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UFC 29: Defense Of The Belts review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on February 28, 2007, 7:46 AM

UFC 29: Defense Of The Belts

Tokyo, Japan

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Jeff Blatnick, who hype the Ortiz/Kondo main event, before talking about the likes of Miletich, Hughes, Tanner and Lindland (making his UFC debut) on the card.

Just a bit of additional information, this was the final show under the SEG regime, as shortly after this (despite plugging UFC 30 on this show) the company sold out to the Fertitta brothers and Zuffa, and the rest is history.

Middleweight Fight: Chuck Liddell vs Jeff Monson

Liddell, in his fourth UFC appearance, was still firmly with Team Punishment as well as John Hackleman’s camp at this point, while Monson was at Team Quest and has Couture and Henderson in his corner. Just something I noticed too, he looks much better leaned down at Middleweight (LHW) here with his shorter frame than he does today at Heavyweight, I think.

Liddell presses to begin the opening round, and sprawls on a takedown attempt, so Monson pulls guard. He goes for a double leg from there, and lifts Chuck into the air, but Liddell still manages to stay standing. Monson ends up grabbing a rear waistlock, so Chuck throws a back elbow that glances off his head. Monson gets a throw, but still struggles to keep Liddell down as Chuck powers back to his feet in the waistlock again. Monson drops for a single leg, but Liddell avoids incredibly well again, before backing off and creating some distance. Chuck comes forward again and avoids another takedown before landing a couple of left hooks. Monson shoots again, and this time Liddell blocks and breaks off with an inside elbow. A couple of nasty leg kicks from Liddell land as he keeps pressing, avoiding another takedown and landing a low kick and a glancing high kick to end the round.

Liddell continues to stalk his opponent to open the 2nd, landing another leg kick along the way. Monson misses a left hook, and more kicks from Chuck begin to mark up his leg badly, some real nasty bruising there. Monson shoots in again, but Liddell easily blocks it and lands another inside elbow strike. More low kicks and avoided takedowns follow, before Monson finally catches a kick and muscles Liddell into the fence. Liddell breaks off though, and throws a high kick that misses. Monson shoots in and this time pulls half-guard, but Liddell only stays down there for a brief moment before standing again to end the round.

More of the same throughout round three, as Liddell begins to open up with some more punches now, still landing vicious low kicks with Monson completely unable to get him down, and getting no closer as the fight goes on. Liddell even lands a glancing superman punch at one point. More of the same follows, as Monson’s leg is sporting a HUGE welt now, and this goes on till the end of the fight.

To the judges, and it’s an obvious victory for Liddell. Totally one-sided fight there as Monson’s stand-up was non-existent, and even back then Liddell’s takedown defense was phenomenal, stuffing even deep shots from Monson and never really coming close to being pinned to the mat. Even so, Liddell’s game here clearly needed a lot of tweaking, and he’s come on a lot since this in terms of movement and striking technique, as he never came close to outright finishing Monson even if he did a lot of damage with the leg kicks, and it made for somewhat of a dull fight.

Lightweight Fight: Dennis Hallman vs Matt Hughes

This was a rematch from an earlier Extreme Challenge bout, and they decide to show said first fight before the entrances, as Hallman finished Hughes with a guillotine choke in 17 seconds! Announcers mention that it was very early in Hughes’s career though, and he’s now ranked firmly in the upper echelon of the Lightweight category.

Both men come forward and Hughes quickly grabs Hallman and delivers a HUGE BODYSLAM, but as he lands, Hallman sets up for an armbar! Hughes lifts him right up and SLAMS HIM DOWN, but as they come down Hallman hooks it in properly, and rolls over for the tapout in 20 seconds. Good lord.

The replays show Hughes just got overzealous with the slam and allowed Hallman the positioning on the arm, wow, what a result there. Not many people can say they’ve taken less than a minute to submit Matt Hughes of all people on two separate occasions, that’s for sure.

Middleweight Fight: Evan Tanner vs Lance Gibson

This was Tanner’s return after quite a layoff from UFC competition; his last show being back at UFC 19. Gibson was coming off a win in his UFC debut at UFC 24 earlier in the year.

They begin and Tanner lands a couple of leg kicks into a clinch, where they trade some knees. Tanner gets a nice foot sweep to guard, and then lifts Gibson’s legs up, passing into side mount. Tanner looks for a mount, but Gibson blocks and gets guard back, so Tanner stands back up to attempt a pass. He grabs the legs and flips Gibson right over, trying to take the back, but Gibson rolls free. Tanner stands though, and then throws Gibson’s legs aside, getting back to side mount. From there it’s game on for Tanner, as he works Lance over with some short, brutal right elbow strikes to the face, cutting Gibson open, while landing some heavy left elbows to the body for good measure. Tanner continues to land, and then takes full mount, where he flurries with forearms and punches for the stoppage.

Pretty much a one-sided crushing on the part of Tanner, who is just a bad, bad man when he’s on like this.

Lightweight Fight: Fabiano Iha vs Daiju Takase

Iha was looking to up his UFC record to 2-2 here, after getting his first UFC win over Laverne Clark at UFC 27, while Takase, sporting a 0-2 record in the Octagon, was after his first win.

They circle to open, and Iha shoots in and gets a really smooth single leg to guard. He quickly moves Takase to the fence, and then stands, and we get a weird position with Takase almost hanging upside-down with his legs wrapped around Iha’s midsection. Iha lands some punches downwards, and then Takase’s defense crumbles, allowing Iha to catch him with one to the jaw and stun him. Takase covers up and Iha delivers a barrage of shots, and the ref’s seen enough there.

Quick and easy win for Iha as Takase did very little in the way of defense, very little period actually.

-We see Tito Ortiz preparing backstage and he looks and sounds absolutely pumped.

Middleweight Fight: Matt Lindland vs Yoji Anjo

Lindland had actually won his Olympic Silver medal a couple of months before this, and this was his UFC debut (although his MMA debut came a few years prior in 1997). Announcers make sure to mention that he’s likely to fight like an earlier Randy Couture. Anjo is a Japanese pro-wrestler, I’ve seen him a few times and he’s always taken a beating, so no doubt he was brought in here to make Lindland look good.

Anjo shoots in right off the bat, but there’s no way he’s getting Lindland down and sure enough, Lindland blocks easily and gets a front headlock, where he lands some knees to the head of his opponent. Anjo keeps trying the takedown, but Lindland sprawls right back and uses the fence to help him to stay up, before manoeuvring into top position and taking the full mount pretty easily. Anjo immediately looks in trouble and tries to buck, but Lindland just works him over with elbows and punches for a while until the referee steps in due to lack of defense.

Impressive debut for Lindland against sub-par opposition, but really what it had me thinking was what kind of damage Lindland could do if knees to the head of a downed opponent were still legal – he looked very good using them here and he’s still a fan of that front headlock position.

UFC Lightweight Title: Pat Miletich vs Kenichi Yamamoto

Yamamoto was granted this shot after winning the last UFC-J tournament, back at UFC 23, but I’m guessing it was mainly because they wanted Pat to have a Japanese opponent. Video package shows Miletich getting more impressive with each title defence, right up to his last armbar victory over John Alessio.

Yamamoto shoots in to open the first round, but Miletich sprawls to avoid and lands some knees to the head, before Yamamoto drops to his back. Miletich stands up and Yamamoto is forced to join him. He comes forward, but Miletich gets a nice slam down to Yamamoto’s guard, but he stands back up quickly though. Both men press the action, and Miletich sees a high kick attempt blocked. Yamamoto shoots in again, but Miletich avoids once more and then lands a hard right hand into the guard. He moves Yamamoto towards the fence, but the challenger uses his feet to avoid being pinned against it, causing Miletich to stand up again. They press and Miletich lands some punches, then gets a takedown into half-guard. He looks for an arm triangle from the top and looks to have it locked in, but Yamamoto rolls to avoid, taking a big knee as he manages to get onto all fours. Yamamoto manages to get back to guard, but Miletich gets a front facelock and lands some knees to the head to end the round.

Yamamoto opens the 2nd by pulling guard, but Miletich wants none of that and stands back up. They come forward, and Pat TAGS HIM with a big left hook. Yamamoto throws a spinning kick that Miletich easily avoids, and then Miletich lands a low kick. Yamamoto shoots in, but Miletich sprawls and then looks to take the back, landing some punches from behind before standing. Miletich lands a nice combo as Yamamoto comes forward, stunning him, and this time as the Japanese shoots, Miletich sprawls back and clamps on a guillotine choke, tightening it up for the tapout there.

Miletich appears to be limping post-fight, but no matter. That was a very aggressive showing from him, and another successful title defense to boot. Yamamoto just looked outmatched in all areas and as soon as he had the chance, Pat put him away.

-We go to the ‘Intermission’ now for some reason, and James Werme shows some Japanese fans elsewhere in the arena playing the UFC video game.

-They announce that to fill the intermission time, they’re going to show an unaired preliminary fight from UFC 28.

Lightweight Fight: Chris Lytle vs Ben Earwood

Earwood is a Miletich guy, he only fought twice after this one though so I’m guessing he must’ve retired through injury or something. This was Lytle’s UFC debut, he looks pretty young here, too. This is a prelim fight, so just two five-minute rounds.

Lytle presses to open, but Earwood catches a kick and gets a takedown off it. Lytle grabs a guillotine and tries to lock it up, but can only get half-guard for leverage to begin with. He manages full guard, but ends up abandoning the guillotine and Earwood moves him towards the fence. Lytle ties him up well, but a couple of elbows manage to land through the defense. Lytle looks for a reversal, but ends up on the wrong end of the north/south position, and can’t seem to get off the bottom. He rolls back to half-guard, where Earwood lands some short strikes to end the round.

Into the 2nd, and they press forward, both landing glancing punches, before Earwood gets a takedown. Lytle tries the guillotine again, but Earwood clears his legs and gets to side mount to avoid. He looks for full mount, but Lytle gets back to full guard. Earwood lands some short strikes, but doesn’t score much damage, and this goes on until the fight ends.

Earwood gets the unanimous decision from the judges, but that was a seriously dull fight – Earwood didn’t seem to have any answer for Lytle’s defenses, even though Lytle couldn’t get off the bottom and mount any offense of his own at all.

-We go back to UFC 29 now and they run down the card so far, before going backstage to Pat Miletich, who talks about suffering a little from jet-lag, as well as a potentially injured foot from the bout with Yamamoto.

UFC Middleweight Title: Tito Ortiz vs Yuki Kondo

Hype around this one seems pretty big, as it was Ortiz’s first title defense following his win against Wanderlei Silva for the vacant belt, and he was facing Kondo who was coming off an impressive UFC debut, and was also one of the top ranked fighters from Pancrase at this point too, with wins like a knockout over Frank Shamrock on his record. Ortiz does look quite a lot bigger though.

Round 1 begins, and Kondo comes forward as they circle, landing a nice mid-level kick before following with a HUGE FLYING KNEE that catches Tito on the chin! Ortiz goes down, but rolls right through and comes back up to standing, grabbing double underhooks on Kondo before he can follow up. Ortiz muscles him to the edge of the Octagon and gets a slam to guard, where he gets some retribution, opening up with some heavy punches from inside the guard. Ortiz just takes over, landing a series of vicious elbows, and Kondo goes into the turtle position. Ortiz continues to punch away, but Kondo works his way to standing, only for Tito to bring him right back down with a front headlock. Once they’re down, Tito turns the headlock into a neck crank variant, and pulls right back, causing Kondo to tap out.

Short, but very explosive and eventful fight for Tito’s first title defense. The knee from Kondo landed pretty much flush and looked to have him badly stunned, but Tito showed tremendous recovery power to come back so fast, and once he got Kondo to the mat, he overpowered the smaller fighter pretty badly and the end came swift and painfully for the challenger. Interesting submission to close it off too, the closest one I can think of to it would probably be Coleman over Severn.

Post-fight Tito celebrates with his wife, and what looks like the rest of Team Punishment and his management at that time – Tiki Ghosn, Rob McCullough, Fabiano Iha, Chuck Liddell, and – completely decked out in Team Punishment gear – Dana White! Ha, that’s seriously weird to see at this moment in time.

-Announcers run down the happenings of the show, and that’s it as we end on a plug for ‘Ultimate New Year’s Eve 2000’.

Final Thoughts....

Strangely enough, the fight they added from a different show was the most dull on the card here, as everything outside of Liddell/Monson ended in quick fashion for the most part. A lot of the earlier stuff on the card is a bit one-sided, but even the squash matches are interesting to see some of today’s fighters like Evan Tanner, Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes and Matt Lindland in their earlier days. Hughes’s fight especially is eye-popping. Main event is the best fight on the card and probably one of Ortiz’s most entertaining career fights, so if you’re a big Tito fan this is a must-see, otherwise, it’s a solid recommendation for some decent fights and interesting stuff from fighters who went onto big things.

Aaand, with that, I’ve officially finished off the UFC back catalogue. Only took me just under three years. Whew. Plan now, then, is to finish off the rest of the stuff on the ‘Coming Soon...’ list before moving onto the UFC Fight Night cards.

Coming Soon....

Pride: 18.
UFC: 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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