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UFC 82: Pride Of A Champion review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on March 1, 2009, 2:18 PM

UFC 82: Pride Of A Champion

Columbus, Ohio

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Lightweight Fight: Jorge Gurgel vs John Halverson

Halverson hadn’t been seen on a UFC card for well over a year before this, last losing in an odd fashion to Roger Huerta. Gurgel meanwhile had lost in disappointing fashion to Alvin Robinson last time out and wanted to make amends in his adopted home state a second time around.

Series of inside leg kicks starts things for Jorge as Halverson looks to be gauging the distance. They trade off with a brief flurry but Halverson backs off, and then lands a left hand. Gurgel goes back to the inside leg kick, landing them pretty much at will now. Halverson manages to counter one with a flurry and they tie up along the fence. They exchange some knees and Jorge looks to get a single leg, but Halverson drops for a guillotine. Jorge works out pretty easily though and lands some elbows from the top. Few decent shots land and the round ends shortly after. 10-9 Gurgel.

2nd round and Gurgel looks to work the leg kicks again, but a shot catches Halverson low and referee Dan Miragliotta calls time to let him recover. Gurgel lands a nice head kick off the restart that Halverson slightly deflects, and then Jorge goes for a takedown. Stuffed by Halverson, but he decides to go for a guillotine and loses it en route to going down to guard. Gurgel starts to land from the top with punches and hammer fists, really pounding away as Halverson’s head is stuck up against the cage. Very little defense from Halverson in fact as the ref watches closely, but Jorge begins to slow down and Halverson survives. Nice guard pass from Gurgel, standing to pass to side mount. Into north/south as Halverson tries to use the cage to spin, and it looks like Jorge is going for a kimura. He switches to an odd armbar attempt and scissors the head with his calves, but can’t lock it up. Gurgel shifts position and tries it again, but Halverson clings on for dear life and then manages to slip free as Jorge sits back. Halverson gets on top, and drops some shots to end the round. Decent round but it’s Gurgel’s again, 10-9.

Third and final round then, and Halverson clocks Jorge with a clean right hand and lands a combo, muscling him into the cage. Takedown by Gurgel but Halverson reverses and they stand and exchange, with Halverson landing some shots. They end up pushed against the cage again. Referee breaks them and Halverson lands a combo and a body kick. They trade punches wildly, typical Gurgel fight really, and then Jorge lands a head kick but Halverson takes it and fires right back with more punches. This is turning into a wild brawl and historically that’s not good for Gurgel. Takedown from Gurgel to slow things down though, and he lands some solid punches from the top that appear to hurt Halverson and have him marked up. Ref stands them and Halverson WADES IN swinging bombs as Gurgel swings back, and they end up brawling into a clinch. Exchange of knees inside ends the fight.

Decent stuff actually, if a little sloppy at points. I’ve got Gurgel 30-27 and the judges agree, 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Gurgel. Probably Jorge’s best UFC performance actually, although even then he ended up getting into pointless, reckless trades that might’ve cost him against a stronger striker than Halverson.

Welterweight Fight: Diego Sanchez vs David Bielkheden

This was Diego’s return to action following two losses in a row in 2007, and he was thrown a bone in the form of a UFC newcomer – and natural Lightweight – in Sweden’s David Bielkheden, a member of Brazilian Top Team. I think Roan Carneiro was Diego’s original opponent here actually, not sure why that got switched over. Diego’s grown back his ill jeri-curl haircut for this and looks like he did in the Nick Diaz fight. I’ve got tingling in my spine just remembering that one. Well to be fair I watch it like once every few months anyway.

Round 1 begins and Diego rushes right out and wastes no time in tacking Bielkheden into the fence, putting him on his back early. Sanchez works to pass right away, standing over the Brazilian Swede, and he gets into half-guard with ease. Elbows and punches from the top from Diego and Bielkheden looks lost on his back, surprising for a BJJ black belt. He gets back to guard at least though. Diego stands though and passes to side control, landing some elbows from the position. Bielkheden keeps squirming but can’t get free and Diego uses a kimura attempt to take full mount. And from there Diego BRINGS THE PAIN, dropping BRUTAL elbows and punches until Bielkheden decides he’s had enough and taps out to the punishment.

Very impressive showing for Diego, albeit against an admittedly overmatched opponent. This was vintage Nightmare, though – he just came out of the gate like a bat out of hell, took Bielkheden down and beat him up. And as a totally devoted Diego fanboy it was awesome to watch.

Welterweight Fight: Josh Koscheck vs Dustin Hazelett

Odd to see Koscheck on the undercard after being in two semi-main events previously, but he’d had some contract difficulties and hadn’t re-signed at this point (he would right after this fight) and so I guess Zuffa weren’t sure about showcasing him. This was during the period where Elite XC just signed with CBS so I guess they might’ve been worried about potential jumps. Anyway – opponent Hazelett had been on an impressive run himself and this was his chance to jump into the upper echelon at 170lbs.

Circle to open and then Hazelett surprises him with a BIG LEFT HIGH KICK! Koscheck looks stunned badly and staggers back, and Dustin comes charging in with a big knee! Kos grabs him for a takedown and then changes his mind, and it’s a SHOOTOUT as they exchange huge punches with Koscheck now backing Hazelett up! Whoa. Things finally slow up as they exchange some sharp jabs, and then Koscheck lands a nice body shot. High kick from Hazelett narrowly misses. Big combination stuns Dustin and then Koscheck looks for a single leg. Hazelett grabs a guillotine and jumps to guard, and Kos looks in trouble for a moment, but manages to grab onto Hazelett’s hand to stop it being locked in, and then breaks off. Couple of hard leg kicks from Hazelett follow. They exchange briefly again and then Koscheck lands a good overhand right to follow a double jab. Nice right hook from Koscheck in an exchange too. BIG TAKEDOWN from Koscheck, just driving Hazelett into the mat, but as soon as they hit the deck Hazelett locks up a triangle! Koscheck has a ton of room though due to the length of Hazelett’s legs, and Dustin runs out of time before he can finish things. Excellent opening round.

Into the 2nd, and they exchange jabs, with Koscheck landing a couple of hooks to the body for good measure. Hazelett goes to the body too, landing a left and then a body kick. Left high kick from Hazelett misses, and Koscheck comes forward with a big right hand....and a FLYING LEFT KICK TO THE HEAD!~! Hazelett goes down like he’s been shot, and Koscheck POUNCES and pounds him for the stoppage. God damn!

Right out of Yves Edwards’ playbook. Who the hell would’ve guessed we’d ever see Josh Koscheck of all people knock a guy out with a flying kick? Really exciting fight too as Hazelett looked much improved standing himself and stunned Kos a few times in the first round, and what we ended up with was two of the most talented young guys in the division slugging it out. Great fight with an even better finish.

Welterweight Fight: Luigi Fioravanti vs Luke Cummo

Both of these men were really in the same boat here, having had up-and-down UFC careers, winning one fight, losing the next, and so on. For Luigi this was likely his last chance in the Octagon as he’d lost a horribly disappointing fight to Forrest Petz in June, while Cummo was riding a two-fight win streak, with his last win being a bizarre KO of Edilberto Crocota.

Round One begins and Luke lands a right hand that causes Luigi to stumble early. Couple of front kicks land too and they trade for a second before Luigi looks for a takedown. Cummo blocks into a clinch and they break. Nice knee from Cummo, but Luigi gets a takedown to half-guard. He looks to pass and lands some punches, but Cummo works back to full guard. Luke pushes off and they stand, but Luigi stalks him and gets a nice takedown to guard. Good punches land from within the guard. Cummo turns his back and takes some punches, and then stands where Luigi gets a BIG SUPLEX back down to side control. Luigi looks to lock up a keylock, but can’t get it and Cummo scrambles back to guard. Luigi stands over him but then goes back into the guard. Luigi continues to work him over from the top, and when Cummo stands Luigi trips him right back down to end the round.

2nd round and Cummo pushes forward, but Luigi immediately grabs a double leg and takes Cummo down again. Luke keeps an active guard, but can’t seem to get out from under Luigi until Fioravanti chooses to stand up. Luigi shoots again though, but this time Cummo uses a whizzer to reverse and lands some left hands as Luigi goes into the fence. Bodylock from Luigi though and he pulls Luke down to side control again. Luke scrambles back to guard, but continues to take conservative ground-and-pound from Fioravanti. Luigi passes and tries to take the back, but Cummo uses the opportunity to spin out and escape to his feet. Luigi goes for another takedown, but this time Cummo stuffs and reverses it well, and ends up on top. Luigi rolls for an armbar from the guard, but Luke avoids it only for Luigi to push off and escape to his feet. Cummo comes forward, but Luigi takes him down again to secure the round.

Third and final round, and really Cummo needs to stop the takedown somehow if he wants to win. And sure enough Cummo stuffs the first attempt at the shot and lands a knee to the body. Luigi keeps pushing though and eventually elevates him before taking him down. Cummo scrambles to his feet right away, but Luigi just doesn’t mess around and puts Luke on his back again in guard. Luke brings his legs up to try for a sub, but Luigi’s having none of it and grinds away with some more slow-paced ground-and-pound work. Ref stands them up but Luigi quickly gets a single leg into a crotch lift takedown. Luke keeps guard, but it’s not doing him any good at all. Crowd are getting restless now too. Fioravanti tries to pass as Luke squirms, and this allows Cummo up, but Luigi trips him right back down. Luke gives his back this time and manages to stand, but once again Fioravanti pulls him down. Very little done from the top, however. Scramble lets Luke stand and he looks to swing, but Luigi tackles him to guard again. Luigi works with some short hammer fists from the top, and the fight ends with Luigi on top.

Clear decision for Luigi. Very dull fight, though, as after he got clipped very early Fioravanti found that Cummo just couldn’t stop the takedown at all, and so he ended up putting on a lay-n-pray clinic.
Heavyweight Fight: Andrei Arlovski vs Jake O’Brien

Bit of a controversial one, this – Arlovski had beaten top contender Fabricio Werdum in his last fight, but that was nearly a year before this and he’d been basically frozen out since due to his refusal to sign a new contract – this was the last fight on his current one and they needed to have him fight before the contract ran out altogether. O’Brien meanwhile was coming back from a neck injury, but he was still unbeaten and had beaten Heath Herring in his last fight, and Herring was in the semi-main event of the PPV! So realistically you could probably argue this deserved the semi-main slot had it not been for Andrei’s contract woes. Still, business is business and like with Koscheck, Zuffa didn’t want to risk showcasing a guy who was (even moreso in Arlovski’s case) likely out of the door after the fight. BIG crowd pop for Andrei from the Columbus crowd.

O’Brien shoots in right away as they begin, driving Andrei into the fence. Arlovski sprawls and works to stuff the takedown, getting a front facelock, but O’Brien keeps on coming as Andrei posts up against the cage to avoid it. They end up in an upper body clinch and then break. Jake shoots again, but Andrei hits another sprawl and there’s a clear guillotine there for him, but he doesn’t bother going for it. Big chant for Arlovski starts up as O’Brien just keeps going for the takedown, but Arlovski continues to stuff it. Finally they break off and Andrei looks to fire off some combos from distance, but O’Brien shoots in again. Sprawl from Arlovski once more though and he holds O’Brien in a front facelock as Jake drops to his knees. They separate and O’Brien shoots again, and this time Arlovski ends up on his back in the guard. Andrei ties him up as O’Brien tries to posture up and land some shots. Very little action here as Arlovski lands a couple of elbows and opens a cut on O’Brien’s head. Round ends with Arlovski on his back. Difficult round to score actually. I’d probably give it to O’Brien purely for trying to push the action.

Round 2, and Arlovski looks slightly more aggressive now, but he still has to sprawl right away to avoid a takedown. Big overhand right from O’Brien leads into a clinch, but they break quickly. Arlovski avoids another takedown, and again, with O’Brien shooting as soon as Arlovski throws a kick. Once again he ends up in the front facelock, but Andrei ignores the guillotine possibility, disgusting Rogan on commentary. Another takedown is avoided as the crowd begin to boo. They circle off, and then Jake shoots and this time he manages the takedown to guard. Again Andrei ties him up and throws some elbows from the bottom, and surprisingly O’Brien stands out of the guard. He shoots right back in as Andrei stands, though, but this time he screws up and Arlovski trips him down from an upper body clinch and lands right in the mount. O’Brien holds on, but Arlovski breaks free and then pounds away with some strong punches, until the ref decides he’s had enough and stops it.

Good win on paper for Arlovski to knock off an unbeaten fighter, but the performance itself was far from convincing – he looked tentative and played a very defensive game, and it was only a rookie mistake from O’Brien that allowed him the position that gave him the win. And sure enough despite Zuffa’s attempts to re-sign him, this was indeed Arlovski’s last fight with the promotion as he’s now signed with Affliction. Don’t get me wrong, I like Arlovski and wish he’d stayed with the UFC, but I don’t really miss the type of showing he put on here.

Welterweight Fight: Jon Fitch vs Chris Wilson

This was supposed to be a showcase for Fitch, who had already established himself as the #1 Contender at Welterweight, but needed to wait for the title situation between GSP and Serra to sort itself out. So he was faced with UFC newcomer Chris Wilson, a little known fighter from Team Quest who in reality is crazy tough, which for anyone not named Jon Fitch would be a terrible match. Fitch though prides himself on only fighting tough guys even if nobody else has heard of them. True fighter, that guy.

They get underway and Wilson stays light on his feet, circling around and landing some knees as Fitch goes for an early clinch. Right hand from Wilson and he does well to avoid another takedown. Front kick to the body from Wilson. Fitch continues to push forward and ducks a punch before shooting in, but Wilson stuffs the takedown and then stuns Fitch with a sharp right. Fitch looks okay though and they trade some punches, with Wilson also landing a high kick. Wilson tries a knee, but Fitch grabs him and looks for the takedown. Wilson defends well momentarily, but Fitch eventually works and gets him down. Wilson immediately works for an escape, but as Fitch works to suck his hips from under him the ref calls the stand-up. They circle off and exchange some strikes from distance, before Fitch grabs a low kick and gets the takedown. Wilson looks to be prepping an oma plata, before going to a closed guard. Fitch works the body and the head, but can’t do much damage as Wilson keeps active from his back, and the buzzer sounds there. Hard round to score, depends on how highly you count takedowns. Personally I’d give it to Wilson I think.

Into the second and Wilson continues to keep his distance and circles around, looking to strike, but as he looks to land a combo Fitch goes for the takedown. Wilson does a good job to avoid, but Fitch keeps coming and causes him to tumble down with an ankle pick, quickly scrambling to take top position. Wilson gets half-guard and then works butterfly hooks in, as Fitch works at the body. Wilson looks to use the butterfly guard to push off, but Fitch keeps on top and continues to chip away at the body and head. Wilson stays active from his back, but Fitch works his way into side mount and lands some elbows to the side of the head. Wilson tries to roll, but Fitch is having none of it and steps over to full mount. Good job by Wilson to get back to half-guard though, but he eats some hammer fists for his troubles. Wilson tries a scramble but again Fitch keeps him down and works to side mount. Couple of knees to the body, and Fitch ends the round in north/south control. Dull round but an easy one to score. 10-9 Fitch.

This could still go either way really. 3rd round and Fitch begins with a couple of leg kicks. Nice uppercut from Wilson but Fitch avoids his combos now and tries a takedown, only for Wilson to use a whizzer to avoid. Nice one-two from Fitch. Wilson comes forward but takes a leg kick. Good body kick by Wilson to answer. Fitch pushes forward with a combo and then avoids a wheel kick. Fitch is beginning to take over this fight standing now too, landing more combinations than before. Wilson throws some combos himself, but Fitch lands a right hand and then hits a double leg to guard. Butterfly guard from Wilson and he tries to kick Fitch off, but the AKA fighter is having none of that and stays on top, grinding with elbows and punches. With 30 seconds remaining Wilson tries to synch up a triangle, and actually manages to lock it in, but Fitch holds on and waits it out as the buzzer sounds to end the fight.

I’ve got Fitch taking this 29-28, but 30-27 wouldn’t surprise me either. 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 for Fitch, unanimous decision. Really pedestrian fight from Fitch though as after he got cracked early he played it cool and didn’t really take any risks en route to the decision. Wilson acquitted himself well, particularly considering it was his UFC debut against a top three Welterweight, but outside of the one part of the first round he wasn’t able to string enough offense together at all. Not a bad fight per say, but it was hardly riveting.

Middleweight Fight: Yushin Okami vs Evan Tanner

This was former champion Tanner’s comeback after about two years in the wilderness, during which time he did so much bizarre stuff that it’d take a whole column to document it. He was faced with one of the toughest tests possible upon his return too, in Yushin Okami, a guy with one loss – to Rich Franklin – and five wins in his UFC career. Personally I was hoping for Tanner to pull off the upset and fire himself back into title contention right away. Evan looks in good shape, at least.

We begin and they size each other up, neither man wanting to make the first mistake, and Okami draws first, landing a glancing kick to the body. Good right hand from Tanner follows though, and then a nice left hook. Okami answers with a right-left combo that drops Tanner to the mat, and Okami closes in to finish, but Tanner switches him and tries a takedown. They end up standing with Tanner trying to take the back, and then Okami turns into the clinch. Tanner drops for the takedown but Okami stuffs it and they exchange some knees. They muscle for position, before Okami breaks. Inside leg kick from Tanner, but he walks into a plum clinch and a knee to the body. Okami works the clinch with a couple more knees before Evan pushes him away. Good left again from Okami as they press the action. Couple of leg kicks land for Tanner. Round ends with Tanner pressing forward. Okami’s round for the knockdown.

Into the 2nd and Tanner dances around and throws out some leg kicks, before Okami lands a nice body kick. Combo lands for the Japanese fighter but Tanner comes back with a push kick. They exchange into the clinch and Okami lands a knee from the plum, but Tanner breaks off. Winging left hook by Tanner misses, and Okami makes him pay with a one-two that snaps his head back. Tanner closes the distance into the clinch, and looks for a takedown, but Okami stuffs it and gets the plum, and a BIG LEFT KNEE turns Tanner’s lights out.

Bitterly disappointing comeback for Tanner, as he didn’t look himself and never got into a rhythm against the awkward opponent. Okami fought very well but as a fan of Evan Tanner this was a difficult fight to watch. Obviously on that account 2008 would get even worse, but we’ll talk about that in the review for the show with Tanner’s next fight. Nice knockout for Okami though, I have to admit.
Middleweight Fight: Chris Leben vs Alessio Sakara

Sakara was dropping to 185lbs for the first time here, and Zuffa were clearly expecting an all-out brawl by matching him with Leben. Really Leben is like the worst match possible for Sakara though as Sakara’s always shown good technique in his punches but little power and a practically non-existant chin, so he was tailor made for Leben’s wide open style and iron jaw. Leben’s got his hair dyed black which just looks wrong, dude.

Leben begins aggressively with some kicks, stalking forward, and he lands a left hook in an early exchange. Nice combo from Sakara, really fast hands, but Leben wades right through it and looks to grab the head. Some good kicks land from Leben and again he just wades through the Italian’s combos. They exchange some more punches and it’s more of the same, with Leben wading through Sakara’s more technically sound shots and throwing haymakers. Neither guy’s been hurt yet, though. Another exchange follows with the same result. Sakara then throws a superman punch and follows with a beautiful left hook that turns Leben’s head, but Leben eats it right up and comes back with a pair of knees from the clinch. Big body kick from Leben as he pushes forward, and they clinch against the fence. Sakara breaks off and they exchange from close quarters, and this time Leben lands a heavy left hook that wobbles his legs. Another left drops Sakara, and Leben finishes things off with some HEAVY shots from the top. Leben looks badly cut during his celebration but who cares about that now?

Post-fight Sakara claims early stoppage but there’s no way – he was eating bombs there. Lived up to my expectations in every single way, that fight did – it was a dirty brawl with Sakara landing the more technical punches, but sure enough his lack of chin caught up to him and Leben was able to wade through the punches before landing his haymaker to close things off. Fun for what it was.

Heavyweight Fight: Heath Herring vs Cheick Kongo

No clue how they ended up with this as a co-main event if I’m honest. Kongo at least was coming off a big win – over Mirko Cro Cop – but Herring had disappointed greatly in his UFC tenure up to this point. And with Kongo’s ground game still having not been truly tested, I wouldn’t have said either man was close to a title shot. But hey, I still like the Texas Crazy Horse from his PRIDE days (even own his t-shirt!) so I’ll let it slide I guess. He looks in very good shape here too after looking less than great in his previous UFC fights.

Herring comes charging out of the gate to open the first round, and drops Kongo instantly with a right hook! Kongo quickly pops up into the clinch and surprisingly drops and takes Heath down to half-guard. Herring rolls and gives his back, looking to grab a kimura, but Kongo pops out and lands some shots, before Heath escapes to his feet. Big right from Heath as he pushes forward, but Kongo catches a kick and takes him down again. Herring gets half-guard and works a headlock sweep, but Kongo tries right away to get to his feet. Heath keeps him down against the fence in a loose half-guard but Kongo posts up on the cage and stands in a front headlock. Knees to the legs from Kongo and he drops for the takedown again, going right into full mount. Heath sits up against the cage, preventing Kongo from doing any real damage, and then rolls to give his back and uses that to reverse and take Kongo down. Kongo uses an elevator sweep immediately to pop back up though, but Herring quickly grabs a waistlock. Takedown to guard from Heath, but Kongo reverses right to mount and takes the back. He stands for some reason though and this lets Heath scramble and grab a double leg. Kongo sprawls out and we get a stalemate until the round finishes. Very difficult round to score. Maybe an even round in fact.

Round Two and Heath comes out aggressively again, but Kongo gets hold of him and pulls him down with a waistlock, landing some punches. Heath scrambles and ends up on the bottom, getting half-guard where Kongo looks to open up with some elbows. Big upkick lands from Herring as Kongo stands over him. Kongo won’t let Herring up as he lays in the butt-scoot position, and lands a couple of kicks to the legs. Crowd begin to boo wildly and so the ref brings Herring up. Heath swings into another clinch, but Kongo forces him into the fence and looks to land knees. Nice slam from Kongo puts Heath down again, but he immediately rolls to the turtle position. Kongo gets a front facelock, and turns to take the back, landing some shots from behind, but Heath gets a nice reversal to the north/south position. If this were PRIDE Heath would probably murder Kongo with knees to the head now, just saying. He works over the body with punches, and then lays in some hard knees to the body for good measure. HUGE knees to the body ala his PRIDE days, as Kongo looks stuck for the first time in the fight really. Heath continues to punish the body with knees until the buzzer sounds. Probably Herring’s round for the knees alone really.

Third and final round and this is still anyone’s fight. Very close fight. Between rounds Herring’s face is pretty marked up though. They begin and both men throw a kick, and it’s Herring’s low kick that lands and knocks Kongo off balance. Kongo dives for a takedown and gets on top in guard, but Heath quickly scrambles and looks for a single leg of his own. Kongo sprawls out, and turns to take the back again, where he lands some knees to the shoulder. Kongo tries to go for a rear naked choke with Heath in like a seated position, but c’mon, you’re not gonna tap Heath Herring like that and sure enough he slips free and stands. Big left kick glances off Herring’s shoulder and then Kongo narrowly avoids a big right hand. They clinch up again and Heath bulls him right into the fence hard. Kongo forces Herring down and takes the back with an over/under again, but Heath pops up with a single leg. Kongo sprawls out but Herring gets him down anyway into side mount. Kongo tries to push off the cage with his legs to escape, but Heath uses north/south to keep him down. Announcers mention how Heath must miss the PRIDE rules right now. Punches to the body from Herring and he does a good job of holding Kongo down. Few elbows score for Heath and some more knees to the body too. Big knees to the kidneys land and man is Kongo gonna be feeling that the next day. Mount from Herring now but Kongo holds him tight, but can’t escape before the fight ends.

Close one to score but I have it 29-28 for Herring, basically based on the fact that he did damage with the knees to the body and kept Kongo down when he got on top, while Kongo when he was able to take Herring down didn’t really do much from there or hold him there. Really close fight though. Judges score it 29-28 Herring, 29-28 Kongo, and 29-28 for Herring, split decision for the Texas Crazy Horse. Probably the right call I would say. Not a bad fight at all when all was said and done, albeit sloppy in places and neither guy looked stellar on the ground. Still, it was decent enough and despite showing improvements from say, the Carmelo Marrero fight, it showed that Kongo still needs some more work on his ground game before he’s the finished article. Herring though really has become the perfect gatekeeper for the UFC at Heavyweight, and it’s a role I like for him at this stage in his career.

UFC World Middleweight Title: Anderson Silva vs Dan Henderson

Huge main event then, with the UFC 185lbs champ taking on the PRIDE 185lbs champ. Well, Henderson *held* the belt – he’d lost in his last fight at the weight in a non-title affair to Kazuo Misaki, but it’s neither here nor there I guess. General consensus was that after shitkicking Franklin and Marquardt, Henderson was likely the only guy at Middleweight in the world that stood a chance of beating Silva. My personal opinion, however, was that Silva’s kryptonite would be a world-class BJJ guy with solid striking and takedowns rather than a wrestler with heavy hands like Henderson, and so I expected Silva to escape from the bottom position at some stage before finishing Hendo standing.

Did I ever mention that I hate the way UFC DVDs remove the real entrance themes? Hendo made an awesome entrance to ‘Lunatic Fringe’, the song from Vision Quest for this fight but it’s replaced with some rubbish generic rock track on the DVD. Annoying. I mean it’s not like Zuffa can’t afford to pay the royalties, surely? Big pop for Henderson upon arrival as the Ohio crowd seem to have adopted him as the guy to take out Silva after the Brazilian killed their boy Franklin.

And here we go! Hendo tries to touch gloves....but Silva refuses. Anderson keeps his distance and looks to be waiting to get Henderson’s timing down, as Hendo lands a couple of low kicks. Pair of nasty low kicks from Silva with a minute gone, and he quickly avoids the follow-up barrage from Henderson. Left high kick blocked by Henderson, but he takes a nasty front kick that lands pretty much in the throat. Crescent kick from Silva narrowly misses, and then Henderson manages a clinch and forces Silva to the mat! Big pop for that. Silva gets an odd half-guard, sort of laying on his side to scissor Hendo’s leg, as Henderson drops some short hammer fists to the side of the head. Silva does a good job of controlling Henderson’s posture, not allowing him to really get any good offense going, as Hendo goes old-school and covers Anderson’s mouth ala Maurice Smith against Mark Coleman. With 30 seconds to go Hendo manages to pass to side mount, but Silva scrambles back to guard before he can do any damage, and locks up a body triangle from the bottom. Henderson closes the round with some punches, taking the round on my scorecard, 10-9. First time anyone’s taken a round from the Spider in UFC competition from what I remember.

Circle to begin the 2nd and Silva fires off a few kicks. Hendo tries a body kick and takes a right hand from the champion. Low kick from Silva and Henderson counters by coming over the top with a pair of right hands, and follows with an uppercut. Left high kick from Silva is blocked, and then Henderson drops for a takedown, but Silva ends up on top. Big shots to the body from Silva, but Hendo gets back up into the clinch and muscles Silva into the fence. They exchange from close quarters and Silva does a good job to avoid being tripped down. Big knee from Henderson breaks the clinch and he follows with a VICIOUS right hand, but Silva shrugs it off and answers with one of his own! Hendo tries to wade in with punches, but Silva gets the plum and lands a big knee before following with a left kick to the head. Henderson looks stunned and eats some more punches, before wildly swinging back and then dropping for a desperate ankle pick. Silva blocks and gets on top with some big shots to the head, ending up in half-guard. Henderson still looks hurt though and Silva chops away at the body before taking the back as Henderson tries a reversal. Couple more big right hands land from behind and then Silva gets both hooks in! Body triangle follows as Henderson rolls, taking more punches as he does so. Hendo desperately tries to shake Anderson off, but it’s to no avail as Silva LOCKS UP THE CHOKE AND HENDERSON TAPS!!!

Unbelievable. And really how many times have I used that word to describe Silva at this point? And yeah he might’ve finished Henderson with a submission, but what really caused the end was the fact that Silva’s got a chin of IRON and just ate up a punch that would’ve crippled a lot of guys, before he answered with some scary strikes of his own that put Henderson on Queer Street and opened him up for the choke. Henderson did well in the first round, but the thing with Silva is that if you can’t finish him on the ground – and ground-and-pound wrestlers just aren’t going to do it thanks to his chin – then over twenty-five minutes you’re guaranteed to get caught at some point on the feet. And when Silva catches you its DEATH. This was the first fight, for me, that pushed Silva into the best pound-for-pound realm, and who would argue with that at this point? Incredible showing for Silva in an epic main event.

Post-fight Silva puts over Henderson as an opponent, but then randomly decides to give credit to Rich Franklin again which seems to make him more popular with the Ohio crowd. Silva’s promos in Brazilian and then broken English are hilarious.

-Show ends with a highlight reel, as the DVD cuts out Mark Coleman’s induction to the UFC Hall of Fame. Boo!

Final Thoughts....

Despite the amount of name power, the epic main event and a really good fight on the undercard between Koscheck and Hazelett, this was one of the weaker shows that the UFC put on in 2008 for me. Nothing was necessarily bad, but outside of the main and the afore-mentioned Koscheck fight nothing stood out either. Herring-Kongo was decent, as was Tanner-Okami, but Fitch-Wilson was really pedestrian as was Arlovski-O’Brien. Not a stinker or anything – it’s better than most of the shows on the back end of 2007 for example – but it just felt underwhelming when you take into account the sheer amount of talent on the card. Thumbs in the middle, leaning slightly up.

Best Fight: Koscheck-Hazelett
Worst Fight: Fioravanti-Cummo

Overall Rating: ***1/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 83-95, Fight Nights 13-17, and TUF VII and VIII Finales.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, Shockwave 2006, and 33.
WEC: 30-38
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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