It’s one of life’s great mysteries, isn’t it, why Japanese fighters not named Okami just can’t seem to succeed in the Octagon? Case in point – K-Taro Nakamura – came in with a great record (13-0) and a stellar reputation from Shooto, only to lose his first two UFC fights against Brock Larson and Drew Fickett, both, while solid fighters, hardly top-five level competition. This fight was seen as his last roll of the dice, dropping to Lightweight and being matched with TUF V’s Rob Emerson, a guy who while coming off an exciting fight with Gray Maynard, wasn’t expected to make much noise in 2008.
They begin and man is Nakamura a lanky LW. This reminds me of Emerson vs. Corey Hill even. They trade some early strikes, with Emerson landing the more telling blows, a leg kick and a knee to the gut. Nakamura loses his mouthpiece, and referee Steve Mazagatti lets them continue trading until he spots a lull in action and calls time to replace it. Restart, and Emerson begins to take over, landing some nice combos and a really stiff right hand. Emerson continues to pick Nakamura apart, landing shots to the body and leg kicks as Nakamura seems to concentrate on the jab and the one-two. Good left from Nakamura puts Emerson on the retreat, though. Another good leg kick and a right hook land for Emerson. The Japanese fighter tries to establish his jab, but Emerson keeps countering well, landing combos as Nakamura comes forward. 30 seconds remaining and Nakamura catches him with a knee that drops Emerson, but he recovers quickly and gets to his feet, blocking a takedown into a clinch, but Nakamura trips him down to end things.
2nd round, and it’s more of the same story, as Emerson lands better combos on the counter, especially working the leg kicks, while Nakamura comes forward trying to use his jab and reach. This isn’t a bad fight actually, if a little one-dimensional. Nice bodyshot and a really good leg kick land for Emerson. Exchange continues and Emerson just continues to land the better shots, and it’s surprising that Nakamura hasn’t tried to get this to the ground yet. And as soon as I’ve typed that, he shoots in and tackles Emerson to the ground. Tremendous job done by Emerson to scramble and get back to his feet though. Nakamura’s now sporting a small cut, and the round closes out with more exchanging. Replay shows a grazing elbow as Emerson got to his feet caused the cut. Huh. This could really go either way now depending on how the first round was scored due to the knockdown.
Nakamura tries the knee again to begin the third, clearly knowing the fight’s in the balance. They clinch up and Nakamura takes him down to guard. Again Emerson manages to push away and scramble to his feet though. Some good combinations begin to land for Emerson again and neither man looks to be getting tired. With the round halfway they trade off pretty cleanly, both men landing good shots, but it’s Emerson’s exchange really. They keep throwing for the rest of the round, picking up the pace as it comes closer to the end; this is a really close one to call actually. Takedown by Nakamura comes with about 30 seconds remaining, but Emerson ties him up from the bottom, and he does little damage as the fight ends.
Very close fight. I’d probably give it to Emerson I think but who knows really? Judges score it 30-27 Emerson, 29-28 Nakamura, and 30-27 for Emerson to take the split decision. Pretty good fight actually, got a bit dull towards the end as it was pretty much just pure kickboxing with the odd takedown, but they remained active throughout, didn’t get sloppy and didn’t gas so who am I to complain? Solid win for Emerson as it goes.
This would be Eastman’s first foray into the 185lbs division, after losing his previous three UFC bouts at 205lbs to Vitor Belfort, Travis Lutter, and Quinton Jackson. One of those things is not like the others, I’ll leave it to you to work out. And as a clue it’s nothing to do with skin colour. Anyway...Martin, his opponent here, was looking to rebound from a disappointing loss to Chris Leben, and judging by the weigh-in staredown and the amount of trash talked this figured to be an exciting brawl.
Quick clinch to begin the first round and Martin gets a takedown, but Eastman immediately pops back up to his feet. They exchange some knees inside while muscling for position and Martin lands a really heavy knee to the midsection. They continue to trade off inside the clinch, but all the clinching is reminding me of Swick-Burkman which isn’t a good thing. Ref finally separates them and Martin misses a wild swing, and then narrowly avoids a big knee. Big elbow from Eastman lands as they clinch, and it’s back to the same position as they muscle along the fence exchanging short strikes inside. Ref breaks them again, but they end up clinched once more where Eastman defends a takedown and lands some shots inside to end the round. Dull stuff.
Second round gets underway and they throw out some haymakers before Eastman grabs hold of him and bulls him into the fence. Knees to the body from Eastman as Martin tries to return fire, and then Eastman breaks with an elbow. Eastman claims an eye poke, but the ref seems to ignore it and Martin hits him with a right hand back into the clinch. Referee breaks them for inactivity and Eastman lands a glancing combo, but they go right back to the clinch. This IS the second coming of Burkman-Swick. Eastman stays more active in the clinch, but Yves Lavigne’s having none of it and calls the break again. They exchange and Eastman lands a combo, but then Martin clips him so Eastman clinches again. Martin can’t trip him down for love or money, and then Eastman uses a whizzer to put Martin down and looks for a D’Arce choke. Martin avoids and works to his feet, but Eastman looks to be outmuscling him inside the clinch now as the round ends.
Third and final round, and man has this been a disappointing fight. They throw some strikes out to begin and Eastman nearly lands a head kick, but then they clinch and it’s Eastman who gets a takedown to side mount. Marvin drops some punches, but then lets Martin roll and rather than control the back allows him to stand. Eastman throws a couple of head kicks again and then they clinch, before Eastman breaks off with some uppercuts. Clinch follows right away though, and Eastman lands some big shots inside with uppercuts as Martin begins to look gassed. Couple of knees and a stiff straight right break for Eastman and Martin looks somewhat wobbly. Left high kick and good right lands but Martin manages to clinch. Ref separates them and Martin swings for the fences, and then manages to get a takedown. Eastman pops right back up into the clinch though, where Eastman continues to get the better of things. They break and Martin tries to land one haymaker, but doesn’t land clean and the fight ends there.
Gotta be Eastman’s decision I’d say. Sure enough it’s 30-27’s all round for the Beastman. Really dull, tentative fight though as both men seemed to respect the other’s power a little too much and we ended up with another hug-against-the-fence anti-classic.
The once-promising prospect Heath had seen his stock fall in 2007, losing his two UFC fights to Lyoto Machida and Renato Sobral. His original opponent on this card would’ve been Capoeira master Andre Gusmao, but apparently contractual problems with the IFL forced him out and so Tim ‘The Barbarian’ Boetsch – complete with Conan entrance theme, word! – stepped in on relatively short notice.
Round 1 and Boetsch opens by missing a spinning backfist. They look quite tentative early though and circle off throwing some feeler strikes out. Combo from Heath, answered by a body kick by Boetsch. Good straight kick from Boetsch lands to the gut. Heath stuffs a takedown attempt as Joe Rogan actually talks about Semmy Schilt – you forget he was once a UFC fighter I guess! Another good front kick to the stomach from the Barbarian. Heath circles out with a leg kick, but a nice body kick and a knee to follow land for Boetsch. They both land jabs, and then Boetsch lands another front kick to the body that knocks Heath backwards this time. Nice leg kick follows as Heath seems unsure what to do. Right hand and knee by Boetsch stuns Heath and he tries to retreat, but Boetsch walks him down and lands another knee, only for Heath to start swinging right back! Boetsch answers with a pair of front kicks and then lands a right to the body, before grabbing the head for a knee. Series of heavy knees hurts Heath, but he comes back with a combo. Some more knees from the clinch land for Boetsch, and then he RAGDOLLS HEATH INTO THE CAGE!~! Heath looks hurt and a few shots to the head finish things off.
Very impressive debut for Boetsch, as he ended up using his wrestling more in reverse, and demonstrated some unorthodox, but very effective striking to take out a guy who was considered the better striker coming in. Ending was nasty too, just pure brute strength that lived up to Boetsch’s ‘Barbarian’ nickname. Decent fight and a very impressive debut for Boetsch on short notice.
After his disappointing losses to Matt Serra and Matt Hughes, Lytle had promised a much more exciting, aggressive style, and had delivered that promise in subsequent fights with Jason Gilliam and Thiago Alves. Here he was matched with newcomer, relative unknown Kyle Bradley, fighting out of Rich Clementi’s Voodoo camp.
They get started and Lytle lands an overhand right, and then it’s a WILD TRADE from in the clinch, like a mini-version of Frye-Takayama or something. Lytle naturally gets the better of it and hurts Bradley as they break, and then he just goes WILD with the flurries, throwing haymakers as Bradley dives desperately for a leg. Lytle’s having none of it and grabs the head, and then lands a series of VICIOUS RIGHT HANDS that puts Bradley away....and Bradley decides to pull guard on the referee, showing how out he was.
Quick and easy win for Lytle who just overwhelmed the newcomer with his aggression. Totally reckless performance from him but then he didn’t really get hurt so who cares? This was an entertaining beatdown.
American Top Team’s Tibau had been on a good run since dropping to 155lbs, rolling over Jason Dent, Jeff Cox and Terry Etim in successive bouts. He was faced with his toughest test to date on this show though, in the form of Tyson Griffin, who was coming off wins over Clay Guida and Thiago Tavares, both fights contenders for Fight of the Year to boot. Size difference is interesting as Tibau physically looks much bigger, but then Griffin has those huge tree trunk legs.
Touch of gloves to start Round One and Griffin fires off a pair of leg kicks before landing a right hand. Another right lands from Griffin and he avoids a flying knee. Tyson catches him with another right, but Tibau answers with a left hook. Both men push the action but Griffin lands the better shots, going to the body and then the head with the right hand. They clinch up and Griffin lands a knee to the midsection, and Tibau appears to be looking for the takedown. He gets Tyson down for a moment, but Griffin quickly pops back up and they separate. Big body kick and stiff right from Tyson land cleanly, and Tibau tries to answer but eats another combo. Griffin’s striking is looking great here as he lands another series of combos, but Tibau manages to duck under and gets a takedown to half-guard. Tyson gives his back to escape, and avoids a crucifix, ending up standing and going for a single leg of his own. Tibau defends and they clinch, and Tibau gets another trip takedown as Griffin throws a knee. Few punches land for Tibau as Griffin quickly gets back to his feet, and the round ends there.
Between rounds is pretty hilarious as they openly show non-UFC fighters Jorge Santiago and JZ Calvancante with Tibau, but try desperately not to show Randy Couture in Griffin’s corner. Maybe I should type it R**** C****** or something?
2nd round and Griffin pushes forward, covering up to block a combo before shooting in for a takedown. Tibau stuffs it and they end up clinched, They break swiftly and Griffin lands a nice right to the body. Left straight answers for Tibau and they trade punches, but Griffin lands the better combos, and so Tibau shoots and takes him down again. Griffin gives his back to attempt an escape, and manages to get to his feet and spins free. Griffin continues to fire the right hand down the pipe, bloodying Tibau up, and then a strong body kick lands. Another stiff right lands in an exchange; Griffin is owning the stand-up here. Tibau gets another takedown with 20 seconds remaining, but once again Tyson scrambles to his feet quickly as the round ends.
Round 3 starts off tentatively, with an overhand left from Tibau landing early. Tibau gets a takedown and tries to hold Griffin down in guard, and then lands a good right hand to pass to half-guard as Tyson looks to escape. Griffin tries a sweep from half-guard but can’t get out from underneath Tibau, but he manages to get butterfly hooks back in and uses that to elevate Tibau and swing himself out from underneath. Tibau lands some punches as Tyson stands, and they exchange with Tyson landing a brutal left hook to the body. Tibau tackles him again, but Griffin once more pops right back up, excellent escapes from the bottom being shown by Griffin. Left hook to the body and a following right snaps Tibau’s head back, and a sweet overhand right follows. Another left to the body from Tyson. Tibau clinches, but Griffin breaks and then lands an elbow before getting a bodylock. Foot stomps from Tyson against the fence. Tibau looks for a takedown, but can’t get Griffin down, and Tyson breaks off and looks for the big right hand as the fight ends.
Has to be Griffin’s fight for the stand-up, as Tibau got takedowns but couldn’t keep Griffin down and did no damage on the ground either. I’ve got it 30-27 for Tyson. Tibau seems to think he’s won somehow, but the judges agree with me, giving Griffin the unanimous decision. Good fight and Griffin’s stand-up looked hugely improved, landing combinations, especially the left to the body and the straight right hand at will, but in terms of action and excitement this wasn’t close to the level of Tyson’s previous two fights with Guida and Tavares.
The return of Almeida after four years in the wilderness of retirement was one of the bigger stories of the year for the Middleweight division, as many publications had ranked the ‘Big Dog’ #1 in the world before he retired. He was originally set to face Alan Belcher in his return match, but Belcher injured himself during training and so Rob Yundt, an Alaskan wrestler and teammate of former UFC fighter Doug Evans stepped in on relatively late notice, making this a likely showcase for the BJJ master.
Yundt presses forward right away, and clips Almeida with a left uppercut. Almeida circles off though, and then shoots a beautiful double leg takedown to put Yundt on his back. Yundt tries to scramble off his back, but Almeida catches him in a guillotine and locks up guard. Yundt stands and then FRONT FLIPS WITH ALMEIDA HANGING ON HIS NECK, but it results in Almeida mounting him with the guillotine locked in and Yundt taps out!
Brilliant submission from Almeida which was given a cooler highlight-reel feeling thanks to the unbelievable flip before the tapout. Just top-level BJJ from the Big Dog. Total squash match but then again it was always likely to be, and with the unique finish this was a nice way to introduce Almeida to the TUF crowd as a possible contender for the Middleweight Title.
Another fight changed on late notice, this would’ve seen Marquardt – in his first fight following his unsuccessful title challenge in July ’07 – face Brazilian Thales Leites, but Leites broke his hand in training and this gave a welcome return to veteran Jeremy Horn, despite the Miletich camp legend having struggled greatly in his last few bouts. Hard to believe he was only 32 here as well, given the amount of fights the guy’s had. Pre-fight package mentions that this fight had been scheduled for an IFC show in 2004 but fell through, which is interesting. Word from Marquardt’s camp, meanwhile, was that he’d gained a serious mean streak after the Silva loss.
Round 1 gets started and Nate lands a knee into the clinch. Good takedown from the clinch by Marquardt into Horn’s guard. Horn tries to tie him up, but Marquardt gets aggressive right away, standing over the guard and dropping some heavy right hands. BIG elbow from the top from Nate but Horn stays calm. Horn looks to kick him away, so Nate stands up and the ref calls Horn to his feet. Horn eats a right but clinches, and Nate uses a whizzer to take him down again, this time to half-guard. Horn works to get a butterfly hook back in, and then looks to stand, getting to his feet in a clinch. Horn looks for the takedown but can’t trip Marquardt down, and Nate grabs the back of the head in a plum clinch before landing a knee and a big right to stun the veteran. Big uppercut follows and then a HUGE ELBOW drops Jeremy, and he desperately looks for the takedown. Marquardt stuffs it and gets on top, looking to lock up a D’Arce choke, and he lands some more heavy elbows to the side of the head. Horn gets back to guard, and then Nate stands and avoids some upkicks to drop another right hand in. Horn goes for a gogoplata though, but can’t lock it up under the chin, and so he transitions to an oma plata instead. Marquardt rolls, but Horn uses it as a sweep to get on top to end the round. Big pop from the crowd for that actually. Definitely Marquardt’s round though.
2nd round and Horn pushes forward, catching a kick to put Marquardt on his back. Nate gets butterfly guard in as Horn looks to pass, and it’s a bit of a stalemate as they exchange elbows in the guard. Nate uses the butterfly guard to push Horn off and stands, but Horn immediately comes back in to look for the takedown again. This time though he leaves his head wide open, and Nate locks up a TIGHT GUILLOTINE and pulls Horn downwards for the tapout!
Impressive win for Marquardt – not only did he submit a very cagey veteran, but he looked more aggressive than I’d ever seen him before, particularly on top with his ground-and-pound in the first round. Obviously the loss to Silva made Nate take stock of his career – either he could become a gatekeeper, or improve his skills and work back up to another title shot, and he clearly chose the latter, becoming a more exciting, aggressive fighter in the process. Very good fight from the two veterans.
Despite being second from the top this was clearly promoted as the night’s true main event, a serious crossover fight for the UFC with former WWE champion Lesnar taking on the former UFC champion in Mir. The angle they pushed coming in, naturally, was that this was a pro-wrestler attempting to break into MMA. The reality though was a little different – Lesnar had been an NCAA amateur wrestling champion in college and despite his detour into pro-wrestling, his monstrous size, athleticism, and wrestling background essentially made him into a Heavyweight version of Josh Koscheck – it was just a question of whether he’d be able to pick up striking and submissions as well as Koscheck had done. Brock had been training with the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, and although he’d only done one fight at this stage (a squash over Korean judoka Min Soo Kim seven months prior) he had been training for MMA for some time, well over a year.
Many had expected Lesnar to be matched up with a lesser opponent in his first UFC fight – but the Zuffa brass were having none of that and immediately threw him in with a stylistically difficult opponent in submission master and former HW champion Frank Mir. Mir had his own questions surrounding him though – he had looked impressive in beating Antoni Hardonk, but Hardonk was well-known as a one-dimensional fighter and before that Mir had looked dreadful since returning from his 2004 motorcycle accident. So really the questions were endless – would Lesnar have learned enough skills outside of his wrestling to take out a veteran like Mir, or would he be another one-dimensional wrestler? Had Mir truly recaptured his old form pre-motorcycle crash, or was he done as a top fighter? Tremendous matchmaking when you think about it. Pre-fight promos are right out of pro-wrestling, with Mir telling Lesnar that he’ll “rip the skin off his face, cave his lungs in, make him taste his own blood going down his throat”. Good lord. And to make things even better the crowd heat is off the charts, with the UFC fans clearly taking the “us vs. them” attitude and booing the former pro-wrestler out of the building – despite Lesnar making the coolest entrance in UFC history to Motley Crue’s ‘Shout At The Devil’.
They get underway and Lesnar shoots in after like five seconds and takes Mir down. He lands in half-guard and then CAVEMAN PUNCHES follow before Steve Mazagatti steps in claiming Lesnar hit Mir in the back of the head. He even takes one point off him. Mir looks stunned but okay. I really hate that rule – it wasn’t like Lesnar was *aiming* for the back of the head, more that Mir turned his head that way. Anyway, they restart and Mir throws a couple of kicks but Lesnar DECKS HIM WITH A RIGHT! He dives in to finish and goes WILD with hammer fists in side mount, then spins around as Mir rolls to survive, all the time bombing away with punches and hammer fists. Mir goes for an armbar but Lesnar pulls out and keeps on punching, as Mir desperately tries to control his body somehow. Lesnar stands up over Mir for a moment, but then Mir spins from the bottom and PULLS HIM DOWN INTO A KNEEBAR! Lesnar tries to pull out but falls down and then Mir TIGHTENS IT FOR THE TAPOUT!~!
Wow, for the two minutes that it lasted that fight was AWESOME. Lived up to all the hype. Lesnar came out like a total animal and almost overwhelmed Mir with sheer power and ferocity early, but Mir was able to weather the early storm and showed why he’s still recognized as one of the best submission fighters at Heavyweight, as he caught Lesnar with his guard down for a second and closed it out with the kneebar. Not only did this revitalise Mir’s flagging career, but despite the loss Lesnar showed clear potential with the power in his strikes and surprising speed for a guy his size, and thus walked out of the fight being taken more seriously as a fighter than he had done coming in. So win-win for everyone really in a way. Tremendous stuff.
Main event then was another tremendous Heavyweight clash, but this time one that had been talked about many times before, in the former UFC champion Sylvia against the former PRIDE champion Nogueira. See, this was the sort of fight fans like myself had dreamed about when Zuffa bought PRIDE out – the top guys fighting one another. Sure, Arlovski vs. Werdum and Cro Cop vs. Gonzaga had been sort of cool, but in those cases the two Brazilians were never seen as the very top guys in their respective promotions. Here though Sylvia and Nog were always pretty much at least top two, and so it was a true Best of UFC vs. Best of PRIDE deal. I think two or three years prior and everyone and their dog would’ve picked Nogueira, going on both the old PRIDE bias and also the fact that Sylvia had always seemed a little lost on the ground, while Nogueira was always able to take a beating standing and then find a way to win on the mat. But this was 2008, and while Sylvia admittedly hadn’t looked all that great in his 2007 fights, Nogueira if anything had looked even more lacklustre in his UFC debut against Heath Herring, and his legendary chin had looked far more vulnerable than it had ever done before. Couple that with his lack of takedown skill, and many hardcore fans were picking Sylvia to jab and punch his way to a unanimous decision or late TKO victory. Personally though, being a Nogueira fanboy since I first saw him fight (the amazing Mirko fight in 2003 for those who care...), I was taking the Brazilian to pull out his usual magic – take a beating but somehow steal the victory from the jaws of defeat with a miraculous submission.
Oh, and for those wondering why this was for the ‘Interim’ Heavyweight Title, that would be because this was during the ‘Zuffa vs. Couture’ period and for legal reasons they couldn’t outright strip Randy of the real title, so they created the Interim belt and even said that the winner would fight Couture, despite at the time, that looking a hugely unlikely possibility. Ahh, Captain America. *rolls eyes*
Big pop for Sylvia upon his entrance, which is surprising given that he’d been largely booed in his last few fights, particularly in the fight with Brandon Vera at UFC 77. Nogueira gets a decent reaction from the crowd, but nothing major as at this stage he wasn’t that well known by the US fans.
Round 1 gets underway and Tim looks to find his range, keeping his distance as Nog lands a couple of leg kicks. Right hand lands from Sylvia and Nogueira pulls guard, but Tim works his way free and stands back up. Sylvia pumps out the left jab but finds a home for the right too, landing another one to Nog’s head, but then Nogueira comes back with a right of his own. Sylvia stuffs a weak takedown attempt with ease, and then lands a jab and a nice short right uppercut. Left hook and right hand combo puts Nogueira DOWN, and he looks in trouble as Sylvia pounds away looking to finish! Nog manages to hold on in guard, but looks hurt badly and eats punches and hammer fists. Tim decides to stand back up, and the ref calls Nog up to a big pop. Another right hand lands for Sylvia as Nogueira still looks wobbly. Nog pulls half-guard after an unsuccessful shot, and Tim grinds with his elbow and then stands again. Sylvia avoids another takedown and lands an uppercut and a knee inside. Nogueira lands a couple of jabs and then shoots, but Tim stuffs it again and breaks off quickly. Good shot to the body and follow-up to the head from Nogueira, but Tim catches him with the left again. Jab and cross combo from Sylvia turns Nog’s head back. Nogueira goes for a single leg, and actually trips Tim down, but as he passes to side mount the buzzer sounds, reminiscent of the third fight Nog had with Fedor. Clearly Sylvia’s round, perhaps 10-8 even based on the sheer amount of damage Nogueira sustained.
Into the 2nd and they exchange jabs early, before Tim avoids another takedown. Nogueira begins to land some stiff jabs, but the danger of Tim’s counterpunching is still there and he lands another right hand. Sylvia avoids another weak takedown attempt, and lands a nice uppercut. Good combo from Tim puts Nog on the back foot and his face is a MESS now, very swollen. Nogueira shoots again but once more Sylvia stuffs it. Body punch and uppercut land for Tim. Nogueira gets a single and tries to trip him down again, but Sylvia shows some excellent takedown defense to avoid, hopping around on one leg as Nog desperately tries to get him down. Sylvia wins the battle, though, and breaks off. They exchange jabs and then Sylvia lands a right hand that wobbles the Brazilian, but Nog comes back with a good left hook of his own. Nog is still on his back foot though, and another right hand lands for Sylvia before Nogueira comes back with a left hand again on the buzzer. So far this has been Sylvia’s fight for sure.
Third round now and Nogueira eats a right hand as Sylvia counters a leg kick. Nog shoots on a single leg but Tim avoids it again, and Nog lands a knee as he breaks away. Nogueira looks to jab, and then pulls guard off another shot, and this time he manages to control Sylvia a little better, keeping him on the mat. Tim tries to stand, but Nogueira hooks his leg and gets a BEAUTIFUL SWEEP over into top position! Nog slips right into side mount and lands some punches, and as Sylvia tries to scramble NOG LOCKS UP A GUILLOTINE AND ROLLS HIM FOR THE TAPOUT!~!
Crowd go WILD for the finish as Sylvia looks devastated, while a battered Nogueira celebrates, becoming the first fighter to hold titles in both UFC and PRIDE. Totally vintage Nogueira performance as he took a severe beating in the first two rounds – the first round especially saw him take a tremendous amount of punishment – but like always with Nogueira he was able to somehow survive and once he got Sylvia into his world, it was over within seconds. Later on Nogueira commented that “I played his game for ten minutes, he played mine for thirty seconds and I won”. Can’t get much more honest than that. Fight totally lived up to the hype, one of the best Heavyweight Title fights in MMA history in my opinion, and a definite contender for 2008 Fight of the Year, as both men showed the skills that they made their names off and generally fought their hearts out.
Post-fight Nogueira challenges Randy Couture, and comments that Sylvia is a true Heavyweight who hits hard. And boy does he sound horribly punch-drunk, although a lot of that could be down to the broken English he uses. Sylvia simply admits that he got caught, as that’s what Nogueira does. Really classy as you can tell the guy is hugely disappointed with the loss.
-Cue the highlight reel.
UFC traditionally stacks up their Superbowl weekend show and this was no exception, as going in the card had huge expectations and a lot of hype based mainly on the Lesnar fight, but also around the main event and a strong card in general. Sometimes a hyped show like that doesn’t live up to expectations, but that wasn’t the case here – we got one of the best shows in recent memory, with really only the lacklustre Martin-Eastman fight disappointing. Outside of that you had another very good match from Tyson Griffin, highlight reel finishes in the Lytle, Boetsch and Almeida fights, and probably Nate Marquardt’s most exciting UFC fight up to this point. As for the two main events, they both delivered in spades – Mir-Lesnar lasting just two minutes or so but being two of the most exciting minutes you could’ve imagined, while Sylvia-Nogueira was a better fight than anyone could’ve expected and was a fitting war between two of the best HWs of their generation. UFC probably brought in a lot of new fans to this show thanks to Lesnar’s debut, and thankfully they were greeted with one of the very best shows of 2008. Two thumbs up.
Best Fight: Nogueira-Sylvia
Worst Fight: Eastman-Martin
Overall Rating: ****1/4
UFC: 82-94, Fight Nights 13-17, 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.