UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz 2 review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on May 23, 2007, 6:53 PM
UFC 66: Liddell vs. Ortiz
Las Vegas, Nevada
-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. This one was undoubtedly the UFC’s biggest PPV of the year – a no-brainer considering the main event featured the company’s two biggest stars – and ended up drawing over 1 million PPV buys, making it the most successful PPV of 2006 period.
This was basically the only fight on the card that didn’t interest me – in fact, no disrespect to either fighter, but this to me was one of the least-anticipated matches of 2006 in the UFC. Neither guy had looked stellar in their debut (Wellisch losing to Cheick Kongo, Perosh to Jeff Monson), so I wasn’t expecting much from this one at all.
Round 1 begins and they exchange some feeler strikes, with Perosh landing a few leg kicks. Perosh shoots in on a single leg, but Wellisch blocks and pops up quickly, looking to spin to Perosh’s back. They end up in a clinch before breaking, and Wellisch follows by stunning Perosh with some punches. Perosh backs off and Wellisch closes in, blocking a takedown attempt as Perosh drops for a leg. Wellisch uses a front facelock to come back up to the clinch, where we see Perosh’s nose is bloody. They break off and Wellisch tags him again, before Perosh manages the takedown. Wellisch comes back up immediately though, but takes a knee from Perosh to break. Perosh swings for the fences, but still looks a bit wobbly, and he stumbles forward and lets Wellisch get a takedown to side mount. Perosh scrambles back to his feet, but Wellisch lands a big knee and then DECKS Perosh with a series of punches! Perosh manages to survive as Wellisch looks to pound for the finish, and the round ends with Perosh continuing to take shots.
2nd round, and Perosh comes right out of the gate and NAILS Wellisch with a combination, sending him crashing down to the mat! Whoa, big turnaround. Perosh continues to unload as Wellisch looks in deep trouble, and the Australian gets a rear waistlock and pulls Wellisch down to the mat. Perosh tries to get back mount, but Wellisch does well to avoid allowing him to sink both hooks. They come back to their feet, but Perosh pulls him down with the waistlock again, going for the back mount once more, but again Wellisch escapes to his feet. Crowd are mad hot already, by the way, which is crazy considering this is the first prelim. They end up in a clinch, but Perosh pulls him right back down and this time Wellisch goes right into the turtle position. Perosh lands some punches, but can’t get the hooks in for a back mount, and Wellisch ends up reversing into top position, in Perosh’s half-guard, where he lands a couple, but generally uses it as recovery time. Ref brings them back up right before the buzzer.
Third and final round, and I’m thinking whoever takes this one wins the fight. Sure enough, both men come out aggressively and exchange right away, with Wellisch landing some more combinations to really bloody Perosh up, making a mess of his face. Perosh continues to bring it though, swinging for the fence and landing some nice shots, but it’s Wellisch who takes over with the more effective strikes. They go into a clinch momentarily, but nothing really happens there, and when they break off Wellisch tags him with some more punches as the exchange continues. Perosh keeps swinging, but can’t hurt Wellisch like he did in the second, and the fight comes to an end.
We’re going to the judges, and it’s a unanimous decision for Christian Wellisch, who clearly won the fight, taking the first and third rounds. Considering I wasn’t expecting anything from this, that was a hell of a fight actually. Both guys came to throw down and we ended up with a total war pretty much start to finish. Strong opener.
Okami’s originally scheduled opponent here, as at UFC 62, was David Terrell, but the Soul Assassin ended up injuring his elbow during training and TUF III veteran Rory Singer stepped in to take his spot. This was Okami’s second fight against a TUF III fighter actually, as he’d beaten Kalib Starnes back at UFC 64.
They circle to open, both men throwing strikes, but neither landing anything major outside of a glancing left high kick from Okami. Crowd get restless VERY quickly, which Joe Rogan blames on them being so hot to begin with, rather than this being a horrible fight. Singer appears to be the aggressor, coming forward and landing a couple of decent shots, but Okami catches him with a nice body kick late in the round, and we continue with the circling with little damage. Slow round that I’d give to Singer for the aggression.
Okami opens the 2nd with a combo into a bodylock, and from there he gets a takedown to half-guard. Rory quickly gets full guard, and then pushes off with his feet and stands, but Okami catches him with a hard, clean body kick, and Rory then gets a clinch. Okami secures double underhooks and gets a nice trip to guard though, and when Singer sits up to attempt a reversal, Okami hooks him in a front facelock, causing Rory to go back to half-guard. Okami mounts for a second, but Singer scrambles to half-guard right away. Okami lands some forearms, and then stands up over Singer, but takes some HARD upkicks from Rory, including some really nice ones to the right knee as the round ends. Far better round for Okami there though.
Singer presses forward with strikes to open the third round, but Okami quickly secures a bodylock and gets the takedown. He passes into half-guard, and then into side mount, landing some good shots along the way. Singer tries to reverse to his feet, but Okami grabs a front facelock and forces him back down to half-guard. Okami works for the mount, and manages to go into side mount before sliding the knee over to full mount. Singer tries to escape, but Okami keeps a tight mount and then moves up on the body, before UNLOADING with a flurry of punches, and finally Singer decides to tap out when he realizes he can’t escape.
Slow start for Okami, which is pretty much how he always fights, but once he took over Singer late in the second he basically dominated him with his strong takedowns and ground-and-pound. Not the most exciting fight overall, but another solid performance from Okami who’s certainly a contender for the title at 185lbs.
Marrero was coming off his upset win over Cheick Kongo at UFC 64, while BJJ expert Gonzaga had taken some time off due to injury, his last fight being back in May at UFC 60. Personally I figured Gonzaga would take this one relatively easily, as Marrero seemed like a one-dimensional wrestler against Kongo, while Gonzaga’s phenomenal on the ground and more than able standing, too.
We get underway and Gonzaga lands a stiff left hook right off the bat, and Marrero shoots in, but Gonzaga sprawls off to avoid. They clinch up and Gonzaga gets a nice trip down to half-guard, before mounting quickly. Marrero immediately looks in trouble as Gonzaga lands some punches, and then locks up an arm triangle. He passes into side mount to close the choke off, but even though it looks tight Marrero won’t tap, so Gonzaga goes back to the mount again and releases. Marrero tries to shake him off, but Gonzaga keeps him under complete control, and then goes for an arm. Marrero avoids and tries to scramble up, but Gonzaga keeps him down in side mount. He steps over into the mount once more, and lands some punches, then turns a keylock attempt into a textbook armbar for the tapout.
Wow, total schooling there – I expected Gonzaga to win, but not quite so easily. Marrero literally didn’t have one second of offence here, as Gonzaga took him down, absolutely dominated him on the ground, and finished him off with little trouble. Really impressive showing from ‘Napao’, who would go onto even better things in 2007...but that’s another story.
Both of these fighters were coming off wins on October’s Ortiz/Shamrock card, Alves with a lopsided decision over John Alessio, and DeSouza making his return after five years away from the UFC a successful one by tapping Dustin Hazelett. Despite Alves having some considerable skill in BJJ, this was pretty much seen as a “striker vs. grappler” match, with Alves wanting to keep it standing, and DeSouza wanting it on the ground as quickly as possible.
They circle to open, and Alves stuffs a pair of early takedown attempts. DeSouza tries a third one, really driving forward, but Alves shows some tremendous balance to stay up and manages to avoid. DeSouza decides to press forward swinging, but Alves lands a huge left and sends the Peruvian down, and Alves immediately pounces, dropping punches as DeSouza manages to secure guard. Tony ties him up from the bottom, so Alves stands back up, and continues to stalk him as DeSouza looks somewhat recovered. High kick by Alves misses, but he follows with a superman punch before DeSouza shoots in and manages to grab a clinch. Alves turns and trips him, landing DeSouza RIGHT ON HIS HEAD, and from there Alves takes over, really pounding DeSouza as he tries to escape the predicament. DeSouza can’t get guard, and ends up in the turtle position, just taking more punishment from Alves who then takes full mount and continues to bomb away. Referee John McCarthy looks close to stopping it, but decides to let it go until the round ends. Totally dominant round for Thiago.
Alves avoids another takedown to open the 2nd, looking to pick up right where he left off. DeSouza hits the ground anyway, but Alves is having none of it, and as DeSouza comes up Thiago just grabs him and THROWS HIM right down like a rag doll. DeSouza gets a bit desperate, trying another couple of takedowns and failing, so he ends up leaping forward like a chimp on cocaine and gets cracked with a hard right uppercut. DeSouza looks stunned now, and sure enough as he shoots in for another takedown attempt, Alves channels Joachim Hansen and meets him with a VICIOUS KNEE TO THE FACE, before pouncing to finish off with punches. Awesome ending right there.
Really exciting fight even if it was completely one-sided, as Thiago brought the goods big-time and just refused to play DeSouza’s game – Tony never came close to taking Alves down and on the feet, as well as in the clinch, he paid the price heavily. However, things didn’t turn out all rosy for Alves as he tested positive for a banned diuretic after the event, and ended up being suspended by the NSAC for a while – not sure when he’ll be back, but diuretics aside, I like the guy a lot and look forward to his return.
This was originally scheduled for the TUF IV Finale, but Bisping encountered some Visa difficulties and was forced out, so they re-scheduled the fight for this event instead. Schafer – coming off an impressive submission of Rob MacDonald – was seen as a solid test for the TUF III winner, as his game – takedowns and submissions – matched up well with Bisping, who’s forte is definitely more in the striking area. With many fans still considering Bisping to be raw and unproven, this was definitely an intriguing addition to the card.
Round 1 gets started, and Schafer comes out aggressively, stalking forward as Bisping moves around. Bisping draws first, though, clipping Schafer with a short right hand, but as he tries a low kick Schafer catches it and gets a takedown. Bisping tries to scramble to his feet, as Schafer tries to keep him down, and in the end Bisping wins out and manages to break off back to standing. Schafer looks for a clinch, but Bisping avoids and lands a one-two, but Schafer catches a straight kick and gets a nice slamming takedown off that. Bisping quickly scrambles from side mount back to half-guard, as Schafer looks for an arm triangle choke and tries to move to the side to close it out. Bisping manages to get full guard back, so Schafer gives up the choke, and Bisping tries to push off back to his feet, but as he stands Schafer grabs an over/under and hops onto his back in a standing position. Bisping tries the Belcher flip, but ends up dropping Schafer on his head instead, but Schafer’s somehow not hurt and he rolls into a full mount! Bisping scrambles quickly to half-guard, and then uses the fence to work to his feet, breaking a clinch off.
One-two from Bisping lands, and he follows that with a BIG LEFT HIGH KICK that seems to stun Schafer, but he still manages to get the takedown as Bisping’s off balance. Bisping pops right back up though, and breaks away again. Schafer looks winded and hurt at this point and Bisping lands some punches from the outside, but misses a kick and Schafer manages to get another takedown, where he immediately tries to transition to the back. Bisping turns into Schafer’s guard though, and starts to drop some heavy punches down onto his opponent. He gets a little overzealous though, and Schafer almost locks up an armbar, only for Bisping to pull out before he can finish it. Bisping stands over Schafer and continues to drop some bombs down onto him, and all Eric can do at this point is roll for safety and try to cover up. Bisping keeps landing, and finally the ref steps in for the stoppage. MASSIVE pop for the end, as Bisping celebrates.
Really good fight there; probably the best PPV opener of the year for the UFC in fact. Schafer looked good in places and was definitely dangerous on the ground, but in the end Bisping just had too much firepower for him and ended up wearing him out with some heavy shots, most notably the left high kick late in the round. It wasn’t all rosy for Bisping though – he showed some solid submission defense, but his takedown defense is clearly still his weak point as Schafer had little trouble getting him down on numerous occasions – but overall the Brit passed this test pretty nicely.
Another prototypical “striker vs. grappler” match, this was former Heavyweight champ Arlovski’s first fight back following the lacklustre performance in his third fight with Tim Sylvia. He certainly had a lot to prove following that stinker, while opponent ‘Pe De Pano’ basically had nothing to lose, fighting just his fourth MMA bout after coming off on the wrong end of what I still feel was a horrible decision against Jeff Monson. Like Alves vs. DeSouza, the gameplans for each fighter were clear in this one – Arlovski trying to keep it standing, Cruz trying to get it to the ground.
They begin and Arlovski comes dancing out looking ANGRY for some reason, ready to strike and knock Cruz’s head off. Cruz wants none of the striking and immediately shoots in, and when Andrei sprawls, he pulls half-guard quickly and locks down on it really tightly. Arlovski works to his feet though, and defends a single leg attempt, with Pe De Pano looking really desperate to get it down. Andrei lands some punches as Cruz drives him into the fence, so the Brazilian changes tactics, and drops down for a heel hook attempt. He manages to pull Arlovski down and it looks like we’re getting the duelling leg-lock attempt spot, but instead Arlovski kicks Cruz in the face with his free leg. Herb Dean steps in and calls time, warning Arlovski for the infraction, but when he tries to stand them up, Cruz panics and yells “No, no!”, wanting to keep it on the ground. Dean decides that’s okay and restarts them, and a split-second later Arlovski catches Cruz unawares with a HUGE RIGHT HAND that stuns him. Pe De Pano tries to roll through for a kneebar, but Arlovski grabs the fence with his free hand to block (boo!) and just rains down some CRUSHING BOMBS to knock Cruz silly. Seriously vicious ending.
On the surface this looked like an impressive showing from Andrei, but really it wasn’t as great as it sounds on paper. Cruz managed to get the fight into his world quickly and without a great deal of difficulty, and the finish was fishy to say the least – sure, Cruz was stunned by the right hand, but if Arlovski hadn’t grabbed the fence to prevent the kneebar (or the referee had called a foul for the fence grab) it might’ve been an entirely different story. In fact I thought Cruz had a decent opportunity to appeal and get a no-contest here, especially as a fight that ended in similar circumstances a few years back (Steve Berger vs. Benji Radach) had its result changed, but I guess Cruz just decided to roll with it and take the defeat. Interesting little fight, though.
I guess they were trying to go for a pseudo-revenge arc for this one, as MacDonald’s UFC debut had seen him impressively submit Leben’s Team Quest training partner Ed Herman with a triangle choke in October. And man, it’s worth noting that Leben has the WORST HAIRCUT OF ALL TIME here, this ridiculous red Mohawk that basically looks like a dyed-out piece of grass on his head. Seriously bad.
We get underway, and Leben catches a kick right away and gets a takedown to guard. MacDonald controls him nicely from the bottom though so Leben stands, and throws a couple of lefts as Jason joins him. MacDonald lands a straight right into a clinch, and muscles him into the fence, but the referee steps in and breaks them up pretty rapidly. Leben clips him with a left off the restart, but MacDonald grabs the clinch and shoves him into the fence again. They muscle for control for a while, before Leben breaks away, and lands some punches. MacDonald gets another clinch, where they exchange in tight with some dirty boxing, before the ref breaks them up again. Leben stuns him with a flurry of left hands, and then a couple of knees, but MacDonald survives and then comes back with a right of his own and a takedown attempt. Leben blocks though, and breaks off, ending the round with some punches.
MacDonald opens the 2nd by throwing some kicks, but Leben catches one and drills him with a left, catching him off balance and sending him down onto his back in full guard. Leben avoids a triangle attempt and gets into side mount, where he lands some elbows, but MacDonald uses a kimura attempt to roll and get to his feet. They exchange some punches, and Leben works to avoid a takedown before the referee breaks them up again. Leben lands another left to counter a kick, but this time MacDonald catches him with a nice right hand. Leben comes back with a knee, but MacDonald closes the distance and manages to trip him down into half-guard. Leben looks in trouble on the bottom pretty quickly, and MacDonald gets a guillotine from the top and sweeps over to lock in full guard. Leben ends up rolling into a seriously sick angle, with MacDonald securing the guillotine as Leben’s body almost turns on its side, and from there Leben ends up passing out as he attempts to tap.
Big win for MacDonald and one of the sickest looking submissions I can recall, especially considering it was a choke – normally you don’t get sick angles or anything like that with chokes, but Leben’s body was twisted completely to the side here, giving MacDonald more leverage on the choke to boot. Not the most aesthetically pleasing fight here – there was a lot of clinching and a few slow spots – but the finish was a really nice one for MacDonald, who certainly appears to have stepped up his game a lot since being brought into the UFC.
Jardine basically stumbled into this opportunity for the want of a better word – he was supposed to fight a guy way lower on the totem pole back at UFC 64 (Mike Nickels), but Nickels ended up pulling out with injury on the day of the weigh-ins, and I guess UFC decided to throw Jardine a bone by giving him the semi-main here against the ever-popular Griffin. Video package pre-fight basically bills this as a battle of the brawlers, despite the commentators constantly playing up how Griffin’s trying to move away from the brawling these days and become a more technical striker.
Just one small thing to point out here – I understand that they overdub the entrance themes with generic music on the DVDs as to not have to pay copyrighting fees to the bands, but Jardine entered to generic bagpipe music for this fight – why do they need to overdub that, of all things? I just hope to God they leave Diego’s Mariachi entrance intact when we get round to UFC 69.
We begin, and both fighters look content to exchange early, with Forrest landing a nice right hand in the opening trade and then a good left hook in the next one. Jardine looks a bit more passive, seemingly looking to counter Forrest’s low kicks with punches, and the exchange continues, with Griffin landing the better shots, but not really hurting Jardine. Both guys land a couple of good leg kicks, and then Keith catches Griffin with a combo as he steps in, but takes a couple of shots himself from the outside. The exchange continues with both men landing, and Jardine catches him with an especially nice body kick. Forrest lands a one-two, but then steps in with his head down, and Jardine catches him with a big right uppercut and follows with a BIG LEFT HOOK. Forrest looks slightly stunned, and that’s all the encouragement Jardine needs, as he just WADES IN with a huge flurry to really hurt him. Griffin goes for a takedown, but ends up on his back in guard, and before he can recover, Jardine smells the blood and just drops some SLEDGEHAMMERS onto the head for the TKO. Talk about a killer instinct. Post-fight Forrest looks absolutely DEVASTATED, breaking down in tears.
This was an entertaining, energetic fight, as both guys came in unafraid to trade shots right from the off, and despite nothing major happening until the end of the fight, it made for an exciting one as it was only a matter of time before someone got caught. The ending came out of left field in a way as Griffin didn’t look all that hurt by the uppercut/left hook combo, but Jardine was all over him the moment he showed any sign of being stunned at all, like a shark smelling blood, and once that happened there was no stopping the guy. Real star-making performance from Jardine in taking out one of the UFC’s poster boys, and despite his devastation at losing, I don’t think Forrest will especially be harmed by the loss – he went down swinging, after all – and he’s got the charisma and star quality to recover anyway.
Not much more to say here other than this was the UFC’s biggest main event of 2006 and arguably the biggest fight they’ve ever put together full stop (you could probably argue Shamrock-Ortiz, too) and it was for this one that over a million people ordered the pay-per-view. It’s weird to think that the build to this one didn’t seem anywhere near as personal as the original Liddell-Ortiz fight, too – while that one was built around the stories of Tito ducking Chuck, and so forth, this was more the fact that while Chuck had been on a tear, KOing everyone in his path, Ortiz had also been on a streak of his own, winning all of his five fights post-Liddell. While there honestly wasn’t much to suggest that the result would be any different this time around, the interest was still there – how can it not be with the company’s two biggest stars facing off? – and this time at least, Tito didn’t seem rattled by Chuck before they got into the cage.
Big pops for both men upon entrance, seemingly louder for Ortiz, although that might be the DVD dubbing, as Liddell clearly gets the bigger cheer during the ring introductions. They even dim the lights during the staredown, which is a nice touch for sure. Wish they’d do that more often. Tito’s also sporting a swank pair of new gold shorts, cool as hell. They actually touch gloves, and finally it’s time to get it on.
Chuck comes out with a low stance as they both circle tentatively, and both men land low kicks to begin. Liddell lands a left hook and avoids an early takedown, and Tito backs up as neither man lands much of note. Ortiz finally catches him with a good right hand, then misses with a follow-up overhand right, but does land a couple of nice leg kicks. Tito tries some more kicks, but Chuck lands a couple of right hands and then begins to press forward, stalking Ortiz down with punches. Finally a BIG LEFT TO THE TEMPLE lands, sending Tito back and finally his legs go out and he falls to the ground! Chuck closes in flurrying, looking to finish, and at one point it looks like it’s over, but somehow Tito covers up and keeps himself in the game, showing tremendous survival skill. Liddell finally backs off as a bloody Tito gets to his feet, and Chuck ends the round with an uppercut. Eddie Bravo’s got it 10-9 to Liddell. I’d be more inclined to say 10-8; even though I thought Ortiz was winning the round until the end flurry, that flurry was as close to a finish as you’d get. Chuck’s got a huge advantage going into the second.
Ortiz opens the 2nd aggressively with a big right, but Liddell shrugs off another takedown attempt. Ortiz begins to use more kicks again, seemingly looking to use them to set up a big right hand, but Liddell continues to catch him with the odd counter shot. Ortiz gets a good right in and follows with a kick to the body, before shooting in again, but again Chuck avoids and lands a right hand of his own as Tito backs up. Good right from Ortiz, and a high kick misses, but Liddell begins to press forward a little more now. Takedown attempt from Tito, and this time he spins into a rear waistlock and TRIPS LIDDELL DOWN!~! Crowd go APESHIT for that, but even though Tito’s on his back, Liddell gets right back to his feet, and turns into a clinch, before breaking off with a vicious elbow shot to the face just before the round ends. Bravo’s got it 10-9 Ortiz, but you could go either way really.
Into the third round now, and Tito begins by working the inside leg kick once more. He shoots in for a takedown, but Chuck avoids it again and lands a combination on Ortiz on his way up. Tito answers with a nice right hand, but Liddell seems unfazed and comes back with a hard low kick and a left hook to the body. Pair of beautiful rights to the body follows, with Liddell actually going down to one knee to land one of them, which I’ve never seen before. Tito tries a single leg, but Liddell avoids and so Ortiz drops to his back, and takes some punches from above for good measure. Tito comes back up, but Liddell begins to land more punches now, working him over with left jabs and rights, and generally hunting him down. Finally Chuck closes in and lands a heavy one-two, and Ortiz makes the mistake of trying to trade blows, landing one of his own, but Liddell hurts him BADLY with a left hook and closes in with a flurry as Ortiz backs up! Tito goes DOWN, and Liddell pounces, pounding away with punches. Ortiz turns on his side to avoid, and the ref decides to call it there, TKO for Liddell.
Post-fight Ortiz puts Liddell over hugely, saying he’s the toughest guy pound-for-pound in MMA and that he fought his best fight and couldn’t get the job done. Chuck cuts one of his usual post-fight partly coherent promos; not that the crowd care, lapping up every second of it. Word.
Pretty incredible main event, as Chuck fought arguably his best career fight to date, just proving to be a total monster and running through Tito for a second time. Where in the first fight Ortiz came out with a bad gameplan from the off, this time he actually fought a hell of a fight, probably the best fight he could’ve dreamed of having against Liddell, and even then he was just unable to really do any damage to the guy, despite arguably taking the second round on the scorecards. Liddell was just impossible to get down here, and even when Ortiz managed it, he just stood right back up, and the difference in striking in terms of sheer power was clear right from the opening round. Tito did tremendously well to survive the first onslaught and he fought a great fight, but Chuck was not to be denied here – right now I’d argue that he’s the greatest 205lbs fighter of all time, and barring a sudden collapse this year, I don’t see that changing. Hell of a main event, lived up to all the hype surrounding it.
-And a highlight reel of the night’s action ends things.
UFC 66 is one of the best shows of the year, easily. Everything except the opener has a decisive finish, and even the lone decision on the card was still an exciting fight. The only fight that you could consider slow here was Okami/Singer in the early stages, and that wasn’t exactly boring or anything. Granted, there were no candidates for Fight of the Year here or anything, but the main event certainly lived up to the hype in terms of two big stars fighting at the top of their game, and with that you’ll find no complaints from me. Not quite as good as UFC 65 or 63, but this is a hell of a show that’s not to be missed. High recommendation.
Pride: Total Elimination 2005, Critical Countdown 2005, Final Conflict 2005, and 30.
UFC: Ultimate Ultimate ’95, Ultimate Ultimate ’96, Ultimate Japan, Ultimate Brazil, 67, 68, 69, and 70.
WEC: 10 and 11.
WFA: 1, 2 and 3.
Strike Force: Shamrock vs. Gracie.
Rumble On The Rock 7.
Gladiator Challenge: Summer Slam.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.
Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.