All right, fight fans, we're almost ready for the Ultimate Fighting Championship to drop its curtain on UFC 109: Relentless. Granted, the lights are still up and the crowd hasn't really filtered in, so—on second thought—maybe we're not really that close.
Of course, the ring girls just arrived, so I don't really care how long I have to wait...
Off to grab a bottle of water and seek refuge from a hip-hop version of the Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Under the Bridge." Thankfully, they've taken mercy on us (until the thick of the crowd arrives, anyway), and it's not as loud as the MGM Grand's system seemed to be.
Or maybe that's the irreparable hearing damage from UFC 108 talking.
Ahhhh, that opening strain, followed by Mike Goldberg's "dulcet" tones, is just right for what ails you.
So is the return of a Gracie to the UFC. And a heavyweight to boot!
Rolles Gracie vs. Joey Beltran—Heavyweights
Oooh, not a bad start to the fight festivities or the musical interludes. One of the fighters I'm most interested in seeing up-close and personal, Gracie kicks off the night, and his opponent stalks out to the good Dr. Dre.
Gracie enters to something presumably Brazilian, hence in Portuguese, and I'm lost.
I'm still pulling for Royce's cousin, but Beltran, filling in for the incomparable Mustapha Al Turk, scored some points right away.
Herb Dean gets the honors.
The big men come out swinging, and Gracie immediately goes for the takedown, but he's stuffed. A couple brief exchanges don't result in much of note, and the two men end up mashed against the cage. Gracie finally gets the trip and assumes top position.
Uh oh, Gracie's got Beltran's back and now takes full mount. This ain't going well for Beltran. I can think of few worse positions than being on your back with a Gracie on you.
As soon as I type those words, Beltran reverses position and takes the mount. Nothing much doing, so he stands back up. Consider me impressed.
Gracie's landing some strikes, but they don't look like much.
Hey, I'm on a roll—right after I typed that, Gracie lands a big blow and has Beltran on the defensive.
The American doesn't look all that stupendous on his feet. For that matter, neither does Gracie. He keeps loading up a big right and telegraphing it too much to constitute a threat.
The legend's cousin looks a bit frustrated and turtles right at the end of the round—apparently spent as Beltran rained down hammerfists.
Call that one 10-9 for Beltran.
Beltran comes out assuming the role as the aggressor, but that's kind of a misnomer at this point. Gracie goes for another takedown, but he gets stifled and eats a few fists for his trouble.
That sequence is essentially repeating itself over and over—Gracie shoots, gets stuffed, covers, and takes some serious-sounding abuse.
Uhh...Gracie just shot, ended face-first in the canvas, and the two fighters simply stopped.
I think Gracie wants out, and Beltran is obliging him. Gracie's prone on his stomach with his adversary crushing him from above. The Brazilian's making zero effort to escape.
It's over (thank God).
Beltran by TKO 1:31 into the second.
Chris Tuchscherer vs. Tim Hague—Heavyweights
What are the chances that Chris Tuchscherer and Major League Baseball player Justin Duchscherer were separated at birth—and one was the victim of a typo on his birth certificate?
Tuchscherer (typing that has already gotten old) comes out to something I don't recognize, but that's irrelevant, because Hague enters to Guns 'n' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle."
Yes, welcome indeed.
Tuchschere's nickname is "The Crowbar." It should be "The Thing" because he is enormous and has a odd body type.
The referee for the action is Josh Rosenthal.
The behemoths take the center of the Octagon and engage in a feeling-out process. The Crowbar is the first to press the action, trying to take Hague to the ground.
So far, nothing doing...still nothing doing as they press against the cage.
The chain-link fence is taking one hell of a beating, though.
Hague pushes his opponent away, and the two exchange some gentle taps as the space between them opens.
Ooh, Hague lands a gnarly knee to Tuchscherer's groin, and we've got an "ouch" timeout. The Crowbar's still trying to shake it off as the crowd boos. Oddly, there's a lot of base in them, which begs the question: Why is any man in the audience unsympathetic?
The "action" starts back up as they two big fellas trade wayward jabs, then Hague lands a nice leg kick—which, apparently, aren't felt by fighters in the cage.
Both men have abandoned any pretext of taking the fight to the ground and seem content to swing for the fences. Hague just hit a ground-rule double, so Tuchscherer decides the ground looks appealing.
Hague stuffs yet another shot, and we're back up against everyone's favorite fight ingredient—the fence. The horn sounds as more inconsequentials land.
I have no idea—call it 10-9 for Hague because of constantly stuffing Tuchscherer's takedowns.
We're back in the center of the Octagon as Hague lands a right shot that sounded a lot worse than Tuchscherer made it look—especially since The Crowbar gets his first successful takedown almost immediately after walking through the punch.
Tuchscherer struggles for side control, but Hague brushes him off and manages to get back to his feet. It may not matter, though, because the time on the ground seems to have winded the favorite.
His mouth is open and his punches don't seem to have much zip on them as he eats several more serious shots from Tuchscherer (who trains with Brock Lesnar, incidentally).
Another left lands from The Crowbar—this round is going decidedly better for the big blond. Both fighters press against the cage to suck a little wind.
We may have hit a critical point here because Hague has slowed markedly while Tuchscherer's hands are hanging low. An attempted flying knee from Hague is caught in midair, but aside from looking pretty cool, nothing comes of it for either fighter.
Back against the cage as Tuchscherer goes for another takedown. Hague stuffs it and lands a big shot that seems to have given The Crowbar a moment's pause as the crowd starts to smell blood.
The horn washes away the smell.
Call it 10-9 for Tuchscherer.
This round may decide the fight, and neither competitor looks in wonderful shape to seize the advantage.
Check that: Hague suddenly looks to be in prime position to end it as he lands a serious of big hands to Tuchscherer's head. The Crowbar tries to seek sanctuary on the ground and instead gets taken down himself.
Hague's a lot of man and he's now got side mound, only to switch to Tuchscherer's back, and get bucked off. The Crowbar's escape is short-lived as Hague gets right back on his back and starts slaughtering him with heavy hands from above.
Tuchscherer survives for the moment as Hague seems to have punched himself out. Now, Hague's essentially sitting on Tuchscherer's shoulders—except both fighters are prone. They get out of the awkward position and into a much worse one for The Crowbar, who eats some more hammerfists.
Hague still has dominant position, and it seems a stoppage might be in the cards if more than 70 seconds were left.
More shots from Hague, some to the head and some to the body. Tuchscherer is getting dominated in Round Three. Hague's positioning for a kimura, but not enough time is left, so he lets it go and starts with the striking abuse.
I'll call that one 10-9 for Hague, who should take a unanimous decision.
The judges call it a majority decision for Chris "The Crowbar" Tuchscherer (one judge had it 28-28). Ah, the wonders of subjectivity.
There's a crowd of vocal Hague supporters behind me who are none too pleased with the result. Tuchscherer gives them a sarcastic thumbs-up and smile as he leaves with victory in hand.
Tuchscherer by majority decision.
Phil Davis vs. Brian Stann—Light Heavyweights
Davis comes out to some generic rap song. If I had to guess as to who/what it is, I wouldn’t. Stann enters to a Disturbed song (possibly)—I don’t recognize it, but I’m pretty sure that’s who it is.
Davis looks scary athletic—he’s absolutely ripped and, allegedly, a terrific wrestler. Mr. Wonderful looks ready to go. But it looks like it’d be unwise to overlook Stann.
Steve Mazzagatti gets the action.
As usual, the gladiators take to the center of the cage to feel each other out. Davis fires the first shot and comes nowhere close. Stann likes the idea, so he sends out a kick that draws nothing but air. This pattern continues for the next few seconds until Davis gets a hold of his opponent and pushes him to the cage.
The pair almost knocks one of the UFC cameramen off his stool.
Stann frees himself from Davis’ grasp and opens up some distance between the two. Stann’s striking looks much more sincere—Davis seems very tentative, although he’s moving well.
There is almost literally nothing being landed except for some glancing blows until Davis scores a much-needed takedown and assumes side control. The edge doesn’t last too long, as Stann gets his man back into half-guard and tries to get up.
Davis is having none of that and now has full mount. The accomplished wrestler lands a few fists and elbows before Stann rolls, giving up his back. Davis is trying to take advantage as the last few seconds slip off the clock.
10-9 for Davis.
The gentlemen resume pleasantries in the middle of the ring, and Stann looks like he just lost a round. He’s come out much more aggressively and quickly sets Davis to back- pedaling. Davis lands a glancing leg kick as the fighters exchange.
Davis scores another takedown and is in Stann’s half-guard, desperately trying to free his leg. Sweet success—Davis is in full mount and doing a good job of inflicting damage without losing position—although Stann eventually gets him back in half-guard.
The former Penn State Nittany Lion works briefly for a kimura before Stann rolls and give up his back. Davis is in complete control at this point, establishing dominant position and roughing up his vulnerable adversary.
More ground-n-pound until Davis takes Stann’s back yet again. Stann correctly recognizes a bad position and rolls again, only to absorb some vicious knees to the body.
Definitely a 10-9 for Davis, possibly 10-8.
The action starts slowly, which seems particularly unwise for Stann. Granted, once it picks up, Stann finds himself slammed to the ground with Davis on top.
Perhaps Stann had the right idea.
The underdog struggles to get up, but he cannot, and the effort allows Davis to take the top position in half-guard. He quickly transitions to side mount, then full mount, and starts working for a kimura.
That seems to be more a move to get an opening, because Davis lets it go after a few seconds to resume tenderizing Stann's ribs.
Davis is moving exceptionally well and fluidly on the ground—it's basically the exact opposite of how he looks on his feet. The dude keeps switching from half-guard to full-mount to Stann's back and then repeats.
I guess that doesn't speak especially well of his ability to assume one position and hold it, but he's got no problem riding a grounded opponent without losing a dominant position.
Quick as lightning, Davis rolls into an pretty snug armbar attempt that could've ended the fight had Stann not been saved (momentarily) by the horn.
Round Three is also Davis', 10-9.
I'd call it a unanimous decision for Davis, and so would everyone else.
Davis by unanimous decision.
(NOTE: Sorry for the lag, but the Internet connection is spotty for some reason).
Rob Emerson vs. Phillipe Nover—Lightweights
We must be running into a time constraint because no musical intros here. Just fighter introductions, and then the business is handed over to Dean.
Nover's predicted a first-round knockout by head kick, and, true to his prediction, he goes for it early. And misses. Badly.
So badly, in fact, that he ends up on his rear and then eats a shot from The Saint, landing him back on his rear.
Now, Emerson's on top in Nover's full-guard, and it's Nover who seems more active, even from the bottom. The Filipino Assassin gets partway to his feet before Emerson deposits him back on his hindquarters.
Nover finally struggles back to his feet, and as he does, he sinks in a guillotine choke on Emerson. Both fighters then cartwheel and Nover manages to keep the choke, although the tumbling seems to have done enough, because Emerson extricates himself shortly after.
Both men seem gassed as they sit up against the cage—Emerson's visibly sucking wind, while Nover's level of activity has dropped.
Finally, they stand back up and hostilities resume with Nover scoring some knees. Emerson likes the idea and fires back with several of his own.
Tough round to call—I'll give it to Nover 10-9.
The round opens with Emerson landing a nice leg kick that almost fells Nover. And another, although Nover's returning some punishment to sender.
Yikes, Emerson lands a wicked shot to Nover's grill, and the Filipino fighter is staggered for a second. That's all the invitation The Saint needs as he goes in for the kill and puts Nover on his back.
Another few heavy shots land, but Nover seems to be out of immediate danger. Emerson's in side control, but the cobwebs seem to have cleared. This round is going decidedly better for Emerson, as he's turning his superior position into damages this time.
Nover goes for rubber guard, but he can't quite get the his leg over Emerson's shoulder. Emerson, who sports an incredible array of ink, was playing a little possum and erupts for some shots immediately after Nover gives up the attempt.
The action stagnates and Dean stands both fighters up—that's why he's the best in the business.
It's Emerson's turn to take some punches, but he throws a couple back to stem the onslaught and then scores a nice trip to resume the ground battle. Again, the American lays in Nover's guard as the final ticks come off the clock.
I'll give that one to Emerson, 10-9.
Starts the same as the first couple—some feeling out that ends in Emerson throwing some leg kicks. Nover throws a little wrinkle and kicks Emerson in the groin as if it were on a tee.
Forget about the Saint; I'm gonna throw up.
As the action restarts, Nover fires off a quick knee, and it looks like it lands. Nevertheless, Emerson appears no worse for the wear. We're back in a clinch against the cage—appropriate for a card headlined by Randy Couture and Mark Coleman, don't you think?
Nover gets a good Muay Thai plumb in and sneaks a couple knees to Emerson's chops, but The Saint just keeps coming. Both fighters land shots, but Emerson's kick sounds worse than Nover's jab.
The battle goes to the ground, where Emerson is once again on top. But Nover manages to retake his feet and sinks in a guillotine choke that has the crowd excited. To no avail because Nover lets it go and resumes striking, which doesn't go well, as Emerson quickly regains his feet and starts sending off shots of his own.
Sigh. Emerson gets another single-leg takedown, Nover gets back up, and then Emerson trips him back to the ground as the horn sounds.
I'd give that round to Emerson 10-9, and that means he should take it by unanimous decision, which he does.
Emerson by unanimous decision.
Oof, well, that wasn't exactly the scintillating start for which everyone was looking. The good news, though, is that we're about to be live on Spike, and they've turned the volume to "ear-bleedingly loud."
That's the next notch up from 11.
Let's hope the fellas follow suit.
Ronys Torres vs. Melvin Guillard—Lightweights
Hey, Guillard's from New Orleans—football fans looking for random predictors for the Super Bowl tomorrow take notice. Torres is from Indianapolis...No, hold it a tick, it says Brazil.
Rosenthal's back on duty.
Some quick and ineffective striking opens the gates before the action hits the ground. Torres immediately takes top position as Guillard inches back to the fence. Good call, because he chucks the Brazilian off and gets back to his feet.
Guillard opens up some distance, but Torres quickly closes and takes the fight back to the ground. His advantage is brief, though, as Melvin easily reverses and takes top position before opting to take the bout back to the feet.
Once upon a time, you would've described Guillard as a terrifying striker, but he's not doing much of that so far.
Wow, this is getting absurd. The second I hit the period above, Guillard landed a nice jumping knee to Torres' noggin. It must've looked worse than it was because Torres barely flinched while securing the double-leg takedown.
Torres seems to be having no trouble getting the American to the ground, but he isn't doing much of anything once there. Guillard gets back to his feet, and the two trade significant shots.
The round ends as Guillard is stalking his prey down.
Rounds Two and Three
Sincere apologies, but I'm afraid my so-called play-by-play from these rounds has been lost to the ether. Too bad because they were much more entertaining than the first. Some highlights:
—the start of the second was delayed for several minutes as Torres corner spilled a bucket of ice and water all over his area of the Octagon. It was a double-oops since, not only was it embarrassing, it seemed to additional rest seemed to energize Guillard who came out like a house afire.
—Torres briefly stemmed the tied early in the second by hoisting the Young Assassin almost out of the cage. Seriously, Guillard's knees were almost level with the top of the fence—incidentally, it's illegal to chuck someone outside the eight sides.
—once Torres realized he was gaining no advantage from the position, he started looking at other options and that allowed Guillard to escape. From there, it was all Melvin pretty much for the rest of the fight.
—Round was an absolute clinic for Guillard as he really let his hands go. He was simply picking the Brazilian apart on the feet and, consequently, the Young Assassin was having an easier time defending the decreasingly enthusiastic shoots from Torres (though Torres still got him down a couple times).
—Following one successful shot, Guillard pushed back to the cage where Torres momentarily held him down and delivered some mediocre dings to Guillard's ribs. This elicited a mocking yawn and shake of the head from the Young Assassin. Dude's got flair, that's for sure.
And he also got the win.
Guillard by unanimous decision.
(NOTE: I now hate the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino—it's an incredible place except the Internet connection is beyond awful. It swallowed the last rounds of Guillard's unanimous decision; I'll try to get them back up later tonight).
Justin Buchholz vs. Mac Danzig—Lightweights
Danzig makes, what, the billionth alumnus from The Ultimate Fighter to make the card?
Don’t know much about Buchholz, other than the fact that Uriah Faber’s in his corner. We actually got intro music for this bout, but neither was very good. Sadly, neither was bad enough to mock, either.
Dean’s back on the scene.
Danzig comes racing across the Octagon to....tap gloves with Buchholz.
Ahh, now we’re getting somewhere. Both lightweights are living up the reputation of the division by setting a fast and furious pace. Nothing too substantial has landed yet, but they get an “A” for effort from me thus far.
Danzig goes for a single leg and Buchholz dodges it easily. The pace hits a pattern of flurry then reassessment as neither scrapper seems to have figured the other out yet. Danzig fires off a flurry of shots, culminating with a nice leg kick.
That seemed to anger Buchholz more than anything as he retaliates with shots of his own, landing a genuine crowd-pleaser for his trouble. In fairness, the crowd seems to react more to the throw of the strike than its actual effectiveness because Danzig didn’t look too troubled.
But the exchange has given Buchholz confidence as he is taking over control of the round.
Nice flurry from both fighters against the cage as the round ends.
A tough round to call, but I’ll give it to Danzig (10-9) for the number of neck-snaps I saw from Buchholz.
Both men are bouncing around as if Round One never happened. Danzig continues bouncing once Dean drops the flag; Buchholz does not.
Combination from Buchholz ends with him eating a right hand from Danzig, who uses the opening to shoot in for a takedown. Buchholz defends and the two open some space to get a fresh perspective.
Buchholz keeps launching kicks while Danzig seems to prefer punches...and the takedown, which he finally scores.
From side-mount, Danzig almost transitions to full mount, but Buchholz snags one of Danzig’s leg. Instead, Danzig must settle for half-guard and that’s not going too swimmingly as Buchholz almost has a crippling kimura locked in place.
It’s touch-and-go there for a while, but Danzig powers through the attempt and forces Buchholz to look for greener pastures. Unfortunately, he’s not finding any as Danzig takes control, briefly.
Buchholz re-establishes top position and the action stagnates. Actually, that’s not true because Danzig is being quite offensive off his back and this allows him to reverse positions, taking full mount as time runs out.
Another close one that I’ll give to Danzig, 10-9.
The best fight of the night so far enters its final stanza and Danzig seems to be feeling more comfortable as he rattles of a flurry ending in a nice leg kick. Buchholz tries to sink in a guillotine, but thinks better of it.
Buchholz lands a right and Danzig answers. Another high kick from Buchholz, but they aren’t doing too much besides keeping Danzig honest. The vapors of a knee from Danzig land, but nothing more.
The battles goes to the ground with Buchholz on top, but—once again—it’s Danzig who looks more active even off his back.
Buchholz employs the dreaded lay-n-pray so Dean stands them up and Danzig seems recharged by his little rest. A nice combination finds its home and Buchholz looks a little fatigued. Perhaps Danzig sees it, too, because he takes the fight to the ground and quickly takes Buchholz back.
Buchholz rolls and Danzig takes full mount, temporarily setting up an armbar before resorting to what is becoming the signature move of the evening—ground-n-pound.
Round ends in the same position.
That was definitely a 10-9 round for Danzig, who I’ve got winning by unanimous decision and he does.
Danzig by unanimous decision.
(NOTE: My Internet has officially crapped out—sorry about that, it’ll be published as soon as possible).
Frank Trigg vs. Matt Serra—Welterweights
The closer the fight has gotten, the more enthusiastic I’ve become. Sure, neither Trigg nor Serra looks to be particularly relevant in the division, but both are caricatures of New York City. That means there has been plenty of back and forth between the two.
Additionally, it seems like a more or less even match-up.
The music is back with a vengeance as Twinkle Toes enter to LL Cool J’s “Momma Said Knock You Out,” which isn’t an altogether bad choice for a fight intro. Granted, calling it a “comeback” from Trigg might be a little generous, but no matter.
Besides, I liked the guy from the old PRIDE days so let’s use the soft focus.
Drag, Serra enters to the Rocky Theme. The crowd loves it, but is it ever wise to put that much stock in the drunken (by this point) masses?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—Serra is a little bulkier and Trigg has more hair, but they might as well be clones aside from those slight differences. C’mon, this HAS to be a good fight.
Holy Lord—the loves goes absolutely BONKERS for the Terror. Who knew Serra was such a fan favorite?
Rosenthal’s back in the cage.
The action begins with both men feinting and throwing out feelers. In the first 60 seconds, Trigg’s striking is far more accurate, but then it probably has to be given the power advantage that Serra should have.
Nonetheless, Trigg is looking damn good out there—calm and cool while landing his shots.
Plus, he’s got a cool tattoo on his back.
Rumor has it that Serra is a pretty proficient ground fighter and he might want to prove it because he’s getting picked apart by Trigg to this point.
Oops, the jinx is still on people.
Serra lands a bruising right square on the jaw that puts Trigg down and the Terror lives up to the nickname.
He’s all over Trigg with heavy bombs until Rosenthal uses the better part of valor to stop the slaughter.
Serra at 2:23 of the first round by KO (Knockout of the Night).
Serra demonstrates the source of his popularity with a deprecating post-fight interview—acknowledging his small stature (referring to himself as a hobbit, I believe) and the not-pretty-but-effective style he employs.
Good dude and no slouch in the ring.
Dan Miller vs. Demian Maia—Middleweights
Another shot of Randy Couture gets splashed on the armada of big screens and the crowd erupts. Nobody can get enough of the Natural.
Other than Couture/Coleman, this bad rider is the bout I came to see. My fondness for Maia borders on undignified, but the guy is a force on the ground and a humble guy outside the ring. What’s not to like?
If he can close the holes in his stand-up, I’m thinking this is a sincere challenger at middleweight.
Of course, the holes are considerable (judging from his last outing against Nate Marquardt) and Miller isn’t exactly a lay-up. Nobody who enters to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Run Through the Jungle” can be.
In the biggest upset of the night so far, Maia chooses the Clash (maybe?) for his approach. Oh, the Clash just started speaking Portuguese so I’m thinking I might have called that wrong.
Either this crowd is hostile to all non-Americans (provided they aren’t Filipino) or they have an inexplicable love of Dan Miller. Or perhaps it was the Creedence.
Mazzagatti gets the call.
The antennae are out again as both fighters try to time the other. Maia at least LOOKS like he’s been working on his striking as he has yet to just wade through punches to force the action to the ground.
Maia’s first attempt is stuffed and a clinch against the cage draws nada.
Uh oh, Maia doesn’t look to have improved enough on his feet because Miller is starting to find his range. Luckily for Maia, a big shot doesn’t land quite perfectly enough and the Brazilian was able to walk through it en route to his first takedown.
Which Miller throws off with shocking ease and, as the fighters stand back up, Maia delivers a knee STRAIGHT to Miller’s groin. That’s another mighty ouch.
The action resumes with Miller still dispensing punishment and proving to be the far superior striker. Maia gets Miller briefly to the ground, but too sloppily for any advantage. Round One is in the books.
That’s a 10-9 for Miller.
The second opens with Maia showing some of that improved striking, delivering a flurry and ending it with a solid kick to the body. But he’s gonna a lot more of that to emerge victorious given the way this is unfolding.
Whoo, a wild right hook from Maia narrowly misses the mark as Miller appears a bit taken aback by Maia’s newfound aggressiveness. Maia’s even starting land some stiffer shots, but Miller doesn’t look too concerned.
Leg kick from Miller opens up his scoring and then a right to the body registers.
The crowd boos as neither fighter seems intent on engaging for about 30 seconds; patience is not a crowd’s virtue. More boos as nothing is landing—Miller’s mouth is wide open even though he doesn’t look gassed.
The horn sounds and is almost drowned out by the boo-birds.
Give that one to Maia, 10-9, simply because Miller almost did nothing.
To get the crowd back in their happy place, the cameras find Chuck Liddell in the crowd. Always good to see the Iceman.
On my scorecard, the winner of the final round will take the fight—take that with a wheel barrel of salt.
Maia feints a punch and goes for is first takedown attempt since the opening round. It doesn’t work.
What does work is a large right from Miller that puts Maia down and appears to have him stunned. At least the crowd thinks so. Miller’s apparently sold because he dives in for blood, which backfires as Maia is able to take top position and then the men get back to their feet.
But Maia wants the last round in his own territory so he shoots back in for the takedown and secures it after some resistance. Now, the Brazilian black belt is on top and in Miller’s guard. Maia looks to pass, but Miller turns back the attempt.
Instead of going back to the passing well, Maia drops some bomb-ettes that count as points, but not much else.
Out come the boo-birds, yet again, but this time Mazzagatti’s taking some heat as well for not standing the fighters up. This crowd could get ugly if they don’t see an barnburner SOON.
Final horn sounds amidst the boos.
Another lackluster round, but I’ll give it to Maia (10-9) for aggressiveness and Octagon-control.
And the official word is...Maia by UD.
Maia by unanimous decision.
We’ve got a 20-minute intermission before the Thiago/Swick bout and that gave me just enough time to establish the Internet isn’t working ANYWHERE.
That means I’ve got no choice but to sit and stew in the fury of a four-bars with no connectivity.
And Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” spliced with “The Funky Cold Medina” by Tone-Loc. I’d love to be kidding, but I’m not.
Like the crowd, I might devolve into bitterness and vitriol if I don’t get online soon...
Paulo Thiago v. Mike Swick—Welterweights
I’m almost too pissed about having to work offline (why is that even a function?) to extol on the virtues of each fighter’s music. Almost.
Thiago sticks to the script by coming out to some decent Brazilian (or at least Portuguese) hybrid rock, not bad. Swick opts for a tried-and-true rap track from Tupac.
Tried and true by rap fans, but not me since that’s not a description I can’t honestly self-apply. Consequently, I don’t know the name; it’s the one about ridin’—never took Mr. Shakur for an equestrian enthusiast.
Thiago gets a surprisingly robust ovation, but “Quick” Swick is obviously the fan favorite.
Dean will keep the calm.
The heebie-jeebies seem to be contagious because each pair of antagonists comes out more tentative than the last.
Damn, as soon as I type that, Thiago lands a nice head kick that Swick shakes off as if it were a fly alighting. The kick didn’t catch him perfectly, but still...
The Brazilian fighter lands another nice shot and things are beginning to take a decidedly ominous shade for Swick (which means he should score a tremendous knock-out any second).
More big blows land from Thiago, but the American keeps coming and coming. Me thinks you will have to shut Swick’s lights to stop him from coming forward. Of course, Swick isn’t coming forward enough because his strikes are drawing nothing but oxygen (and nitrogen and some other trace gasses).
Swick, another TUF alumnus, took this bout on short notice and, considering Thiago is establishing himself as a dangerous threat at welterweight, the pattern set thus far shouldn’t be entirely surprising.
The American finally gets some offense in the books, securing a nice takedown and riding out the position (see the full-circle?) until the horn.
Nevertheless, that was a 10-9 round to Thiago.
The American Kickboxing Academy member comes out for the second with a better show of aggressiveness, but he’s still not doing enough to punish Thiago for taking out his AKA teammate Josh Koscheck. If this course holds, only AKA’s Jon Fitch will be able to put a Thiago pelt on his wall.
Swick lands a huge shot to Thiago’s head, snapping his neck back.
Silva answers with a shot of his own that throttles the American momentarily, but not enough to stop another shot from landing on Thiago’s jaw.
To no avail—Thiago takes the shot and throws a counter left that drops Swick onto the ground and into darkness.
Swick’s lights appear to come back on almost instantaneously, but the nanosecond of La La Land allows the Brazilian to jump onto the vulnerable Swick.
The American doesn’t go quietly, refusing to tap as Thiago puts him to sleep with a darce choke.
One and a half rounds of tepid action totally redeemed by 10 seconds of mayhem. Gotta love mixed martial arts.
Thiago by submission (d'arce choke) at 1:54 of the second (Submission of the Night).
Chael Sonnen vs. Nate Marquardt—Middleweights
I don’t know exactly where it comes from, but Sonnen certainly doesn’t lack for confidence.
His video vignette featured several shots at the Great, including a proclamation that anything Marquardt can do, Sonnen can do better.
Especially since the Oregonian chooses some country nonsense about “too much fun” for his intro music while Marquardt rocks some sweet Peter Gabriel. Not quite typical fair for a UFC event, but still light-years better to the twang of mediocre country.
Marquardt’s already proven, at the very least, his musical taste is better. I expect him to show his superiority doesn’t end there.
Rosenthal will be the master of ceremonies.
Whoo boy, the trash talk seems to have done the deed because both men come out steaming. Both land substantive strikes without either gaining a significant advantage.
They separate and Sonnen pushes Marquardt up to the cage, but the Great wiggles free.
They move around the perimeter until Sonnen comes shooting in for a takedown. It’s semi-successful, but mostly because the Great sinks in a guillotine and takes it to the ground.
Sonnen extricates himself from the hold and starts pounding away.
Marquardt shoves him off, hops to his feet, and welcomes some more punishment from Sonnen.
Sonnen continues to bomb away with fists and elbows, having already bloodied the favorite. More elbows and Marquardt is in serious trouble.
I wonder if the promise of a title shot was too much for Marquardt. Or maybe he’s taking the smart route.
I mean, a title shot means Anderson Silva—is that really a reward?
Regardless, the Great ain’t gonna get it at this rate.
The horn sounds and Marquardt seems to take a step toward the wrong corner. Sonnen looks unconcerned with the proceedings.
Easy 10-9 to Sonnen, could’ve even been a 10-8.
The men collide to start the second and exchange shots before Sonnen grabs another takedown. From the top position in Marquardt’s guard, Sonnen continues to dish out destruction while receiving almost none.
The substantive action has ground to a halt—both athletes are wrangling for openings and position, but neither is accomplishing much. Sonnen, who remains on top, is flat-out dominating this battle.
He lands another strong shot from the standing position above a prone Marquardt. And another.
But now the Great has opened up a real gusher on Sonnen’s grill with an elbow—tough to tell exactly where the cut is, but it could be over his right eye.
Now, the two men are bleeding all over each other as Sonnen has Marquardt’s back (kind of) and deliver wrap-around rights. Marquardt answers with some flush elbows. The Great finally escapes only to have Sonnen right back on him like white on rice (or brown I suppose).
The horn sounds with Sonnen all sorts of gory, but I still say he took that round 10-9.
By my count, Marquardt needs a stoppage or the most dominating round this side of Penn/Sanchez to take the bout. That seems to be his exact intentions as he rushes out, but the glory is short-lived as Sonnen immediately gets the fight back on the ground.
They’re both staying busy, but busy isn’t enough for the Great.
Marquardt simply cannot get away from Sonnen’s grasp. The two stand right in front of me as Sonnen delivers knees to Marquardt’s legs before the fight moves back to the ground with Sonnen still in control.
We’ve got a Three Stooges routine breaking out as Sonnen delivers a tap to Marquardt’s head and the Great responds with a palm strike.
This repeats for five or six iterations.
Suddenly, Sonnen’s in significant trouble as Marquardt locks in what looks to be a very firm guillotine. The crowd is sensing an unlikely stoppage from the Great to salvage the evening, but it’s not to be. Sonnen’s out of danger and, despite still being in a dominated position, Marquardt isn’t in position to get the stoppage he needs.
Sonnen has officially emptied his tanks, folks. Marquardt thoroughly dominates the final minute and takes the third round (10-9). Unfortunately for the Great, his title hopes, and his numerous fans in attendance, that won’t be enough.
This is gonna be an unlikely-but-revelatory UD for Sonnen (it is).
Sonnen by unanimous decision (Fight of the Night).
Both men back off the rhetoric in the post-fight interviews—gracious in both defeat and victory.
Mark Coleman vs. Randy Couture—Light Heavyweights
Instead of capitalizing on the two-fight momentum, it appears we have another brief respite before the main event—time enough for the camera to pan the crowd for Rashad Evans (who takes the inexplicable boos with a smile).
Yet Tito Ortiz, who just walked in front of me, gets a rousing ovation.
It can’t be the suit because Suga was wearing one, too.
And awaaaay we go!
Coleman enters first to some serious gangsta rap mixed with instrumentals upon which I’ve not laid ears. What does it say that a 45-year-old dude is more tuned to modern rap than I am?
I think I heard Eminem in there.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the volume has been cranked louder and louder for the last hour. It’s currently painful—the bottle of water I’m drinking looks like it’s boiling from the bass.
I feel sorta bad for Coleman because I’ve always like him, he’s a champ, he’s a Hall-of-Famer, and he seems like one of the good guys. On this night, however, his offense is not being Captain America and it’s one that has the masses screaming for corporal punishment.
The crowd absolutely loses it’s s*** when Couture comes out to “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent. Great fighter, great man, and a great song.
C’mon Randy, you could’ve at least let the Hammer take the intros.
On a personal note, both Couture and Coleman—all 91 years of them—put my 31-year-old physique to utter shame.
To quote a wise man, “baby, you more shredded than a julienne salad.”
Mazzagatti’s back in the Octagon and even that’s not enough to quell the chills.
Two of the sports’ finest gladiators to ever grace the cage take center stage. Striking is the order of the day to start and Couture is blasting away with accuracy that Coleman can’t match. Couture, sensing the advantage, moves in for his first big swing of the night and comes up empty.
The crowd doesn’t like that so they start a chant of “RANDY, RANDY!”
A crisp fist to Couture’s face, but the offensive doesn’t last long.
Couture recovers and pushes Coleman to the cage, then starts sniping away with snappers of his own. The Hammer’s considerable beard is being put to the test by fist after fist; the Natural’s mixing in elbows now. Couture lands a couple of short uppercuts, some knees to the leg, and is generally annihilating his equally ancient adversary.
True to Captain America’s own words, Coleman doesn’t seem to have an answer for the Couture Clinch. More uppercuts find their mark from Couture and the Hammer seems to be running on fumes as the round slinks away.
Definitely Couture’s round, 10-9.
The second picks up right where the first left off.
Couture having his way with strikes and then securing the takedown. Coleman’s in trouble, but he’s not out of it quite yet.
Until, of course, he gives Couture his back and the Natural sinks in a fatal guillotine. That’s all she wrote—thorough victory for the Natural and quite possibly the last we’ll see of Coleman in the UFC.
Which is too bad—he deserves better.
Something I’m sure Captain America understands as he embraces his vanquished opponent.
Couture by submission (rear-naked choke, oops) at 1:09 in the second.
Amazing exchange during Coleman’s post-fight interview.
As Joe Rogan’s asking him the standard questions, Tito Ortiz and Jenna Jameson (and another platinum blond) exit the arena via a close pass next to the Octagon. This causes a bit of commotion at which point Coleman walks over to see what the fuss is about and Rogan mentions it’s just Ortiz.
Coleman’s response? “F*** you, Tito...anytime douche bag.”
This flattering praise gets the “all talk” hand gesticulation from Ortiz and an entirely different one from Ms. Jameson (or maybe it was an invitation—she was a pornstar after all).
And then a section of the crowd breaks into "F*** you, Tito" chants.
Now that’s what I call a finish.