto seems interested in working for a triangle.  Beneteau goes to posture up but gets caught with a big up kick and forgets that idea.  Beneteau isn’t staying very active and is unsuccessful in attempts to advance position.  Barreto is throwing some punches from his back, but doesn’t have much success.  It looks like Barreto is working for a gogoplata or a triangle, but Beneteau very slowly backs out of guard and stands up yet again.

Barreto seems interested in trading strikes with Beneteau, but the Canadian is persistent with the clinch and won’t give Barreto any space to work.  Big John again breaks the clinch with little time to work and restarts the fighters yet again.  Before either fighter can do anything on their feet, Beneteau lands yet another takedown and is back in guard.  Barreto has a single let in butterfly position, but I don’t think it matters.  Benteau’s strategy is pure lay and pray and he just wants to spend as much time as he can on top of Barreto.  Beneteau’s strikes are weak and infrequent, but he’s in a dominant position.

The regulation portion of this fight ends with Beneteau on top of Barreto.  Bruce Beck says the crowd will explode at the end of regulation, but it more accurately sounded like a bunch of indifferent southerners politely cheering and/or groaning at Beneteau’s lackluster offense.  The first half of regulation was pretty exciting, but that came to a prompt halt when both fighters were clearly worn out.  The break before overtime is spent with two large fighters trying desperately to catch their breath.

During the overtime, Big John warns Barreto’s corner that the fighter received a second foul for grabbing the fence.  One more foul, and Barreto will be disqualified from this fight.  We’ve yet to see a disqualification in the UFC, but many of these rules are also very new.  We could be in for another first in the UFC tonight.

As has been the norm in this fight, Barreto and Beneteau clinch with Beneteau backed against the cage.  Barreto is still grabbing the fence!  For whatever reason, Big John is deciding to repeatedly warn Barreto instead of disqualifying the fighter as promised.  Barreto works for a takedown and is successful, moving into Beneteau’s guard.  The last half of overtime is spent very boringly in guard, Barreto doing very little aside from throwing harmless looking strikes.  At one point, Beneteau is fouled for kicking Barreto from closed guard, but the fight ends uneventfully.

At this point, one thing is clear: both men are super tired.  I’m not sure who has the edge in this fight.  Beneteau seemed to be in control for more of the fight, scoring takedowns and spending a lot of time on top of Barreto.  Then again, Barreto controlled the overtime and Beneteau was really inactive when he did gain an advantageous position.  This is certainly a closer fight that was initially very promising, but fell flat when both fighters were almost immediately winded.

In the end, it’s Dave Beneteau who is declared the winner of the fight.  Barreto seemed confident that the victory was his, but the Brazilian is gracious in defeat when congratulating Beneteau and his corner.  Beneteau will move onto the finals to fight Mark Kerr, a fight that seems very lopsided at this point.  Beneteau won’t be able to out wrestle Kerr and his fight was significantly longer than Kerr’s.

In his post fight interview, Beneteau concedes that he may not be able to fight Mark Kerr in the finals.  Beneteau vows to make an “executive decision” when deciding whether or not to compete in the heavyweight tournament finals.

But now, it’s time for the first half of tonight’s heavyweight double bill.  Vitor Belfort will face Randy Couture to determine who will get a shot at the UFC title at Ultimate Japan.  Belfort has shown destructive striking talent early in his UFC career and he differs greatly from a proven wrestler like Randy Couture.  Couture says that nobody has taken Belfort down and that’s what he plans on doing.  Belfort has yet to show off his BJJ skills, so this could be the first time we see what Belfort can do on the mat.

Jeff Blatnick tells us that Couture placed ninth in Greco-Roman at the wrestling world championships just one month prior.  Couture was a very accomplished wrestler, and though he didn’t have the wrestling success of a Kevin Jackson or Mark Schultz, but his skills have still translated nicely in the UFC thus far.

After Couture makes his way to the octagon, Bruce Beck tells us that Belfort is stalling before his entrance to play mind games with his opponent.  The UFC’s crack staff gets some footage of Belfort in his trailer backstage as Blatnick insists that Belfort will eventually come out to fight.  And to think, I was really concerned that Belfort was going to back out of this fight last minute and not try to earn his shot at the UFC Heavyweight Title.

There’s maybe a five minute wait before Belfort makes his way to the cage accompanied by Carlson Gracie.  It sounds like this crowd is firmly behind indifference for this fight, with Belfort being the favorite between the two active fighters.  This Mississippi crowd seems pretty dead.  Is there any way we could put Dave Beneteau and Carlos Barreto on trial for killing this crowd?

The fight opens up with Belfort looking for an opening to land some strikes.  He throws a combo at Couture that is mostly deflected.  Belfort loads up for some big hooks, but Couture quickly clinches his opponent.  Couture works for a throw, but Belfort maintains his balance and stays on his feet.  Belfort has Couture backed against the cage while Couture holds onto a front facelock.  Belfort grabs Couture’s leg and attempts a single leg takedown, but Belfort gives up on it and breaks the clinch.

It looks like Belfort was holding onto his opponent’s trunks since there is a huge tear on the right leg of Couture’s trunks.  It’s clear that Couture is planning to clinch Belfort whenever the Brazilian starts throwing punches.  Around the two minute mark, Couture clinches Belfort but eats some big uppercuts.  This just prompts Couture to sink in some overhooks and hold on for dear life.  Couture is trying to tie Belfort up as best as he can, and since Couture is conscious, I would say he’s been successful.

Belfort throws a quick 1-2 combo, but Couture ducks under and lands a nice double leg takedown!  Couture is in half guard and quickly transitions to side control.  Couture isn’t looking to strike quite yet, but is putting a lot of pressure on Belfort’s chest and neck in an attempt to make his opponent uncomfortable.

Couture sinks in a headlock and starts throwing left hands and Belfort tries to turn Couture over.  Couture avoids being put on his back and maintains the headlock during the scramble, but ends up moving to Belfort’s guard.  Couture has been pretty inactive on top aside from the few punches he landed from the headlock position.

At the 5:30 mark, Couture begins to posture up and land some punches on Belfort.  Couture has a hand behind Belfort’s head for control as he postures and throws single punches.  Couture postures up again, but Belfort rolls out of guard after possibly looking for an armbar.  Belfort rolls onto all fours and is back on his feet, but Couture is in control with another front facelock and is landing some big knees!  Belfort blocks a lot of the shots and pulls away from the facelock, but Couture quickly clinches again and lands a number of uppercuts of his own.

Now Belfort is answering back with some big punches, but Couture is throwing some big left hands!  We’re seeing some heavy duty dirty boxing in this fight, perhaps the best example of it in the UFC thus far.  Couture is landing a lot of his punches and Belfort’s defense is faltering.  Belfort looks out of it and is staggered against the cage!  Couture moves in and throws some massive rights that go unanswered!

It looks like Belfort drops to the mat in an attempt to pull guard, but he’s so exhausted at this point that he can’t get Couture to follow.  Instead, Couture stands over Belfort and drops some big knees to the head of his downed opponent!  I guess that kicks against a downed opponent have been banned, but knees are just fine!

Couture gives up on the knees and starts throwing punches, but Belfort gives up his back to avoid being destroyed by Couture, who obliges Belfort by taking his back.  Couture is still having success with punches from Belfort’s back and the Brazilian is just trying to cover up at this point.  Couture throws a series of left hands that are barely defended and Big John calls a stop to this fight!  Randy Couture has earned a shot at the UFC Heavyweight Title in an outstanding fight!

Randy Couture came into this fight playing second fiddle to the much hyped Vitor Belfort, but Couture has shocked the world with this victory.  Couture’s wrestling was very good, but it was his striking that proved to be key.  Couture landed some really heavy shots and withstood Belfort’s assault, which lead to the TKO victory at 8:17 in the fight.

Couture encourages the “USA!” chants from the crowd, who are now thrilled that Couture ended up being successful.  The crowd didn’t seem firmly behind either fighter at the start, but this was just the performance Randy Couture needed to rally the fans behind him.  That was a very impressive performance from the wrestler, whose next opponent will be the winner of tonight’s Maurice Smith vs. Tank Abbott title fight.

Couture said this fight went to plan, as he anticipated weathering the early storm before utilizing his Greco Roman wrestling and his takedowns to control the fight.  He tells Joe Rogan that he went out there very relaxed and tried to have fun.  He also says he’s excited for his next fight, since he’s “always wanted to go to Japan”.  I’m sorry, but there is absolutely no reason for anybody to dislike this guy.  Randy Couture seems like the nicest guy who, more than anything, is just happy to be along for the ride.

It’s now time for the finals of the heavyweight tournament, and unsurprisingly, Dave Beneteau will not be participating in the heavyweight finals tonight.  Dwayne Cason will be filling in to fight Mark Kerr in the tournament finals.  Cason defeated Houston Dorr earlier in the evening, but he’s facing a much scarier opponent in Mark Kerr.  Beneteau tells Joe Rogan that he’s not 100% ready after his earlier fight and doesn’t feel like he would have been able to give his all against Kerr.  Without saying it outright, Beneteau says he has no chance of beating Mark Kerr.  I probably would have done the same thing, though I would have given that interview with piss running down my pant leg.

Through the evening, we’ve learned that Cason claims to be able to do 1500 push ups, push a truck two miles, bench press 500 pounds, and squat lift over 800 pounds.  Blatnick and Beck don’t mention whether or not Cason trains with Pat Robertson, but it sounds likely.  If these claims are to be believed, I think Cason will win the fight by hurling Mark Kerr miles into the air and winning by decision when Kerr fails to land until after the fight is complete.

Kerr, the larger fighter by two inches and forty pounds, talks about his desire to get back into wrestling sometime in the next year.  He definitely has some awesome wrestling credentials including an NCAA Wrestling Championship.  Blatnick tells us that Kerr previously finished second in the wrestling nationals to eventual 1996 U.S. gold medal winner Kurt Angle.

Bruce Buffer introduces Kerr as “The Specimen”, a nickname I don’t remember hearing previously.  Specimen is very appropriate, since Kerr is a physical specimen who likely also has to submit frequent urine specimens based on his abnormal shape.

Within the first 20 seconds of the fight, Mark Kerr takes Dwayne Cason down.  This is bad news for the alternate, as Kerr quickly takes full mount with Cason pinned against the cage.  Cason gives up his back in a last ditch effort to avoid the blows, but Kerr sinks in a rear naked choke.  Cason seems ready to tap before the choke is even locked in, but quickly submits to the submission hold.  Mark Kerr has won his second fight in this tournament in under a minute and has now won his second consecutive tournament!

Well that was unsurprising.  Mark Kerr has absolutely run through two opponents in this tournament and, really, has yet to be challenged in the UFC.  He is massively strong and is an incredible wrestler, following in the footsteps of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Mark Coleman.  Kerr says after the fight that he’s done with the tournaments and is looking for a Superfight or a Heavyweight Title fight.  He hints at matches with Maurice Smith, Randy Couture, and Vitor Belfort.

Interestingly enough, Kerr says he would rather not fight a wrestler at this point.  He says that at this point, the wrestlers need to fight competitors with different disciplines to prove that wrestling is superior.  Rogan spends quite a bit of time talking to Kerr about his training.  Kerr reveals that he’s spent a lot of time training in jiu jitsu and he feels like the UFC is a competition that fits him very well.

A video package of the ham-faced John McCarthy is shown, since he’s apparently important enough to highlight during the UFC’s pay-per-view event.  He’s certainly become a staple of the UFC thus far officiating the majority of the events, but is he really important enough where highlights need to be shown?  It’s strange seeing a random group of stoppages with Big John shown as the main focus.

With that, it is now time for the main event for the Heavyweight Title between Maurice Smith and Tank Abbott.  We get the standard highlight videos and prefight interviews for both fighters, though Tank’s video is abrupt on account of being a late replacement.  During Smith’s entrance, Beck claims that Maurice Smith has really improved his submissions under Frank Shamrock at the Lion’s Den.  It will be interesting to see if Smith decides to take this fight to the ground given Tank’s notable punching power.  Tank Abbott is the big fan favorite in this fight and the Mississippi crowd makes it known during the introductions.

This fight starts with Tank being aggressive with his punches, but Smith answers with a leg kick.  Tank tries a takedown, but Smith defends it nicely and stays on his feet.  Smith is circling around the cage as Tank stalks forward, looking for his opportunity to potentially knock the champion out.  Tank is being very cautious, understandable given Smith’s excellent kickboxing skills.

Tank rushes in with some punches to set up the clinch against the cage.  Tank throws some single punches from the tie up, but doesn’t seem to do much damage at first.  Tank then lands a big right hand that stumbles Smith, who falls to the mat!  Tank rushes in to follow up with some punches, but Smith has recovered almost immediately and is keeping Tank in his guard.  It looks like Smith has kept his wits about him and that he was simply knocked down.

Tank is making efforts to pass the guard and is successful in moving to side control.  It’s a nice transition by Tank, though I’m sure a more capable fighter on the ground could have defended the move.  Tank postures up to land some punches, but Smith quickly adjusts and moves Tank back to guard.  The crowd is chanting Tank’s name as we hit the four minute mark of the fight.

Abbott postures up from the guard and lands some right hands, but is unable to maintain the attack and goes back to rest his weight on Smith.  Maurice Smith seems interested in working for an arm submission, but he gives up the idea quickly.  Smith is almost able to buck Tank and reverse positions, but Abbott is able to maintain his top position.  Abbott is throwing occasional punches, but as he is wont to do, Tank seems to have gotten a bit tired.

Abbott again moves from guard to side control and is throwing some more big rights, but Smith blocks most of the punches.  Smith adjusts and is able to move Tank back into his guard once again.  Smith is again working for the keylock as Tank moves back to side control, but he’s unable to get the leverage needed to finish the hold.  Tank spends some more time between side control and guard before Big John restarts the fighters at 7:30 in the contest.

Abbott is very, very tired at this point.  If Tank gets tired when coming into fights on regular notice, imagine how exhausted he must be having accepted the Heavyweight Title fight on such short notice.  Tank can’t be in the best of shape right now, while we’ve seen Smith go through this before.  After the restart in the Smith/Coleman fight was when Smith did most of his damage, so let’s see if he can repeat that here.

Tank lurches forward out of the restart and gets hit with some huge low kicks.  Tank is completely unable to respond to the kicks and Big John sees fit to stop the fight!  This contest is over and Maurice Smith has retained his UFC Heavyweight Title!  It just took Smith 30 seconds out of the restart on account of Abbott being miserably tired.

This is probably the worst shape Tank has been in after a UFC fight.  Most of the time, Tank will be moving around and chatting with his corner, but now he’s laying flat on his back and looks completely winded.  I can think of few fighters other than Tank who would fare so poorly on short notice.

Maurice Smith seems very happy in his postfight interview and says that he’ll be going to Disneyland prior to his Ultimate Japan fight.  Joe Rogan also talks with Tank, who says “fuck it, I don’t give a fuck about a beating.”  He clarifies that he fights for the fun and says that if he was in shape, this fight wouldn’t have been close at all.  Bruce Beck clarifies that Tank Abbott verbally submitted at the end of this fight, so Smith is the winner via submission due to strikes.

Now we’ll get to see Maurice Smith defend his title against Randy Couture in Japan.  We’ve already seen Smith defeat a stellar wrestler like Mark Coleman, though Couture likely has more of a gas tank and better striking than Kerr.  And Couture was successful against a serious striker in Vitor Belfort, though Smith has proven he can go deeper into fights than Belfort.

Coming out of this event, the three big names in the heavyweight pictures are Smith, Couture, and Mark Kerr.  After two tournament wins, Kerr is definitely in a position to become one of the best heavyweights in the UFC.  However, this is going to be the very last time we see Mark Kerr fight in the octagon – he will never compete in the UFC again.  Kerr will move on to fight exclusively for PRIDE over the four years.  Kerr gave in an interview in the early aughts where he said that SEG was hardly paying any of the fighters dating back to their first event.  Because of this, Kerr will spend the next four years fighting in Japan.

This is very disappointing for the UFC as Kerr is primed to be a huge star.  Kerr’s dominating wrestling and massive frame have led to great success in the UFC, but because SEG won’t pay one of their top heavyweights, he will be defecting.  That goes to show how mismanaged the UFC was under SEG rule.  Not paying fighters and facing extreme government and public resistance has been difficult for the UFC and losing fighters is a definite consequence of that.

So we’ll get to see the UFC venture to Japan in December 1997 for their first ever event outside of the United States jurisdiction (including Puerto Rico).  I guess there’s no better way to avoid American government pressure than to avoid the American government as a whole.  We know Couture vs. Smith will take place and Kevin Jackson will return to compete.  Aside from that, we’ll have to wait and see what the UFC has in store.

Greatest Fights of UFC 15

  1. Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort
  2. Maurice Smith vs. Tank Abbott
  3. Dave Beneteau vs. Carlos Barreto
  4. Mark Kerr vs. Dwayne Cason
  5. Mark Kerr vs. Greg Stott
  6. Dwayne Cason vs. Houston Dorr
  7. Alex Hunter vs. Harry Moskowitz

Top Ten Fights Through UFC 15

  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. Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn – UFC 4
  6. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
  7. Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott – UFC 6
  8. Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock – UFC 1
  9. Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn – UFC 6
  10. Marco Ruas vs. Paul Varelans – UFC 7

Greatest Fighters of UFC 15

  1. Randy Couture (1-0)
  2. Mark Kerr (2-0)
  3. Maurice Smith (1-0)
  4. Dave Beneteau (1-0)
  5. Dwayne Cason (1-1)
  6. Alex Hunter (1-0)
  7. Vitor Belfort (0-1)
  8. Carlos Barreto (0-1)
  9. Harry Moskowitz (0-1)
  10. Tank Abbott (0-1)
  11. Houston Dorr (0-1)
  12. Greg Stott (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 15

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

UFC 14

June 19, 2011 1 comment

It’s July of 1997 and the UFC has returned to the pay-per-view airwaves.  UFC 14 is upon us and it marks the debut of the middleweight division!  Actually, what was once called the lightweight division (fighters under 200 pounds) has simply been renamed the middleweight division.  I’m not sure what the middleweight division is in the middle of since there are now only two weight classes in the UFC.  Nonetheless, long live the middleweight division!

The UFC is sticking with the two tournament system, which frankly, I have been enjoying.  There is still a bit of a gap between the largest and smallest fighters at heavyweight, but the division has still been competitive.  The lightweight/middleweight division has allowed lighter fighters like Jerry Bohlander and Guy Mezger to gain measures of success in the UFC.  Neither of those fighters will be participating in the inaugural middleweight tournament at this event, but we’ll see the return of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu star (not named Royce Gracie) and the debut of another Olympic gold medal wrestler, Kevin Jackson.

The heavyweight division also has a couple of returning fighters from previous UFC events, though Randy Couture is notably absent from the event.  We will see the debut of a heavyweight fighter and wrestler from Syracuse University who defeated Couture for the 1992 NCAA wrestling title at the 190 pound weight class.  1992 was a year of notable champions in the NCAA wrestling championships including Kevin Randleman, Kurt Angle, and the man making his debut tonight, Mark Kerr.

Along with the tournaments, Mark Coleman will defend his UFC Heavyweight Title against kickboxer Maurice Smith in what should be a very interesting contest.  We’ve got some good fights ahead of us so lets get started.

UFC 14: Showdown – July 27, 1997

Previous Editions

The UFC has returned to Alabama for this pay-per-view event.  It seems increasingly true that the southern states in the U.S. are more friendly in regards to hosting these UFC events.  It’s great that the UFC was able to put on these shows despite serious political and public opposition, though I’m sure they would have liked to have expanded their boundaries beyond Georgia, Alabama, and…well that’s about it right now.

As always, Bruce Beck and Jeff Blatnick are with us to walk us through tonight’s proceedings.  In discussing tonight’s title fight, Beck claims that both Maurice Smith and Mark Coleman are undefeated in “freestyle competition”.  Now we know Coleman has had a pretty good run through the UFC, but what about Maurice Smith?  I mentioned in the UFC 13 write-up that Maurice Smith was 4-7 in MMA with seven submission losses.  Smith also has a handful of kickboxing losses, so I’m not sure in which formats Maurice Smith is undefeated.  Perhaps just in the UFC, where he’s built a solid 0-0 record thus far.

The middleweight tournament features the returning Joe Moreira with his amazing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu against Latvian boxer Yuri Vaulin, while gold medalist Kevin Jackson makes his debut against karate practitioner Todd Butler.  Moreira and Jackson appear to be favorites in this bracket.  Moreira had difficulty with Paul Varelans in his UFC debut, but he won’t have to deal with such a size difference in this contest.

For the heavyweights, Moti Horenstein faces newcomer Mark Kerr and Brian Johnston returns to the UFC to take on another wrestler in Dan Bobish.  Poor Moti Horenstein.  He gets wrestled to death in his UFC debut against Mark Coleman, so now he gets to take on Coleman’s Hammer House teammate and NCAA wrestling champion Mark Kerr?  How unfortunate.  Brian Johnston has been very competitive in previous UFC appearances and I’m interested to see how successful he’ll be at this event

Similar to UFC 13, there is a single alternate fight for each weight class.  For the heavyweights, Alex Hunter defeated Sam Fulton via TKO in an unaired fight.  The middleweight alternate fight features Anthony Fryklund and Donnie Chappell, but we’ll see that fight later in the evening.

Joe Rogan is backstage to tell us that the “adrenaline is thick” in the locker rooms.  If I had to guess, I would say that Hammer House fighters Coleman and Kerr are doing the most to contribute toward this excessive adrenaline.  Rogan goes on to tell us what we should be “pumped up” to see, which is basically everything on the event.

And now it’s time for the first fight of the night pitting Yuri Vaulin and Joe Moreira.  It’s a huge styles clash in this fight given Vaulin’s boxing and Moreira’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Any words before the fight, Yuri?

“First of all…I will make lots of false attack.  He will…all the time pay attention for his defense, not for the attack.  Because I will show different hands starting to attack and it will be more busy to pay attention for defense his self-taught technique.”

I don’t think that English is Yuri Vaulin’s primary language.  I would try to transcribe Moreira’s prefight interview but I think that would make my head hurt.  Plus, I don’t have an hour to get all of that right.  The gist is that Moreira aims to use his BJJ to make his home country proud.

I know these are Bruce Buffer’s early events, but the guy is cringe worthy here.  He has no idea how to use his volume, sometimes legitimately and unnecessarily shouting into his microphone.  Thank goodness he’s refined his performance now because the yelling is barely tolerable when he doesn’t know how to form a decent sounding sentence.  I was excited to get rid of Rich Goins for this guy?  I hope the UFC veers into an alternate reality where Howard Finkel or Joe Martinez becomes the announcer.

Lets get onto the fight.  Right away, Vaulin is faking some strikes.  Unfortunately for him, Moreira scores a quick takedown and moves to half guard.  Vaulin is making weak attempts to strike Moreira, who advances his position to full mount.  This is bad news for the Latvian boxer who is on his back and taking elbows.  Moreira is facing a fighter who presumably has very little submission knowledge, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see a submission attempt very soon.

During this fight, Bruce Beck mentions that UFC 14 is the first event requiring fighters to wear gloves.  We’ve seen fighters like Tank Abbott utilize the gloves in the past, but now all fighters are required to wear these gloves.  It’s further clarified by Jeff Blatnick that hair-pulling, strikes to the groin, and kicking a downed opponent in the head are all illegal acts.

These are all big changes and I wonder why these weren’t mentioned up front instead of a minute into the first fight.  I guess it makes sense since the UFC is supposed to be no holds barred street fighting, but it can’t really make that claim if they’re restricting how fighters are able to attack their opponent.  The UFC decides the best approach is to not go out of their way to discuss the changes for fear of offending the ignorant and blood-thirsty masses.

Back to the fight and Moreira isn’t doing a ton from full mount.  He’s throwing some punches and elbows, but it doesn’t look like there’s a lot behind those strikes.  Moreira has Vaulin’s legs tied up, but it’s not doing any good given the lack of offense from Moreira.  Vaulin is trying to stay active from the bottom but he’s really at a disadvantage.  He can’t get any leverage behind his strikes and he’s doing little to hurt Moreira.  The Brazilian responds with a flurry of punches followed by another period of inactivity.

We’re at the five minute mark and Moreira has done the same thing for the entire fight: stay on top, do just enough to not get stood up, score with the judges.  I wonder if Bobby Lashley learned from the Joe Moreira school of full mount?  It’s ridiculous that Moreira has yet to even attempt a submission, but he is winning the fight for sure.

Big John is intently staring at the action, but it’s stunning that he’s not stood these fighters up.  I’ve never seen such an inactive full mount, and it may not seem like a good idea to stand up a fighter while he’s in mount, but it seems absolutely necessary here.  Nine minutes in and the crowd has begun the boring chants.

At 9:30, Big John finally restarts the fight.  Vaulin decides to stick with his gameplan of throwing a lot of feints, a great idea after being held down for nearly ten minutes.  Moreira again gets the takedown and pulls mount, bringing us back to where we were before the restart.  The fight stays this way for the duration of the fight until we hit the 12 minute mark, which means the end of regulation.  Big John asks Vaulin if he wants to continue in the fight and he confirms that he does.  Both fighters seem absolutely gassed so we’ll see how this three minute overtime goes.

Vaulin is sizing up Moreira and throws a single left to the body that misses.  Surprise, surprise, Moreira gets another takedown.  He spends some time in side control and yet again goes to full mount.  The entire overtime is spent with Moreira squarely in control and doing very little while Vaulin struggles and defends what little offense Moreira uses.  This fight sucked.  Thanks a lot, Joe Moreira!  That has to be one of the worst and most lopsided fights we’ve seen in the UFC.

Unsurprisingly, Joe Moreira has taken the unanimous decision victory and he will advance to the finals of the middleweight tournament.  I really don’t look forward to another fight like this, so I’m just hopeful Moreira is exhausted and will spend the finals taking a massive beating.

His opponent will be the winner of the next fight between Todd Butler and Kevin Jackson.  This should be another grappler vs. striker fight, but Butler has some collegiate wrestling experience along with his karate and boxing skills.  Unfortunately for Butler, his high school and college wrestling days are nothing compared to Jackson’s gold medal wrestling skills.  Jackson says he thinks he’ll be surprised when he gets punched in the UFC for the first time.  Hopefully he’ll be able to withstand that and put on a good show.

Butler keeps a lower base to start this fight, presumably preparing himself for an impending takedown attempt from Jackson.  Butler is moving in and out with quick punches, but Jackson grabs the clinch and backs Butler against the cage.  Butler is defending Jackson’s takedown attempts, but Jackson sweeps Butler’s legs and gets the takedown.

Butler quickly turns his back and Jackson sinks in both hooks and takes control.  Jackson looks interested in a choke, but he gives that up quickly and begins to throw some big right hands.  Butler quickly taps out as his corner throws in the towel giving the Olympian his first win in the UFC.  After he score the takedown, Jackson was firmly in control and promptly scored the victory.

Jackson gives a very humble post fight interview and seems like a pretty likeable guy.  He’ll be moving on to the finals against Joe Moreira and I’m sure that Joe won’t have be able to take Jackson down like he did to Yuri Vaulin.  Kevin Jackson is also the much fresher fighter and I think these finals will go his way.

I have to put up these AOL chat logs.  I love this stuff.  I really wish there was an AOL chat transcript database where I could find these old logs from the UFC events.  If anyone has something like this, I implore you to send it my way.  Also, the Fred Ettish Fetal Fighting website mentioned in the chat apparently still exists.  I also wonder when the hell Marco Ruas will be “commming back” to the UFC.

Bruce Beck hypes up the Maurice Smith/Mark Coleman fight, claiming again that Smith is undefeated in the world of “reality combat.”  How on earth can he make this claim?  Smith has more losses than wins in his MMA career, so maybe “reality combat” just means fights that take place outside of Japan?  But then they show clips of Smith from Pancrase, including from fights where he lost!  I am really at a loss with this one.

Beck then hypes the UFC’s next event, UFC 15 in October 1997.  Vitor Belfort will be in a heavyweight superfight in which he’ll be competing for the chance to take on the UFC Heavyweight Champion.  Randy Couture is also listed for the event, though opponents aren’t named for either fighter.

And now it’s time for the heavyweight tournament with Mark Kerr and Moti Horenstein squaring off in the first semifinal bout.  Kerr is nicknamed “The Smaching Machine” and I’m anxious to see what he does to live up to that monicker.  I’m assuming some heavy duty smashing, but we’ll have to wait and see for sure.  Horenstein says before the fight that he is relaxed and very prepared to fight Mark Kerr, but I wonder if he’ll feel the same way during the fight itself.  This is similar to the Butler/Jackson fight where one man is a karate practitioner and one is a wrestler and the wrestler took that fight.

Bruce Beck mistakenly calls Bruce Buffer “Michael”, which is a fun mix-up.  It also makes me yearn for Michael Buffer as a UFC announcer.  I think that Buffer has a contract with HBO nowadays, but I’m not positive.  Either way, I know that he’s not in my life nearly as much as he should be.  Not since the courts issues that dual physical and aural restraining order was issued years ago, forcing me to stay 500 yards away from the man himself and 200 yards away from any TV on which he is announcing.  I PROMISE I WON’T HURT YOU, MICHAEL.

Enough of my problems, on with the fight.  Before Horenstein is able to land any strikes, Kerr scores a quick double leg takedown and is in side control.  Kerr lands some big knees to Horenstein’s head, but shouldn’t those be illegal?  Kicks to the head of a downed opponent are illegal, but what about the knees?  Perhaps they just banned soccer style kicks where a standing opponent strikes a downed opponent.  Whatever the case is, the knees are allowed.

Horenstein rolls to avoid the knees and briefly gives up his back, but he adjusts closes to the cage fence while Kerr attacks and is Horenstein his back again.  Kerr is once again in side control and is throwing some bunches to Horenstein’s head and body.  Kerr is controlling Horenstein’s head with his left elbow while Horenstein is doing his best to hold Kerr down.

Kerr tries to move to mount, but ends up in half guard where he’s throwing a flurry of punches.  Horenstein again tries to hold Kerr down at the two minute mark but the wrestler is far too powerful and is able to posture up.  Kerr is again throwing punches to Horenstein’s head and these shots are going unanswered.  Big John decides to stop this fight at 2:23 to prevent Horenstein from taking any additional damage.  Mark Kerr has won this fight and he advances to the heavyweight finals.

The replay shows that Kerr’s ground and pound was landing very cleanly, doing some serious damage to Horenstein.  Kerr doesn’t say anything notable in his post fight interview, but Joe Rogan reveals to us that Joe Moreira has to pull out of his fight in the middleweight finals.  Very surprising considering that Moreira spent about 15 minutes laying on top of his opponent, but nonetheless, he is out.  That means Kevin Jackson will face the winner of Anthony Fryklund vs. Donnie Chappell, a fight that will be shown later in the evening.

They show interviews with Maurice Smith and Mark Coleman in anticipation of their main event fight.  Smith says he’ll try to avoid the takedown and set Coleman up with jabs.  According to Bruce Beck, Smith also said that Coleman hits like a girl.  Coleman doesn’t think Smith can knock him out and he definitely doesn’t think Smith can handle his takedowns.  I think the latter point seems to be very likely.

Now it’s time for the second heavyweight semifinal contest between Dan Bobish and Brian Johnston.  Bobish is an absolutely massive man at 6’1″ and more than 300 pounds and he was a division 3 NCAA wrestling champion.  We remember Brian Johnston as a very good kickboxer who put on some competitive fights, but who had been defeated by fighters like Ken Shamrock, Don Frye and Mark Coleman.  Bobish has a nearly 100 pound weight advantage over Johnston, showing that weight classes haven’t completely eliminated weight inequities.  Johnston is the taller fighter at 6’4″, but the weight difference is absolutely huge.

Johnston starts this fight swinging and Bobish quickly responds with punches of his own.  Johnston seemed to be getting the best of the exchanges before he clinched with Bobish.  Johnston tries to maneuver in the clinch, but Bobish breaks free and lands some big punches.  Johnston clinches again, but now Bobish hits a takedown and has Johnston pressed against the fence.

Bobish uses his head to press Johnston’s head against the cage, but he changes that up and shoves his left forearm into Johnston’s throat while landing big punches with his right hand.  Bobish is putting a lot of his weight on Johnston, who appears to be very uncomfortable.  With the forearm across his throat and the torque put on his neck, Johnston is forced to tap out just over two minutes into the fight.

The heavyweight finals are now set with Dan Bobish vs. Mark Kerr in what should be a very fun fight.  Bobish confirms after the fight that he feels good and should be able to move on to the finals.  Jeff Blatnick can’t contain his excitement for this final match.  The large wrestler on commentary is excited about the prospect of watching two other large wrestlers do battle.

Joe Rogan is backstage with Joe Moreira and they discuss the circumstances regarding Moreira’s departure from the tournament.  He wanted to continue in the tournament, but Moreira’s doctors forced him to pull out due to a “contraction in his head.”  Rogan clairifes with Moreira that it’s actually concussion and not contraction and Moreira isn’t sure how it happened.

I wonder if the doctors just confused Moreira being concussed with the fact that he seems like a slower individual.  He seems to talk with a relaxed drawl that could possibly be confused with a potential head injury.  If the doctor only spoke English, that just exacerbates the problem considering Moreira’s poor grasp on the English language.  I proposed this idea as a joke, but now I think I’ve convinced myself that this is what actually happened.

Joe Moreira also reveals that his pregnant wife was giving birth to the couple’s child and he sends this message to his wife: “Congratulation sweetheart…I make this fight for you.  I be back soon home.  Bye.”  Aww.

Now it’s time for the footage of Anthony Fryklund vs. Donnie Chappell from earlier in the evening.  Chappell is an Alabama native and has a very wispy mustache.  He looks like Timothy McVeigh’s brother, though I think that could be true for a lot of men in their 20’s during the 1990’s.  This is especially true of the American south.

Chappell expresses interest in being an aggressive striker and plans to do damage before his opponent is able to do so.  Chappell is apparently allowed to wear a t-shirt in the cage as well.  The only time you should be able to wear a t-shirt in the octagon is if it’s one of those shirts with muscles on it and the referee is unable to determine whether or not it’s a shirt or abdominal muscles.

Fryklund seems a little more well balanced, having both good submissions and strikes.  He is not notably ugly or deformed, nor is he wearing a t-shirt.  His look could probably pass for an MMA fighter in 2011.  He even has this awful tattoo on his chest, much like the majority of fighters in the UFC today.

Referee Joe Hamilton, who has handled undercard duties for a number of UFC fights, gets the action going.  Chappell, t-shirt and all, attempts a flying kick but is taken down by Fryklund who quickly moves from side control to full mount.  Chappell is seriously struggling, trying his best to restrain Fryklund.  Chappell even throws a few punches from the ground, but Fryklund lands some blows of us own before Chappell again grabs his opponent.

Chappell is actually being slightly more active with his punches from the bottom, even if they’re not doing significant damage.  Fryklund throws a few short headbutts and it looks like he’s trying some kind of choke and Joe Hamilton stops the fight!  I have a hard time seeing what exactly Fryklund did, but he may have used Chappell’s t-shirt to assist in the choke.  It doesn’t look like a forearm choke, so I’m kind of at a loss on this one.

What’s really notable is the extracurricular activity from Fryklund after the bout.  Once Joe Hamilton stops the fight, Fryklund throws an uncontested and clearly cheap punch to Chappell’s face and then steps on Chappell’s chest when walking back to his corner.  The crowd thoroughly boos Fryklund, who is cornered by Hamilton and then Big John McCarthy.  Both referees clearly thing Fryklund’s actions were dirty and intentional, which I feel is the correct assessment of the situation.

Chappell approaches Fryklund after the stoppage but is shooed away by the victor.  Fryklund relishes the boos of the crowd as his hand is raised after the fight.  He somehow sees fit to shake Chappell’s hand and apologizes for his actions later on.  Chappell replies to Fryklund’s apology with “ain’t no sorry”, which I believe is a rejection of said apology.  Fryklund acknowledges to Joe Rogan that he got carried away and says he won’t do that again.  He again says he’s sorry and says that Chappell didn’t deserve that treatment.

I THINK WE HAVE THE MAKINGS OF A UFC GRUDGE – it’s just too bad Donnie Chappell sucks.

For the first time ever, Bruce Beck presents the UFC middleweight rankings.  The top five fighters are listed as follows.

  1. Guy Mezger
  2. Jerry Bohlander
  3. Mark Schultz
  4. Enson Inoue
  5. Yoshiki Takahashi

Mezger and Bohlander won the first two middleweight (then lightweight) tournaments, so they make sense at the top.  Beck notes that Schultz has retired from MMA, which should seemingly disqualify him from contention.  Inoue and Takahashi are both 1-0 in the UFC but spend most of their time fighting in Japan.  It’s noted that both Inoue and Takahashi expect to be back in the UFC shortly.  With the UFC basically in its infancy, the rankings are unsurprisingly fairly shallow.

So now, Anthony Fryklund will take on Kevin Jackson in the middleweight tournament finals.  Fryklund’s greeting from the audience is less than warm, which is very unsurprising.  Kevin Jackson is clearly the crowd favorite in this fight given Fryklund’s earlier transgressions, as if a U.S. Olympic gold medalist needs more fans.

Fryklund throws a light leg kick to begin the action, but is almost immediately taken down by Jackson.  Fryklund attempts to free himself, but inadvertently gives up his back to Jackson just 12 seconds into the fight!  Jackson is working hard to secure a rear naked choke as Fryklund tightens up to defend the submission attempt.  Jackson softens his opponent up with some punches and then attempts the choke again.  Jackson really sinks in the choke and Fryklund taps out in just 44 seconds!

Kevin Jackson had no problems with Fryklund in this fight and has won the UFC 14 middleweight tournament.  The crowd chants “Jackson!  Jackson!” after the fight result is announced and the Olympian has quickly become a fan favorite in the UFC.  I’m sure he’ll be shot toward the top of the promotion’s middleweight rankings based on the strength of his victories here.

Jackson says that he’d like to fight Mezger, Bohlander, Moreira, or the Russian Igor Zinoviev in his next fights.  Jackson’s reflects statements previously made by Mark Coleman and Randy Couture when he says that American wrestlers will continue to be successful in the UFC.

Art Davie is becoming a bit of a creep, adding some personal anecdotes when awarding medals to tournament champions.  Davies tells Jackson how much more impressive he looks in person than he thought he would, a statement I find to be very odd.  It seems like this guy has always had a screw loose.  Davie is now known for his ridiculous XARM promotion, which is basically extreme arm wrestling.  How has Gary Goodridge not competed in this yet?  Then again, it’s possible that he has but nobody cares enough to notice.

Back to wrestlers in MMA, a video package is shown regarding the relationship between wrestling in MMA.  Coleman, Jackson, and Mark Kerr all discuss how important wrestling has been in their respective successes in the UFC.  Jeff Blatnick expounds upon that, saying that wrestling is perhaps the most applicable base a fighter can have in MMA.

Maurice Smith is shown shadow boxing backstage and Bruce Beck insists upon promoting this myth of Smith’s undefeated record.  “He doesn’t know the word lose”, lies Bruce Beck.  Maurice Smith is thoroughly familiar with the art of losing, as he spent significant time mastering that in Rings and Pancrase.

It’s now time for the heavyweight tournament finals with Mark Kerr facing Dan Bobish.  Bobish is the significantly larger fight, but Kerr has more significant wrestling skills than Bobish does.  We’ll see if Bobish’s 85 pound weight advantage is enough to overcome his skill deficiency.

Bruce Buffer oddly introduces a gentleman in the crowd from Kazakhstan whose name I couldn’t understand.  Buffer says that the UFC hopes to hold an event in Kazakhstan one day, a goal that has yet to be fulfilled.  Kazakhstan certainly could have been home to one of these early UFC shows since pretty much nobody was willing to sanction these fights.

The camera work is stellar during the introductions, showing Dan Bobish as Mark Kerr is introduced and showing a wide shot of the octagon while Dan Bobish is introduced.  The UFC in 1997 was certainly not a well oiled machine.

The fight starts with Kerr unleashing a big leg kick.  Bobish shoves Kerr to the mat, but Kerr is quickly back to his feet and throws another leg kick.  Kerr is moving along the cage while Bobish stalks his opponent.  Kerr shoots in for a takedown and is successful after driving forward.  Kerr ends up in side control with Bobish holding onto his head.  Bobish briefly gives up his back in an attempt to escape, but turns onto his back after realizing that he could be in danger.

Both fighters take a moment to collect themselves before Kerr unleashes with some wild punches to his opponent’s head.  Bobish attempts to hold onto Kerr, but Kerr appears to lock in an arm triangle and shifts in order to tighten the hold.  It doesn’t take very long for Kerr to cinch the submission and score the submission victory!  Mark Kerr has won the heavyweight tournament at UFC 14!

Upon further examination, it seems that the submission came from Kerr digging his chin into Bobish’s left eye.  The arm triangle was never solid and Kerr used a more unorthodox submission hold to win this fight.  Bobish seems to be in significant pain from the hold, understandable since Mark Kerr just dug his chin into Bobish’s eye.

Joe Rogan asks Kerr if he would fight Mark Coleman and Kerr is hesitant to commit to that fight since both men train together.  Jeff Blatnick explains that we’re seeing so many wrestlers in the UFC since, up until now, there have been few ways for wrestlers to capitalize on their success for financial gain.  The UFC is the first outlet where wrestlers can come and display their skills for decent pay instead of having to become professional wrestlers.

After this fight, Bruce Beck thanks the viewers who are still watching the UFC.  A number of cable and satellite providers have apparently pulled UFC programming on account of the continued political attacks on the promotion.  14 years later, the UFC is on the verge of purchasing their own television channel.  It’s pretty incredible how far the sport has come in such a short period of time.

The AOL chatroom is back and it’s as great as ever.  Some classic lines include “kill whitey”, “JJackson ripped nazi”, and “Time Warner is Dog DO DOO”.  Oh, the internet.  America Online might be dead, but these people are still online and watching videos of girls eating poop.  Disturbing, isn’t it?

Now we get a look at the divisional rankings at heavyweight in the UFC.

  1. Mark Coleman (c)
  2. Don Frye
  3. Vitor Belfort
  4. Marco Ruas
  5. Maurice Smith
  6. Dan Severn

Beck speculates that Don Frye will be back in the octagon in January, but we’ve already said our farewells to the man.  Marco Ruas has been out of the UFC for quite a while and won’t return for another two years, but again, these rankings are pretty shallow and the UFC has to put somebody in the rankings.

And now it’s time for our main event for the UFC Heavyweight Title with champion Mark Coleman against Maurice Smith.  Smith is wearing a very 1990’s appropriate shirt that reads “show me the money!”  They finally show the video with Maurice Smith saying that Mark Coleman hits like a girl.  He’s basically trying to say that Coleman is powerful, but his technique is poor.  I’m not sure I can disagree with that, but please don’t tell 1997 Mark Coleman – I don’t want him to kill me.

This is a fairly even match-up, though Mark Coleman is 25 pounds heavier and is much more muscular than his opponent.  Coleman’s power and wrestling will definitely be key, but sometimes it only takes a striker like Maurice Smith one shot to win a fight.  Coleman gets a huge hand from the crowd and is the favorite in this fight, though there is a smattering of boos for the reigning champion.

The fight begins and before you know it, Coleman lands the takedown.  He throws some headbutts and punches from the guard, but it doesn’t look like the blows are doing a ton of damage.  Smith is throwing some punches and elbows on the ground while Coleman seems to have slowed down a bit.  Smith is maintaining a butterfly guard and is doing a pretty nice job defending Coleman’s attacks, though Coleman is slowed down remarkably in just two minutes.

Coleman tries to pass guard, but Smith’s defense is solid and he keeps Coleman in guard.  Coleman takes a breather and is eventually able to move to half guard..  Smith is staying very busy and is working to make sure that Coleman doesn’t advance positions.  Coleman actually moves back and forth between guard and half guard.  Coleman’s face looks very red and he appears to be breathing heavily.

Coleman is eventually able to move to side control which prompts Maurice Smith to give up his back!  Coleman is trying to put in a rear naked choke, but the choke isn’t solid and Smith eventually moves to his back.  Coleman is now in full mount and is resting his weight on Maurice Smith’s upper body and head, but he’s not doing a lot.  Coleman postures up and begins to throw punches, but Smith does just enough to defend and withstands the flurry.

Smith tries to buck Coleman but gives up his back yet again.  Coleman has a single hook in and tries to get his second hook in, but Smith is crouched down so tightly that Coleman can’t maneuver his leg into position.  Smith tries to roll through and reverse positions.  It is a beneficial move for Smith as Coleman is moved back to half guard.  Given Coleman’s inactivity, this Alabama crowd has started chanting “Maurice!”  Mark Coleman has to be exhausted, but Maurice Smith has also capably defended Coleman’s offense and has not taken a ton of damage.

At the 9:00 mark, Coleman is able to move to full mount and now he’s trying to lock in the arm triangle!  Coleman tries to fasten the choke, but Smith is able to escape the hold and work back to his feet!  This crowd has erupted with both men standing.  Coleman goes for another takedown, but Smith defends the attempt and throws a big kick to Coleman’s head!

Unfortunately for Maurice Smith, Coleman was downed when the kick was thrown, making it an illegal strike.  Big John stops the action and gives Maurice Smith a warning.  Three warnings would constitute a disqualification so Smith will need to be careful here.  Coleman is favoring his head, but says he can continue in the fight.

Now that they’re standing, it’s very clear that Mark Coleman is low on energy.  Smith lands a couple of leg kicks and attempts a head kick, but Coleman times the kick nicely and scores another takedown.  Smith is throwing some elbows from the bottom and that prompts Coleman to move to side control.  Blatnick speculates that Coleman may not have such an advantage on the judges’ scorecards given his inactivity on the top.  At the same time, Maurice Smith hasn’t done much of anything and I’m not sure you could award him with the victory at this point.

Coleman seems interesting in locking in some kind of choke or arm triangle, but he’s not able to secure any holds and is very quick to give up the attempts.  With Coleman in side control, Smith is throwing knees to the head and body while his opponent is prone.  Smith is very liberal with his elbows as Coleman moves back to full guard.

There’s just one minute left in regulation and Coleman isn’t doing much of anything.  Smith has his right hand covering Coleman’s mouth to try and obstruct his breathing.  Given how winded Coleman is, this seems like a very wise move.  Out of nowhere, Smith is able to sweep Coleman and reverse positions!  Instead of taking Coleman’s back, Smith stands and decides to spend the rest of regulation on his feet.

Smith throws a big body kick and Coleman follows up with a tired left hand.  Coleman is barely with us as he eats a punch from Smith.  When he’s not being attacked, Coleman is keeled over with both of his hands on his knees.  This man is absolutely tired.  We have never seen Mark Coleman go this long in a fight and we may have found a serious deficiency in his game.  Regulation has ended, but we have six minutes of overtime remaining.  I don’t know that Coleman will be able to survive that long at this point.

Frank Shamrock, who is apparently in Maurice Smith’s corner, implores Smith to attack the exhausted Coleman.  All I hear from Coleman’s corner is the f-word.

The overtime opens and Smith is looking to take this fight.  He is faking punches and throwing a number of leg kicks.  Smith is trying to chop the champion’s legs out from under him, an effective strategy with such a tired opponent.  Smith is surprisingly tentative with his strikes, but he’s doing all of the damage in overtime.  Smith is starting to put together combinations and is mixing up his strikes effectively.

Coleman tries for a takedown, but there’s nothing behind it and Smith just backs away.  Coleman leans over in exhaustion and Smith capitalizes, putting together some nice punches and finishing the combo with a huge head kick!  Jeff Blatnick speculates that this combo has shifted the fight in Smith’s favor and that the judges could potentially score the fight for Smith at this point.  I agree with this, since Smith has done more in three minutes than Coleman did in the first fifteen.

Smith is smiling and taunting Coleman as he knows he’s in control of this fight.  The first overtime ends and Smith is supremely confident in the direction of this fight.  Smith has another three minutes to try and put away this fight with the crowd chanting his name.

Smith comes out in the second overtime with some more big leg kicks, but he barely misses a violent head kick.  Smith is fairly passive given how tired Coleman is, though I’m sure the last thing he wants is to be taken down.  Big John briefly stops the action to secure Maurice Smith’s glove at Smith’s urging.  At one point, some lights actually go out above the cage.  Big John tells the fighters to keep working, but Coleman backs off.  Big John asks if Coleman will continue and he agrees.

There’s just one minute remaining in the fight and Smith is putting a lot behind his strikes.  He’s landing clean leg kicks and punches, though he’s not as aggressive as he should be.  Coleman keeps working for takedowns, but he’s so tired that he’s just not having any success.  The fight ends as lights continue to go out and both fighters embrace.  This turned out to be a very exciting fight and I’m really interested to see how the judges score this.

Smith and his corner are confident that he has won this fight as Coleman is having some of his cuts attended to.  We apparently have a unanimous decision – and Maurice Smith has won the UFC Heavyweight Title!  Smith’s ground defense was great, while he used his striking at the end of the fight to do some serious damage to his exhausted opponent.  Smith fought a very smart fight and was definitely the better man here.  Coleman may have spent a lot of time on top of Smith, but the judges correctly saw that Coleman did hardly any damage to his opponent in the fight.

Smith reveals in the post fight interview that he spent a lot of time training in wrestling prior to the fight.  Smith gives a lot of credit to Mark Coleman for putting up a tough fight.  Art Davie presents Smith with his title belt and reveals that he had been trying to secure Maurice Smith in the UFC since UFC 6.

This was an absolutely stunning fight, as Mark Coleman has been running through the competition in the UFC thus far.  Maurice Smith has made a serious impact in his UFC debut, claiming the Heavyweight Title from a dominant wrestler.  The rest of the event was very lackluster, but this was one of the more dramatic and exciting fights we’ve seen in the UFC.

Ranking Maurice Smith is a difficult proposition.  Coleman already has UFC wins over Don Frye and Dan Severn, two top five fighters.  I don’t think I can immediately rank Maurice Smith ahead of Coleman, since I don’t think he’s the third best fighter in UFC history.  The win over Coleman is supremely impressive, but I think Smith can fairly be ranked at number seven overall.  Not quite as good as Gracie, Severn, Frye, Coleman, Taktarov, and Shamrock, but ranked just ahead of Vitor Belfort.

We know that Vitor Belfort will take on a yet to be named opponent in a title elimination fight at UFC 15, so Maurice Smith will have some tough competition right away.  Randy Couture is another name that needs to be considered for a title shot, as he looked very good in winning the UFC 13 heavyweight tournament.

UFC 14 finished up strong with this great Heavyweight Title match and we have a lot to look forward to at UFC 15.  It really seems like the UFC has really stepped up and brought in some serious talent and I’ll be anxious to see what other talent joins the promotion in the near future.  I’m sure the UFC is hoping to find another Maurice Smith or Mark Kerr to come in and challenge some of the top fighters.

UFC 14 also introduced some serious rule changes, something that we’ll see more of at UFC 15.  With cable and satellite companies apparently avoiding UFC pay-per-views, the UFC realizes that many changes need to be made for more mainstream acceptance.  We’ll have to see how these changes impact the promotion at UFC 15.

**UPDATE – 7/16/2011**

I’ve been able to locate the Alex Hunter vs. Sam Fulton preliminary fight and will be recapping this fight for my rankings.  I’m not sure where this footage came from, but the quality is really awesome.  After the awful recording of Kalman vs. Berto, it’s nice to watch something that hasn’t been recorded and rerecorded from a VHS tape about a dozen times.

Hunter is said to be a BJJ practitioner while Fulton is a karate practitioner and a kickboxer with one of the ugliest gis I have ever seen.  Seriously, what kind of fight team would allow their fighters to wear something so ugly.  This looks like something Phil Collins would wear just for fun and Phil Collins is fucking weird.

Fulton is 25 pounds heavier and five inches taller than his opponent, though Hunter has a big frame at 5’9″ and 226 pounds.  The height advantage could mean trouble for Hunter against a serious striker like Sam Fulton.  Fulton gets a very nice hand from the crowd since he is from the state of Alabama.

Hunter opens up the fight with some kick leg kicks before scoring a big takedown on Fulton.  Hunter is in side control but is doing very little before advancing to full mount.  Fulton his holding onto Hunter’s head to try and keep his opponent from posturing up and landing strikes.  Hunter does throw some punches from the mount, but Fulton’s defense keeps the strikes from doing significant damage.

At around 2:15 into the fight, Hunter postures up and throws some big punches from mount.  This forces Fulton to give up his back in an attempt to defend the strikes.  Hunter lands a single punch from this position and Fulton almost immediately taps out.  Hunter controlled this very short fight and didn’t have to expend a lot of energy in doing so.

I really wasn’t missing much prior to seeing this fight, but I’m pleased to have been able to track down this fight.  There are a lot of preliminary fights from the UFC that will probably never be seen, and based on the quality of this fight, it’s probably best that it stays that way.

Greatest Fights of UFC 14

  1. Maurice Smith vs. Mark Coleman
  2. Dan Bobish vs. Brian Johnston
  3. Mark Kerr vs. Dan Bobish
  4. Mark Kerr vs. Moti Horenstein
  5. Kevin Jackson vs. Todd Butler
  6. Kevin Jackson vs. Anthony Fryklund
  7. Alex Hunter vs. Sam Fulton
  8. Anthony Fryklund vs. Donnie Chappell
  9. Joe Moreira vs. Yuri Vaulin

Top Ten Fights Through UFC 14

  1. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo – UFC 3
  2. Don Frye vs. Tank Abbott – UU96
  3. Maurice Smith vs. Mark Coleman – UFC 14
  4. Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn – UFC 4
  5. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
  6. Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott – UFC 6
  7. Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock – UFC 1
  8. Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn – UFC 6
  9. Marco Ruas vs. Paul Varelans – UFC 7
  10. Don Frye vs. Brian Johnston – UFC 10

Greatest Fighters of UFC 14

  1. Maurice Smith (1-0)
  2. Kevin Jackson (2-0)
  3. Mark Kerr (2-0)
  4. Alex Hunter (1-0)
  5. Dan Bobish (1-1)
  6. Anthony Fryklund (1-1)
  7. Joe Moreira (1-0)
  8. Mark Coleman (0-1)
  9. Brian Johnston (0-1)
  10. Sam Fulton (0-1)
  11. Moti Horenstein (0-1)
  12. Todd Butler (0-1)
  13. Yuri Vaulin (0-1)
  14. Donnie Chappell (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 14

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

UFC 13

June 14, 2011 Leave a comment

UFC 12 was certainly not the promotion’s finest hour.  I previously spent some time discussing the political issues accompanying the event, but it should also be noted that the event itself was not particularly good.  At this point, it’s the third worst UFC pay-per-view to date – a fine accomplishment for a company that has already put on its fair share of crappy events.

But now we move on to UFC 13, which is now the fifteenth UFC event and the second of 1997.  We last saw a couple of fresh faces win UFC tournaments, with veteran Jerry Bohlander emerging to become the first Lightweight Tournament Champion and Brazilian Vitor Belfort showing amazing boxing to win the heavyweight tournament.  Bohlander won’t be back at UFC 13 to defend his tournament crown, while the UFC has capitalized on Belfort’s exciting debut and has pitted him against Tank Abbott in a Superfight.  Call it a hunch, but I think Tank and Vitor are going to punch each other really hard.

We will see some very interesting new names here tonight.  The heavyweight tournament will feature a former professional wrestler along with a three time U.S. Olympic alternate for wrestling.  The lightweight tournament will see the returns of Christophe Leininger, who had a very fun and competitive fight with Ken Shamrock at UFC 3, and the undefeated Guy Mezger.  A veteran fighter for Shooto will be making his UFC debut, while a well known member of Tank Abbott’s camp will make his UFC debut in an alternate fight.

With one exciting Superfight and some interesting tournament names, UFC 13 should be a pretty fun event.  Then again, I’ve been disappointed by previous events I thought would be exciting.  It’s a fine line between watchable MMA card and total shit sandwich, but I’m hopeful that UFC 13 will be a fine event.

UFC 13: The Ultimate Force – May 30, 1997

Previous Editions

In the pre-event video, I’ve learned from Bruce Beck that this event will apparently feature ULTIMATE FORCE.  It’s an exciting prospect for certain.  Belfort vs. Abbott will clearly feature ultimate amounts of force.  This event is taking place in Augusta, Georgia, which is where UFC 11 took place.  Actually, this is the fifth UFC event in a row to take place in the American south.  I guess we know that when normal society won’t accept you, the American south will take you in with open arms.  A very sweet and very terrifying proposition, I must say.

We’re greeted to Bruce Buffer, the ring announcer for the night, counting down to the crowd so they know the exact right moment to begin cheering.  Not exactly a success in timing, my greeting to UFC 13 now feels anticlimactic.  I will blame Rich Goins for this, as his spirit will forever cast a pall over the announcing duties in the UFC.  I’m just grateful that Bruce Buffer has such resolve to work through this.

Jeff Blatnick joins Bruce Beck to reprise his role as color commentator.  Blatnick seems slightly off from the start tonight, stumbling over words and incorrectly conjugating verbs.  I hope that Jeff Blatnick is drunk because that would make this event quite a bit of fun.  I would love to see Jeff Blatnick drunkenly and forlornly slur about his past Olympic glories and a time when his hair was glorious.  “You don’t even know, Bruce Beck.  I beat Tomas Johansson and Refik Memisevic and they gave me a fucking medal.”

In the lightweight tournament, Guy Mezger and Christophe Leininger will compete in their UFC returns, while newcomers Royce Alger and Enson Inoue will square off.  Inoue is 6-2 in his MMA career to this point, spending most of his time competing for Shooto and finishing four of those six fights with strikes.  Alger is a two time NCAA Division 1 wrestling champion out of the University of Iowa who has yet to compete in MMA.  Blatnick is clearly excited about Alger’s debut, saying that he’s the fighter everyone should be watching here.  I really like how this bracket looks with four competitive and proven fighters.

All four of the fighters in the heavyweight bracket are UFC newcomers, a sure sign that most of the UFC’s established fighters have moved on to greener pastures (notably Shamrock and Frye becoming professional wrestlers).  Steven Graham will fight Dmitri Stepanov in the first semifinal fight.  Jeff Blatnick does a nice job hyping this fight by saying we know absolutely nothing about either fighter.

The second bout is between Randy Couture and Tony Halme.  Blatnick drunkenly calls Finnish professional wrestler Tony Halme “Hamamel”, but he’s obviously excited for the UFC debut of three time NCAA wrestling All-American, two time NCAA wrestling runner-up, and three time U.S. Olympic alternate Randy Couture.  I, like Jeff Blatnick, enjoy seeing wrestlers in MMA, but I perhaps lack his brand of sweaty exuberance.

At this point, we’re all very familiar with Randy Couture, but I’d like to spend some time talking about Tony Halme.  Halme actually spend some time professionally boxing and competing for professional wrestling flagship the World Wrestling Federation.  Halme, a very large man at 6’3″ and around 300 pounds, spent some time wrestling under his own name in Japan before coming to the WWF as Ludvig Borga.

As Borga, Halme was positioned as a top heel to oppose All-American Lex Luger.  Halme’s promos are absolutely hilarious, as he discusses in broken English that Americans are filthy polluters and corrupt people, going so far as to call Luger a “garbage driver.”  He famously ended the winning streak of the Native American Tatanka, a pretty big accomplishment in 1993.

Beyond his career in MMA and wrestling, Halme was somehow elected to Finnish parliament, where he inadvertently and seriously called then Finnish President Tarja Halonen, a heterosexual woman, a lesbian.  He later apologized, but the awesome damage had been done.  Halme’s life degenerated in the late-aughts and he killed himself in January 2010.  The end of Halme’s life may have been disappointing, but it goes without saying that the man led a very interesting life.  At UFC 13, we’ll see the only chapter in Halme’s MMA career.

There are also two alternate fights tonight.  In the lightweight tournament, Wes Albritton will take on newcomer and junior college wrestling champion Tito Ortiz.  This fight will actually be broadcast later in the evening, so I’ll wait until then to provide the details.  There is a heavyweight tournament alternate fight between Jack Nilson and Saeed Hosseini, which doesn’t air during the event.  Fortunately, I’ve located video footage of the fight to review!  Watch along with me, won’t you?

I’m not sure where this raw footage came from, I’m guessing it had to be broadcast somewhere.  You can hear Bruce Beck working to restore the correct level in his headphones, which is not as fun (obscene) as it could have been.  What is fun is the prefight interview from Saeed Hosseini, which goes like this:

“Because…I just know that I’m going to face humans.  It’s not a predator animal or whatever…you know what I mean?  It’s not a…something predator I go against, it’s a human.  Bone and skin, no matter how big it is.  I believe this fight is 30% physical…70% mental.”

If this fight is indeed 70% mental, then I’m very worried for Hosseini’s safety in this one.  Jack Nilson will be making his second UFC appearance after having lost to Tai Bowden in a preliminary fight from Ultimate Ultimate 1996.  It seems like this will be a striking match, since Nilson is a kickboxer and Hosseini practices taekwondo.  Both men also have judo skills, so this seems like a pretty even match.

Bruce Buffer is still having issues pronouncing words, announcing Saeed Hosseini as “HASEEEEEEENEEEEEEE”.  His voice also breaks when announcing Jack Nilson’s nickname, “The Ripper”.  Nilson gets a great hand, as he fights out of Augusta.  Oddly enough, Big John McCarthy isn’t the referee for this fight.  Joe Hamilton, who is apparently officiating at his eighth UFC event, is the referee.  I’m assuming he typically handles the preliminary events on account of not having seen him prior to this.

This fight is underway and both fighters look awesome.  Hosseini is wearing a gi top with red sweatpants, while Nilson is wearing the smallest American flag trunks you could imagine.  It’s so bad that you can see Nilson’s jock strap sticking out from the bottom of his trunks.

Hosseini throws a leg kick, but Nilson rushes in for a takedown.  Hosseini attempts a guillotine choke and spends some time working for the submission, but Nilson shoves his opponent away.  Nilson throws some punches and moves into the clinch, but it looks like Hosseini tries to pull Nilson into his guard.

Nilson actually ends up in half guard and qucikly moves to full mount with Hosseini holding onto his head.  Nilson postures up begins throwing some big punches, prompting Hosseini to give up his back.  Nilson thinks about a choke, but throws a number of unanswered elbows to Hosseini’s head while holding onto his ponytail.  The crowd is eating this up, chanting along with each elbow that Nilson throws.  Referee Joe Hamilton doesn’t wait very long before calling a stop to this fight, a decision that Saeed Hosseini is very displeased with.

The Iranian jumps up and protests the stoppage in a very animated fashion.  Big John is quick to enter the cage in an attempt to subdue the loser of the fight.  Big John explains that he told Hosseini in the fighters meeting that if you’re on your stomach and not defending yourself, the fight will be stopped.  Hosseini complains that “you should give me a minute, it was just ten seconds”, but the argument somehow doesn’t succeed.  Jack Nilson is the winner and he will fill-in as an alternate in the heavyweight tournament if needed.

In the post fight interview, Joe Rogan asks Nilson what he thought about Hosseini’s ponytail, to which Nilson replies “I appreciate it.”  Hey, why not?  If it’s something that you can use, then there’s no reason to hold off.  We’ve seen Jerry Bohlander grab the cage and Keith Hackney pulverize Joe Son’s testicles, so Nilson using Hosseini’s ponytail for leverage is nothing new.

With the YouTube portion of this event complete, it’s back to the live footage.  The first tournament fight of the night is Christophe Leininger vs. Guy Mezger in the lightweight tournament.  Leininger, a judo practitioner, will look to utilizes his throws and submissions to avenge a loss in his only UFC fight.

Mezger has been training at the Lion’s Den with the man who defeated Leininger, Ken Shamrock, and he’s accompanied to the cage by fellow Lion’s Den competitors Frank Shamrock and Tra Telligman.  Bruce Beck says Mezger is newly committed to MMA having shorn his “trademark” ponytail.  We know that Mezger will work for submissions of his own given his affiliation with Shamrock.

Hey look, Courtney Love is in attendance and has an opinion on Ken Shamrock’s defection to the World Wrestling Federation.  Actually, that’s probably not Courtney Love – just some other junkie with a poor opinion of professional wrestling.  At least we still have a number of the Lion’s Den fighters like Mezger and Telligman competing on these shows.

These men are pretty evenly matched physically, Mezger with a one inch height advantage and Leininger being ten pounds heavier.  Bruce Buffer gives us a very early “we are live!” which is something I wouldn’t have expected to hear for another few years.  He also throws out an “it’s time!”, but he makes the mistake of going too long with the opening announcement.  He asks the crowd if they’re ready for the “ULTIMATE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIIIIIIIIP” and is greeted with mostly indifference.  It didn’t take long for this crowd to tire of Buffer’s loudness.

It should be noted that in his time away from the UFC, Guy Mezger has gone 9-4-2 for the Pancrase promotion with wins over Yuki Kondo, Semmy Schilt, and Minoru Suzuki.  Leininger has also gone 3-0 since his last UFC appearance, winning the Best in the Southwest MMA tournament in January 1997.  The Augusta crowd is absolutely beside itself before this fight with wild cheering.  You know that a crowd is amped up when both fighters get hearty cheers.  In Augusta, that’s also a good way of knowing that both fighters are white.

Big John is back refereeing this fight and he gets things going.  Mezger grabs a hold of the collar on Leininger’s gi and that obviously makes Leininger uncomfortable.  Mezger is throwing some pretty clean punches that go largely unanswered.  Mezger is completely controlling his opponent by holding onto the gi while Leininger misses with wild punches.  Leininger responds by grabbing hold of the front of Mezger’s trunks, coming dangerously close to exposing “Li’l Guy”.  This is perhaps the strangest clinch in MMA history, Leininger holding the trunks and Mezger holding the gi.

Leininger decides that it’s a good idea to pull Mezger into guard, but Mezger ends up in side control which appears to be a precarious position for Leininger.  Mezger lands a couple of strikes, but Guy backs off and has Leininger get back to his feet.  Mezger throws some leg kicks before moving into a more orthodox clinch.  He’s still using the gi for leverage, and Leininger again goes for the trunks.  Out of nowhere, Leininger lands a nice sweep and goes for an armbar, but Mezger quickly pops out and goes back to the clinch.

Mezger has his opponent against the cage and is throwing an occasional headbutt.  Once again, Mezger hits a great rolling sweep and ends up in full mount!  Unfortunately for Leininger, Guy Mezger is much stronger and reversed Leininger onto his back.  From full guard, Mezger manages to back his opponent against the cage and begins throwing some more headbutts and punches.  Mezger is largely inactive from the top, but every now and again, he’ll throw a couple of shots.  Leininger isn’t doing anything to try and escape or do damage, so there’s really no need for Mezger to be urgent.

Big John uses this as an opportunity to restart the fight at the eight minute mark.  Leininger attempts some strikes of his own, but Mezger answers back with a head kick.  Leininger slaps himself in the face, almost inviting Mezger to try it again.  Guy throws a big kick to the body that appears to do some damage.  Leininger seems really disoriented and has been completely outclassed by Guy Mezger ten minutes into the fight.

For whatever reason, Leininger continues to think that grabbing Mezger’s trunks is an effective strategy.  He once again pulls Mezger into guard, yet another position where Mezger has looked infinitely better than Leininger.  Leininger’s efforts to control Guy are ineffective and Mezger postures up to land some punches.  He backs out of the guard and again forces Leininger back to his feet.  The horn sounds and the twelve minute regulation period is complete.  Leininger looks exhausted and I don’t think Mezger will have many issues with this final three minute overtime.

Mezger starts the overtime throwing punches in combinations and mixing in leg kicks.  Leininger is only able to respond with single punches that don’t do a lot of damage.  When the men are back in clinch, Leininger ramps up his aggressiveness and throws some more strikes, but Mezger turns up the volume himself and is successful with his own punches.

Mezger grabs a front facelock and violently drags Leininger to the mat.  Leininger moves from his knees to his back, pulling Mezger into the guard yet again.  Mezger has his forearm against Leininger’s face and throat and is a little more active with his punches and elbows.  Leininger is just holding on for dear life while Mezger lands knees to his head as the overtime period expires.

All three judges score this fight in favor of Guy Mezger, who will now move on to the finals of the lightweight tournament.  No surprise with that decision – Guy Mezger was in control of the fight.  In his postfight interview with Joe Rogan, Mezger says that there was nothing Leininger could do to hurt him.  Mezger also says he’ll need a new pair of trunks for his match in the finals.

It’s now time for the second semifinal bout in the lightweight tournament featuring Enson Inoue against Royce Alger.  Bruce Beck tells us that Dan Gable has spent time coaching Royce Alger and that the wrestling legend thinks very highly of Alger.  Inoue is interested in trying to knock Alger out, either on the mat or on his feet.  With his Shooto success, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a well-rounded fighter like Inoue have great success here in the UFC.  Royce Alger is actually training with reigning UFC Heavyweight Champion Mark Coleman, a good choice for any wrestler getting into MMA.

Royce Alger gets a very nice hand from the crowd, likely due to Mark Coleman’s urging and Inoue’s ethnicity.  The fight begins with Alger attempting a very quick takedown, but Inoue sprawls and ends up in a crucifix position.  Alger shrugs Inoue off and tries throwing some punches, but an armbar attempt from Inoue forces Alger to back off.

Alger rushes back into side control, but Inoue is holding on to Alger tightly.  Alger tries to separate with little success.  Alger moves into guard and postures up, throwing punches and throttling Inoue with his outreached arms.  Inoue’s corner implores their fighter to break Alger’s arm.  At the 1:30 mark of the fight, Inoue obliges and cinches in a nasty armbar.  Alger tries to escape, but it’s to no avail and Alger taps out.  There was no escape for the wrestler and the experienced MMA fighter scored a nice win to move to the lightweight tournament finals.

In his postfight interview, Inoue said he feels good but needs to go lay down on account of all of the adrenaline going through his system.  He definitely seems to be tired as he’s sucking in air, surprising since the fight lasted all of 90 seconds.

One of my favorite early UFC features has returned: antiquated internet screenshots from 1997.  My goodness, this takes me back.  I spent too much time in my youth in these AOL chat rooms talking about who knows what.  It was probably just a lot of acronyms and banality, just like how I use the internet today.  LOL

In anticipation of tonight’s Superfight main event, a Tank Abbott highlight video is shown prior to the first heavyweight tournament bout between Dmitri Stepanov and Steven Graham.  Beck throws out this gem in discussing this upcoming fight: “with the unknowns, you just don’t know what to expect”.  Brilliant.

Prior to the fight, Stepanov says that he admires Russian fighters such as Oleg Taktarov and Igor Zinoviev.  Stepanov is a Muay Thai fighter with sambo experience and could definitely be a threat in this tournament.  Graham is a former college football player who claims to have good striking and takedowns, though Blatnick is dubious about Graham’s ground abilities.  Graham actually enters the cage in a sweatshirt that says “3-D”, meaning that he’s a three dimensional fighter.  Why should I question this man and his sweatshirt?

Graham is the much bigger man in this fight with an 80+ pound weight advantage, though the Belarusian Stepanov is two inches taller.  Graham is a very thick man at 6’1″ and 290 pounds, though frankly, it doesn’t sound like he’s a very talented guy.  His background is in something called “extension fighting”, and despite a win in Vale Tudo, Graham looks to be more brawn than actual talent.

Bruce Buffer has some more trouble, announcing the city of Minsk as “Minks”.  Jeff Blatnick amusingly and audibly questions the mistake over his microphone.  I’m really terrified to see how Bruce pronounces “Halme”.

Graham bolts out of his corner with a kick to start the fight.  Stepanov attempts a kick, but Graham catches it and slams his opponent to the man.  Graham is on top in half guard with Stepanov holding onto his head.  Graham transitions to side control and is working on Stepanov’s right arm.  It looks like he’s locking in an Americana and Stepanov is trying to defend.  Graham is way too strong for Stepanov, who is forced to submit.  I’m surprised with how impressive Graham looked in this brief showing and I look forward to seeing him in the finals.

Graham says in his post fight interview that his plan was to do the opposite of what Stepanov did.  So I guess the single kick Stepanov threw was the impetus for Graham to score the takedown and the submission win.  He says he’ll be fine for the heavyweight tournament finals.

The second heavyweight semifinal is between Randy Couture and Tony Halme.  Couture says he doesn’t feel like he has an weaknesses that can be exploited and says he’ll be looking for takedowns against Halme.  Couture apparently boxed during his time in the U.S. Army during the 1980’s, something I actually wasn’t aware of.

Halme says that he’ll either rip Couture’s arms or legs out of socket, or perhaps he’ll tear Couture’s head off.  Halme looks muscular, but he honestly looks pretty bloated.  During his time in wrestling, Borga looked very muscular.  He looks quite different from that now having added significant mass and looking unhealthily large.  At 6’4″ and 300 pounds, Halme has a three inch height advantage and a 75 pound weight advantage.

Bruce Buffer seems to get Halme’s name right, which should apparently be pronounced as “Ha-la-me“.  I’m very proud of Bruce for this one.

Halme starts the fight by charging his opponent, but before he can even throw a punch, Couture lands a quick takedown and moves to side control.  Halme has his massive left arm wrapped around Couture’s head in an attempt to control the wrestler.  Couture postures up and throws a punch while Halme rolls over to his stomach.  Couture quickly takes Halme’s back and sinks in a rear naked choke, forcing Halme to submit!  That was an amazingly fast win and a very impressive showing by Randy Couture, especially given how big his opponent was.

Following this fight, a highlight video called “Boys from Brazil” is shown which highlights the accomplishments of Royce Gracie, Marco Ruas, and Vitor Belfort.  The UFC seems hell bent on finding the next Royce Gracie and they’re not exactly keeping that a secret.  They tried that with Ruas and now they’re trying it with Belfort.  Vitor is a great fighter, but it’s not exactly fair to compare the young man to one of the greatest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners of all time.  Thankfully, Belfort gets his own highlight video featuring his awesome showing at UFC 12.

There has apparently been a change in the lightweight finals, as Enson Inoue has been forced out due to an eye injury.  Inoue’s vision has somehow been impacted and he won’t be able to continue in the tournament.  The winner of the earlier lightweight alternate fight between the smiley wrestler Tito Ortiz and Wes Albritton, who appears to be pouting, will move on to face Guy Mezger.

We may remember the bulbous headed Tito Ortiz from cornering Tank Abbott in previous fights.  About Ortiz, Albritton says “he’s a collegiate wrestler and he wrestles in college, so I expect him to want to put me on the ground.”  Wes Albritton: master strategist.  Ortiz looks very intense as he makes his way to the cage.  He talks about how he and Abbott really clicked during training, a frightening prospect for numerous reasons.  I think any person who clicks with Tank Abbott on a personal level has some kind of serious mental defect, which we already know Tito Ortiz to have.

Ortiz starts the fight with a quick clinch and takes Albritton down quickly.  Ortiz is throwing some heavy punches and manages to move to full mount very quickly.  Tito is landing some huge left hands and now he starts with the elbows to Albritton’s face.  About thirty seconds in, Albritton’s corner throws in the towel to stop this fight.  Ortiz has taken a quick TKO victory and looked quite impressive in doing so.  Of course, it doesn’t help that Albritton is a pale sack of jelly with a wispy orange mustache.

As you can see above, Tito Ortiz turned his opponent’s head into a pasty speed bag before Albritton’s corner decided that they had to protect their fighter’s skull.  Ortiz says after the fight that he was too strong for Albritton and that he didn’t stand a chance.  This all means the lightweight finals tonight will feature Guy Mezger and Tito Ortiz.  Jeff Blatnick suspects that Mezger might be at a disadvantage having fought for 15 minutes earlier in the night, while Tito Ortiz’s fight lasted just more than 30 seconds.

Frank Shamrock spends time prior to the fight coaching up Guy Mezger.  They show a pretaped video of Tito from earlier in the night saying that Leininger vs. Mezger will end up being a “girl fight”, strong words from a guy who had never fought in the UFC prior to tonight.  Ortiz holds a one inch height advantage over Mezger while both men are right around 200 pounds.

The fight begins with Ortiz as the aggressor, throwing some heavier punches at Mezger.  Guy decides to attempt a takedown which is easily defended by Tito.  Oritz is throwing punches to Mezger’s body and head.  It looks like Ortiz is working for a choke, but he shifts to an inside cradle.  At this point, Bruce Beck and Tito Ortiz’s corner both think that Mezger tapped out.  It’s pretty unclear, but I don’t think it was a tap.  Tito was throwing some pretty big knees while working the cradle, but I don’t know that it was enough to submit Mezger.

In fact, the knees did enough damage to open up a cut on Mezger’s head, prompting Big John McCarthy to stop the fight.  Leon Tabbs examines the two cuts, which appear to be on Mezger’s scalp.  Ortiz’s corner complains about Mezger’s tap, but Big John says Mezger was just trying to block the knees.  The fight will continue despite the cuts.

The fight is restarted on the feet, though I’m sure Tito would love to have that cradle position back.  Both men come out trading punches, Mezger landing some clean shots to the body.  Ortiz shoots in for a takedown of his own, but Mezger grabs a hold of Ortiz’s neck and locks in a guillotine!  It appears to be right and Ortiz is trying to power out of it.  It’s to no avail and Ortiz is forced to tap out!

Guy Mezger has won the lightweight tournament!  Guy Mezger is clearly elated and he tries to shake hands with his opponent, but Tito is not at all interested in paying respect to the winner.  Ortiz is extremely pissed off with the result of the fight as well he should be.  He was careless with his takedown attempt and ended up paying for it.  Though short, this certainly was a strange fight given the stoppage, the alleged tap, and then Mezger’s comeback after the restart.  Of course, if this happened today, the fighters would have been restarted with Ortiz in control and who knows how the fight would go from there.

Mezger pays a lot of credit to Tito for being a tough opponent before being awarded his medal for winning the tournament.  Comissioner Art Davies verbally fellates Mezger rather uncomfortably before presenting the medal.  It’s almost like an overzealous father giving an award to his son, very strange.  Then again, I have a fucked up relationship with my dad so any father/son relationship is a weird one to me.

The first two lightweight tournament winners are out of the Lion’s Den, so I doubt we’ll see Mezger go up against Jerry Bohlander.  Tito Ortiz seems like a good candidate to either rematch with Mezger or go up against Bohlander, so we’ll have to see if that takes place in the future.

Bruce Beck announces that the undefeated Mark Coleman will return to the UFC to defend his Heavyweight Title against Maurice Smith at UFC 14.  Smith is a world champion kickboxer who has spent time in Pancrase, but he has a less than stellar MMA record of 4-7.  Then again, his seven losses are to Minoru Suzuki, Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten (twice), Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Kiyosha Tamura, and Akira Maeda, six of the best Pancrase and RINGS has to offer.  Smith also lost each of those seven fights by submission, perhaps showing that he might be slightly behind with his submission defense.

Mark Coleman sounds very confident in his chances to win against Maurice Smith.  Regarding the fight, Coleman says, “I’m gonna take him to the ground and I’m gonna pound the shit out of him.”  He also says that ground and pound is his “goddamn game” and that he’s going to “fucking do something for the freestyle wrestlers”.

Joe Rogan’s face says it all.  Nicely said, Mark.

Jeff Blatnick tells us that Mark Coleman has started his own gym, the Hammer House, and we can expect to see some of his teammates like Mark Kerr and Kevin Randleman in the future.  Beck and Blatnick once again hype the Abbott/Belfort fight with Beck saying that this fight “the man who’s always running from the law against the man who wants to enforce it”.  Beck and Blatnick are in rare form tonight, but sadly, I’m not sure that Jeff Blatnick is drunk.  Beyond his opening jitters, he’s been just fine this evening.

But right now, it’s time for the heavyweight tournament finals between Steven Graham and Randy Couture.  Both men pulled off quick and surprising submissions in their semifinal fights.  I don’t think Graham’s size will be much of an advantage on account of Couture having handled the very large Tony Halme with no real problems.

I think Bruce Buffer confuses fans by announcing that Graham vs. Couture will be the “final event” when he merely means that this will be the finals of the heavyweight tournament.  Given how natural Buffer is at this job now, it’s jarring to see him struggle mightily during these early UFC events.

This fight begins and once again, Couture lands an early takedown.  Couture moves quickly to side control and is throwing some punches.  Graham gives up his back, much like Halme did earlier, but Couture takes his back against the cage fence and doesn’t have much of a shot for another rear naked choke.

As Couture is landing punches and working a crossface, Graham rolls forward in an attempt to shake his opponent off.  Unfortunately for him, Couture doesn’t budge and he now has a single hook in.  Graham tries to slip out, so Couture lets go of Graham’s back and moves back to side control.  Graham is working to escape, but Couture nicely maintains position and transitions to north/south position.

From north/south, Couture lands some big knees.  He moves back to side control and postures up to throw some punches.  Graham has his hands up in an attempt to defend Couture, but Randy has controlled the first 100 seconds of this fight.  Couture sinks in a half nelson to keep Graham from maneuvering to a more advantageous position.  Graham gives up his back yet again and Couture grabs a front facelock.

Couture starts to throw some huge knees to Graham’s head and spins to take Graham’s back yet again.  Big John is intently watching the action and has seemed close to stopping this fight on a couple of occasions.  Couture is throwing some headbutts from behind and now he sinks in both hooks and flattens Graham out.  Couture postures a big and begins to throw  undefended punches and Big John has seen enough!  Randy Couture has taken a TKO victory and is the UFC 13 heavyweight tournament champion!

Randy Couture was utterly dominant in these two fights tonight, using his great speed and awesome wrestling to beat two much larger opponents.  Couture’s game seems to be more finesse oriented compared to Mark Coleman’s more powerful brand of wrestling.  It’s no surprises that these elite wrestlers have had such success, though Royce Alger’s earlier loss was certainly disappointing.

Big John seems to have had a habit of editorializing a bit in his early days as a referee.  He’s always quick to throw out kudos or congratulations to fighters.  To Couture, McCarthy could be heard saying, “good job…some outstanding base, baby.”  I have to say, Big John makes me a little bit uncomfortable.  Couture seems to take the complement in stride, though it’s possible he didn’t hear it.

After the fight, Randy Couture throws out a surprising thank you to Jesus.  I can’t recall having ever heard Randy get so religious, but it’s possible that a nine year old Jon Jones got in his ear before the fight and reminded him to give all applicable props to Christ.  Couture says that he aims to represent wrestling in the UFC, sentiments expressed earlier and far less eloquently by Mark Coleman.  When awarding the heavyweight tournament medal, Art Davies reveals that Couture was a late addition.  Given Couture’s performance, it’s safe to say that short notice wasn’t much of an issue.

And now it’s time for the heavyweight Superfight between Tank Abbott and Vitor Belfort.  Tank says prior to the fight that he has a blanket policy of not respecting others on account of not wanting to give them that kind of power over him.  Tank is a strangely philosophical ogre, but he’s up against a dangerous opponent in Belfort.  Vitor is apt in his observation that Tank is a dangerous fighter because he’s got nothing to lose.  I don’t see how losing a fight really impacts Tank, since he’ll just come back in a few months to try and kick ass once again.

Vitor appears to be a little larger this time and is announced at 215 pounds.  He’s still very lean and muscular, but a bit of added weight could do nothing but help Belfort.  Abbott, meanwhile, looks as rotund as ever.

The crowd is extremely pumped as this fight begins.  Tank is the first to throw punches, but Belfort responds by clinching with Abbott and charging against the cage.  Abbott is taken down by Belfort who throws a couple of quick punches, but Abbot powers out and trips Belfort to the mat.  Tank allows Vitor back to his feet, wisely choosing against a ground war with Belfort.

Belfort lands a quick left, but Abbott quickly decides to tie up with his opponent.  Tank and Vitor trade body shots and Belfort breaks the clinch and unleashes with some heavy punches!  Tank weakly attempts a takedown and Belfort pounces, taking Tank’s back.  Belfort is throwing some powerful lefts and Tank isn’t doing anything to defend.  Less than a minute into the fight, Big John stops it!  Vitor Belfort has won the Superfight!

After the fight, Tank Abbott actually seeks out Vitor to offer his congratulations, a rare sight and a departure from Tank’s oafish ways.  As Big John raises Vitor’s hand, you can hear Bruce Buffer trying to announce the decision over a dead microphone.  Thankfully for Bruce, the issue is resolved fairly promptly.

When asked by Joe Rogan what his strategy for the fight was, Vitor replies “beat the crap” out of Tank, a surprisingly brash statement from the young man.  Vitor gets a little carried away giving credit to his trainers while proclaiming, “THEY ARE MY TRAINERS!  THEY ARE MY FRIENDS!  WE WON!”  Vitor says he he doesn’t care who he fights next, he just wants to make money and grow with this sport.  Something tells me that he’ll be able to do just that in the UFC.

Belfort’s win caps off a very fun UFC 13 event in which we saw three new champions crowned: Belfort, Randy Couture, and Guy Mezger.  Interestingly enough, not a single fighter from this event will return to UFC 14 in an attempt to defend their titles.  In fact, no fighter from UFC 13 will appear on the card for UFC 14.  We know that Mark Coleman will be defending his Heavyweight Title at this event, but the rest of the card is up in the air at this point.

Hopefully the UFC will be able to capitalize on a strong performance and put on yet another good show at UFC 14.

Greatest Fights of UFC 13

  1. Guy Mezger vs. Tito Ortiz
  2. Vitor Belfort vs. Tank Abbott
  3. Enson Inoue vs. Royce Alger
  4. Randy Couture vs. Steven Graham
  5. Guy Mezger vs. Christophe Leininger
  6. Jack Nilson vs. Saeed Hosseini
  7. Randy Couture vs. Tony Halme
  8. Steven Graham vs. Dmitri Stepanov
  9. Tito Ortiz vs. Wes Albritton

Top Ten Fights Through UFC 13

  1. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo – UFC 3
  2. Don Frye vs. Tank Abbott – UU96
  3. Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn – UFC 4
  4. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
  5. Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott – UFC 6
  6. Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock – UFC 1
  7. Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn – UFC 6
  8. Marco Ruas vs. Paul Varelans – UFC 7
  9. Don Frye vs. Brian Johnston – UFC 10
  10. Ken Shamrock vs. Christophe Leininger – UFC 3

Greatest Fighters of UFC 13

  1. Randy Couture (2-0)
  2. Vitor Belfort (1-0)
  3. Guy Mezger (2-0)
  4. Enson Inoue (1-0)
  5. Jack Nilson (1-0)
  6. Tito Ortiz (1-1)
  7. Steven Graham (1-1)
  8. Tank Abbott (0-1)
  9. Royce Alger (0-1)
  10. Christophe Leininger (0-1)
  11. Saeed Hosseini (0-1)
  12. Dmitri Stepanov (0-1)
  13. Tony Halme (0-1)
  14. Wes Albritton (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 13

  1. Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
  2. Mark Coleman (6-0)
  3. Dan Severn (9-3)
  4. Ken Shamrock (6-2-2)
  5. Don Frye (9-1)
  6. Oleg Taktarov (6-2-1)
  7. Vitor Belfort (3-0)
  8. Marco Ruas (4-1)
  9. Guy Mezger (4-0)
  10. Jerry Bohlander (4-1)
Categories: Ranking the UFC