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UFC 26: Ultimate Field Of Dreams review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on February 26, 2007, 7:57 AM

UFC 26: Ultimate Field Of Dreams

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

-We open with a video package on the Kevin Randleman/Pedro Rizzo main event, the ďfight that never wasĒ at UFC 24.

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Jeff Blatnick. Only thing of note in their opening spiel is the announcement of the newly formed Bantamweight class (which became the current Lightweight class at UFC 31) for fighters 155lbs and under. And weíre kicking off with a fight in that class now.

Bantamweight Fight: Jens Pulver vs Joao Roque

Real striker vs. grappler match here, as Pulver had established a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the weight class, especially with his win at UFC 24, while Roque was recognized as one of the top grapplers out of the Nova Uniao camp.

They begin and Roque slips on an early kick attempt. He tries a takedown, but Pulver avoids, and calls him back to his feet when he goes into the butt-scoot position. They press, and Pulver lands a straight left. Roque swings, then tries to get a clinch, but Pulver muscles him off, and seems to be setting up for the big left. Roque shoots in again, this time pulling guard, but Pulverís having none of the grappling and stands back up. He continues to come forward, looking always for the left hand, and Roque shoots but Pulver throws him off again. Same sequence follows as Pulver refuses to go to the mat. Pulver comes forward swinging, but Roque gets a bodylock and forces him into the fence. He still canít get the takedown though, and takes a flurry to the body and head to end the round.

Into the 2nd, and Pulver blocks some early kicks. Roque finally manages the takedown, but Pulver reverses right away and gets top position, punching the body before rapidly standing. He comes forward, but doesnít really land anything, and the crowd begins to boo as Pulver blocks another takedown and Roque drops into the butt-scoot. Back up, and Pulver works the right jab, avoiding another takedown in the process. He tags Roque with a right hook, and avoids another shot, before Roque comes back with a good low kick. He shoots in on a deep double leg attempt, but Pulver somehow avoids again, showing excellent takedown defense, and walks away rather than enter the guard. Another takedown is avoided, and Roque drops to his back to avoid a left hook. Back up, and he shoots in again unsuccessfully to end the round.

Third and final round, and both men come forward, before Pulver avoids the takedown and the subsequent guard pull again. Back up, and Roque misses a right hook. Pulver lands a straight left as they press tentatively, and then he blocks another takedown, and another. Crowd boo as Roque drops to his back again, and Pulver stands over him, daring him to get up. Roque obliges, and itís more of the same, with Pulver avoiding takedowns and pressing forward with punches to end the fight.

To the judges, and Pulver gets the unanimous decision, but Iíd say itís probably one of the least damaging decisions in UFC history, as neither man was really able to impose their game. I mean, you canít blame Roque for not wanting to stand with Pulver, and likewise you canít blame Pulver for not wanting to play the guard game with Roque, but it made for a very tentative fight thanks to the bad clash of styles.

-James Werme is backstage with Kevin Randleman, who says heís in good shape and promises to put on a show in the main event.

Lightweight Fight: Matt Hughes vs Marcelo Aguiar

Yay, this should be ill. Announcers are already talking Hughes up as one of the best fighters at 170lbs in the world, he was already 16-1 at this point and his slams were already well renowned. This was just his second UFC appearance, though. Iíve never heard of Aguiar before this, but apparently heís a Brazilian Muay Thai fighter. Strangely enough too, Hughes looks practically the same as he does today. Seriously, he doesnít physically look like heís aged hardly at all.

They get underway and Aguiar looks to strike, but Hughes gets him down quickly and then picks him back up for the hell of it and SLAMS HIM to his back. Hughes pins him into the fence, working the body and the head with some hard shots as his cornermen shout advice to him from right outside the fence. Hughes continues to keep him down by the fence, working him over with elbows, one of which cuts him open badly on the forehead. Once Hughes spots the blood he seems to go into overdrive, standing and then dropping back into Aguiarís guard with a heavy flurry. He continues to work the cut with elbows and forearms, and then when he stands, the referee steps in and calls time. Doctors take one look at the cut and thatís all she wrote.

Typically dominating performance from Hughes here, he was too big and too powerful for Aguiar and just overwhelmed him on the ground, it was basically only a matter of time before the guy was finished off anyway.

-Backstage James Werme explains that home state hero Pat Miletich has refused a pre-fight interview, wanting to be mentally ready for his fight.

-The announcers plug UFC 27 and advertise Tito Ortiz as making a Middleweight Title defense on the card, and sure enough Tito joins us, sporting a bizarre pair of large yellow shades. Bit of a nothing interview really as he tells us heís still got a lot to learn, and then stays with us for commentary on the next fight.

Middleweight Fight: Amaury Bitetti vs Alex Andrade

Andrade is another guy from the Lionís Den, one of the lesser known ones though as opposed to Shamrock, Mezger, Bohlander, et al. Announcers push him as a strong, well-rounded fighter. BJJ whiz Bitetti is a guy Iíll always have a soft spot for after his gutsy performance against Don Frye back at UFC 9, so Iím thinking this should be fun.

Bitetti lands a kick and some punches early, catching Andrade off guard. He shoots in, but Andrade blocks and they go into the clinch, where they exchange knees and break off. Bitetti comes forward, stunning Andrade with some big, wild power punches, and they go into another clinch where Bitetti lands a nice knee, before Andrade breaks with some shots of his own. Bitetti lands a big punch again, but this time Andrade answers, and decks him with a one-two! However, he follows with a kick to the face, and McCarthy quickly steps in and calls time. Itís a two-fold foul too, as the rules state you canít kick to the head of a downed opponent, and the Iowa State rules are also that you canít kick while wearing wrestling shoes. Andrade loses a point, and then they restart with a WILD EXCHANGE that sees Andrade literally knock him flying. Andrade closes in but Bitetti gets a clinch, trying to recover. Nice uppercut inside lands from Andrade, and he continues to work in the clinch, but now Bitetti breaks and fires back with a good combination! Andrade lands a low kick though, and the foul is called again (canít kick with shoes!) to practically end the round.

Hell of a first round there.

2nd begins and Andrade presses with punches...but fires a high kick that clips the side of Bitettiís head, and McCarthy calls time and signals for the DQ there. Damn. Why Andrade insisted on continuing to kick when it was clearly against the rules I donít know Ė hell, if he was a good kicker, why wear the shoes in the first place? The worst part about it was that it spoilt a hell of a fight, as Bitetti brought the goods once again in terms of guts and aggressiveness, while Andrade was hardly a boring fighter either. Couldíve been a really good one, but ah well.

-James Werme is joined backstage by Pedro Rizzo, who pulls a leaf out of Miletichís book and refuses a proper interview.

UFC Lightweight Title: Pat Miletich vs John Alessio

Alessio was just 20 here and sported a record of 6-3, and this was his UFC debut Ė a title shot at the unbeaten (in UFC at least) champion Miletich in Miletichís home state. Announcers donít mention that Alessio took the fight on short notice or anything though, so maybe SEG just decided to throw Miletich a less experienced guy for his big return fight? Miletich had taken around a year off with nagging injuries before this one, see. Big pop for him here too, naturally, as itís in Iowa.

They circle to open with Miletich throwing left hands, and then they go into a clinch where Miletich gets a takedown, but Alessio catches him in a guillotine on the way down. It looks tight for a moment and suddenly the upset seems possible, but Miletich works to free himself, and then begins to work Alessio over, punching at the body while landing some short elbows to the head. Alessio shows some excellent defense though, not allowing Miletich to open up and cause any real damage, and the relatively slow round ends in Alessioís guard.

Alessio circles off to begin the 2nd, landing a knee simultaneously to Miletich landing a right. Miletich lands a glancing left hook, and then presses into a clinch, where Alessio hooks up a standing guillotine. Miletich lifts him up and gets a beautiful slam to half-guard, and then works the body before taking the full mount. Miletich lands some punches, and Alessio flails up with his arms, and thatís all the encouragement needed for the champ as he catches the left arm and pulls it up into an armbar variant for the tapout.

Post-fight SEG head honcho Bob Meyrowitz congratulates Miletich on his third successive title defense, garnering a huge pop from the crowd, and Miletich thanks Amaury Bitetti for teaching him the armbar variant that won the fight. Probably the best performance Iíve seen thus far from Miletich, actually, as the second round especially was awesome.

-They announce the production of the first UFC video game, and we go backstage with James Werme where two children are playing the game, one saying his favourite fighter to use is Kevin Randleman, the other choosing Tim Lajcik for some reason.

Middleweight Fight: Tyrone Roberts vs David Dodd

ĎNative Warriorí Roberts is the little brother of ĎChiefí Andre Roberts, while Dodd is another guy out of the Nova Uniao camp. Another striker vs. grappler match for the most part too, with Roberts having some pro-boxing experience while Doddís more of a BJJ guy.

They begin and Dodd looks to use his reach advantage to land from distance, but Roberts closes in anyway and catches him with a heavy right. A left follows, and they trade into a clinch. Roberts gets a front headlock, and then shoves Dodd away. He avoids a takedown, so Dodd pulls guard instead, and Roberts works the body, landing with some conservative ground-and-pound tactics while Dodd answers with a couple of elbows from his back, and the round peters out there.

Dodd comes forward to open the 2nd, but Roberts tosses him to the mat and gets on top in guard. More conservative grinding from Roberts follows, before Dodd gets a sweep and then escapes to his feet. They circle into a clinch, but Roberts breaks quickly with a combo. The action really slows down now, with little happening as Dodd looks tired. Roberts swings his way into a clinch, but Dodd lands some knees before Roberts breaks with a short left, and blocks a high kick to end the round.

Third and final round, and Roberts circles around a mostly static Dodd, throwing some lefts. Dodd shoots in, but Roberts sprawls and gets a front facelock, landing some knees as they come back to standing. They go into a clinch, but nothing really happens and then they come back out with Roberts circling as Dodd stalks forward. Roberts lands a couple of punches into a clinch, and Dodd lands some knees before Roberts shoves him away. A couple of punches land for Roberts but itís mostly uneventful until the ref stops it momentarily to cut some tape from Tyroneís glove. They exchange into a clinch from the restart, and the fight ends there.

Judges give it to Roberts, no arguments here; he was more aggressive and landed the better strikes throughout. Boy though, that was one of the most unremarkable UFC fights Iíve ever seen. Not like, actively horrible or anything, just totally unmemorable in every facet.

UFC Heavyweight Title: Kevin Randleman vs Pedro Rizzo

Video package pre-fight explains everything behind this, how Randleman was basically robbed of the title against Bas Rutten and captured it by defeating Petey Williams, how Rizzo became #1 contender by defeating Tsuyoshi Kosaka, and how Randleman knocked himself out by slipping and banging his head on a concrete floor at UFC 24 (seriously), removing the fight from that card. Announcers mention how pumped both guys are to finally get it on after waiting some time for it.

They open the first and both men look tentative, pressing forward carefully with little happening. Finally Randleman shoots in, and Rizzo tries to block, but Kev keeps coming and rams him right into the fence with some serious force, before getting him down in guard. Randleman uses a neck crank, and lands some punches, but Rizzo shows some good defences though, not allowing Randleman to do any real damage, and itís mainly a control thing as the champion keeps Rizzo down and takes the round.

2nd opens tentatively again, as Rizzo looks almost afraid to throw punches for fear of the takedown. They circle and square up, without actually doing anything, and this goes on for TWO MINUTES before McCarthy steps in and warns them. They go into a clinch which Rizzo muscles out of, and then he finally lands a couple of low kicks, marking Randlemanís leg up. Randleman lands a glancing combo, so Rizzo answers by barely landing a left high kick. Randleman comes back with a right hand, and Rizzo ends the round with a low kick.

Round three begins with MORE aimless circling, before Randleman closes into a clinch with some punches. Rizzoís nose is suddenly bloody and he audibly complains to McCarthy about something, but they muscle around as aimlessly as they were circling, with neither guy landing a thing, before Rizzo breaks off. More tentative circling follows, with both throwing a couple of jabs out, as the crowd get restless. Rizzo lands a nice low kick though. They exchange jabs and now Rizzoís left eye looks badly swollen, as he glances off Randlemanís head with a left high kick. Randleman counters a kick with a right and a big takedown, and ends the round in Rizzoís half-guard.

Replays between rounds show the bloody nose/swollen eye were caused by an accidental clash of heads as Randleman bulled into the clinch, hence Rizzoís complaining.

Fourth round begins horribly tentative again, and the crowd voice their disgust now, booing this rubbish louder than they did Pulver/Roque earlier Ė at least those guys were *trying* to do something. Randleman lands a left into a clinch, but they break quickly and itís back to circling with the odd jab, as the crowd boo and Jeff Blatnick goes as far as to compare it to Shamrock-Severn II, which should give you an indication of how bad this is. Iím struggling to stay awake myself at this point.

More of the same to open the fifth, before Randleman shoots and they go into the clinch, shoving each other around with no damage like a hugging match. Randleman breaks with a decent enough knee, but we get total static from both guys until the fight ends, with the crowd actually throwing trash into the Octagon in the final minute. Never seen that before, either.

Randleman gets the unanimous decision, but both guys are getting booed out of the building at this point and itís hard to call either the winner. Post-fight Randleman explains that he decided to ďstand and tradeĒ with the kickboxer and thought he did alright. Iíd probably do alright if said kickboxer wasnít actually throwing strikes, though. Randleman goes on to say that he feels both men showed too much respect for one another. Well, yeah.

Truly one of the worst fights Iíve had the Ďprivilegeí of watching Ė up there with Gracie-Shamrock and Severn-Shamrock as a cure for insomnia. Randleman was right as both men definitely showed too much respect, Rizzo especially as he looked so afraid of the takedown that he just didnít even attempt to initiate any striking exchanges, and as Randlemanís gameplan was apparently to stand with him, and yet avoid his counterpunches, we ended up with a dancing contest for the most part.

-We go back to the announcers who wrap up the show, and end there.

Final Thoughts....

Bit of a stinker here Iím afraid. When the best fight on the card ends prematurely with a disqualification, youíre definitely looking at a bad show. Hughesís fight was decent enough but thereís better Matt Hughes fights out there for sure, and with Roberts/Dodd and Pulver/Roque as well as the disgusting main event on display, itís definitely one of the worst UFC shows. Recommendation to avoid, unless youíve got a severe case of insomnia Ė if thatís the case, watch Randleman/Rizzo on loop.

Coming Soon....

Pride: 18.
UFC: 27, 28, 29, 63, 64 and 65.
Cage Rage: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18.
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.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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