Canadian grappler Bocek against Alaskan wrestler Evans was to me one of the least interesting fights UFC had put together all year. I expected Bocek, with his strong BJJ pedigree, to be able to tap Evans with relative ease, although Evans had put up a good fight in his UFC debut against Roger Huerta.
Touch of gloves to begin and both men come out with low stances, clearly looking to shoot. Bocek throws a pair of overhand rights that miss and then Evans pops him with a couple of jabs and stuffs a takedown attempt. Bocek misses a high kick, and then Evans makes him pay with a hard right and follows with a combo. Another nice counter lands for Evans, but then Bocek shoots and drives him into the cage. Evans works to defend the takedown attempt, and they end up clinched along the fence. Knee to the gut from Bocek as they spin around looking for the takedown, and it’s Bocek who’s successful with a bodylock takedown to guard. Evans ties his arms up, so Bocek drops some shoulder strikes. Evans kicks him away though and explodes back to his feet, good escape. The Alaskan avoids another takedown and lands an uppercut, and then reverses a takedown attempt and lands in Bocek’s half-guard. Evans decides to stand and lands a pair of jabs, but Bocek shoots on a single leg and gets the takedown to guard. He passes to side mount, but Evans does a good job to quickly regain full guard. Bocek passes to half-guard though, but once more Evans reclaims guard to close the round.
Round 2 and the crowd is DEAD for this, must say. Good right from Evans as they begin. Bocek wings another right hand and then shoots, but Evans stuffs it and they clinch again. They exchange some knees inside and Bocek gets a trip takedown, but Evans reverses on the way down and gets on top. Bocek quickly reverses and gets to his feet though, and he continues to push for the takedown. He works on a single leg, and then gets a nice foot sweep to put Evans on his back in half-guard. Few nice elbows land for Bocek, but Evans scrambles back to guard. Bocek drops a couple more elbows and then passes to half-guard again, but Evans works to reverse back to his feet. Double leg from Bocek puts him down right away, however. There’s a visible cut over Evans’ left eye now too. Bocek remains on top in the guard, working him over with short punches, elbows and hammer fists until the round ends.
Evans tries to work his punches to open the third, but he looks tired now and Bocek quickly grabs a single leg. Evans spins out to avoid, but Bocek is on him right away and he gets a nice single leg into an ankle pick takedown by the fence. Very little happens though and ref Herb Dean calls the stand-up. Evans avoids a takedown, but Bocek lands a right and a couple of knees inside, before going for the takedown again. Evans tries to defend, but ends up on his back again and Bocek works to pass to half-guard. Evans moves his hips and manages to reclaim full guard, and then goes for a triangle, but Bocek uses it to pass to side control. Evans immediately gets guard back, though. Ref stands them with 30 seconds remaining, and Bocek gets a takedown, but as they go down Evans rolls for a kimura and almost has it as the buzzer sounds.
Bocek takes the unanimous decision, but although he showed some good takedowns this was a very dull fight.
Two BJJ experts here in American Top Team’s Carneiro, coming off a loss to Jon Fitch, facing Peruvian DeSouza, who hadn’t fought for pretty much dead on a year after a loss to Thiago Alves at UFC 66.
Carneiro opens with a good leg kick, and quickly locks up a bodylock with double underhooks. DeSouza lands some good knees to the body, but Carneiro trips him down to the mat in guard. DeSouza works the rubber guard, trying to control the posture of the Brazilian, and then he shifts and locks up an armbar. Carneiro turns away and manages to work free, and ends up with an over/under before taking the back with both hooks in. Carneiro works for the rear naked choke as DeSouza defends it well, and then he does a good job to turn into Carneiro and reverse into top position in guard. Carneiro quickly works for a kimura from the bottom, as DeSouza looks to pass. He gets to half-guard, and momentarily takes full mount, but Carneiro scrambles back to guard where he takes a few flailing punches. Good elbows from the bottom land for Carneiro, and he does a generally good job of controlling DeSouza in the guard for the remainder of the round.
Into the 2nd round, and they exchange some feeler strikes before Carneiro closes the distance and clinches against the cage. Ref breaks them for inactivity, and Carneiro lands an inside leg kick. Good jab from Carneiro. DeSouza closes in, but Carneiro ducks a punch and gets a takedown to the guard. Tony looks for a kimura as Carneiro passes to half-guard, and then works free and they end up standing with Carneiro holding a rear waistlock. He elevates DeSouza and then takes the back with both hooks, before flattening him out. Carneiro works with punches from the back mount, and he lands shots pretty much at will, not doing all that much damage, but DeSouza stops defending and just covers his head, so the ref steps in and stops it on a TKO. Post-fight DeSouza looks disappointed with the stoppage, but hey, gotta defend yourself intelligently, dude.
Decent little ground fight if nothing outstanding.
Another pretty dull fight on paper if I’m being honest, as grappling expert Dean Lister, who hadn’t fought since January, was faced with Bulgarian wrestler Radev, who had suffered a highlight-reel KO loss at the hands of Drew McFedries in June. General consensus here was Radev would probably get tapped if he went to the ground, but he had a wrestling advantage and it was likely a toss-up as to who was the better striker.
They begin, and circle around with little happening outside of a couple of kicks to the gut from Lister. Radev easily avoids a takedown, and Lister drops to his back but Jordan is having none of that and they come back to standing. More tentative, sloppy striking follows with neither man having the advantage. Lister lands a glancing high kick and then shoots, but ends up dropping to his back again. Radev again waves him up, but it’s hardly a Cro Cop impression as nothing happens on the feet. Another takedown is avoided, and man this is a truly atrocious fight so far.
Between rounds Lister’s corner promises Dana White that he’ll knock Radev out. Wonder what pills they’ve been taking?
Lister does act as the aggressor in the second, but ends up tumbling to his back early and again Radev refuses to hit the ground with him. Solid uppercut by Radev as Lister stands, and then Lister drops to his back again to no avail. Another takedown is blocked and this time the crowd boo loudly as Lister lays in the butt-scoot position. Decent body kick lands for Lister, but this exchange is so crude and Rogan is now practically begging Lister to somehow get this to the ground. Couple of solid lefts land from Radev, but Lister shakes them off. 30 seconds remaining and Lister FINALLY gets a trip and takes full mount, landing punches, and if I were Mario Yamasaki I’d be tempted to stop this just to get it over with! Lister tries an arm triangle on the buzzer.
Third and final round, and we get more sloppy kickboxing that I can’t even be bothered to play-by-play. Radev avoids a single leg, and you guessed it, it’s more of the same. With two minutes to go Lister manages to close the distance and grab a bodylock, but Radev defends the takedown. Lister keeps working and drags him down with a minute remaining, and right away he works to take full mount. Radev manages to keep half-guard, and Lister can’t pass so the fight ends there.
Lister takes the decision but that was one of those fights where neither guy really “won” as the action was non-existent for the most part. One of the worst fights of 2007 and probably one of the worst I can remember seeing in the UFC even.
TUF 5 finalist Manny was making a pretty swift comeback from what had seemed like a serious shoulder injury back in June – I certainly didn’t expect to see him back until 2008. Mohr had lost by ankle lock to Kurt Pellegrino in April, but bounced back with a win over Luke Caudillo in June, but the smart money here was on Manvel the Anvil as Mohr’s submission defence had looked very questionable in the Pellegrino fight.
Manny comes in swinging right away and looks for a takedown, but Mohr manages to avoid the first attempt. Manny keeps coming forward though, and shoots again, this time working a single leg against the fence. He switches to a double and slams Mohr down to guard. Mohr tries to tie the Armenian up, but Manny works and breaks loose, landing a couple of punches before falling back for an ankle lock. Mohr tries to pull free, but Gamburyan wrenches on it and Mohr taps out looking like he’s in a LOT of pain. Replays seem to confirm it’s a straight ankle lock, but Mohr’s knee seems jacked and he gets helped out of the Octagon.
Quick and impressive win for Manny as he blew right through a guy who, admittedly, was probably overmatched. Really vicious submission to finish too.
Irvin, like Gamburyan, was another guy I didn’t expect back until 2008 after he suffered a bad knee injury in a May fight with Thiago Silva. Debutant Cane was bringing in an unbeaten record and the reputation of being a dangerous striker, so everyone and his dog was expecting a real brawl from this fight. Cane’s nickname, while it might sound cool, actually translates to “baby fat”. Damn those Brazilian nicknames that sound cool and actually aren’t.
They get underway and press with some feeler strikes, and it’s Cane who draws first blood with a left hand. Big right catches Irvin in an exchange and he looks hurt as Cane throws some more heavy blows, but the Sandman comes back with a nasty left hook and a hard leg kick. Cane decides he’s had enough of the exchange and clinches for a takedown, but Irvin uses a whizzer to shrug it off and lands a big right. Cane goes on the retreat and Irvin pushes forward as they exchange some more strikes, before Cane slips on a high kick. Irvin lets him up and lands a superman punch, but Cane catches a low kick and gets a slam to side mount. Irvin tries to get to his feet, but Cane nails him right in the head with a knee, and the ref immediately calls time. Irvin looks in a TON of pain as the replay reveals the knee landed directly into the right eye socket. Steve Mazzagatti takes a point from Cane for the knee, but strangely they let Irvin writhe around in pain without bothering to get him medical aid. Finally the doctor comes in to check Irvin, but the guy can barely stand up straight and they throw the fight out there.
It’s a disqualification win for Irvin, but did anyone have worse luck than that guy in 2007? Two fights, one ending with a serious knee injury and one ending on a DQ with an illegal blow. This was shaping up to be a fun fight too, until Cane got a bit too wild with the knee. Very unfortunate ending.
Total grudge match in this one as the two Louisiana natives had been rivals for a long time, with stories of confrontations at afterparties and abusive e-mails sent between the two. I actually saw the e-mails posted on mma.tv and if I’m being honest then neither guy comes off as being the one in the “right”. Just a silly little feud to be frank. Still, it added heat to what otherwise would’ve been just another midcard fight.
No glove touch here, duh. They circle to begin, with a Clementi low kick being the lone strike in the first minute. Quick trade follows with Guillard swinging for the fences, but nothing major lands and Clementi fires off a body kick. Melvin clips him with a right, but Clementi grabs a bodylock and lifts Guillard into the air. Guillard waves his arms as if to say, who cares?, but gets slammed, and Clementi takes his back. He actually tries a full nelson from the back, which I’ve never seen in MMA before, but Guillard turns out and stands. Clementi tries to pull him down again, but Guillard winds up on top in Rich’s guard. They stand back up to a big pop, and Guillard lands a MASSIVE overhand right that stuns Rich. He tries to follow with a big knee, but slips, and then gets a takedown of his own to Clementi’s guard. Clementi tries an armbar and then switches to an oma plata, using it to sweep into top position in side mount. Guillard uses the fence to kick off for a reversal attempt, but gives his back, and Clementi gets one hook in and pulls him down, adding the second hook. Clementi flattens Melvin out and locks up the rear naked choke quickly, locking in a body triangle for good measure, and Melvin taps out there.
Post-fight Clementi stands over Guillard and does a crotch chop, and Melvin doesn’t like this and lunges for Rich and security have to remove him from the Octagon. Pretty pathetic stuff, frankly, as you’d expect them to be able to quash a feud after the fight. I mean Shamrock and Tito did, Pulver and Penn did, but not these guys. Clementi then tells Guillard to go home and learn some jiu-jitsu in his post-fight interview. Decent fight actually but the feuding is just tired after the fight.
Sokoudjou was the latest marquee signing from PRIDE, and he was definitely one of the most exciting additions to the UFC roster as he’d KOd Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona back-to-back earlier in the year. Early stories had him signing with K1 or EliteXC, but in late November he was signed with UFC and matched with a horrendously tough opponent in Machida, who had already won three straight UFC matches and made his opponents look like clowns. Personally though I thought the athleticism and aggression of Sokoudjou, complete with his judo game, would be enough to pull him through and make him the first man to defeat Lyoto.
Round One begins and Sokoudjou stalks forward, but takes a short left hand. Machida blocks a high kick, but Sokoudjou follows with a BIG RIGHT that rocks Lyoto and sends him retreating into the fence. Machida clinches and Sokoudjou trips him to the ground, but Lyoto sweeps him right away into half-guard. Machida tries to pass and works to lock up a far-side kimura ala Matt Hughes on Royce Gracie, but Sokoudjou keeps the half-guard locked up and manages to avoid it. Crowd begin to get restless with a few boos as Machida lands some short punches from the top. Referee finally stands them back up, and Machida misses with a straight left but lands a kick to the body. Sokoudjou throws a right into another clinch, and gets a takedown, but Machida swiftly pops up and they muscle for position to end the round. Quite clearly Lyoto’s round.
Second round begins and Sokoujdou just about blocks a left high kick. Low kick lands for Machida and he steps out of the way of a big high kick. Sokoudjou keeps lunging in with strikes, but can’t seem to catch Machida as Lyoto lands a couple of leg kicks. Sokoudjou comes charging in with a head kick but again Lyoto avoids it. Nice front kick from Machida as Rogan points out that Sokoudjou is beginning to look mesmerised. The African Assassin steps in, but eats a heavy left hook and that, coupled with a leg sweep, puts him flat on his back. Machida slugs away in the guard as Sokoudjou looks in trouble, and Lyoto quickly passes to half-guard. He locks up an arm triangle, and looks to step over to the side, but ends up taking full mount instead. Sokoudjou looks in deep trouble as Machida locks up the arm triangle again. The African manages to break free, but Machida stays in the top position and lands some elbows. Lyoto locks up the arm triangle for a third time, and this time he passes to the side and Sokoudjou is forced to tap out.
Dominant performance from Machida who just completely threw Sokoudjou off with his elusive style, and once he survived the very early storm it was all Lyoto, especially on the ground, where Sokoudjou looked lost from his back. People slated Sokoudjou after this performance but in reality he was still a very inexperienced fighter coming in – only holding a record of 4-1, after all, despite his big wins – and this was probably a case of being thrown to the wolves a little too soon. Still, very impressive win for Machida to shoot him up the rankings.
No clue why this made the main card really, as Sanchez had hardly looked impressive in his previous fights and Australian Palelei had looked sloppy before gassing out in his lone PRIDE fight, a loss to Choi Mu Bae in 2004. Still, reports claimed Palelei was wildly improved since joining Team Quest, and he at least looked intimidating, so there was at least the possibility of a new HW contender coming out of this one. Even so, I’d have rather seen Gamburyan or Irvin’s fight on the PPV.
Sanchez comes out swinging to begin, but Soa clinches and looks for a takedown. Sanchez blocks initially, but Palelei keeps working and gets him down on one knee. Sanchez ends up seated against the cage, but Soa does very little with the position until landing some punches as Sanchez stands. Sanchez reverses position on him, but lands a low knee and the ref calls time to let Soa recover. They restart and each throws a wild hook before Sanchez gets a clinch. Sanchez forces him into the cage and lands some short lefts and knees inside. Things slow down so the ref separates them, but they quickly clinch again and go back to the fence. Palelei breaks with a knee, and then Sanchez lands a combo but the Aussie tells him to bring it. Palelei throws a HUGE right hook that misses by a mile and actually falls down because of it, and Sanchez lands a combo as he stands. They exchange more punches at a slooow pace, and then Sanchez clinches and shoves him to the fence again, and the round ends with Sanchez landing a nice uppercut.
Round 2 and Sanchez connects with a left and then lands an uppercut into the clinch. Both men land small shots inside, and the crowd begin to get restless as this is a very slow-paced fight. Referee calls the break and they exchange punches again with Sanchez landing more. Palelei catches him with a superman punch, but follows by grabbing a clinch and forcing him into the cage again. Sanchez randomly begins to taunt him in the clinch, yelling “YEAH BOY! COME ON!”, but little happens and the ref breaks them again. Palelei swings some wild punches into the clinch again, and once more it’s a horribly dull clinch. Whole fight’s been horribly dull in fact. Sanchez trips him down to guard. They come back to their feet quickly and it’s more of the same, Sanchez landing a jab before Soa throws a wild right into the clinch. Crowd begin to boo loudly now as Sanchez breaks and lands a combo ending with a vicious uppercut that buckles Soa’s legs. Referee calls the break again, and Sanchez lands another couple of uppercuts and bloodies him up to end the round.
Sanchez comes out into the third aggressively, but clinches again. Yawn. Palelei breaks with a pair of knees to the gut, but eats a combo that has him backing up. Another uppercut lands and then Sanchez clinches again. Sanchez continues to work him over with combos and Palelei’s face is horribly bloody now, with his mouth bleeding as well as his nose. Crowd continue to boo as Sanchez lands more shots inside. Ref steps in as Palelei winces on a series of punches, and then decides to stop it as Sanchez celebrates by taunting Palelei.
Awful, slow-paced fight, one of the worst televised fights of the year in fact. Palelei just seemed to freeze up and was unable to do anything at all, while Sanchez didn’t really fight an entertaining fight, just worked the guy over in the clinch. Sure, it was a good win for Sanchez, but that didn’t make it good to watch.
Some would’ve probably argued this fight was put together too late, as both men were coming off two successive losses and appeared to be slowing down as they reached the twilight of their careers. For me though I didn’t really care – it was Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva, for Chrissake, a fight I’d been dreaming about since I first got into MMA in late 2003. I remember debating about this one with people for years and my stance was always the same – Silva’s aggressive, wild style played right into Liddell’s counterpunching hands, and with Liddell also having one of the best killer instincts in the game, he’d win by knockout. Despite the Welterweight Title bout taking the main event slot, this was undoubtedly the selling point of the show for most fans. Video package pre-fight is immense, literally just saying “6 YEARS IN THE MAKING” with some of both men’s best highlights. Who needs words when you have action?
Big reaction for Silva, actually – not as big as Liddell’s of course but still a huge pop considering this was his return to the promotion after seven years away. Awesome staredown too.
And HERE WE GO!~! It’s a tentative beginning to Round 1 as both men keep their distance and throw out some feeler strikes. Big “CHUCK!” chant from the crowd already. Wanderlei lands a right as Liddell comes forward. Good leg kick from Wanderlei as Chuck looks to use his reach to strike from distance. Liddell catches him with a right to the temple and then Silva looks hurt and staggers back, and Chuck closes in....but Silva’s playing possum and swings right back. Suddenly we get a WILD TRADE with both men throwing heavy leather, and it’s Liddell that lands heavier, cracking him with a big left hook and a right hand before landing a glancing high kick as they back off! Liddell walks him down now and lands another big right, but misses an absolutely wild hook, basically swinging it from his waist. Low kick from Wanderlei. Chuck keeps pressing forward, but takes a right from Silva as he tries a high kick. Exchange continues and a one-two lands for Liddell. He follows with a body shot, before Silva counters with a right hand. They trade some more shots and neither guy is backing down an inch, this is awesome. More of the same follows until the round ends. Difficult round to score but it’s probably Liddell’s I would say.
Surprisingly we’re into the 2nd. Silva comes out swinging BOMBS but doesn’t really land flush, although he does get Liddell backing up. Good straight right from Chuck but Silva keeps pressing, although his left ear looks bloody now. Silva comes forward and lands a combo to counter a low kick. Good right from Chuck, answered by a one-two from Wanderlei. Right hand and left hook land clean for the Brazilian as Liddell tries to fire back. Low kick from Liddell lands. Body kick from Silva and Chuck narrowly misses a straight right. Liddell throws a body kick of his own, but Silva counters with a right that puts Chuck down, looked more like he was off balance than a true knockdown though. Silva closes in swinging but he pops right back up. Silva with another good body kick and a left hook. They trade some more shots but nothing lands clean. Silva closes in by the fence, but Liddell lands a nasty right and then slips to the canvas, definitely a slip there as he’s right back up and doesn’t look hurt. Left jab by Chuck snaps Silva’s head back, but Wandy answers with a left of his own. They exchange into a clinch and spin around before Liddell lands a left hand to break, bloodying Silva’s right eye. Chuck swings into another clinch as the blood begins to FLOW, and Liddell breaks with an elbow and they THROW DOWN with wild punches! Silva stalks forward now and both men land good rights, and Silva follows with a combo that has Chuck covering up! Liddell comes back though with a HUGE RIGHT HAND that cracks Silva on the jaw and has him badly hurt! Chuck SMELLS BLOOD and closes in, swinging for the finish, but somehow Silva survives and Liddell DROPS AND GETS A TAKEDOWN! Holy shit this is AWESOME. Round ends there as the crowd go INSANE. This is making up for the horror of the Lister fight earlier for sure.
Third and final round, and whoever thought we’d get this far? Liddell comes right out and takes him down! Never ever seen Liddell use a takedown before I don’t think. Silva quickly gets up though and it’s back to normality. Monster chant for Chuck as both men continue to stalk. Liddell blocks a high kick and avoids a combo. Overhand right cracks Silva but he seems okay. Another right lands for Chuck as Silva comes forward. Trade off continues until Liddell lands a spinning backfist, looked like the forearm caught Silva to me but regardless, the Brazilian looks hurt! Liddell follows with a VICIOUS RIGHT that has Silva staggering back, and he closes in and BRINGS THE PAIN, landing haymaker after haymaker but somehow Silva stays up and tries to fire back! Liddell backs up and looks at the clock, obviously concerned about burning himself out, and they circle off now with both men looking exhausted, and understandably so. Liddell lands an overhand right and then follows with another combo that stuns him by the fence, but Silva survives again and comes back with a right hand. Silva continues to push forward, showing amazing heart, but he can’t land anything significant now and Liddell tackles him to the mat. Silva swings wild hammer fists from his back and finally the fight’s over.
Liddell takes the unanimous decision, 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27, but this was one of those fights where neither man came away looking like the loser, as they just threw down for three straight rounds, and both men took their fair share of punishment. Liddell definitely landed the better shots though and who knew Silva had the iron chin to take so many bombs from the Iceman? Most fighters would’ve been killed dead by Liddell’s flurries in the second and third, but somehow Silva took them on the chin and just kept on swinging. Post-fight both men pay tribute to the other and if he wasn’t a star to the US fans before Silva just made himself into one with that fight. Amazing, AMAZING brawl that totally lived up to all the hype it was given coming in. Unbelievable.
And if THAT wasn’t enough we still have the Interim WW Title fight, the third match between Hughes and St-Pierre, arguably the two greatest Welterweights of all time (although GSP did have the Serra loss hanging over him here). Original plan had been for Matt Serra to defend the title he took from St-Pierre against Hughes in the culmination of TUF VI, but he injured his back in training and when all seemed lost, GSP stepped in on relatively short notice (about three weeks IIRC) to take the fight with Hughes. Zuffa decided to make it for the ‘Interim’ title, not being sure how long Serra would be out with his injury and keeping the fight at five rounds. I’m thinking Hughes accepted the change assuming GSP hadn’t been training that hard, but in reality St-Pierre had been anticipating a possible injury to either combatant and had prepared himself adequately. And with their last fight being a one-sided beating for Hughes, naturally, being the world’s biggest GSP fanboy, the only outcome I could see from this fight was St-Pierre having his hand raised and walking into the rematch with Serra.
Massive crowd reaction for both men, albeit not quite as big as the pop for Liddell. GSP seems slightly more popular with the crowd, a far cry from their first fight with the crowd giving the “USA” chants. Funny moment in the introductions as Bruce Buffer screws up and announces St-Pierre as “standing five feet tall”.
Round 1 begins and Hughes comes out in a southpaw stance, which the announcers explain is to set up his takedowns (as he stood southpaw in his wrestling days apparently). They circle and GSP uses his footwork to easily avoid a half-attempt at a takedown. First strike lands for GSP, a low leg kick. Inside leg kick also lands. GSP stays elusive, throwing a body kick that Hughes deflects with his arms. Superman punch attempt from St-Pierre, but Hughes counters with a takedown attempt, only for GSP to block it with shocking ease, and then the Canadian gets a takedown of his own from the clinch. Hughes goes to full guard, and eats a couple of short elbows from the top. Series of left hands land for GSP. Hughes ends up pushed against the cage, and GSP then passes to half-guard and completely controls him, something that’s never really happened to Hughes before. Short elbows from GSP and he continues to work to pass the guard, landing some big punches with Hughes’s head against the fence. Hughes gets a butterfly guard back but GSP passes again and then gets full mount. Hughes clings on as GSP lands some punches, but gets warned for hitting the back of the head, so he then lifts his own body up to smash Hughes into the mat! Announcers say they’ve never seen that technique before but I’m a GSP geek who knows he first used it back in his days fighting in the Canadian TKO promotion, I think first against Travis Galbraith. St-Pierre finally uses his elbow to get some separation, and pounds away before Hughes gives his back. St-Pierre looks for an armbar...but the buzzer sounds to end the round. Total domination for GSP, I’d probably give it a 10-8 scoring in fact.
Between rounds Hughes mumbles to Jeremy Horn that “he’s getting out of the...he’s getting out of the...” presumably meaning the takedowns, but then Horn tells him “you’re alright” and Hughes is like, “I know”. Funny precursor to recent events too as the second round gets delayed for a moment to get rid of a lump of Vaseline on GSP’s face, heh.
Second round and Hughes avoids a pair of kicks early. They clinch and GSP quickly takes him down again, and passes to half-guard. Amazing stuff from GSP. Hughes gets back to full guard, and desperately tries to retain it as St-Pierre works to pass. He gets into half-guard momentarily but again Hughes gets a butterfly back in. Punches and elbows from the top land for St-Pierre but Hughes does a good job of controlling him in the guard. Big “GSP” chant from the crowd. Hughes looks like he’s raising his hips for a submission but GSP passes to half-guard from the position and then gets a position that Rogan calls “twister side control” before stepping into full mount. Hughes gives his back immediately and St-Pierre looks for a choke, but loses the hooks and Hughes tries to turn into his guard. St-Pierre’s having none of that though and just forces Hughes back down into the fence. This is unbelievable. St-Pierre lands a couple of knees to the body, but Hughes gets a whizzer and tries a reversal. He goes REALLY low for a takedown, but GSP stuffs it again and muscles out into a clinch, before delivering a HUGE HIP THROW to plant Hughes on his back! Vicious elbow follows as St-Pierre lands in side mount. Hughes looks in deep trouble now as St-Pierre locks up a triangle-kimura combo from the top, and as Hughes rolls he gets caught in a deep armbar, and it’s a VERBAL TAPOUT as his arm is trapped under GSP’s body!
Scary, scary performance from GSP. It’s one thing to have beaten Hughes standing in the manner he did at UFC 65, but this fight if anything was more dominant as he practically beat Hughes at his own game, making the legendary former champ look like one of his own previous opponents as he was just taken down and punished en route to the submission. Ending was very karmic too as the armbar came just before the buzzer, just as Hughes’s armbar on GSP had in their first fight.
Post-fight GSP says he doesn’t care for the Interim title, doesn’t consider himself champion, and just wants his rematch with Serra to claim his real title back. Hughes meanwhile says he came in at 120% with no excuses, was beaten by the better fighter, and he’ll have to go back and re-evaluate things.
Totally one-sided washout then on the part of St-Pierre, and Serra nonwithstanding, I’d say two wins over Hughes alongside the other victories he’s had put GSP well on the way to taking the crown of “greatest Welterweight of all time” away from Hughes. Amazing showing in the main event.
-And it’s time to hit the highlights and roll the credits on perhaps the most eventful year in the UFC yet.
UFC 79 was set up as one of, if not *the* biggest shows of the year and for the most part it delivered, as the top two fights were pretty amazing, with Silva-Liddell living up to all the hype, and Hughes-GSP being an unbelievable fight to witness even if it turned out to be one-sided. I wasn’t tremendously impressed with the undercard even on paper, but I guess Sokoudjou-Machida, Clementi-Guillard, and Gamburyan-Mohr were fun enough, with Irvin-Cane heading that way too before the unfortunate stoppage. The crap that was Lister-Radev and Sanchez-Palelei keep this one from being considered an all-time classic, but it’s up there with the best shows of 2007 and probably only behind UFC 74 and 76 for the best of that year. Thumbs up, mainly for the two main events.
Best Fight: Liddell-Silva
Worst Fight: Lister-Radev
Overall Rating: ****
Aaand, with that I’m caught up on 2007 for the UFC at least. Whew.
UFC: 80-94, Fight Nights 12-16, and TUF VII and VIII Finales.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, Shockwave 2006, 32, and 33.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.