Fickett was making his return from injury here after dropping out of his UFC 59 bout with Thiago Alves. His opponent, Pellegrino, is Hermes Franca’s main training partner at The Armory, and he normally fights at 155lbs rather than 170lbs as he was here. He was bringing an 7-1 record into this fight.
They begin the 1st and Fickett starts lunging in with hooks, seemingly struggling with Pellegrino’s reach, but Pellegrino lands a nice uppercut and a right hand combination. Fickett continues to reach forward, lunging for him, but Pellegrino counters well, landing some good shots as he comes in. Pellegrino closes in for a takedown and grabs a single leg, but Fickett pops right back up and backs up. Fickett lands a knee, but Kurt follows with a takedown to guard and controls him from the top. He lands some shots and tries to move him into the fence, but Fickett uses his feet to move himself away, avoiding being pinned against it. Fickett manages to work to his feet, landing a knee to break off before missing a high kick. Fickett lands a body punch and then throws another high kick, but Pellegrino avoids it and grabs a bodylock, into a HUGE SLAM! Into half-guard, but Fickett works into full guard, so Pellegrino stands and drops some shots momentarily. He continues to work, avoiding some sweeps and chopping away, as Fickett lands his own elbows from the bottom to end the round.
Into the 2nd and Fickett clips him with an overhand right into the clinch, but takes a knee to the groin and they stop things momentarily to allow him to recover. They restart, and Pellegrino gets another takedown to guard and avoids a leglock attempt. He controls him well, passing into half-guard, but Fickett quickly gets butterfly guard back in. Things slow down and the official stands them back up, and Kurt closes in right away for another takedown, but they end up in a clinch and Fickett tries a guillotine. Pellegrino pops out and ends up on top in guard, where he avoids an armbar, and they exchange in the guard before slowing down and being stood again. They restart, and this time Fickett gets a takedown to guard, ending the round with some hard elbows.
Third and final round, and I’ve got Pellegrino up 2 rounds to 0. For some reason he comes out much more defensive though, and Fickett presses looking to strike as Kurt backs away. Pellegrino manages to get a double leg to guard, and works into side mount, but Fickett suddenly scrambles from the bottom and slips out from under him, and Pellegrino seems frozen as he takes his back and gets both hooks in! Kurt looks in deep trouble now, and Fickett quickly closes things off with a rear naked choke.
Not a bad fight, although it wasn’t the most exciting I’ve ever seen, either. Pellegrino looked well on his way to a victory via decision after the first two, but then just came out looking totally flat in the last round and Fickett caught him quickly. Not sure whether Fickett hurt him in the 2nd, or whether he gassed, but something definitely went wrong. He’s since dropped to 155lbs though and seems much better at that weight, too.
Aldana was coming off a loss to Paul Buentello in a wild brawl at UFC 57, while this was the first Octagon appearance of French Muay Thai fighter Kongo, who looks pretty intimidating at a first glance, too. I think most, myself included, were expecting another wild brawl here.
They get underway and Aldana immediately comes right in quickly and gets a slam down to side mount! Didn’t expect that. He gets a crucifix position, and drops some punches down onto Kongo as the Frenchman looks in trouble early, but Aldana slows down pretty quickly and the referee stands them up as the offense stops. Aldana gets another takedown right away into side mount, but he looks tired at this point and doesn’t do much at all from the position, until Kongo reverses back out and gets his own slam into the fence. Kongo pounds him with punches right to the face, and then Aldana gets to his feet, where Kongo absolutely TEES OFF ON HIM with HUGE knees to the body and head, and a series of vicious right uppercuts. Aldana looks badly hurt and wobbled, and Kongo just keeps nailing him until the referee stops things to check a cut, and they end things there based on the facial damage. Post-fight Kongo waves a French soccer jersey (this was the day before the World Cup final) and gets heavily booed for it.
You can tell why UFC wanted to push Kongo as a big threat at HW, because once he took over on Aldana here he showed some excellent striking and basically tore through him, but seeing the early part of the fight was a bit of an eye opener, and it’s quite easy to see how Kongo was able to be controlled by a solid wrestler eventually. Still, this was a pretty impressive debut for him, albeit against a guy who probably isn’t quite UFC level, if we’re being fair.
Monson was basically tagged as #1 contender after his win over Marcio Cruz at UFC 59, and the announcers are pretty much confirming that he’ll get the next title shot if he wins here. Perosh was probably the least-known guy on this card, an Australian BJJ expert who’s also Elvis Sinosic’s business and training partner.
Monson shoots in immediately to begin, and Perosh tries to avoid, but ends up on his back in guard. Perosh escapes to his feet quickly, but Monson grabs a front facelock, and then moves over into an over/under as Perosh goes into the turtle position. Monson lands some left hands from behind, but Perosh escapes to his feet and then avoids a takedown, tagging him with some straight punches as Monson comes forward. They go into a head clinch, but come back out quickly and Perosh lands a leg kick and works the left jab. He lands a nice overhand right, clipping Monson, but Monson comes back into a head clinch and lands some right hands in close, one of which causes Perosh to crumple, and Monson quickly follows up for the stoppage.
Impressive stoppage for Monson that’s looked good on his highlight packages building to his title shot, but to be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed with the actual performance. Perosh was hardly considered an upper echelon HW, especially in the striking department, and even he was able to tag Monson based pretty much on his reach. Monson is a tough guy and he’s pretty great on the ground, but I reiterate, if Anthony Perosh is tagging him on his feet, how do people expect him to beat even bigger guys with better striking like Sylvia or Arlovski?
The originally scheduled match here was Franca taking on rising Lightweight star Roger Huerta, but Huerta ended up injuring an elbow training, and so his teammate Joe Jordan stepped in at the last minute. However, due to Jordan not having time to cut to 155lbs, they ended up changing the weight category to a 165lbs catchweight, with Franca weighing in fully clothed in order to bump himself up a bit. I’ve actually seen Jordan once before, on a Superbrawl show where his no-selling of punches nearly cost him a decision. This was Franca’s first fight back in UFC for over two years, and he was riding a four-fight win streak coming in.
Franca opens up with a low kick and then a glancing head kick, before getting a takedown and taking Jordan’s back. Jordan stands up, but gets tagged with a big punch as he turns around, and then manages to back off. Franca works him over with some leg kicks as Jordan looks to set up a big left hook, and they go into a clinch and exchange some knees, before breaking off. Franca lands a nice uppercut that Jordan shakes off, and they exchange some low kicks, before Jordan shakes off a clipping right hand. They exchange with nothing really landing, and the crowd begin to get frustrated, as Franca gets a takedown only for Jordan to get to his feet quickly. Franca moves him to the fence in a clinch, and they exchange knees until the official breaks them up. Franca then pulls guard, and Jordan works from the top to end the round.
Franca opens the 2nd with a nice low kick, and then gets a takedown, but Jordan pops right up and escapes a rear waistlock attempt, into the clinch. Not much happens from there and the official calls the break, and Franca comes off the restart with an uppercut and a high kick. Finally seeming to find his range, Franca lands another high kick and a big one-two that Jordan no-sells, waving his finger at Hermes to a big pop. Franca gets a takedown to guard now, and tries to slug away, but Jordan escapes to his feet, and they exchange standing with Franca tagging him and Jordan no-selling it all. Big flying knee from Franca lands and a follow-up right finally seems to hurt Jordan, knocking him back towards the cage. Hermes follows with another flying knee, and then nails him with a combo, stunning him and bloodying him up, but Jordan recovers quickly and continues to take shots to close out the round.
Into the third and final round, and Franca comes right out and gets a single leg to half-guard, where he looks for the side kimura ala Matt Hughes. Jordan tries to block, so Franca gets into full mount and slides up, locking on a beautiful triangle from the mount position before rolling onto his back for the tapout. Really sweet finish there.
This was actually a slower fight than I was expecting from Franca who’s normally dynamite in terms of excitement, but it looked like it took him a long time to get into his groove, and so the first round especially was really boring. Things started heating up in the 2nd when Franca finally found his range, and then the submission was a thing of beauty to open the final round, arguably the best you’ll see in UFC all year. Not a bad performance for Hermes to return with, then, but not a blowaway one either.
This was the fight I was most highly anticipating on this card, as Edwards was looking to rebuild following his shocking loss to Mark Hominick at UFC 58, while Stevenson, after a disappointing loss to Josh Neer, had dropped back down to 155lbs – a better weight for him and a weight class that he’d been unbeaten in KOTC in – and was looking to make noise in the division too. Both fighters are looking in tremendous shape for this one.
Stevenson presses forward to open as Edwards looks to play the counter-striker. Joe shots in for a single leg, but Yves blocks well, only for Stevenson to keep trying and finally get him down into guard. He tries to move Edwards to the fence, but Yves pops back to his feet nicely and breaks off. Stevenson comes forward, but Edwards lands a nice left high kick, and then NAILS him with a left-right to send Joe stumbling to the mat! Edwards looks to follow up, but Stevenson recovers quickly and gets full guard, where he locks his arms around Edwards’ back and his own knees, trying some sort of submission that I’ve never seen before, Couture is calling it a body crush. Stevenson decides that it’s not going to work though, and lets go, and Yves lands some elbows from the top before standing. Stevenson joins him, and blocks a combo, before avoiding a knee and bulling him into the fence. Edwards suddenly jumps into a triangle attempt, but Joe manages to slip out into guard and lands some heavy shots from the top. Edwards pushes off Joe’s hips and gets to his feet, but Joe immediately works for another single leg and gets him down again. Edwards wastes no time though in trying a triangle from the bottom, and then transitions into an oma plata attempt as the round ends.
Into the 2nd, then, and Edwards clips him with a left to open and narrowly misses a combo. Another good left lands from Yves and he tries another combination, but Stevenson gets a single leg down to guard and immediately moves him to the fence. Joe begins to take over, leaning down and dropping HEAVY punches and elbows onto Yves, busting him WIDE OPEN on the forehead, and there’s a lot of blood immediately, spewing from Edwards’ head like a faucet. Stevenson keeps going with the elbows, looking relentless as Edwards tries to scramble away, and there’s blood EVERYWHERE at this point as Joe just continues to land. They stop the fight momentarily to clean up the cut as Joe slows down, and then restart in the same position, where Joe continues to work him over. Into half-guard now and Stevenson gets the crucifix position momentarily and drops some more elbows down, and then Yves gets guard back, only for Joe to continue the punishment to end the round. Hell of a round for Stevenson there.
Between rounds Edwards looks ready to continue, but the doctors stop it based on the severeness of the cut. No surprises there – he’d lost a tremendous amount of blood at that point and it didn’t look like they could close the cut any time soon. Really good fight though, even if it could potentially be used by the anti-MMA camp to accuse the sport of vampirism. Edwards looked good in the opening round and probably took it with his crisp striking and submission attempts, but Joe just came out like a house on fire in the 2nd and brutalized him with some great ground-and-pound, confirming himself as one of the top guys at Lightweight in the UFC. Definitely lived up to what I was expecting.
For some reason (don’t ask) I was actually looking forward to this fight as a good test to see where Mir was at post-Cruz loss, as Christison is a solid enough fighter who’s probably not going to be in title contention any time soon, so it’d be telling whether Mir could handle him or not. That of course, was before I saw the weigh-in photos, and found out that Mir had come in at 262lbs, about eight pounds heavier than TIM SYLVIA. Yeah, think about THAT for a second. To say he’s in terrible shape here would be a gross understatement.
They open and Mir lands a couple of kicks into the clinch. They muscle for position, and Mir gets a nice foot sweep takedown to side mount. He lands some punches, then takes full mount and lands a couple more, but he misses an armbar attempt and Christison gets full guard. Mir looks tired already as he lands some sloppy ground-and-pound, and things go sloooow. Christison gets his feet on the fence, and uses it to push off and spin his hips into an armbar attempt, and it looks like he’s got it locked, but Mir somehow manages to slip free and gets to his feet in the clinch. They break off, and Christison lands a one-two, answered by a knee from Mir. Christison then opens up with some nice combinations, tagging Frank and putting him on the retreat to end the round.
The 2nd begins, and Christison blocks a takedown into the clinch to open, before breaking with a couple of punches. Christison begins to tag Mir in and out of the clinch with punches, but doesn’t seem to possess any knockout power, and Mir survives. Both look tired at this point, hanging off one another in the clinch, but Christison is landing more punches as they break off. The slooow action continues, as Christison lands a low kick, but Mir gets a single leg to guard. Dan throws his right leg over Mir’s head for a triangle attempt, but Mir grapevines both his legs around Christison’s left leg, trying what looks to be a kneebar variant. He releases and goes slowly into Christison’s guard, but Dan controls the action from the bottom, nearly getting the armbar again as Mir lays on him, looking completely gassed at this point. Dan brings his legs up seemingly to look for a triangle, but can’t get it and the official stands them back up. Christison lands a front kick to the midsection off the restart, and they go into the clinch, where Dan tries the WORST JUMPING KNEE EVER, literally getting about six inches off the mat, to end the round.
Mir opens the third with a couple of nice lefts into the clinch, but they break and Christison lands a high kick and a combo right back into it. They hang off each other for a moment before Mir gets a foot sweep down to Christison’s guard, and then finally finds the energy to land some punches and forearms from the top, bloodying Dan’s face up. Mir looks to pass, but Dan keeps him in guard, and the action slows down almost to a standstill before Mir gets into side mount. He lands some hammer fists, but can’t get a kimura and Dan gets back to guard, and tries to kick him away, but Mir keeps top position. The action begins to move in slow motion once more, as Mir sits up to try to deliver some shots. They finally get stood, and Christison sprawls to avoid a takedown, and then stands to end the fight. The crowd, unsurprisingly, boo.
To the judges, and it’s a unanimous decision, with all the judges scoring it 29-28 for Mir. I’d have gone the other way and given Christison the 1st round as well as the 2nd based on the armbar attempt and the combinations to end it, but in reality this was one of those fights where neither guy came off looking like a winner. Mir came into it clearly out of shape and gassed very quickly, while Christison just didn’t seem to have any semblance of knockout power and moved at the speed of tar, too. Just a horrible, slow-paced fight that’s probably the worst televised UFC bout all year.
It might not have been in the main slot, but this was clearly the marquee match of the night, the rematch between the ‘Bitter Rivals’ that had been brewing since the first fight ended, fuelled by years of trash talking and of course, an extra twelve weeks of build through the third season of the Ultimate Fighter. It’s interesting to note too that Ken pretty much turned himself heel with some of his questionable decisions on the reality show, meaning this is a completely pro-Ortiz crowd here. Obviously the crowd are REALLY amped for this one though. HUGE pop for Ortiz upon his entrance and massive heat on the introductions. Finally, it’s on.
They begin and Ken immediately rushes him, swinging punches, but Tito avoids the barrage and grabs a Thai clinch, throwing some knees. He shoots in for the takedown, and Ken tries to block, but it’s to no avail as Tito lifts him into the air and gets a BIG SLAM to guard. Ortiz begins to work from the top with his trademark elbows, moving Ken towards the fence as Shamrock switches his hips momentarily as if to try an armbar. Tito pins him into the fence though, and opens up with a flurry of elbows....and Herb Dean jumps in and stops things there. Crowd seem confused, and then they’re downright irate as Ken leaps up as if there’s nothing wrong with him, while Tito does his trademark grave-digging celebration. Post-fight we get the “BULLSHIT” chants flooding the arena, as Tito tries to appease the crowd by saying he’ll do a third fight with Ken if it’ll make them happy.
This was probably one of the most talked about finishes of the year, as everyone seemed separated into two camps, the first saying that it was a fair stoppage, as Ken wasn’t intelligently defending himself and could’ve been badly hurt, and the second claiming that five elbows, only one of which appeared to land cleanly, wasn’t enough to warrant a stoppage, especially in a grudge match of this magnitude, and thus it was a bad call from the referee. I’m with the second camp, personally. Ken took a TON more abuse than that in the first fight, I hardly think a few more elbows would’ve killed the guy, and he wasn’t really even given the chance to defend himself before Herb stepped in. I mean, granted, there’s no way he was winning that fight, and even if it’d been let go, it probably would’ve only lasted thirty seconds longer, but hey, at least we would’ve had a legitimate finish. As it was, the third fight was basically a carbon copy of this one, albeit with the referee letting things go on slightly longer. As always though opinions are still split over this one, so hey, you decide.
-Although it’s unsurprisingly cut on the DVD, I’d go amiss if I didn’t mention the segment that aired at this point on PPV, as UFC President Dana White entered the Octagon, and desperately trying to appease the angered fans, brought out PRIDE Middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva, and announced that he’d be fighting Chuck Liddell in November in an interpromotional dream match. Predictably though, the negotiations quickly fell through once the lustre of this moment had faded, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting the fight any time soon. No surprises there, then.
This was one of the more intriguing fights on the card, as both men had performed similarly in their previous UFC outings, winning a couple and losing a couple, and appeared to be pretty evenly matched on paper. Plus, they’re both called Josh, which makes things FUN.
They open and exchange quick strikes into the clinch, but they quickly break and exchange some punches, to which Neer tells Burkman to bring it on. Burkman presses forward and gets double underhooks, looking for the takedown momentarily, but they break off instead and then exchange back into the clinch, where Burkman lands some nice inside elbows. Back out, and Burkman lands a combo, then gets a double leg to guard. He works punches from the top, and uses a triangle attempt from Neer to pass to half-guard. Burkman stands up, but Neer grabs an ankle pick and uses it to trip Burkman down, taking the opportunity to stand himself. Neer lands a combo, but gets dropped by a clipping right hand and Burkman grabs a front facelock and tries to take the back. Burkman transitions from there to an armbar attempt, but Neer escapes and gets on top in half-guard. He drops some elbows, but Burkman stands, and eats a right hand to end the round.
Burkman opens the 2nd with a high kick into the clinch, and Neer looks for a single leg, but eats a series of right uppercuts for his troubles. Neer sweeps him down to guard and cuts him on the head with an elbow, then gets a headlock as Burkman tries to stand. They come up back into the clinch, and Neer lands some nice combinations, then follows with a good elbow as they exchange in the clinch. Neer grabs a guillotine to block a takedown, and then Burkman breaks off with a left hook. Burkman lands a combination, but Neer no-sells, telling him to bring it, and they go back into the clinch where Neer pushes his head down and lands a knee. Burkman blocks a takedown and lands a decent combo, so Neer presses forward, but Burkman muscles him into the fence and gets a slam to guard, where he works from the top to end the round.
Third and final round, and they exchange punches to open, with Burkman landing the better shots and cutting Neer over the left eye. Burkman gets a nice takedown to guard, where Neer tries to lock up a triangle, and it looks for a second like he’s got it in, but Burkman breaks with a BIG POWERBOMB back into Neer’s guard. Burkman works from the top, standing and dropping some shots, before Neer tries to reverse out with a takedown of his own. Burkman sprawls and tries to take his back, so Neer rolls for a kneebar, but Burkman avoids and ends up back on top in guard. Neer gives his back, but they end up coming back to standing, only for Burkman to slam him right back down to guard, where he stays on top and works to end the round.
To the judges, and it’s a unanimous decision for Josh. Erm, Burkman that is. Yeah, I won’t disagree with that – I think Burkman landed arguably the better shots throughout and definitely got the better of the ‘control’ side of things, with his nice slams and a number of takedowns. This was pretty much what I was expecting going in – nothing spectacular, but a solid enough fight between two evenly matched fighters.
One of the quickest rematches in recent memory, this was put together after Sylvia shocked everyone by knocking the thought-to-be unstoppable Arlovski out at UFC 59. The basic gist of things was simple – Arlovski was out to prove that the knockout was a fluke, Sylvia was looking to show that it wasn’t. Both guys are looking in really good shape here too, especially Sylvia who was at what I think was his lowest weight ever.
They begin the first round, and circle, with Arlovski looking to use his leg kicks. He lands a kick and a right hand combination, and continues to work the kicks, landing a nice bodyshot too for good measure. Sylvia looks to play the role of counterpuncher, and indeed that’s exactly what he does, as he counters an overhand right with a short right hook that stuns Arlovski and sends him wobbling backwards! Sylvia comes in swinging, landing another big right, but Andrei manages to survive and gets a clinch. They muscle for a while before Arlovski breaks and misses an overhand right. Arlovski works a left jab, and lands a nice left-right combination, before going back into the clinch where Sylvia lands some knees to the body. The official breaks it up, and nothing major lands as they circle tentatively, before Tim hits a spinning back kick to the body to end the round. Eddie Bravo gives the round 10-9 to Sylvia, which I’d agree with.
Into the 2nd, and Andrei opens by using low kicks and a stiff left jab, throwing his overhand right in every so often too, which Sylvia looks to counter with the short right hook. He lands a solid one, cutting Andrei open above the left eye, almost on the hairline, and the blood trickles down the challenger’s face. They exchange briefly, popping the crowd, but nobody really comes out on top and Arlovski then follows with a good bodyshot and a stiff double jab. The exchange continues, with Arlovski using his speed to land the better shots, using the left jab and the left low kick, reddening the inside of Sylvia’s knee. The exchange continues, albeit at a slow pace, with Sylvia just missing a big knee, before Andrei lands the left jab to end the round. 10-9 Arlovski is Bravo’s score again, and again I’d agree.
Round 3 opens with Arlovski using the left jab and body shots, seemingly forsaking the leg kicks now for some reason. Sylvia lands a stiff jab of his own, but there’s not all that much action, instead they circle round tentatively without really throwing anything major. Arlovski lands a right hand, but neither man is looking aggressive now as the crowd begins to get restless. Round continues on like that, and Bravo has it as Andrei’s round 10-9. Boring round though.
Into the fourth round now, and I don’t think *anyone* could’ve expected that coming in. Andrei again looks to use the bodyshots, but this time Sylvia counters with a stiff right hand that clips Arlovski right between the eyes. Sylvia begins to come back, landing some jabs and another nice right hand as Arlovski tries to clean the blood from his eye, momentarily losing concentration. They exchange, and Sylvia snaps his head back with a right hand, but Arlovski manages to shake it off and they continue to circle, with nothing really landing. Another boring round and the crowd are lightly booing at this point. 10-9 Sylvia is Bravo’s score, same as me, so it’s coming down to the last round.
Fifth and final round to a slow and disappointing fight, and Sylvia counters Arlovski’s jab nicely with the right hand to begin. Tim begins to take over the fight, landing crisper jabs and more good right hands, as Andrei looks quite bloody now. Arlovski begins to miss a lot of his punches, as Sylvia becomes the aggressor, pressing the action and counterpunching well now, and we get more of the same to finally end the fight. Bravo scores the fight 48-47, which seems to be a pretty fair score to me. To the judges, and they all agree, giving Sylvia the unanimous decision.
Surprisingly slow-paced, frankly plodding fight that was for all intents and purposes a boring kickboxing bout. Sylvia played his usual role of counterpuncher, but it seemed that Arlovski was too timid in really attacking after being knocked out in the previous encounter, and it just made for a lacklustre fight. Watching live it was slightly better as for the first three rounds at least, there was the feeling that either guy could knock the other out at any time, but once the realization hit that that wasn’t going to happen, the crowd became restless and it became a difficult fight to watch. Still, both men showed impressive cardio to go five rounds, and Sylvia was able to prove his worth as a legitimate Heavyweight Champion. And proving that it’s not necessarily the hardest-looking fights that cause damage, Tim spent the night in hospital with a concussion, while Arlovski suffered a serious knee injury for his troubles.
-We end with a highlight reel of the night’s action, and man was that a lacklustre show in the end.
What I felt was actually one of the stronger UFC cards of 2006 on paper turned out to be a total bust, sadly. I mean, I don’t think you can blame Dana or Zuffa or anything, as who was to know that in the two big money matches, one would see an early stoppage, while the other – a rematch of two quick, intense fights – would become a plodding 25 minute affair with minimal action? Things are only made worse by the abortion that is the Mir-Christison fight, too, and even the prelims aren’t at all great. Edwards-Stevenson is a damn good fight, and Neer-Burkman is solid enough, but when the second best fight on the card can only be described as “solid”, you know it’s not the best show. UFC 61 broke the buyrate records for UFC shows yet again, mainly on the strength of the Shamrock-Ortiz feud, but unfortunately what all those extra fans got was easily the worst UFC show of the year.
Pride: 9, 10, 11, and 18.
UFC: 62, 63, and 64.
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.