This is a bit surreal, but I'm officially ring-side for UFC 108. Or I guess I should say Octagon-side.
Regardless, we're about 15 minutes from the first fight of the night between lightweights John Gunderson and Rafaello Oliveira. I'm not gonna lie—I don't know a ton about either fighter since I tend to gravitate toward the bigger fellas.
They both looked ready, willing, and able at the weigh-ins, though. We'll see what happens.
Until then, I'm gonna try to find respite from the brutal assault of classic rock mixed with hardcore techno. Who the hell thought it'd be a good idea to throw some absurd BnD into the Police?
Volume's up, lights are down, and there's a prison spotlight combing the crowd. I get the sneaking suspicion something's about to happen...
John Gunderson vs. Rafaello Oliveira
Gunderson enters first. Man, I'm officially out of touch with popular music because I'm digging this rap track, but I can't tell you for the life of me who it is. Not even a guess.
Oliveira enters to something that sounds a little like Portuguese Disturbed. He's Brazilian so I don't feel as bad that I don't recognize his music.
Hey, let's hear it for Herb Dean!
Away we go—lots of feinting and empty swings until Oliveira lands a nice leg kick. First substantive connection of the night.
Oliveira shoots for the take down and Gunderson catches him in a guillotine. The action's on the ground now and it's much more fluid. Gunderson transitions to a kimura attempt, but Oliveira escapes and takes the mount. Now the Brazilian has his opponent's back and is controlling the fight.
With about a minute to go, Gunderson is getting dominated—Oliveira's just switching from full mount to his adversary's back and then to mount again.
Round One's in the books and it looks like 10-9 for Oliveira.
Oliveira starts the second as he ended the first—in control. Stiff jab followed by another decent leg kick. For some reason, he keeps shooting in and Gunderson keeps catching him in the guillotine.
Good flurry that saw Gunderson stuff a takedown attempt...kind of.
Oliveira doesn't look very comfortable on his feet even though he's having success there. Granted, he's having success on the ground as well. As evidenced by the mount position again.
And then taking Gunderson's back...again.
This is not going well for the American.
Wow, not doing the sport of MMA any favors at the moment—Gunderson's chin is literally resting in Oliveira's...crevice. Then both fighters seem to choose the moment to take a five.
Not where I'd choose to suck wind.
Round Two goes to Oliveira 10-9, too.
Gunderson seems to have waken up in the third (better late than never). Oliveira dispenses with the striking and just comes straight in for the shot. The Oregonian grabs him in yet another guillotine, but this one looks tighter.
To no avail.
Oliveira seems like a superior grappler and he had minimal trouble escaping, then turning the position to his advantage. Although Quick Guns did score a takedown in between.
Fight stays on the ground and, despite a persistent kimura attempt from Gunderson, Oliveira is winning the battle yet again.
Uh oh, Gunderson's in a really bad position; Oliveira has a tough armbar on with about 20 seconds left, but the American is "saved" by the bell.
Call it another 10-9 for Oliveira, who should take the fight by unanimous decision.
Yep, UD for Rafaello Oliveira (all the judges agreed on the 30-27 score).
Jake Ellenberger vs. Mike Pyle
Not much downtime in between fights as Ellenberger is already approaching the cage. He's doing it to Rammstein's classic "Du Hast." Ellenberger scores major points with this metalhead.
Pyle selects what sounds like Eminem—a track I've heard, but can't name off the top of my head. Good stuff (it was actually Fort Minor "Remember the Name").
Little digresssion—the Cage Girls are obscenely hot, but they are DEFINITELY skinny. I might be able to floss with one of the smaller girl's arms.
The ref is Yves Lavigne (for those scoring at home).
Not much feeling out process as both fighters get right to it. The action quickly moves to the ground where it stalls a bit. Both men are working for position, but neither is having much success.
Ref stands 'em up...and they're back on the canvas.
Now we're seeing a little action as Pyle sneaks in a kimura attempt that gives Ellenberger momentary pause. Momentary.
Ellenberger's whaling away and only the bell keeps Pyle in the fight. He could barely get up; in fact, he stayed down for a couple seconds.
10-9 for Ellenberger, but only because of the flurry at the end.
That didn't take long. Pyle's ribs must have been hurt badly at the end of Round One because he caught a knee from Ellenberger to open the round and backed off like he'd been shot. Then Ellenberger dropped him with a right and finished it off by raining blows from above.
Jake Ellenberger by technical knockout 22 seconds into the second.
Whoa, Joe Rogan's in the house—poor Ellenberger's panting through his interview. Nice effort from him.
I say it was the Rammstein.
Ryan Jensen vs. Mark Munoz
It appears we've got a little break before Jensen and Munoz resume niceties. That means another barrage of this hybrid "music." Honestly, it's criminal what they're doing to Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun."
Thankfully, the intermission was brief. But the damage done to Chris Cornell's old band was permanent.
Woohoo! We're shooting up the music charts—Jensen comes out to Tool "Stinkfist." That's one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands. If I weren't a huge p****, I'd be tempted to jump in the cage myself because the adrenaline is going.
That's right—adrenaline while typing. Sigh.
Rap isn't my expertise, but it really does sound like Munoz enters to E-40. Is that possible? One thing's for sure—it is LOUD; my pant legs are blowing from the bass like I'm in a wind tunnel.
The announcement that Munoz is Filipino is met with a huge ovation. OK.
Mario Yamasaki is the ref for the action.
Quick start although not much is landing; both fighters are active with Jensen scoring the first points via guillotine attempt. The fight moves to the ground where both fighters angle for position unsuccessfully.
The two men scramble to their feet where Jensen momentarily stuns Munoz, then shoots. Not a good idea.
Munoz retaliates and lands a crushing blow to the back of the head that has Jensen looking for a way out. Munoz is standing above a prone opponent bombing away to the point that Jensen is trying to tap. For some reason, Yamasaki's not stopping the pummelling.
FINALLY, Jensen taps emphatically and Mario steps in.
That went about 10 seconds too long.
Mark Munoz via tapout due to strikes 2:30 into the first.
LIVE PRELIMS ON SPIKE TV
We've got 20 minutes before the next bout. Back in a few.
Dan Lauzon vs. Cole Miller
Alright, these bad riders are live on Spike so if you want to rip my pseudo-play-by-play to shreds, here's your chance.
Interestingly, both fighters are already in the ring i.e. no cage entrance. I'm a little disappointed. Uh oh, Steve Mazzagatti is our ref.
I feel a controversy coming on.
The fighters take the center of the cage to start and feel each other out. Miller appears to be getting more of a feel. That is, until the younger Lauzon drops him with a stiff shot. Miller's still a little wobbly, but he appears to have recovered out of the really serious danger.
Now the taller fighter's on the offensive, landing a nice shot of his own. This is gonna be a tough round to score if both fighters survive.
Lauzon takes Miller's back and turns it into a messy submission attempt (looked like a kimura). A bad mistake turns into a fatal one.
Miller takes advantage and ends the bout via submission—kind of a cross between a kimura and a reverse triangle. Don't know which one did the trick, but the trick is done at 3:05 in the first.
*Submission of the Night
Jacob Volkman vs. Martin Kampmann
Awaiting the start of this bout (10 minutes away), I'm thumbing through the media guide and settle on Volkman's page. Turns out the hombre is a practicing chiropractor. Think that comes in handy?
Also, how many other doctors do you think populate the UFC ranks? I'm guessing not many. Shoot, I was impressed when Joe Lauzon said he was some sort of computer geek in his other life.
Mark Coleman just passed behind me—pretty tough to imagine a Hall-of-Famer walking around in virtual anonymity, but there it is.
Guy looks grizzled, but don't tell him I said so because he also looks like he could rip my arms off without breaking a sweat.
Both fighters are already in the cage and ready to go. So is referee Yves Lavigne.
About 30 seconds in and nothing much to report, although Kampmann is beginning to find his range. They clinch and Volkman lands a gentle knee. Kampmann responds by knocking his opponent down.
Volkman looks amused by the entire ordeal.
The chiropractor closes the distance with a flurry of punches only to find himself back on his rear, courtesy of another Kampmann shot. The Danish-born fighter takes top position and lands a couple elbows, but nothing too damaging.
The action continues and Kampmann continues to assert himself. He's landing more and more shots; Volkman's in bad trouble as Kampmann sinks in a guillotine choke and finishes the fight.
It all started off so well for Christmas.
Martin Kampmann via submission at 4:03 of the first round.
Starts at the top of the hour; see ya then.
Time for the main event and they've actually turned the arena's sound system UP. I can now feel the bass through the table and my molars are rattling.
The good news is "Baba O'Riley" by the Who. It's matched up with footage of the UFC greats and the effect is profound—inducing goosebumps, even.
Really cool (though I might now be legally deaf).
The crowd certainly knows it's time for the headliners—it's been a tame group for the early fights, but it's filled up nicely since the opening bout and they are keyed up for the money-makers.
Dustin Hazelett and Rashad Evans seem to be getting the most love, though las chicas clearly enjoy Thiago Silva and Sam Stout.
Gilbert Yvel vs. Junior dos Santos
I'm pretty stoked about this fight. To be honest, it might be my main event—like I said, I lean towards the bigguns. Plus, Cigano seems to be the real thing and Yvel is no chump. In other words, I'm expecting a good fight and to learn something about the future of the Heavyweight Division.
Hopefully, it'll be a win-win.
We're off to a good start with Yvel entering the cage to AC/DC "Thunderstruck." Man, if we mix in a little Metallica and Rage Against the Machine, we'll have hit all my favorites. Bonus points to Gilbert, who is Dutch, for selecting the Australian monuments.
More bonus points because he just passed by the media's section of the crowd and I soiled myself a little. He is THICK and looks mean.
Junior dos Santos comes into the Rocky theme—always a fan favorite.
Yikes, Bruce Buffer gives a full-body heave when he does introductions—can't be healthy. Herb Dean's the ref.
Hmm, not off to the most technical start—low hands by both fighters and Yvel's trying some truly unorthodox stuff (like a spinning backfist 30 seconds in).
Here we go, they're living up to the "war" billing by trading some big shots for a couple seconds, but then cooler heads prevail. The Brazilian fighter seems to be landing the heavier shot and mixing his strikes better.
Junior dos Santos is most certainly for real, folks.
The rising star catches the Pride FC veteran with a big left hook that sends the Dutch fighter to the ground, beating his adversary to the punch in the process. Yvel seems to be rolling out of trouble, but those big dos Santos' hammer fists seal the deal.
Yvel isn't happy, but it was a good stoppage (as it almost always is with Mr. Dean).
Junior dos Santos by technical knockout 2:07 into the first.
And the win-win for which I was hoping.
Duane Ludwig vs. Jim Miller
The UFC's doing its best to sell this bout, but you can tell some of the bloom is off the rose due to Tyson Griffin's (and then Sean Sherk's) absence. Nevertheless, people were grumbling about the overall card and it's been pretty entertaining up to this point so who knows?
Duane Ludwig comes out to some abomination I'm not going to dignify by describing. This isn't music.
Jim Miller saves the day with a little Creedence Clearwater Revival "Bad Moon Rising." Sounds a little strange with the bass cranked up to 11, but still good for what ails me.
It's not James Hetfield and the boys, but it'll do after Ludwig's nonsense.
We're back in the middle of the ring and Ludwig doesn't look too worse for the last-minute addition wear. Miller jabs his way in before switching to kicks, which land more effectively than the hands. Still, nothing of too much sincerity has found a home.
Miller loads up a big right hand, but gets nothing sans air. Another with the same result.
Ludwig is standing toe-to-toe and, as I'm about to say he's holding his own, down he goes from what looks like a right to the body. Jumping on the prone fighter, Miller drops a couple fists before rolling to snap on an armbar.
It's deep and Ludwig ain't getting out. Mario Yamasaki stops the action on the imperiled fighter's first tapout. How novel.
Jim Miller at 2:31 of the first via armbar.
Sam Stout vs. Joe Lauzon
OK, after a 10 minute break, we're ready for the second half of the Lauzon Brothers act. I think it's a weird this fight gets billing over dos Santos-Yvel, but I've stated my bias numerous times. Disregard at will.
Stout enters to the real Eminem—don't know the song, but White Chocolate can do no wrong on the mic. Or maybe I'm still shell-shocked from Ludwig's entry. Lauzon counters with some of the new metal—not good, not bad, just more of the cookie-cutter stuff proliferated in the wake of Disturbed, Linkin Park, System of a Down, P.O.D., etc.
Get ready, people, it's Steve Mazzagatti time.
The arm drops and we're off like quicksilver; Lauzon wraps Stout up and eventually takes him to the ground. After sneaking in some glancing blows, Lauzon goes for a kimura and the two fighters literally cartwheel across half the mat before Stout escapes.
One of those glancing blows was not so glancing because Stout is bleeding badly from what looks to be a cut above his left eye. Some more exchanges on the feet before Lauzon gets another semi-takedown.
The fighters don't stay down for long, quickly scrambling back up. Lauzon shoots again, but this time Stout ends up on top. A little damage from the Canadian before he invites the American to return to standing pleasantries.
These two are pouring it on—good exchanges as Lauzon keeps getting caught with an abbreviated uppercut. Great inside leg kick from Stout almost sends the Massachusetts native to the ground.
The round closes with more blows being landed by both fighters.
I'm glad I'm not a judge—call it 10-9 for Lauzon. It was very close, but Stout's leaking blood and Joe ain't.
The pair pick up where they left off—standing and banging although Lauzon looks to be slowing a little.
Stout sounds like he lands a kick flush to Lauzon's head, but the latter barely even stumbles. Either that sounded much worse than it was or Joe Lauzon just walked right through a kick to the dome.
More little exchanges before Lauzon goes for a single-leg and is denied. A couple stiff jabs by both fighters as Stout begins to press the action, sending Lauzon on the defensive.
Lauzon has slowed waaaay down as Stout just stands and snipes.
The American shoots in and Stout sprawls nicely, ending up in Lauzon's half-guard...for a moment. Now, they're both up again.
Sam Stout continues to mix up his strikes well and defend the takedown. He is clearly dictating the action as the second round winds down. Lauzon is still game, but he's fading.
The second goes to Stout, 10-9.
Sam Stout might not be human; he's been absurdly active for the majority of the fight, which has to take something out of his tank. Nonetheless, Lauzon just caught him with the vapors of a high kick and Stout didn't even flinch.
At this point, Lauzon is simply trying to avoid the nighty-night while looking for one of his own.
It's not happening—Stout is defending everything and battering his opponent with combo after combo. Lauzon is tough, but he's also gonna have to be lucky to get the "W."
Look out, Joe may have been saving it for one final push as he shoots in with about two minutes to go. He's on top in Stout's half-guard, trying desperately to pass and he does.
Full mount now, but Stout bucks him off and eventually struggles to his feet.
We're officially in Hail Mary time because I think Joe just went for the scissor heel hook a la Ryo Chonan against Anderson Silva. Didn't work and he eats another big punch.
Stout is letting it all hang out now—throwing a flying knee at his spent target and not even worrying about repercussions.
Third round's done and call it 10-9 for Stout. On my card, I've got Stout 29-28, but it really could be another 30-27 (all three judges gave each round to Stout; Tony Weeks actually scored Round Three 10-8).
Regardless, UD for Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout.
He's thrilled and so are the ladies. They should be; probably Fight of the Night (barring something spectacular in co-main events).
Oooh, turns out it's not the chicas making all that noise (sorry Sam). It's the Canadians—Stout thanks his country-mates in attendance and the place erupts. Glad we got that settled.
* Fight of the Night
Paul Daley vs. Dustin Hazelett
I'm gonna go ahead and apologize prematurely in case Hazelett rocks another one of his bizarre submissions and I blow it. I've never trained in grappling so I have a hard enough time recognizing the vanilla holds.
This exotic stuff is TOTALLY beyond me.
Daley and Hazelett couldn't be any more different—one is a dangerous striker, the other is a dangerous submission expert. One's nickname is substantially terrifying (Semtex) while the other is pure comedy (McLovin). One is yappy and has gone all-in with the trash-talking while the other has dodged and deflected.
Color me intrigued.
Daley walks up to another ambiguous rap song—don't know, don't care.
I'm expecting Peter, Paul, and Mary from Hazelett.
Well, it's not the folk trio from my parents' generation, but it was as close as we're gonna get tonight. McLovin didn't disappoint; weird dude, but highly amusing.
Paul Daley is fighting out of Nottingham, England and he completely avoided any Robin Hood nicknames? What a shame.
Dean's back to work the action.
Thanks a lot Dustin—he comes out with some sort of rolling kick thing. Hopefully it doesn't have an official name. Chants of "USA" start up and die mercifully.
Daley's looking a little hesitant, perhaps thrown by McLovin's substantial reach advantage. For the record, kicks seem to be the order of the night thus far.
The Brit takes a couple wide swings and gets nathan. Front kick lands from Hazelett and Daley responds with some leg kicks of his own.
There she goes—Daley catches Hazelett with an absolutely punishing shot that sends McLovin stiff to the canvas. Semtex follows with three purely superfluous blows right to Dustin's mug.
The victor further proves his outstanding character by taunting an unconscious fighter. To his credit, though, he apologizes in the post-fight interview. Can't blame a guy for letting the adrenaline get the best of the moment...too much.
Paul Daley by knockout at 2:24 of the first.
* Knockout of the Night
Thiago Silva vs. Rashad Evans
Time for the one everyone came to see.
Silva enters first to some Portuguese metal, which I would probably adore if I could understand anything. Of course, I'm not sure there are actually lyrics (ah, there they are). As is, I'm still likin' it.
Could do without the strobes lights trying to induce arena-wide seizures, however.
As the lights go out for Rashad's entrance, it's obvious for whom the crowd will be pulling. And for good reason, anyone who stalks out to KRS-One "Step into a World" is someone worth encouraging.
The duo look like caged animals; if the fight lives up to the introductory animosity, this should be good.
Yves Lavigne is locked inside with them.
Buffer does his thing and James McSweeney can be seen egging on the crowd.
Evans is the immediate aggressor, but doesn't land much of anything. The two fighters clinch up against the cage and work for an opening. Silva goes for the Muay Thai plumb and Evans drops levels for the takedown.
He's unsuccessful at first, but eventually gets it done.
Slowly but surely, Suga works for the mount, gets it, but Thiago almost immediately shakes him off—now, they're back on their feet. This apparently pleases the crowd because a chant starts up.
Rashad uses wonderful head movement to close the gap and eventually tackles his antagonist to the canvas. Again, though, he can't get anything done and Silva manages to rise.
Both athletes are launching a lot of strikes, but not much force is actually landing. As the round winds down, Rashad lands the best shots of the round before scoring yet another takedown.
Rashad can't keep Silva down, but he sure seems to be having an easy time getting him there.
Call it 10-9 for Evans.
The action begins with Rashad Evans shooting yet again as another half-hearted "USA" chant gets muffled in its infancy.
Clinch against the cage gets nothing and the two return to the middle of the cage. Another takedown for Evans (see a pattern developing?) and, this time, he's doing a better job of keeping his adversary on the ground.
Still no damage of note, though.
Silva rolls for what appears to be an armbar, but eats a punch for his troubles. They stand back up briefly, before Suga gets the double-leg. And now they're on their feet again.
Rashad feints for a shot and Silva, clearly not a fan of being on his back, sprawls almost completely to the ground. That might be relevant as the fight progresses.
Thiago Silva has no quit in him, but he's really not landing much of anything. Meanwhile, Rashad Evans is having no trouble whatsoever with repeated takedowns.
Round Two ends against the cage. Another 10-9 for Rashad from where I sit.
A little dancing in the middle of the ring ends with Rashad shooting in and eating a couple dings on the way.
Silva really seems to be having trouble getting a read on Evans' head movement and overall activity. Those big legs of the Michigan State Spartie are paying obvious dividends—minimal spring has been lost.
Thiago Silva gets frustrated and is challenging Rashad Evans to bring it. Now, the Brazilian seems to be mocking the former champ.
Maybe he knew something we didn't because he's landing vicious bombs to Evans who is clearly wobbled. The movement has almost stopped as Silva wades in with strike after strike and continues taunting Rashad from inside the latter's range.
Silva now stands with hands on hips and dismissively glances at Evans from the corner of his eye.
I'm not sure how this happened, but the fight has done a total 180. Evans should win if he can survive (and it looks like he will), but the third round went totally awry after he dominated the first two.
The third goes to Silva 10-9 and it'll be interesting to see what happens.
My card says Rashad Evans, 29-28. But that last round is gonna be interesting. If Thiago did enough to pull out a 10-8 final round, we might end up with kissing cousins.
Unanimous decision to Rashad Evans, as it should've been.
That's it from the arena. Conclusions aren't my strong suit and my brain is fried from over-stimulation of the senses.
Besides, I'm devoting an entire article to summarizing the event.
We'll call that one big conclusion...