UFC: Fight Night 2 review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on August 31, 2007, 11:30 AM
UFC: Fight Night 2
Las Vegas, Nevada
-This was perhaps the most odd show UFC have put on in the modern era, in that not only was it not properly acknowledged to be happening until about a week beforehand (in fact InsideFighting.com broke the news of the show before UFC.com did!), but a number of the matches on this card were already announced for UFC 55, which was scheduled just four days after this show. I believe the reasoning behind putting on this show was that WWE Raw was moving off Spike TV and back to the USA Network on 10/03 and planned a big show, so Spike wanted to counteract by putting on a live UFC special, but with that in mind, it makes even LESS sense why they kept it under wraps for so long.
-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, and that’s a story in itself, as according to most sources, Goldberg was offered a HUGE deal by WWE to no-show this event and join WWE as their new head announcer, but thankfully he turned it down. Anyhow – they talk about the main event of Tanner vs. Loiseau, and then move on to talk about TUF 1 stars Koscheck and Leben, and how they’ll be faced with a big step up in competition on this card – more on that later.
No introductions even given for this, as we head right into the Octagon where the fighters are ready to begin. Coming into this both men had been successful on the previous Fight Night card with rear naked chokes; Fickett choking Josh Neer unconscious, while Koscheck had tapped Pete Spratt.
They begin, and Fickett presses forward looking to strike, but Koscheck avoids his flurries and gets a nice slam down to half-guard. He immediately works to pass, but Fickett shows some good defensive skill and keeps the guard closed up. Kos lands some strikes, and then passes into side mount, but as he looks for the full mount Fickett scrambles back to half-guard. Koscheck continues to work and then passes to full mount, where he lands some punches, but Fickett again bucks from the bottom and gets half-guard back. Koscheck keeps working and mounts him for a second time, but Fickett again does well to scramble back into guard. Kos passes into half-guard and lands some strikes, but Fickett generally defends well and prevents any damage.
Ridiculously the “Regulations of the Octagon” information box obscures the beginning of the second round, so we actually miss Koscheck getting a takedown. Fickett gets full guard, and Koscheck works from the top and gets a full mount again, but this time Drew manages to flip out and stands back up. Kos wastes no time with a takedown to side mount though, and then tries the full mount, but ends up stepping back into guard. Kos stacks up and lands some punches, but then eats a nasty upkick on the way back down into half-guard. He lands some elbows from the top before Fickett spins for a heel hook attempt, and then transitions to a straight ankle lock, but Koscheck holds on calmly and eventually Fickett gives it up and uses it to take top position for the first time. Koscheck instantly reverses him though, back into top position where Fickett continues to use his guard well, managing to retain the position and avoid damage.
Into the third and final round, and Fickett throws a low kick, but gets tackled right down into half-guard. Koscheck continues to look for the guard pass, but Fickett defends well and only takes a couple of elbows. Referee ends up standing them, and from the restart Koscheck shrugs off a knee strike and gets another takedown. He looks to pass the half-guard, but again Fickett scrambles back to guard and slows things down, and the ref stands them with about a minute remaining. Koscheck shoots, but ends up diving right into a BIG KNEE and falls flat on his face, and Fickett POUNCES AND LOCKS UP A REAR NAKED CHOKE!~! Koscheck doesn’t even manage to tap out as the knee likely KOd him anyway, and the ref stops things there. Big pop for that finish, as it came completely out of nowhere.
Well, firstly, credit where credit is due, despite being completely dominated for the majority of the fight, Fickett never gave up hope, and really pulled the victory from the jaws of defeat in the end. With that said though, Koscheck got a LOT of criticism for his performance here, with his usual detractors claiming that all he did was lay on Fickett throughout the fight and that he deserved to lose. I don’t think that’s true at all – sure, Koscheck did very little damage to Fickett, but that was more down to Fickett’s excellent defense from his back than anything else, and I don’t think you can say Kos was just “laying there” when he was constantly looking to pass into a more dominant position. Yes, in the end he got caught cold by the knee, but overall he dominated a much more experienced fighter for basically three full rounds, and to me that was impressive. More to the point, I never found this fight boring at all, thanks to the constant scrambling and guard pass attempts. I guess the detractors will always have it in for Koscheck though, so whatever.
This was one of the fights moved from UFC 55 to this card, with the 4-0 Vera, the then-WEC Heavyweight Champion, and the BJJ expert Scherner both making their UFC debuts. Big size advantage for Scherner at 6’3”, 260lbs to Vera’s 6’2”, 225lbs, and they acknowledge right away that Vera could at some point drop to Light-Heavyweight, with his pre-fight interview even mentioning how he thinks a fight between himself and Chuck Liddell would go!
Vera lands a couple of leg kicks to open the first round, before taking a right hand into a clinch, where Scherner gets a takedown to half-guard. He lands some punches from the top, but Vera wastes no time and reverses back up to standing. They clinch up again and exchange some knees, and Scherner gets a takedown, only for Vera to reverse into top position in the Brazilian’s guard. Things slow down a bit from there, and the ref brings them back up, and from the restart Vera clinches, only for Scherner to roll for a kneebar. Vera pulls out though and rolls on top, and drops some shoulder strikes to end the round.
Into the 2nd, and Vera comes out the aggressor, opening up with some good left jabs and a couple of low kicks. Scherner bulls his way into a clinch, but Vera breaks off, and they exchange kicks from the outside with Vera getting the better shots in. Scherner clinches again, but this time Vera gets a plum clinch and begins to land some heavy knees to the body, eventually dropping Scherner down against the fence! Scherner stays on his back, but Vera’s having none of that and steps off, and the ref stands him back up. The Brazilian comes forward and throws a right hand, but Vera dodges and grabs the back of the head and lands a VICIOUS KNEE TO THE JAW, knocking Scherner silly and dropping him to his knees for the KO!
Post-fight Vera cuts a charismatic interview, stating his intentions to become the first man in UFC history to hold both the Heavyweight and Light-Heavyweight titles.
Excellent way for the rising star Vera to get his name out, with a win over a larger, tough opponent. Fight itself was slow in parts but Vera really picked things up in the second round with his striking, and the final knee that put Scherner away was a thing of beauty, just perfectly timed and executed. Strong debut for ‘The Truth’.
-We get a recap of the happenings thus far on TUF 2, all the way up to the sixth episode and the elimination of Jorge Gurgel. Watching the recap makes that series look a lot more entertaining than it was, I’d say.
-Stephan Bonnar joins Joe Rogan and they discuss the broken hand that kept him off this card and out of his proposed fight with James Irvin. Bonnar says he’ll be ready hopefully by January, and then picks his winners in the two main fights at UFC 55, choosing Forrest Griffin over Elvis Sinosic and Andrei Arlovski over Paul Buentello. Well, duh.
Now, this is interesting as all night Goldberg and Rogan were talking about Koscheck and Leben making a big step up in competition, and while I’d agree with that for Koscheck, to say Edwin Dewees is a step up for Leben is an insult I think when you consider his last opponent was Patrick Cote, who I would have no problems in picking to beat Dewees 9 times out of 10. Goldberg even claims that a win here could put Leben into the “Top Ten in the World status”. Riiiight.
Round 1 begins, and Dewees quickly goes into the clinch and looks for the takedown, before jumping guard in an attempted guillotine choke. Leben immediately works free, and avoids a subsequent triangle attempt and works some short strikes inside the guard. Dewees tries a triangle/armbar combo, but Leben avoids that too and then stands back up. Leben lands a left hand, but Dewees gets inside and trips him down to guard, where he looks to pass, but he gets WAY overconfident and leaves his arm hanging, and Leben locks up an armbar from the bottom and rolls it out for the tap.
Erm, easier win than I expected for Leben, but then again his ground game has always been somewhat underrated by people while Dewees is a guy with a very deceptive record and he’s never really beaten anyone that great to begin with. Good showing for Leben, but as you might’ve imagined, this win didn’t exactly propel him into the top ten as Goldberg suggested it would!
-Joe Rogan interviews Matt Hughes, who talks coaching on TUF II, and mainly his upcoming title defense against Karo Parisyan, which of course never happened due to Karo suffering a torn hamstring in training. Sad really because looking back now, that would’ve been a hell of a fight.
Main event here pitted the former champion Tanner against the up-and-comer Loiseau, who had given UFC fans arguably the most spectacular finish of the year prior to this fight, stopping Charles McCarthy with a spinning back kick to the body. As I recall fans on the internet were mainly picking Tanner, but the UFC fighters interviewed pre-fight here seem to be pretty split in their picks, with Diego Sanchez outright stating that he would “bet his house on Loiseau”.
They look to touch gloves to begin...but it’s a fake-out from Tanner who immediately tries to punch Loiseau off-guard. Ooh, dirty tactic. Loiseau manages to avoid though, and throws a kick, which Tanner blocks and gets a clinch. Loiseau breaks, but Tanner closes the distance again and clinches, getting a takedown to half-guard. He quickly passes to full mount, and Loiseau rolls to give his back. Tanner looks for the rear naked choke, but Loiseau defends well, so Tanner tries to transition to an arm triangle, but this allows Loiseau to scramble up as Evan turns into him. Loiseau gets to his feet, but Tanner gets him with a SICK armdrag takedown, into side mount, and from there he takes the back once again. Loiseau continues to defend Tanner’s rear naked choke attempts, and eventually manages to escape into Tanner’s guard, where he drops some punches to end the round.
2nd round begins with Loiseau throwing some flashy kicks, and avoiding Tanner’s first attempt at getting a clinch. Tanner closes the distance though, and tackles him down to half-guard. He lands some punches and works to pass, once again taking the Canadian’s back. Tanner works with punches from behind and gets both hooks in, but Loiseau continues to defend the rear naked choke, and this time manages to reverse a little quicker, rolling over into Tanner’s guard. Tanner looks calm from his back...until Loiseau rears up and drops a HUGE ELBOW, causing Tanner to wince in pain. Immediately a huge gash is open over Tanner’s eye, and Loiseau follows with a flurry of more vicious elbows, cutting Tanner open badly under the eye too. Referee John McCarthy steps in to call time to check the cut, and they decide to let Tanner continue and restart them in the same position. Tanner scrambles to his feet, and then looks for a takedown, but Loiseau rolls right through as they hit the mat and comes back up into the clinch! VICIOUS ELBOW from inside the clinch lands for Loiseau, busting Tanner wide open again, and this time he looks stunned and staggers off. Loiseau stuns him with another punch, causing him to double over, and although he manages to back away, he looks out of it, sporting a huge crimson mask, and McCarthy calls time and then stops the fight there.
Huge win for Loiseau; easily the biggest of his career and it was enough to secure him a title shot, though he suffered a nasty loss in that fight and hasn’t really been the same since. For Tanner it was a very disappointing loss, as he controlled the first round entirely and wasn’t doing too badly in the 2nd to begin with, but that said, it wasn’t a fluke cut stoppage as he was very much in trouble at the time the fight was stopped anyway. Very good main event though, one of the more underrated fights of 2005 I would say, as Tanner showed some really sweet takedowns while Loiseau’s back defence was tremendous and once he got on top, his elbow assault was unbelievably devastating.
-And we roll the credits after a short promo for UFC 55.
Despite having only four fights and coming off as a little rushed production-wise, Fight Night 2 is a really great show and is easily up there with the best free-TV shows that the UFC have put on thus far. No outright FOTYCs or anything, but Loiseau/Tanner is only a step below that level and the other three fights are enjoyable enough too, especially Koscheck/Fickett which has really suffered a bad rep, I feel. Nothing earth shattering, but UFN 2 is a good show indeed. Thumbs up.
UFC: 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, Fight Nights 3-10, and the TUF III Finale.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.