Welcome to the Oracle Arena in beautiful Oakland, California for what should be an incredible afternoon/evening of fights. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has stuffed UFC 117 full of big names and terrific match-ups.
All of the focus has been on the main event between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen for the Middleweight Championship, but this card is far from a one-trick pony.
Look at just the under card and you'll see names like Stefan Struve, Phil Davis, Dustin Hazelett, and others.
Meanwhile, Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson, Matt Hughes, Clay Guida, Jon Fitch, and Thiago Alves join the headliners on the main card.
Strap yourself in because there are some serious hostilities going into several of these bouts.
OK, no time for pleasantries since the Internet crapped out right as the fighters were making their entrance and is still very sluggish. Anyway, I can report that Saunders entered to Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" with the bass on some excellent steroids.
Saunders and Hallman waste no time, engaging in a clinch almost immediately. The clinch bears no immediate fruit, but Hallman eventually scores the takedown and begins to work for position.
"Killa B" Saunders does a good job of neutralizing "Superman's" efforts and isn't taking too much damage despite being on the bottom. Some ground 'n' pound is minimally productive as the crowd begins to boo and chant for a restart.
However, the referee (who I don't recognize) is wisely allowing Hallman to ride out the position as he's staying active looking for submission openings. A couple of fists from above make it through, much to the crowd's delight.
Saunders tries some offense from the ground, but he's getting dominated and eats substantial punishment as the first round ends.
Easy 10-9 to Hallman.
"Killa B" better get active because he definitely lost the opening round. Seems like he's up for the challenge as he comes out blasting away and finds landings for most of them. As long as he can keep his feet, he looks good.
As I type that, Hallman turns a body lock into a takedown and resumes his top position.
Once on the ground, Saunders looks pretty overwhelmed by "Superman." He's putting up a good defense, but the plan seems to be to stagnate in hopes of a restart and the unknown ref isn't having it.
Hallman works to pass and gets caught momentarily as Saunders slaps on a decent armbar attempt, but "Superman" jolts out of it and delivers a stinging right to "Killa B's" face. He takes side control and slams a couple hammerfists home for some extra points.
A promising round is going south quickly for The Ultimate Fighter alumnus. He's still on his back looking relatively helpless as the seconds tick off Round Two.
Elbows and shots to the quadriceps tenderize Saunders as the crowd grows restless. The horn ends another 10-9 for Hallman.
Saunders is gonna need a stoppage to take this bad boy and he opens the round going for broke. Strike after strike lands, including a nice high kick, but "Superman" is living up to his name as he looks to be made of steel.
Apologies, but "Killa B" might really need some kryptonite if he wants a victory.
The aggression seems to have bled out as Hallman grabs his adversary in the clinch and brings an end to the momentary carnage. After a few seconds of absolutely nothing against the cage, the ref breaks it up and puts them in the middle.
This plays to Saunders advantage as he continues to pick Hallman apart on the feet. Straight rights, front kicks, and hooks are landing at will as the crowd comes to its feet.
Unfortunately for Ben, he gets lazy and opens the door for the takedown; "Superman" happily walks through it and eventually takes his familiar side control.
With less than 30 seconds left, the fight's gone out of Saunders for the most part as he contents himself with scoring a few token points.
That one goes 10-9 for "Killa B" in my book, but it won't be enough.
Dennis Hallman defeats Ben Saunders by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Not a bad ice-breaker for the evening, but "Killa B" has to be disappointed with that performance. He was terrorizing Hallman whenever the contest stayed standing, but Saunders simply couldn't keep it there.
"Superman" drops an "all glory to the God of Abraham" on the Bay Area crowd, but doesn't find many takers. He then very eloquently apologizes to the UFC for comments he made on MMA Live.
Pretty impressive considering...
Don't know much about Morecraft—from what I can tell, he's making his UFC debut. He enters to something called "Balls to the Wall" by Accept, which sounds suspiciously like AC/DC.
For his part, "The Skyscraper" enters to Linkin Park's "Faint." I dig that song and it fits perfectly for Struve. I wouldn't turn my back on that dude, decimations by Nelson and dos Santos notwithstanding.
Herb Dean's in the house.
The warriors touch gloves and Morecraft comes out pushing the action, but wary of Struve's tremendous reach. The newcomer scores a beautiful trip takedown after clinching up with his taller opponents.
Once on the ground Morecraft begins an impressive spate of movement and ground 'n' pound without losing control of the Dutchman.
Oops, Christian leaves himself open and Struve slaps on a very tight leg-triangle with a loose armbar. He uses the sub attempt to reverse positions, but he can't hold it.
Morecraft recovers top position and powders "The Skyscraper" with a couple heavy bombs. Struve attempts another leg triangle, but this one isn't as troublesome.
Struve is eating some big shots and he seems to be bleeding over the corner of his right eye. A big right from above clips him on the chin, but he's still awake.
This isn't going well for "The Skyscraper" as Morecraft hops into full mount and dishes out some more punishment. Struve tries to buck him off and uses the slight opening to attempt a leg lock.
Morecraft shakes out of it and ends up with a guillotine choke that brings the scrap to the feet, momentarily. It goes back down for a few more shots by Morecraft as the bell ends a 10-9 round for him.
Amazing first round in the organization against a pretty tough opponent for Christian Morecraft.
The second round opens with the gladiators going toe-to-tow and, after trading shots for a couple seconds, "The Skyscraper" topples Morecraft with left-right-left combo straight to the mug.
Once on the ground, the Dutchman finishes the issue with some more ugly shots to a bewildered Morecraft.
Stefan Struve defeats Christian Morecraft by TKO (punches) at 0:22 of the second (Knockout of the Night).
Pretty tough to understand "The Skyscraper" between the accent and a swelling, bloody lip.
But I believe he said something about the comeback not being a surprise because the fans have seen it from him before tonight. Either way, incredible 180 by Struve.
Fans will remember "The Barbarian" Boetsch for his slam/punch TKO of David Heath in his UFC debut. As for Brown, who is the second debutee of the evening, I can't tell you anything about him except he entered to Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane"—the real song, no remix.
I dug it.
Boetsch enters to the theme from Conan the Barbarian.
Since we're in Cali, I'd love to tell you that's a nod to the Governator, but—alas—it's not.
The mystery ref is Marcos Rosales.
The big fellas meet in the center and waste little time in starting the fireworks, although the opening salvo doesn't amount to much nor last too long. They trade glancing blows before Boetsch gets the clinch and pushes Brown up against the cage.
Hey, let's hear it for the foot stomp, which makes its first appearance of the night.
Some knees get exchanged before "The Barbarian" registers a nice trip and falls into top position. A couple right hooks to the body soften up Brown, but he doesn't seem too concerned as he springs to his feet in very little space.
Boetsch lands a knee right in front of us that staggers Brown momentarily and he absorbs a couple more dings before re-establishing equilibrium.
As the action calms, the crowd takes to amusing itself with high-pitched "bows" from various parts of the arena. I have no idea what that's about. The ref apparently has had enough and he breaks the fighters up.
Boetsch scores a few more points before the horn ends a 10-9 round in his favor.
So far, the Oracle audience is more enthused about its own gimmicks and the Octagon girls (rightly so) than about the two men currently butting heads.
The second round opens with a whole lotta nothing, about 90 seconds pass before they do anything but clinch against the fence.
Front kick lands gently from "The Barbarian" and a hook is blocked from Brown—that's the highlight so far. Low kick goes wanting from the UFC newcomer and the vapors of a lunging knee from Boetsch do nothing.
Boos trickle in from around the auditorium and they're only getting louder as the duo can't get much of a rhythm going.
Big high kick lands from Brown, or maybe it just looked big compared to the nathan we've gotten thus far. Another kick, this one low, hits the mark. Then he tries an inside high kick, which I've never seen before in a professional fight.
Tough round to score—really, neither man should get it—but I'll give it to Brown, 10-9.
If my scorecard is accurate, this stanza should be the decisive one.
Of course, somebody should tell "The Barbarian" and Brown because they're not exactly tussling like a victory in the UFC is on the line. Right now, Dana White has to be cursing Lady Luck for striking down Thiago Silva (who was supposed to face Boetsch).
FINALLY, we've got a flurry of movement as Boetsch drives across the cage and tackles Brown. He settles into top position and quickly works for a choke, which he gets. He's in no position to finish the submission so he lets it go and searches for another opening.
The reprieve gives Brown a chance to retake his feet and he does—the crowd boos. You don't often hear a UFC crowd unhappy with striking compared to grappling, but it makes perfect sense here.
There are about 40 seconds left and they can't elapse fast enough. Another big takedown for "The Barbarian" should seal the deal. The round ends with a few token punches from Boetsch, who should take the round, 10-9.
I'd say that's a unanimous decision for the comparable veteran...and it is.
Tim Boetsch defeats Todd Brown by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Ugh, that was the first yawner of the night, but they can't all be burners.
We've got about 10 minutes until the next pairing.
"The Spaniard" Brenneman enters to the Offspring's "Bad Habit"—that's a good tune I haven't heard in a while. Just to establish a stark dichotomy, Hendricks approaches the cage to a pretty good country ditty.
Can't place it, but not objectionable at all.
Johny's putting his undefeated run on the line; he's got a chance to move to 9-0 with a win.
Josh Rosenthal makes his first appearance in the Octagon.
Hendricks and Brenneman get off to a quick start befitting their agile weight class, but the action slows as the undefeated fighter snatches a pretty good choke on "The Spaniard," giving the latter serious pause.
Hendricks looks like he's laughing as he wrangles his opponent to the ground, or at least attempts to do so. It took about two minutes, but Brenneman finally escapes.
The gladiators separate and Brenneman starts teeing off as the gap narrows. Hendricks is now retreating while munching on some nice strikes from his antagonist. "The Spaniard" shoots for a takedown and brings the matter to the ground.
Once there, Hendrick works for a kimura in more of a defensive gesture while Brenneman doesn't do much of anything except try to maintain, which the crowd does NOT appreciate.
Hey folks, Oakland crowds can get a tad unruly when their dander is up so it's a good idea to keep them happy.
We get a little space as the contest returns to its feet, but Hendricks quickly steps back in and presses "The Spaniard" against the cage before falling to the ground with Brenneman on top.
Tough to score since the first 120 seconds were ugly, but I'll give it to Brenneman, 10-9.
Second round starts a bit slower, but Brenneman is looking like the more active of the two yet again.
Granted, that's not always a good thing.
He gets a bit reckless, catches a left with the side of his head, and gets wobbled. Hendricks dives right in and starts bashing "The Spaniard" with everything he's got.
Brenneman's in serious trouble as his wits aren't about him; he's still throwing, but another big left to the chin drops him where he stands.
Rosenthal saves him from more damage.
Johny Hendricks defeats Charlie Brenneman by TKO (punches) at 0:40 of the second.
Second nice stoppage from a fighter who lost the first round (on my card). Maybe comebacks will be the order of the day/night.
OK, fight fans, here's the first biggie of the night.
"Mr. Wonderful" Davis is one of those supremely talented and athletic former NCAA champion wrestlers. BIG things are expected from the 25-year-old as he's opened his UFC career with two straight wins.
"Sho 'nuff the Master" Wallace hasn't been as successful and was actually slated to take on Stanislav Nedkov until the latter sustained an injury. Now, he's gotta face one of the bright up-and-comers in the sport.
Both enter to nondescript rap—both sounded a bit like Eminem, but Davis' song might've been a chick (don't tell Em's posse I said that).
Dean's back inside.
Wow, both of these dudes are shredded up—that's a whole bunch of lean muscle touching gloves in the center of the cage.
Honestly, "Mr. Wonderful" might not have an ounce of fat on him. He's got muscles that don't show up on most humans.
Flashy high kick gets a big rise out of the crowd, but Wallace seems to be no worse for the wear. He clinches up with Davis and tries for the takedown, but Davis fights it off and secures a tackle of his own.
This isn't where "Sho 'nuff" wants to be, with Davis on top and finding success passing Wallace's guard.
"Mr. Wonderful" gets one leg free, but Wallace has pretty tight control of the other. Nevertheless, Davis is coming dangerously close to having Wallace in very dire straits.
He's isolating Wallace's arm for a kimura and raining gnarly-looking elbows onto his opponent's grill whenever the opening presents itself. Wallace fights through and manages to get the bout back to standing, but only momentarily.
Davis gets another takedown and passes into full mount with little trouble.
More elbows as Davis now looks to be positioning for a side choke, but loses the spot. A knee to the body scores one more point in a 10-9 round for "Mr. Wonderful."
The second five minutes are off to a slower start with "Mr. Wonderful" walking his adversary down and landing another high kick. Wallace fires back with a bomb that seems to teeter Davis ever so slightly before the favored entrant splashes "Sho 'nuff the Master" to the ground.
From the top, Davis slides into side control and sets to work looking for submission attempts. Wallace is getting dominated on the scorecards, but he's doing a decent job inside the Octagon against a savage antagonist.
More elbows from "Mr. Wonderful" as Round Two is following a familiar pattern from the first. Davis sets to work isolating the arm again for a kimura attempt and would be in sincere business if he could free his left leg.
He does and moves to north-south position. As he's stepping over Wallace's head, the hold slips and it looks like "Sho 'nuff" might see the final five minutes.
Oof, as I type that, "Mr. Wonderful" leaps into full mount and snipes away as the horn ends another 10-9 round in his favor.
I'm not sure what this says about the two fighters, but the third round opens exactly like the first two—Davis walking Wallace down before landing a high kick and a few extra shots.
This time, however, there's no clinch as "Mr. Wonderful" appears to feel like trading leather. A flying right knee sends "Sho 'nuff the Master" thudding into the cage where the pair hug and Davis quickly takes a single leg.
He drags Wallace to the ground and—here we go again—he begins isolating an arm for the kimura. Nothing much ensues and the two men retake their feet.
That didn't last long—"Mr. Wonderful" snakes another trip and he's back in full mount, working on the right arm for a kimura. Wallace is doing just enough to avoid the stoppage, which is impressive in itself.
The crowd isn't happy as the third round ends, but it was a thorough rear-kicking from Phil Davis.
Phil Davis defeats Rodney Wallace by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).
The crowd was disappointed because they didn't get the knockout or submission, but Davis was obviously the superior fighter. Additionally, as Joe Rogan pointed out, "Mr. Wonderful" showed an increasing array of mixed martial art skills.
This is still a man to watch moving forward.
Alright, they're coming fast and furious now that we're closing in on the main card.
"The Horror" Story is coming off three wins, but he's in for a tough challenge when he steps into the cage with "McLovin." The underdog walks up first to some face-melting metal. Don't know what it was, but the drummer was killing it.
Hazelett is one of those guys who breaks the mold of your stereotypical fighter—dude seems like he's out there. He makes a solid choice with Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold."
Great song, highly appropriate for a grappling specialist like "McLovin."
Rosenthal gets the ticket.
Story comes in with a straight left literally nanoseconds after touching Hazelett's glove with his right. I'm not a fighter, but that didn't seem totally cool.
"McLovin" hops into a standing guillotine attempt, but "The Horror" wastes little time in chucking the gangling brawler off. Hazelett throws up an armbar attempt, which Story smashes his way out of and resumes the attack.
After thinking better of the idea, Story invites Hazelett back to his feet and then promptly tackles him back to the canvas. He's momentarily got "McLovin" in a mounted crucifix, but Hazelett escapes.
This isn't going well for "McLovin" by any means—he's been on the desperation defensive since touching gloves.
Story authors yet another crushing takedown and lies in Hazelett's half-guard before trying to take full mount. Right hands to the body and face tally some points as do a few left elbows.
"The Horror" Story lets Hazelett back to his feet and this time "McLovin" shoots for a double-leg, but is turned away by Story. After a little light work, Story comes straight ahead, teeing off on a cowering Hazelett.
The horn ends an easy 10-9 for Story.
The second stanza is a repeat of the first—"The Horror" comes out with super-aggression and is battering his adversary. Hazelett is covering up and not offering much in the way of resistance.
Story lands a couple crippling shots, including several devastating body shots, and "McLovin" drops to the ground in a pseudo-shot. There, he absorbs some additional insult to go with his injury.
Rosenthal's seen enough and waves it off.
Rick Story defeats Dustin Hazelett by TKO (punches) at 1:15 of the second.
Wow, quite a performance from "The Horror."
That has to be considered an upset—Hazelett's only other recent losses came to Paul Daley and Josh Koscheck, which are names that send considerable shivers down most welterweight spines.
Outside of the main event, this is possibly the most highly anticipated bout on the entire UFC 117 card.
"Cigano" is coming off five tremendous knockouts in his last six contests while Nelson has done nothing but prove his skeptics wrong since joining the UFC. It's a clash of styles as dos Santos is chiseled while Nelson is not.
A role he relishes as he enters the Octagon to Weird Al Yankovic's "Fat."
"Cigano" opts for his customary Rocky Theme music. I'm not a fan, but it definitely works for him.
First stanza opens with the big fellas touching gloves and then Nelson walking his taller adversary down. That's about 500 pounds worth of beef pressed up against the cage as "Big Country" uses the clinch to no avail.
Big shot lands from dos Santos and it has Nelson on Queer Street. Enormous bombs are finding "Big Country's" noggin from all angles—I'm talking straights, uppercuts, hooks, and I even think I saw the kitchen sink.
Still, Nelson's conscious and throwing back.
More brutal shots from the Brazilian and, yet, Nelson's still there. A big fist crumples Nelson momentarily, but he's not going anywhere. The round ends with "Big Country" showing some life, but it's still a 10-8 for dos Santos.
Second starts much like the first—Nelson is proving to be game, but dos Santos is simply picking him apart on the feet and Nelson can't get the fight to the ground.
"Big Country's" looking a bit desperate as he lunges with somewhat wild haymakers, but the reckless approach hasn't cost him to date. He is absorbing one hell of a beating from a notorious knockout artist, though.
The American comes charging across and almost scores the takedown, but dos Santos shows good balance in defense. A "USA" chant starts up as Nelson continues to battle.
Frankly, I don't think anyone expected Nelson (or anyone for that matter) to stand up under this kind of abuse. A series of hooks are finished with a nice uppercut, but still "Big Country" hangs in the pocket.
He's even winging 'em back when he can. Roy might be spent from the effort and carnage, but he's not backing down. I'd say that's a 10-9 for "Cigano.
You might not like Roy Nelson, you might be repulsed by his belly, but the man can flat out bang. He's also proving to have an absurd chin; maybe there's a second one underneath that beard.
"Cigano" looks like the fresher of the two fighters (shocker), but Nelson seems intent on going the full 15 against the younger beast.
Short elbow sends Nelson to the cage, but he bounces back and eats a few more shots before dos Santos scores a takedown. He was only after the points, though, as he doesn't pursue the matter on the ground.
The two behemoths trade left hooks and "Big Country" narrowly misses with a couple of nice overhand rights. The jabs and uppercuts are finding their mark on the American, but Big Roy must be taking just enough snap out of 'em to prevent the coup de grace.
Knee from dos Santos lands as "Big Country" is on pure fumes here. He's got about 50 seconds left and he might just survive as a brief flurry gets him out of danger.
"Cigano" goes to work on "Big Country's" belly, but I'm not sure there's too much hay to make there. Nelson slugs it out to the bitter end and the two men embrace as the arena showers them with much-deserved adoration.
Junior dos Santos defeats Roy Nelson by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).
Two things we learned?
First, Junior dos Santos might just be the guy who takes the 265-pound belt from Brock Lesnar. He showed wonderful defense against a pretty accomplished ground-fighter and the striking was crisp as usual.
Second, Roy Nelson is one hell of a tough man.
I think he just earned himself more fans in defeat than he did in his previous two knockouts of Brendan Schaub and Stefan Struve.
Awesome fight, early leader for Fight of the Night.
I'm not a strong supporter of Hughes, but it's always special when you get a chance to see a legit Hall-of-Famer ply his trade. And he's absolutely that.
"Big Dog" enters to Social Distortion's "Ball and Chain," which is an amazing song under normal circumstances. I'm not sure I get the connection here.
Hughes makes his approach to something country, which I like very much and don't recognize. I'll try to track it down.
Crowd is openly hostile toward Almeida, which isn't a surprise considering he's facing (A) an American, (B) a former champ, and (C) a living legend.
Rosenthal gets the honors.
They touch gloves at Hughes' invitation and then the dancing begins. Both men look light on their feet with "Big Dog" being the substantially larger participant. The feeling out process continues as Hughes tries for a low kick while Almeida opts for the high variety.
Neither draws much contact.
The Hall-of-Famer seems to be having a little trouble dealing with the Brazilian's range while trying to set up his patented takedown. So far, "Big Dog" is keeping him at bay with his size and speed.
Hughes almost clinches up, but the Brazilian slips out. As the distance opens, Hughes catches him with a HUGE left hook to the jaw that sends "Big Dog" fading back toward the canvas.
The welterweight legend pounces and sinks in what looks like a deep inverted arm triangle that puts the Brazilian to sleep. The outstanding finish delights the crowd.
Matt Hughes defeats Ricardo Almeida by technical submission (modified anaconda choke) at 3:15 of the first (Co-Submission of the Night).
This is Matt's first win as a Hall-of-Famer and he acknowledges that he felt a little extra pressure considering the circumstances. He also tells his kids he'll see them tomorrow.
Do you think they were watching?
Seems like a dicey proposition—nobody wants to see his/her dad get busted up...not that it matters given the outcome.
I'm a little unclear as to how Guida vs. dos Anjos gets such premium placement above Hughes vs. Almeida and dos Santos vs. Nelson, but there you go.
The Brazilian enters first to something unidentifiable and not very good.
Thankfully, "The Carpenter" saves the day by stalking the cage to Metallica's "The Frayed Ends of Sanity."
I just became a Clay Guida fan; that's one of my favorite songs of all time and it suits that nutjob to a tee—yesterday at the weigh-ins, he was bouncing around like he'd been doing rails backstage.
I wonder what it feels like to have that much energy.
In yet another installment of Brazil against the United States, it goes without saying that "The Carpenter" is the Oakland crowd's darling.
Dean shares center stage.
The balls of energy come out of their corners and Guida waves off dos Anjos' invitation to touch gloves.
Right away, the fists and feet start flying—as does "The Carpenter's" trademark locks. The American looks to be getting the better of the early striking, but the Brazilian is landing as well.
Guida is able to momentarily stuff a takedown attempt from dos Anjos and reverses the attempt to put the Brazilian's back against the fence. With the crowd urging him on, he tries to finish the takedown dos Anjos started.
And "The Carpenter" is having about the same amount of success.
The bipolar arena switches from chants to boos in a matter of seconds, and now they're back cheering the action. Kick from the Brazilian is blocked, but a sizable fist lands and slightly stuns Guida.
High kick from dos Anjos sneaks through, but not with full force. Another low kick gets checked, but an uppercut follows and gets flesh. The Brazilian uses the momentum to score a takedown, but the American gets back to his feet with little trouble.
The horn kills a tough round to score, call it 10-9 for dos Anjos.
The second starts with the same frenetic pace and some more creative striking from both warriors catches nothing but air. The crowd erupts in a full-throated "Let's go, Guida" chant, but it's far too enthusiastic to last very long.
Sure enough, it's a memory as dos Anjos presses his adversary up against the cage and looks in vain for a takedown.
The two athletes are back dancing in the middle of the cage, but there's less engagement so far. They're both bobbing in and out so much that it's tough to tell who is staying away from whom, but there's a lot more space separating them in the second round.
"The Carpenter" puts an end to that nonsense by driving forward and completing the much needed takedown. With the fight on the ground, Guida proceeds to struggle for position. He's angling for full mount, but dos Anjos is able to keep Guida's right leg trapped.
The Brazilian recovers to full guard as the round ends. Call that one 10-9 for Guida.
Each competitor has a round by my count so this one's for all the marbles.
In the final round, there's no doubt about who is the predator and who is the prey—"The Carpenter" presses forward while dos Anjos retreats at angles and looks for an opening. He doesn't find one and Guida gets close enough to score a crucial takedown right at the base of the cage.
It's gonna be tough for the Brazilian to extricate himself as Guida wriggles into position for a submission attempt. Our view is a little obscured and the camera angle isn't great, so it's tough to see exactly what happened.
I can report however that "The Carpenter" used some kind of choke (wrong) and forced dos Anjos to tap.
Clay Guida defeats Rafael dos Anjos by submission (injury) at 1:51 of the third.
Apparently, Guida broke dos Anjos' jaw in the first round and that was what caused the submission i.e. "The Carpenter" was driving his shoulder into a bone that ended in fragments.
Yep, that would do it.
Incidentally, Clay Guida sounds just as amped up and hyper in his POST-fight interview with Joe Rogan. My man might have Red Bull pumping through his veins rather than blood.
Frayed ends indeed.
The victor of this rematch was supposed to get a title shot at the winner of Georges St-Pierre's scheduled clash with Josh Koscheck, but that was before "The Pitbull" missed weight.
So that makes two blown weights for Alves and one positive test for diuretics. Me thinks he has a problem cutting; he enters to boilerplate rap.
Fitch opts for Johnny Cash's "Rusty Cage," which is one of the better intro songs I've never considered for the part.
Man, I'm re-reading this opening and Alves certainly starts from behind in terms of public favor. That's before you consider he's playing the role of the Brazilian villain to Fitch's American hero.
Dean's back in the cage.
Fitch and Alves touch gloves before re-familiarizing themselves with each other. The American looks about half as thick as his Brazilian adversary, but he has no trouble notching a takedown and quickly moving to "The Pitbull's" back.
That reminds me, we haven't had a rear-naked choke in a while.
Fitch, whose only loss in about 20 fights was to GSP, seems to want to change that, but Alves isn't cooperating so the crowd favorite lets it go. The action returns to the standing position before Fitch adds another takedown to the score sheet.
"The Pitbull" is able to turn the tide and ends up on top, but can't do anything from there so he relents and we're back on the feet.
Straight left and some knees make a little dent in the Brazilian's facade, but nothing wobbles. Fitch leads with a left and shoots behind it, but Alves defends and now they're clinched against the cage.
The American powers off the fence and registers yet another takedown via a pretty trip. The horn brings a 10-9 round for Fitch to its end.
We're off into the second five-minute stanza and the warriors are a little more reluctant to resume intimacies. Fitch is the first to get over the shyness and comes powering through for a takedown.
He gets it, but probably because "The Pitbull" has a decent guillotine locked on the American. Fitch is far too accomplished to be perturbed by "decent" and he's soon out of the nominal danger.
Now, he's in the Brazilian's full guard and working to better his location. Alves tries to take advantage and get to his feet, but Fitch catches him about halfway there and brings him back down.
The American mixes in some modest ground 'n' pound and latches on to a single-leg to drag the Brazilian back to the mat. The crowd suddenly realizes its watching an exemplary wrestler do his thing so the boos rain down.
The horn ends another 10-9 round for Fitch.
The Oakland audience doesn't like it, but Fitch's game plan is working like a charm. He's up two rounds to none if I'm right and Alves needs a stoppage to emerge with the W.
Of course, the American hasn't been stopped since 2003 so...
High kick lands on Fitch's face, but it didn't have too much oomph behind it. The American still didn't like the sensation so he closes the distance and goes for the takedown.
"The Pitbull" shirks him off and tries to re-establish the striking distance, but he can't. Fitch clinches and suddenly seems glued to his antagonist's back—the crowd boos.
This is going decidedly poorly for the Brazilian.
Fitch secures a takedown and soon has full mount. Alves bucks and Fitch takes his back. He's sunk both hooks in now and almost has a body triangle. He closes the triangle and is trying to sink in the rear-naked-choke.
"The Pitbull" somehow frees himself from all that mess enough to turn into the American's full guard.
They're gonna finish on their feet with Alves landing a few shots. It won't be enough, I'd give that round to Fitch as well (10-9), but it's academic.
Jon Fitch defeats Thiago Alves by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
At the behest of Fitch, the crowd puts on a happy face and cheers the winner. I guess we know all we need to know about Fitch because he gets no post-fight interview.
As we wait for the main event, I should mention that Randy Couture and James Toney are cage-side.
And MC Hammer (no, really, he's still alive) passed by the media row about 15 minutes ago. My guess is you can now touch that.
Time to see if all the hype was worth it.
I can't tell you how sick I am of that "he's fantastic, I'm the best" sound byte from Sonnen. I don't even particularly care whether it's accurate or not; I've just heard it WAY too many times.
Sonnen enters to "Too Much Fun" by Daryle Singletary. It's a quality tune; part of the "good country" selection at your local music retailer.
The arena goes dark and then explodes as the first strains of Silva's staple entrance music unfurls from the PA. DMX's "Ain't No Sunshine" is so loud and the bass so thick that my heart seems redundant at the moment.
The entire auditorium (outside of media row) is standing in anticipation for a title fight that's been layered in several helpings of grudge.
Other than Fedor Emelianenko's scrap with Fabricio Werdum, this is the most keyed up I've ever seen/heard tens of thousands of fight fans.
Rosenthal is the man for this one.
As Bruce Buffer is fond of reminding us, "It's tiiiiiiiiime!"
Lots of boos for Sonnen, but there are some cheers. The reciprocal is true for the Brazilian.
Pretty intense stare down—Silva’s not looking away this time. He does bow, though, so I guess that’s something.
Silva comes out striking as the crowd erupts into a chant of “Silva, Silva.”
“The Spider” looks eminently untroubled until Sonnen catches him with a big shot and sends Silva wobbling backwards into the fence. Sonnen’s clearly taken some confidence from the exchange and Anderson looks a little unsettled.
More shots are landing from the American as Silva shows no respect for Sonnen’s striking, standing with his hands at his sides and taking blasts to the grill. Sonnen’s taken the fight to the ground and has the champion squashed up against the cage.
Silva’s demeanor is still calm, but this is the worst trouble he’s been in since coming to the UFC.
Sonnen's taken the Brazilian’s back and he’s trying to sink in a rear naked choke while administering a little abuse.
Silva fans aren’t gonna like it, but Chael is doing precisely what he promised he would do—he’s on top of the Brazilian and trying to bash a hole in his head. “The Spider” is in a dominated position as he absorbs rights and then lefts on his back from a standing Sonnen.
He’s got the challenger back in his full guard and it looks like he’ll make it to the horn. But that’s the definition of a silver lining as Sonnen utterly controls the round. Maybe even a 10-8.
"The Spider" takes a deep breath before coming out of his corner. If he didn't believe he was in for a real fight, he believes it now.
The crowd breaks into the "USA, USA" chant as the fight goes to the ground with Sonnen on top and using palm strikes to the side of Silva's head to score some extra points.
The American is letting it all hang out as he uses shoulder strikes to bounce the Brazilian's head off the canvas. Chael postures up to create some space and narrowly misses with a big hammerfist.
That one might've missed, but plenty of semi-bombs are sneaking through while Anderson hasn't been able to do much of anything in the way of offense.
Sonnen unwisely postures back up and leaves his right arm trapped in Silva's web, but the champion seems to be only stalling. A few elbows to Silva's thigh lulls him to sleep and Sonnen blisters a right hand to Silva's head.
They've moved against the cage and the Brazilian is trying to use it to stand up. He abandons the attempt as he catches a perilous kimura, then transitions for a possible leg lock, and the horn ends the action.
A 10-9 round for Sonnen.
Sonnen comes streaking across the Octagon and gets caught with a naughty hook from the champ. That gives him pause and "The Spider" lands a spinning back kick.
Having had his fill of the striking for now, Sonnen chases his prey down and brings the affair back to the mat. The American takes Silva's back and pummels the Brazilian's leg with a few short knees before concentrating on his head.
"The Spider" rolls over and now Sonnen's in his full guard as the crowd gets behind the American. Little nagging half-punches pester Silva's face as the Brazilian searches for an answer to Chael's excellent ground game.
The furious action has cooled a little as we head toward the championship rounds with Chael still in dominant control.
They've been at it for almost 15 minutes now and the American has the clear upper hand. But he's gotta maintain it for 10 more minutes. Another 10-9 for Sonnen.
Sonnen keeps running across the Octagon to open these rounds and it just might've cost him. He barged right into a big left hook and then got wobbled by another big bomb while he was taking stock of a brutal kick to the body.
For a couple pulse-racing seconds, "The Spider" had the kill shot within his grasp, but the blitzkrieg didn't finish the job and the American seems to have recovered.
At least enough to find himself back in the top position and landing shots to the side of Silva's head. Sonnen tries to re-establish control of the round from the Brazilian's guard and appears to be doing just that.
Rights to the body and head of Silva hit their mark as the champ seems seriously outclassed on the ground. A heel kick from Anderson reverberates, but it seemed to hit mostly canvas.
I hate to say it, but Anderson Silva looks gassed as the round ends (his first 10-9 winner). On the other hand, Sonnen is battered and bloodied from that opening exchange. He's got a vicious gash over his left eye.
If my card is right, Sonnen's got at least three rounds so Anderson's gonna need a stoppage or a masterful five minutes to take this baby.
It doesn't get off to that kind of start as Sonnen topples him with a heavy hand and we're back on the ground where the American has done nothing but obliterate the champ.
He continues the refrain by momentarily pivoting into side control before Silva can recover and sneak him back to full guard.
The American doesn't appear to be doing a ton of damage with his strikes, but he's effectively scoring points and winning this fight. Unless Anderson Silva can pull a dramatic reversal in the next 100 seconds, we're going to have a new middleweight champion.
Hold the phone—that's exactly what we've got!!!!!
"The Spider" slaps on a snug triangle choke and Sonnen thrashes around before tapping ever so slightly.
Then, all hell breaks loose.
Something comes flying into the cage from the opposite side of the arena while referee Josh Rosenthal tries to separate the fighters. Meanwhile, "The Spider" won't let go of the choke because Chael tries to pretend he didn't tap.
Calm is restored as the arena sees the obvious tap on the replay.
What an amazing finish.
Anderson Silva defeats Chael Sonnen by submission (triangle choke) at 3:10 of the fifth (Fight of the Night and Co-Submission of the Night).
It took about 23 minutes and a terrible scare, but it sounds like we've got the real Anderson Silva back.
He thanks the crowd and Chael Sonnen for a great fight before revealing that doctors requested that he not enter the cage due to a pre-fight injury. Don't know if that was an excuse, but the dude won so you've gotta believe it's sincere.
Sonnen isn't exactly contrite in defeat, but the guy put on one hell of a show. He certainly beat my expectations and I think it's safe to say a lot of other people's as well.