UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on October 22, 2006, 7:00 PM
UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie
Los Angeles, California
-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg, Joe Rogan and Randy Couture. Not much talk here as the DVD immediately sends us into the first fight, but yeah, this was probably the UFC’s biggest PPV to date (and it showed in breaking the buyrate records at the time) as they were playing host to the biggest venue they’d ever done in the Staples Center, as well as bringing legend Royce Gracie back for the main event.
Announcers immediately point out how huge Guillard is for a 155lbs fighter, and rightfully so – he’s about the biggest of any of the UFC’s Lightweights, I’d say. Nobody seems to know all that much about Davis, who apparently trains with the Las Vegas Combat Club. He was 3-0-1 here though with a win over Charles Bennett, and apparently has an “unorthodox style” ala Shonie Carter. Not to mention possibly the worst nickname in the history of the UFC in ‘The Flying Squirrel’.
They begin and Guillard shows some quick hands early, firing combos at Davis before landing a low kick as he steps in. Davis tries a weird front kick, but misses and Melvin comes in with a plum clinch and some knees, then follows with a clipping right hand. Davis backs up and takes a leaping left hook to the body, as it looks clear that it’s only a matter of time before he gets caught with something nasty. He dodges some more punches, but then catches a right hand that knocks him off balance into the fence. Melvin closes in with some more knees, but Davis manages to get back out. Davis comes forward again, but Guillard suddenly nails him with a HUGE OVERHAND RIGHT and turns his lights clean out in one punch. Jesus Christ was that a hard shot.
Wow. Frightening punching power from Guillard there and arguably the knockout of the year, too. Davis was literally knocked into next week there. Pretty much an exhibition for Guillard as it was painfully clear very early on that Davis was out of his league, but there’s nothing wrong with building a fighter up, especially a young, marketable guy like Melvin. Personally I’m not a huge fan of his brash attitude, but there’s no denying that he’s exciting as hell to watch, and he’s definitely got big potential if he can continue to iron out the weaknesses in his game.
This was Gonzaga’s first fight back in the UFC after his terrible debut against Kevin Jordan (albeit a winning one), but after the news came out about his personal tragedy leading into that fight I think a lot of fans were willing to forget it and move on. His opponent here, fellow BJJ black belt Scherner, was coming off a knockout loss to Brandon Vera at the second Ultimate Fight Night show.
Gonzaga lands a kick to Scherner’s cup almost immediately as they get underway, but Scherner’s fine and they continue. They exchange punches briefly, before Gonzaga gets a takedown and gets Scherner’s back briefly. Scherner quickly rolls into guard, but Gonzaga decides to stand instead, and they exchange again before Gonzaga gets another takedown. Scherner reverses over and gets on top, where he works for position, but Gonzaga quickly uses a guillotine attempt to stand up. Scherner comes in swinging, and lands some nice knees to the body, but Gonzaga catches the leg and gets another takedown to guard. Gonzaga decides to stand once more, before dropping a decent punch into the guard. Gonzaga looks to work the ground-and-pound, but Scherner kicks him away, landing a nice one to the face, and then shoots in with a takedown attempt of his own. Gonzaga blocks with a sprawl into a front facelock, so Scherner drops to his back, but Gonzaga is having none of it and stands back. The crowd boo, and referee Steve Mazagatti stands Scherner back up.
Gonzaga comes forward with some punches and follows with a nice body kick, so Scherner goes for the takedown and gets it, only for Gonzaga to reverse and take his back. Scherner spins through to half-guard again, and then quickly gets the full guard, so Gonzaga stands right back up again. Back to their feet, then, and Scherner comes forward swinging, but Gonzaga avoids and lands a left high kick, then a knee to the body. Scherner drops to guard, but Gonzaga passes into half-guard and works him over with some short punches and elbows, marking Scherner’s face up pretty bad as the round comes to an end. Problems occur between rounds, when Scherner complains of vision problems to the doctor, but his corner try to make it known that he still wants to fight. Couture is disgusted with this to say the least, yelling that if you’ve got double vision but you want to fight, surely the last guy you’re going to tell is the doctor? Finally they decide Scherner can continue.
Scherner comes forward looking alright I guess, but they break out of a brief clinch and he narrowly avoids a high kick from Gonzaga. Gabriel follows with a stiff jab though, and Scherner wobbles back, so Gonzaga closes in with a body kick and a right hand, and the official stops things there, just as Scherner appears to be shooting for a takedown. Crowd boo viciously, but I think it was more to do with the anti-climactic finish, as they do pop when Gonzaga is announced as the winner. Gonzaga looked pretty impressive here I thought, showing some nice stand-up in places and the ground work was decent in the first round too, but to be fair they probably should’ve stopped it between rounds if it was that clear than Scherner was having difficulty seeing, if only for his safety.
Fisher’s original opponent here was slated to be Leonard ‘Bad Boy’ Garcia, but he broke his arm in training so ‘Handsome’ Matt Wiman – he of the FOTYC with Roger Huerta on FFC XV – took the fight on short notice, exciting me greatly after I saw his war with Huerta not long before this show. Fisher himself was coming off a short-notice loss to Sam Stout at UFC 58, and many people thought that by pairing him with the inexperienced Garcia, and then with the equally inexperienced Wiman, Zuffa were basically throwing him somewhat of a bone here.
They clinch up quickly with Wiman seemingly looking to avoid the stand-up, and Fisher immediately works some knees to the midsection. He lands some nice ones as they muscle for position along the fence, but Wiman manages to work for a takedown, getting a single leg and then a double leg down to Fisher’s guard. Wiman lands a couple of good shots from top position, and then as Fisher sits up, he hooks a tight guillotine on and pulls guard! Fisher looks in deep trouble momentarily as Wiman appears to have the choke sunk, but Spencer somehow survives and Wiman releases and gets full mount, then back mount with both hooks in as Fisher rolls. Wiman gets a body triangle and lands some punches, looking for the rear naked choke as Fisher defends, but then Fisher finally manages to slip free and stands up. Wiman follows, and they exchange in the clinch before Fisher grabs the back of the head and delivers a swank jumping knee. Wiman shoots in for the takedown, but Fisher blocks and gets on top in Wiman’s guard, dropping some strikes before slicing him with a VICIOUS ELBOW, cutting him open badly over the left eye. Fisher does a little lap-dance in Wiman’s guard as the round ends, causing a shoving match and angering Big John McCarthy who warns him that he’ll “disqualify your ass!” if he does anything like it again. Oooh, it’s getting PERSONAL!~!
Into the 2nd and both guys come out grinning and look to exchange, with Fisher landing some good low kicks. He gets a takedown to guard, using the elbows from the top again before standing and landing a St-Pierre-esque axe kick to the body, back down into guard. He works to pass, landing some shots, before changing his mind and standing, calling Wiman to join him. Wiman comes forward and takes some knees, before Fisher lands a clipping right hand that rocks him. Wiman staggers back, but then makes the mistake of waving at Fisher, so Spencer comes forward with a CRAZY FLYING KNEE FOR THE KNOCKOUT!~!
WORD. Fisher even pulls the old Joachim Hansen trick of simply walking away with the knowledge that the other guy is done before the referee even knows it. Replays show that Wiman made the serious mistake of trying to pretend that the right hand didn’t hurt him, and by raising his arm he left himself wide open for the knee. And what a knee it was, good lord. Post-fight Fisher fires off a Flair-style WHOOO!~! and even does the STRUT!~! Fountain of charisma, that guy. Really, really exciting fight too, as Wiman surprised a lot of people by really taking the fight to Spencer in the first round. One of the best fights of the year for UFC, actually. Thank God they brought back the LWs, eh?
From what online reports were saying, this was supposed to see Horn facing Evan Tanner as was scheduled for UFC 59, but Tanner apparently went AWOL (that’s an entirely weird situation, to say the least) and Sonnen ended up stepping in on short notice, this being the third time he’d fought Horn in his career.
Sonnen comes right out of the gate with a takedown to Horn’s guard, and Jeremy immediately goes into butterfly guard and ties Chael up from the bottom. The action really slows down as Horn shows good defence, not allowing Sonnen to land anything of note at all, before Chael decides to stand, and drops a couple of Riggs-style looping punches down onto Horn’s face before going back into guard. Horn gets a guillotine, and it looks for a moment like Chael’s in trouble, but he manages to work free and they exchange some elbows in the guard, nothing of note landing again. Horn tries an armbar from the bottom, but Sonnen manages to free his arm, and continues to work from the top, but Horn’s defence doesn’t allow him to land much at all, and the official stands them back up. Sonnen gets a takedown right away off the restart, and the crowd boo loudly, as the round comes to an end.
Into the 2nd and – you guessed it – Sonnen takes him down, and gets a bit too reckless with his punching, allowing Horn to hook in an armbar. Chael tries to punch his way free, causing Horn to let go, but he simply transitions his legs over to a triangle attempt. Sonnen sits up to avoid, but Horn gets hold of his right arm and then swings his left leg over Sonnen’s face, hooking in an armbar and clearly surprising Sonnen, who screams out in pain before tapping.
Pretty bleh fight there, and it actually turned out to be Horn’s final one in the UFC, as both sides felt it better not to renew his contract after this one, allowing him to move onto other things. As always, Sonnen’s takedowns were good here, but his submission defence was poor, and with Horn’s skill on the ground and good defence, it was only a matter of time before he caught Chael. Not a *bad* fight per say – just uneventful.
Onto the first fight of the main card then, as Swick was handed what was looked upon as his first real difficult fight in UFC, against Joe Riggs who was moving back up from 170lbs. Most people were expecting an exciting slugfest here, and the picking was pretty even as far as I can remember.
They circle to begin for about a minute, looking seriously tentative as neither man appears to want to make the first move. Finally Swick throws a mid-kick, and they go into a clinch and muscle, with Swick blocking a takedown attempt. They break off and Swick backs up, before surprising Riggs with a BIG KICK to the head! Joe looks wobbled and shoots for the takedown in desperation, but Swick stuffs it easily and then secures his guillotine, pulling back into guard and causing Riggs to tap out pretty swiftly.
Not the explosive fight anyone was expecting I think, but Swick looked impressive with the finish and dealt with Riggs much more easily and quickly than I imagined him to, passing this test with flying colours.
Much like Swick with Riggs, this was considered a step up in competition for Vera after he’d knocked out both Fabiano Scherner and then Justin Eilers in quick, highlight reel fashion. Silva was coming off a decision loss to Tim Sylvia, but was still seen as a definite threat in the lean HW division, and was clearly Vera’s toughest competition to date.
Vera comes out throwing a couple of kicks that Silva blocks, and they circle round with nothing of note landing, with Vera switching stances too. Both try high kick attempts and both are blocked, and then Vera lands a double jab as they exchange some punches. Silva comes forward, but Vera accidentally pokes him in the eye on a jab attempt and the official calls time. They restart and Silva looks PISSED, coming forward aggressively and missing a wheel kick as both throw some kicks. Vera tries a low kick, but Silva counters with one of his own and catches him off balance, knocking him on his ass, so Silva goes down into Vera’s guard. Vera quickly muscles free and stands, but Silva shoves him into the fence and drops low for a takedown attempt. He picks Vera up for a slam, but as he does so, Vera locks in a TIGHT guillotine and gets full guard as the slam lands, tightening the choke for the tapout there.
Pretty impressive performance from Vera, and strangely enough, he passed his similar test with the exact same hold as Swick used to win his fight! If anything, I know he’s not been tested by a really really great fighter yet, but I think people actually underrate Vera based on the fact that he fights in UFC – people put Aleksander Emelianenko, for example, into their top ten rankings when in reality his wins (at the time, pre-Kharitonov) were no more impressive than what Vera’s put together. With his mix of good Muay Thai, a strong wrestling background and good submissions too, I honestly believe (size notwithstanding) that Vera will be holding the UFC Heavyweight title by this time next year. As for Silva, facing two of who I feel are the top three HWs currently in UFC was just a tough beginning for him, and I’m hoping he’ll be back at some point.
This fight was originally scheduled for UFC 58, with the USA vs. Canada theme, but Sanchez ended up pulling out of that show due to a nasty gastric flu that caused him to drop reportedly down to 160lbs, and so it got re-scheduled here. This was Alessio’s second appearance in the UFC – the first coming way back at UFC 26, in a submission loss in a Lightweight (now Welterweight) title shot against Pat Miletich, which is one of the biggest gaps between UFC shows that I can think of someone having off the top of my head. After his win over Nick Diaz the odds were hugely in favour of Sanchez here.
Looking at him at the weigh-ins and pre-fight Diego looks much leaner for this fight and much more ripped than I’ve ever seen him before – the announcers (especially Couture) make out like this is a good thing, but it’s something I’ll be touching on later. Round one gets underway and they circle with Diego shooting in for the takedown early, but Alessio manages to avoid it nicely. Not much happens as they circle round, before Diego lands a right hand, and then sets up a single leg with a jab, but Alessio shows some good takedown defence and avoids it again. Sanchez comes forward and backs him up with punches, but doesn’t actually land, and they continue to circle off. Right hand lands from Alessio and Diego shoots in again, grabbing the leg, but Alessio blocks well up against the fence and hooks a standing kimura to avoid being taken down. Diego tries to switch off to the back, but Alessio manages to break and backs off. Alessio begins to work his jab, landing it a couple of times and avoiding the takedown again, before Sanchez gets a deep single leg, only for Alessio to somehow avoid going down again! He grabs a brief guillotine, but Sanchez breaks off with a knee. Alessio continues to back up, avoiding punches and another takedown, before ending the round with a good combination.
Into the 2nd, and Diego opens the round with another single leg, but still can’t get Alessio down, and Alessio looks to jab as he backs off again. Sanchez shoots in once more, and finally gets on top as Alessio fails to hook a guillotine attempt, but before he can work anything, Alessio uses his feet to push off Diego and get right back to his feet! Alessio lands a crisp left jab, only for Diego to answer with a left of his own. Another left jab from Alessio and he avoids the takedown again, as Sanchez is now sporting a cut over his right eye, brought on by the jabs. Another takedown attempt fails, so Diego backs him up with punches instead, and then lands a right hand. Alessio continues to work the jab and back off, as Diego lands a couple of punches of his own, and then shoots in for a leg once more, but again Alessio avoids. Sanchez keeps coming though, landing a one-two and pushing the pace to end the round.
Third and final round, and Diego comes out of the gates quickly with another takedown attempt, but again Alessio stuffs it. Sanchez throws combinations as he comes forward, but Alessio looks very defensive and continues to back up, throwing his jab as he does so. Diego blocks a high kick, but eats a jab as he fails with another takedown attempt. Finally Alessio gets on the offensive with a flying knee attempt, but Diego catches him, and then quickly takes advantage, hopping onto Alessio’s back while he stands! Diego hooks in a body triangle and immediately starts to look for the rear naked choke, as Alessio uses wrist control to avoid it. Alessio walks over to his corner with Diego still firmly on his back, and then attempts to armbar him from in front using his own head, but the attempt doesn’t work and Sanchez stays firmly on his back, landing punches now too. Alessio tries to shake him, but to no avail, and Diego continues to punch away, while Alessio defends his choke attempts, as the round and the fight finally come to an end. Pretty exciting round there.
We’re going to the judges for the first time in the night, and it’s a unanimous decision, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 for Diego Sanchez. Crowd are less than pleased with that, but I agreed with the decision the first time I saw it and I still agree with it now – Alessio fought an incredible fight from a defensive standpoint, avoiding Diego’s takedown each and every time he tried it, and he also worked his jab well, but especially in the later rounds and even in the first to a certain extent, he was too defensive, giving Sanchez too much respect and because of that he never really got any meaningful offense in outside of the one cut over Diego’s eye. So while Diego’s gameplan was negated by Alessio’s takedown defense, he was still far more aggressive and pushed the action throughout, and the dominant position he gained in the third round just reiterated that. So no, Diego haters, this was not a ‘robbery’ by any means.
With that said though, what this was was definitely Diego’s least impressive UFC performance by some margin. This is purely guesswork on my part, but it certainly looked to me like he’d lost some strength in his leaning down for this fight, and I think you’ve got to wonder whether his lean look and seemingly weaker takedown attempts had anything to do with the virus he’d contracted a couple of months beforehand. At any rate, the Diego we know and love (well, I love anyway) was back in his last fight with Karo Parisyan, and it may not be a coincidence that he was back to his ‘chubby’ look for that one. Back to this fight for a second – not the greatest fight you’re going to see, and downright slow in some parts, but the third round, with one of the most unique positional wars I’ve seen in MMA, more than made up for the lacklustre first and second rounds.
This was Lister’s UFC debut after a bit of a disappointing career in Pride, which saw him submit Akira Shoji, but lose decisions to Amar Suloev and Ricardo Arona. Sakara was coming off his decision victory over Elvis Sinosic at UFC 57. General consensus was that if Sakara could keep it standing, he’d be fine, but if the fight hit the ground he’d be in trouble.
Lister opens with a high kick, but he quickly avoids a punching exchange and pulls guard instead. Sakara decides in his infinite wisdom to go to the ground, and Dean almost immediately hooks an oma plata, the hold looking deep momentarily, but he doesn’t have full body control and Sakara manages to pull out. Lister stays firmly in control though and within a moment he gets his leg over Sakara’s shoulder and locks in a triangle choke, hooking the Italian’s leg in order to avoid any potential slam attempt. Sakara tries to escape, but to no avail, and he ends up tapping out shortly after.
Quick and impressive debut for Lister I guess, but Sakara just looked completely lost on the ground, which surprised me in a way given that he’s supposed to be training pretty heavily in BJJ with the Nogueira brothers. With that said – it’s Dean Lister, and he’s got the skill to make most guys look inept on the ground. Surprising they’d put a guy like Sakara who I thought they’d want to build in with a ground wizard like Lister so early, but I guess they chose to build Lister instead which is fair enough (even if I don’t think he’s as good as some make out). Lister has since dropped to 185lbs, but judging on the way he gassed out in his UFC debut at that weight, I think the jury’s somewhat out on which division is best for him.
Hype for this one was off the charts, naturally, as this was Royce Gracie’s big return to the UFC, marking his first Octagon appearance in ten years. And hey, however you spin it, Royce won three openweight tournaments and tapped out pretty much everyone with ease, so it was pretty simple to still push him as the “greatest fighter to step into the Octagon”, even if the guys who he tapped would probably lose to any mid-level UFC guy of this era. Incredibly, even hardcore fans bought into the hype somewhat, believing that somehow, even after his last fight was a draw with a 145lber, Gracie stood a chance against a guy who is arguably pound-for-pound the best fighter alive today. Still, regardless of the one-sided nature of the fight if you looked at it logically, it was still intriguing because hey, it’s Royce Gracie!
Crowd heat is naturally off the charts for the entrances, with Royce getting a HUGE pop, while Hughes’s entrance is smattered with boos for some reason. And man, I know I’m pointing out the obvious, but Hughes just looks like a KILLER the way he stalks up and down during his ring introduction. Seriously, seriously scary bloke. Staredown follows, and then IT’S TIME!~!
Gracie opens up with some kicks, landing a couple of low ones before Hughes answers with a kick of his own. Royce throws some more out, before Hughes lunges in with a superman punch and backs him into the fence in a clinch. Hughes lands a couple of knees to the gut, and then Royce lands an elbow over the top and tries to pull guard, but ends up on the bottom of a side mount, not the place you want to be with Matt Hughes on top. Hughes pins him down, but the crowd pop HUGE as Royce swings his legs up, as if they’re somehow expecting a hail mary submission. Said submission does not come, of course, and Hughes lands some elbows to the body before Royce manages to roll into half-guard. Hughes then decides to go to another avenue, isolating Royce’s left arm and attempting a straight kimura variant, and for a second it looks like curtains for the legend, as his arm bends at a SICK angle, even causing the cameras to change to a different viewpoint. Rogan practically has a heart attack watching this as it looks for a moment that Gracie might be submitted, but then Hughes decides to change his plan, releasing and going back into side mount. No idea how his arm didn’t snap there. Royce tries to roll again, but this time Hughes takes his back beautifully, getting both hooks in before flattening him out, and from there he just UNLEASHES with some BRUTAL SHOTS TO THE HEAD, causing Big John McCarthy to stop things at the 4:39 mark. A frightening, one-sided domination.
Post-fight Hughes reiterates that he had no fear of Gracie on the mat, while Royce tells everyone that he’ll be back for another go-round at some point, pleasing the crowd. We go to some replays of the fight and the announcers discuss everything, and then we get a really emotional shot of Royce, battered and bruised in his locker room, openly weeping. It sounds silly, but it’s actually a difficult scene to watch.
Anyhow, the fight. A one-sided domination, yes, but really, the whole point of the Hughes-Gracie fight was to show that despite being the original pioneer of MMA and a guy that deserves all the respect in the world, to paraphrase Mike Goldberg the sport of MMA has moved beyond the days of Royce Gracie the Jiu-Jitsu guy, or Tank Abbott the street fighter, or Mark Coleman the wrestler – these guys are now well-rounded, well-conditioned machines, and there was just no way that a guy like Royce was ever going to defeat a guy like Hughes in 2006. But even so....I think there’s a part of every MMA fan that was shocked, even just a little, at seeing the guy who ran through everyone in the first few shows just utterly demolished like that. Logically it was always going to happen, but this was still a real eye-opener of a fight.
-Dean Lister is awarded the ‘Tapout of the Night’, and then we end with a highlight reel of the night’s action.
There’s nothing “must-see” here, but top to bottom, this is one of the most fun shows of the year, with a lot of short, exciting fights, highlight reel finishes, and it’s filled with mostly the younger up-and-comers on the UFC roster, which makes it to me at least one of the better shows of the year. The show was obviously sold on the main event, and it certainly worked as it shattered the UFC’s PPV buyrate records at the time, and despite being a one-sided shutout, it’s still a really intriguing fight to watch, if only to show just how far MMA has come since the UFC’s debut thirteen years ago. Not really an unmissable show, but a highly recommended one all the same.
Pride: 9, 10, 11, and 18.
UFC: 20, 21, 61, 62, 63, 64 and the TUF II Finale.
Cage Rage: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17.
WEC: 10 and 11.
WFA: 1, 2 and 3.
King of the Cage: 15, 18, 21, 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42 and 48.
Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.