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UFC 16: Battle In The Bayou review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on March 29, 2006, 5:02 AM

Before I start with this show, I better explain that between UFC 15 and this one, there was a UFC Japan show that hasn’t been released over here (hence no review). The major events at that show saw Randy Couture defeat Maurice Smith by decision to win the UFC Heavyweight Title, while Frank Shamrock became the first ever UFC Middleweight champion by submitting Kevin Jackson with an armbar in 16 seconds. And in the mini-tournament, some guy called Kazushi Sakuraba armbarred Marcos Silveira to win the final round. Wonder what happened to him? Anyway, the UFC Japan show from what I’ve read isn’t the greatest show, so hey, it’s not something I’m too upset about missing. So UFC 16, let’s get it on.

UFC 16: Battle In The Bayou

New Orleans, Louisiana

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg (either in his first UFC, or if he broadcast the Japan show, his second) and Jeff Blatnick. They hype up the first title defense by Frank Shamrock (against Russian Igor Zinoviev), the return of Kimo, and the UFC’s first ever Lightweight tournament.

-Joe Rogan is backstage and he thinks this is possibly the best card UFC’s ever put together, almost definitely in terms of competitive match-ups. Rules and time limits are identical to UFC 15.

Lightweight Tournament: Semi-Finals

Mikey Burnett vs Eugenio Tadeu

By ‘Lightweights’, they mean 170lbs and below, so for all intents and purposes this is today’s Welterweight division. I think I’ve explained the weight class changes in an earlier review, but up until UFC 31, they had Heavyweight (200lbs and above), Middleweight (170lbs-199lbs), Lightweight (155lbs-169lbs) and starting at UFC 30, Bantamweight (155lbs and below). When the NSAC got involved around UFC 30 though, they changed things to how they are today, meaning Heavyweight became 205lbs-265lbs, the old Middleweight class was split into Light-Heavyweight (185lbs-205lbs) and Middleweight (170lbs-185lbs), and they created Welterweight (155lbs-170lbs) and Lightweight (155lbs and below) classes.

That was as tiring as all the Tanner/Horn/Levens/Riggs rumors flying around today. Whew.

Aaaaanyhow. Burnett was the Lion’s Den’s premier Lightweight fighter at this point, and he was coming in with quite the reputation from that camp. Tadeu is billed as a Brazilian Luta Livre fighter, which is basically (from my knowledge anyway) No-Gi BJJ with an emphasis on Muay Thai. Goldberg helpfully informs us that Luta Livre loosely translates to “anything goes”. So wouldn’t that technically make it Vale Tudo? CONFUSION!~!

They begin and Tadeu ducks a punch and gets a swift takedown, but Burnett muscles back up quickly and forces him backwards into the fence. They break off and exchange punches, with both landing nicely, before Burnett rocks him with a heavy shot and then grabs a standing guillotine, forcing Tadeu to his back against the fence. Burnett really cranks on the guillotine from the top and it looks tight, but Tadeu somehow escapes to guard, where Burnett works the body with punches. He passes into half-guard momentarily, but Tadeu quickly reclaims the position, so Burnett continues to chop away at the body until the official stands them up at around eight minutes. They restart, and exchange punches again, with Burnett walking right through Tadeu’s and NAILING him with some huge hooks. Tadeu shoves Mikey into the fence, but Burnett lands some knees to the body, and then back out, he nails him with a HUGE uppercut and another flurry of punches, and the ref stops it there with Tadeu still standing.

Really good fight to watch there, as both guys came in with aggression and a willingness to bang it out, and it turned into a highly competitive bout. The difference seemed to be in strength, as Burnett was able to walk through Tadeu’s punches and land some real bombs in the exchanges. Definitely a good debut for the Lightweights.

-And just like that they announce post-fight that Burnett’s pulled out of the finals and the winner of Miletich/Saunders will be fighting alternate Chris Brennan in the finals instead. Huh. I think this must’ve been pre-taped as opposed to shown live, because there’s normally a LOT more talking and stuff between fights, and Burnett surely wouldn’t have pulled out injured right there after the fight.

Pat Miletich vs Townsend Saunders

They’re billing Pat as a Muay Thai/wrestling/BJJ hybrid fighter, so despite being 17-1 at this point, he obviously hadn’t established the official ‘Miletich Fighting System’ as a style. Saunders is an amateur wrestler, in fact an Olympic silver medallist, so this should be interesting. Just a note, Miletich looks a LOT bigger than Saunders here, and the announcers mention that Miletich is one of the first guys they’ve seen to cut weight to make a weight class. Oh, if they only could’ve known what Joe Riggs would be doing less than ten years later....

They circle into a clinch to open, and exchange some knees, before Miletich breaks off with an uppercut. More circling follows, and Miletich tries a combo, but Saunders gets a takedown to counter a knee attempt. Saunders stacks up in the guard, but Miletich blocks any attempts at striking well. He gets a nice sweep from the bottom and comes back to standing, but then attempts to roll for a kneebar and ends up back in the guard when Saunders manages to escape. Pat works an arm triangle from the bottom ala Liddell-Horn I, but Saunders manages to muscle his way free, and then changes his tactic, standing and dropping down for a toehold attempt. Miletich works to escape that and gets back to guard, where Saunders seems content to not stay very active from the top. Miletich blocks another ankle lock again, so Saunders chops away with some shots to the body, before Miletich gets a beautiful sweep, tipping Saunders backwards into half-guard! Pat takes the full mount, controlling him with both legs hooked in, and goes for a keylock, but Saunders does well to muscle out and gets a reversal, back on top in Miletich’s guard. Saunders works some short punches from the top, but doesn’t really cause any damage, and moves Miletich to the fence to end the round, landing some punches from a stacked position to end the opening period.

We’re going to the three-minute overtime period, and they begin with Miletich landing a hard low kick into a clinch, where he works some good knees whilst holding Saunders’ shorts. Miletich continues to work knees into the midsection, looking in better condition than his opponent, until they break off, and Saunders closes things out with a takedown and an attempt at a flurry to finish the fight. We’re going to the judges, and Miletich gets the split decision.

Not the most exciting fight of all time there, but it wasn’t overtly boring or anything. Saunders seemed to have the wrestling skill to put Miletich down, but was unable to really do anything from the top, and what gave Miletich the win was probably that he came out in overtime far more aggressive than Saunders and landed a lot of knees, while Saunders never really landed anything meaningful in all his time in top position. So it’s Miletich-Brennan in the finals.

Middleweight Fight: Jerry Bohlander vs Kevin Jackson

Jackson was coming off the embarrassment of a sixteen-second loss to Frank Shamrock in his Middleweight Title opportunity here, and was clearly looking for redemption, while Bohlander (now the leader of the Lion’s Den, apparently, with the departure of the Shamrocks) was looking for a potential title shot of his own against his former training partner Frank.

They press with strikes to open, before Jackson lands a big overhand right to set up a nice takedown to guard. Bohlander immediately gets his legs up looking for an armbar, but Jackson manages to spin over and avoid, only to end up in a front facelock. Bohlander looks for a double leg of his own, but Jackson sprawls out and blocks it easily, landing some elbows to the back of Bohlander for good measure. Bohlander manages to work back to his feet, and they circle with Jerry working the low kicks, before shooting in for a takedown. Jackson unsurprisingly sprawls to avoid, and lands a knee to the head, before spinning over into a back mount, but Bohlander rolls through for a kneebar, and ends up in half-guard on his back. Nice exchange there. Jackson lands some good punches from the top, and then looks for a keylock, but he can’t finish the hold and decides to simply smother Jerry. The official stands them back up at this point for inactivity, and Jackson gets a nice headlock throw right into an attempt at the Mark Coleman neck crank. Bohlander avoids it nicely and gets his legs over, getting back into guard, where he goes for an armbar. Jackson BARELY avoids it and passes into side mount, but Bohlander quickly works back to guard, and then suddenly gets an armbar from NOWHERE and McCarthy stops things as the arm gets fully extended, much to the disgust of Jackson. Hey, losing a fight has to be better than a snapped arm, buddy.

Really good fight there with some awesome grappling exchanges. Bohlander was clearly more skilled in terms of submissions, but Jackson’s strength and athleticism meant he was able to avoid most of the attempts, and that made for an exciting fight for the most part. The armbar to finish literally came from nowhere.

Lightweight Tournament: Finals

Pat Miletich vs Chris Brennan

Pre-fight the announcers mention that these two have actually fought before, with one fight ending in a draw and Miletich winning the other via decision. Brennan is billed as a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu expert under Royce himself.

Brennan presses the action to begin with, and they exchange some tentative strikes before Brennan catches a kick and gets a takedown to guard. Miletich quickly works back to his feet after an unsuccessful guard pass attempt, and Brennan lands a good knee, then grabs a guillotine and pulls guard. The choke looks tight, but Miletich is able to work his head out, and he begins to pound away at the head and body from the top. Brennan stays active from the bottom, continually squirming around, and he manages to push away from the fence with his legs. Miletich continues to work from the top with strikes though, and eventually passes into half-guard, moving Brennan against the fence for good measure. It looks like Miletich is trying to pass into full mount, but then Brennan taps out, surprising the announcers, and things end there. Weird finish, but replays show that Miletich actually had some sort of variant on the head-and-arm choke, with his shoulder forced down into Brennan’s throat.

Quite a decent little fight there, and Pat Miletich is the first ever UFC Lightweight tournament champion. Judging by his showing in the first fight I would’ve preferred to see Burnett vs. Miletich, but this was good enough as both men were extremely active on the mat and it made for a solid fight to watch.

-They show an advert for UFC 17, pushing the returns of Vitor Belfort and Tank Abbott, as well as a HW Title fight between Randy Couture and Mark Coleman.

Heavyweight Fight: Tsuyoshi Kosaka vs Kimo Leopoldo

Tank Abbott joins us on commentary for this one, with the potential being that he might fight the winner at UFC 17. Kosaka’s main claim to fame at this point was that he was part of the Alliance with Maurice Smith and Frank Shamrock, and it was his guard teaching that enabled Smith to handle Mark Coleman. Kimo was looking for a victory in his first UFC since the loss to Ken Shamrock at UFC 8.

Kimo sprints right out of the gate to begin, landing a left hook and sprawling to avoid a takedown. He spins into top position in TK’s half-guard, and then tries a kneebar, and it looks like it’s locked out! Kosaka manages to stay calm though, and rolls to alleviate the pressure, before escaping to his feet. Awesome showing of defensive skill there. Kimo gets another takedown to guard, and passes into half-guard, working some left hands while looking to pass. TK looks for an ankle lock from the bottom, but Kimo avoids, and then pulls out and stands as Kosaka tries it again. Kimo avoids a shot and gets on top in half-guard again, where he lands a BIG left. We get a moment of hilarity as, while Kimo attempts to pass the guard, Tank claims on commentary to be “well versed in submission”. Right. Kimo gets the full mount, but can’t work any major shots as TK bucks to make him lose his balance. Kimo manages to stay mounted, but TK then grabs the leg and looks for an ankle lock, so Kimo stands to avoid, and looks gassed badly. TK comes right forward and WOBBLES HIM with a punch! Kimo suddenly looks in trouble, sucking in wind badly, as Kosaka presses the action, landing leg kicks as Kimo swings wildly at him. Kosaka continues to land combinations, with Kimo’s wild swings doing no real damage, as opposed to Kosaka’s accurate shots. Kimo’s eye begins to swell shut as the opening period ends.

We’re going to overtime, and Kimo looks somewhat recovered to begin, shooting for the takedown, but Kosaka sprawls back and lands a good knee to the head before standing. Kimo shoots once more, but Kosaka sprawls again and lands another big knee. Kimo finally gets the takedown and mounts right away, but as he tries an armbar, Kosaka avoids and reverses into Kimo’s guard, where he works some hard punches, closing up Kimo’s eye as the fight ends. We go to the judges, and the winner, by unanimous decision, is Tsuyoshi Kosaka!

Really great fight there. Kimo came out like a house on fire with the takedowns and the kneebar attempt, but he was unable to do any major damage from the top due to TK’s solid defensive guard, and when the fight came back to standing later in the round, Kosaka’s conditioning took over and he was basically able to pick Kimo apart standing, before controlling him in the overtime period and working some nasty ground-and-pound to leave little doubt as to who the winner was. Really good debut from Kosaka and a little disappointment for Kimo in his big return.

UFC Middleweight Title: Frank Shamrock vs Igor Zinoviev

This was set up ala Maurice Smith-Mark Coleman, as Zinoviev was the now-defunct Extreme Fighting Middleweight Champion, holding wins over the likes of Enson Inoue and Mario Sperry. Shamrock though was coming in with all the momentum in the world, thanks to his incredible sixteen second victory over Kevin Jackson that won him the title. Frank is looking SHREDDED for this one.

They begin, and Shamrock lands two low kicks as they circle around. Zinoviev comes forward with a punch, but Frank ducks and grabs him before SLAMMING HIM RIGHT ONTO HIS HEAD!~! HOLY SHIT!~! Zinoviev is OUT and EMTs flood the Octagon in one of the scariest moments in UFC history. Replays would make you believe Zinoviev was dead or at least paralysed, but thankfully post-fight they tell us that Zinoviev’s okay. Shamrock cuts a cool promo post-fight saying that he’ll fight anyone they throw in front of him.

Incredible ending to the show and one of the most incredible, albeit scary, finishes you’ll ever see in MMA. Quite possibly the closest UFC ever came to a legitimately serious injury, as although Zinoviev was “okay”, he never fought again.

-We end with a highlight reel of the night’s action.

Final Thoughts....

UFC 16 has a lot of long fights, but it’s not a bad thing as for possibly the first time in UFC history, all the fights were competitive fights between legitimately skilled fighters, and it meant for longer, but arguably more watchable and exciting fights. Fight of the night honours probably go to Kosaka-Kimo, but Miletich-Brennan, Burnett-Tadeu, and Jackson-Bohlander were also good fights. The Shamrock fight was obviously not the most competitive, but it’s one of the most incredible endings to any fight – or show, for that matter – that you’ll ever see. Joe Rogan called this possibly the best UFC card up to this point, and it lived up to that, definitely proving to be one of the best shows they put on. High recommendation.

Coming Soon....

Pride: 9, 10, 11, 18, 27 and 28.
UFC: 17, 18, 19, 20, 56, 57 and 58.
Cage Rage: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.
WFA: 1, 2 and 3.
King of the Cage: 18, 23, 30 and 32.
FFC XV: Fiesta Las Vegas
IFC: Shogun
Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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