Thomas was making his second Octagon appearance after an August loss to Ben Saunders, and his original opponent would’ve been young gun Matt Riddle, but Riddle got injured and so his fellow TUF 7 castmate Matt Brown – coming off a stirring performance against Dong Hyun Kim in a controversial split decision loss – stepped in. Random observation – Brown is clean shaven here, making him look about a decade younger.
Brown comes right out and stalks forward, landing a good combination to answer a body kick. Thomas goes for a takedown but Brown fights it off with a whizzer and then goes for a throw, but Thomas reverses and winds up on top in side mount. Good elbow from Thomas and then Brown tries to wall-walk to his feet, but Thomas holds him down and lands some good punches from the top. Brown works to half-guard and gets to his feet, and they muscle in the clinch with Thomas taking him down again, landing in half-guard. Punches land for Thomas again as Brown uses the cage to stand. Thomas uses double underhooks to try to drag Brown to the mat again, but Brown blocks and lands some back heel kicks to the calves. Takedown from Thomas again and this time he lands in full guard. Brown is active from his back though and he controls Thomas before going for an armbar. It looks quite tight and Thomas is forced to roll, but in the transition Brown goes for a triangle and Thomas slips free, passing to side control in the process. Good job of reclaiming half-guard from Brown though. Thomas lands some elbows and then stands to attempt a pass, but Brown gets his feet on the hips and uses it to reverse and wind up on top in Thomas’s guard. Thomas tries rubber guard but Brown stands free, so Thomas tackles him with a single and ends up caught in a guillotine. Brown gets full guard, but Thomas pops his head free and finishes with a flurry of punches as Brown goes for a triangle. Even, fast-paced round that I’d probably give to Ryan Thomas.
Round 2 and Brown charges out with a knee before sprawling to avoid a telegraphed shot. Nice combination lands from Brown but Thomas gets a takedown to full guard. Brown goes for the armbar right away and Thomas lifts him to attempt to slam his way out, but it just causes Brown to get the armbar in deeper and he flips him over for the tapout.
Fun little fight actually. Brown looked dangerous both standing and on from his back, and this was an impressive win. Thomas realistically probably wasn’t quite ready for UFC-calibre competition, but he’s a young guy and the experience will likely do him good, so to see him return in the future wouldn’t be surprising. Decent opener.
Two grapplers in this one who hadn’t exactly seen much success in the Octagon – both men had two losses and one lone win on their resumes and the likelihood for the loser being cut was pretty high. Physically Robinson looks far more impressive – possibly the most impressive physique in the whole Lightweight division in fact - but Bocek has a better grappling background so the smart money was on him.
They get underway and Bocek lands a knee into the clinch. Robinson drops to guard but Bocek immediately works to pass, getting into half-guard. Robinson does a good job of scrambling back to full guard, and he avoids damage from the bottom, tying up Bocek’s arms well. Bocek tries to pass and again works to half-guard, and from there he slides free to side mount. Full mount for Bocek but Robinson explodes from the bottom and reverses to take top position in Bocek’s guard. Beautiful sweep from Bocek reverses that, and he ends up in top position now. Into side control again from Bocek, nice guard pass, and he looks to trap Robinson’s arm to set up the Hughes Crucifix position. Knees to the body from Bocek and he drops some elbows for good measure. Some really nice elbows land and then Bocek tries to step to full mount, but Robinson does a good job of scrambling to get a butterfly hook in. Bocek slides out but Robinson again works back to full guard. Robinson looks to be turning for an oma plata, but his legs end up twisted sidewards and Bocek slips free to side mount. With seconds remaining Bocek secures a tight north/south choke ala Jeff Monson, but the round ends, saving Robinson. Excellent technical grappling throughout, but Bocek was always one step ahead in that round.
They exchange punches to open the 2nd, and Robinson lands a good flurry, but he goes for a takedown and Bocek uses a whizzer to reverse and gets top position. Robinson manages to get full guard but Bocek wastes no time in sliding out to side control. Knees to the body from Bocek and he looks to turn into the north/south choke again, and then takes a guillotine as Robinson tries to escape. Bocek gets full mount with the guillotine sunk in, but Robinson rolls and ends up in the north/south choke again. This time it looks horribly tight and Robinson is grimacing badly, but he holds on and rolls back to side mount. Full mount from Bocek now and he lands a few punches before taking the back. Body triangle from Bocek but Robinson works to defend the choke. Robinson tries to roll towards the triangle to break it, but takes some shots to the head in the process. Robinson keeps squirming and causes Bocek to lose one hook, and then flips over into Bocek’s guard, but right away Bocek goes into an oma plata. Robinson slips free though and looks to take the back, ending up on top with an over/under. He goes for a guillotine, but Bocek escapes and finishes the round on top. Another round in the books for Bocek, but this is a really excellent grappling match.
Third and final round, and they exchange some punches early before Bocek closes the distance and goes for a double leg, elevating him with a big slam to guard. Bocek works to pass again and hops into side mount, and from there he continues to control Robinson and lands elbows. Robinson tries to explode out but winds up mounted, and Bocek looks for an arm triangle choke. Robinson tries to battle out, but takes some shots from the Canadian and ends up giving his back. This time Bocek pounds him until he rolls back to full mount. More shots land and Robinson gives his back again, and this time Bocek goes for the rear naked choke and closes it off for the tap.
Really good fight actually, with some extremely high-level grappling exchanges, but despite Robinson being game, Bocek looked on another level from the beginning and it always felt like it was just a matter of time before he got the finish. Easily Bocek’s most impressive showing in his UFC career.
Stephens was looking to rebound from a June loss to Spencer Fisher, and was presented with newcomer Rafael Dos Anjos – a BJJ black belt and Pancrase veteran with a record of 11-2 – in what was likely a must-win bout for ‘Lil Heathen’. Hilariously, with their similar facial hair these guys look quite alike. Pre-fight package mentions Dos Anjos is a protégé of UFC veteran Marcio Pe De Pano Cruz – now there’s a guy I would like to see back in the cage at some point.
Round One gets underway and Dos Anjos begins with an inside leg kick and an overhand left. Stephens throws out some combos but Dos Anjos looks comfortable standing and then shoots for a takedown. Sprawl by Stephens and they end up in the clinch, where Stephens clips him with a short elbow. Stephens tries to muscle free, but Rafael drags him down and then takes the back. Stephens pops up to his feet, but a suplex from Dos Anjos brings him back down. Dos Anjos looks to get both hooks in and lands some punches, but Stephens turtles up to avoid it. Jeremy turns into full guard and tries to use the fence to get to his feet, but Dos Anjos does a good job to drag him away from the fence to keep him down. Rafael works into half-guard and Stephens goes for a guillotine, but Dos Anjos takes the opportunity to slide free to north/south. He switches to side mount and then back to north/south, before pivoting back to side mount. Dos Anjos goes for full mount but gets caught in half-guard, and then Stephens reverses to top position. Dos Anjos instantly locks up an oma plata though and it looks quite deep, but Stephens rolls to alleviate the pressure. Dos Anjos holds onto the oma plata though and locks it in fully, but Stephens guts it out until the round ends. Wow, Dos Anjos pretty much clowned him in that round. Sick ground game.
Into the 2nd and Stephens presses forward looking to strike this time, landing a lunging knee to the body. Nice leg kick from Stephens too. Right hand puts Dos Anjos on the defensive and then Stephens follows with the knee to the body. Dos Anjos comes back with a hard kick to the inside leg, before ducking a right haymaker and going for a double leg. Stephens battles to defend, but gets lifted up and Dos Anjos slams him. Stephens gets an odd position, like a crucifix from the bottom, but Dos Anjos swiftly rolls free and takes an over/under with Stephens turtled up. Rafael gets both hooks in and takes the back, and then locks up a body triangle for good measure. Punches from Dos Anjos as he looks to soften him up for the choke, and then he channels his inner BJ Penn and tries to trap the arm with his leg. Stephens uses the opportunity to roll into Rafael’s guard, but the Brazilian goes for an armbar now instead. He loses it though and Stephens ends up in the closed guard. Stephens rains down some brutal elbows, popping the crowd, and works into half-guard. Good combination lands for Stephens before Dos Anjos scrambles to full guard. Stephens begins to take over with his ground-and-pound now, landing some heavy elbows and punches with Dos Anjos pressed against the cage. Round finishes with Stephens on top pounding. Another good round and you could score it for either guy, with Dos Anjos’ submission attempts and control early, and then Stephens’ ground-and-pound in the later part of the round.
Round 3 and Stephens presses the action looking to strike. Couple of leg kicks land for Dos Anjos before Stephens lands a glancing overhand right and then NAILS HIM WITH A HUGE RIGHT UPPERCUT! Dos Anjos is OUT. Holy shit.
Amazing shot for the knockout, as Stephens threw the punch from behind his waist! Looked like something out of a video game in fact. Well, I guess if you’re behind after two rounds you need to pull something special out of the bag if you want to win, and Stephens pulled out something special indeed. Dos Anjos fought incredibly well but what can you do when you get whacked by a shot like that? Hell of a fight and one hell of a knockout for Lil’ Heathen.
Man, does anyone have longer layoff periods from UFC than Aaron Riley? His first fight was way back in May 2002, then he returned in January 2006, and now he’s back in November 2008. Always a solid, exciting fighter though so I’m not complaining. Of course though I was pulling for his opponent Jorge Gurgel in this one, as Jorge has been a favourite of mine for years now and his last fight was a really tough loss to Cole Miller. And lord, it’s hard to believe Riley is only 29 when you consider the guy has been fighting professionally since 1997!
Round One gets started and Gurgel lands the first good shot, a body kick. Riley closes him down and lands a kick that hits the groin, but referee Mario Yamasaki misses it and Riley nails Jorge with a combo before time gets called. They restart and Gurgel lands another body kick into a superman punch this time, but Riley keeps pushing forward. Gurgel lands a combo and then moves out, and his movement is looking much better here. Good superman punch from Gurgel and he follows with a combination. They exchange punches and Gurgel gets the better of it. Body kick from Riley to answer. Combo from Jorge, but Riley covers up and avoids most of it. Both men land hard kicks to the body and then they trade punches briefly before Gurgel backs up. Riley’s body is red now from the kicks. Gurgel’s combinations are looking fast if they’re not doing much damage, but two more body kicks land heavily. Riley comes forward with a knee and a head kick and then they trade again before backing up. Big body kick from Gurgel but two head kicks are blocked. Good right hand by Gurgel and he flurries at the end of the round, landing two glancing high kicks. Round goes to Jorge Gurgel for me, 10-9.
2nd round and Riley throws some kicks but takes the shot to the body again. Riley answers with a high kick that’s’ blocked. They trade punches and Riley lands a knee flush to the face. Left hand lands for Riley too as Gurgel’s corner yells at him not to trade and brawl. Nice combo by Riley and he’s looking much better in this round. High kick and combo by Gurgel answer but Riley pushes forward and lands a combo and another knee. Trip puts Gurgel on his back and Riley lands some punches before dropping into the guard. Riley stands and takes a couple of upkicks, before dropping some strong hammer fists from above. Gurgel pops back up to his feet and lands a body kick and a superman punch, but Riley catches him with a one-two and a short inside elbow. Pair of head kicks land glancingly for Riley and he tries to grab a plum clinch, but eats some uppercuts as he does so. They trade off with punches and head kicks briefly before brawling inside a clinch for a moment. Exchange of punches follows and Riley stuns him with a straight left that snaps Jorge’s head back. Double leg from Gurgel follows though and he puts Riley down in guard to finish the round. Riley’s round I think so it’s even going into the third.
Third round and Gurgel opens with a swift combo right off the bat. Body kick and a straight right follow. Pair of body kicks from Gurgel but Riley answers with a head kick. Couple more body kicks land for Jorge but Riley rocks him bad with a high kick and follows up with another one and a flurry that stuns the Brazilian. Big knee from Riley and he hammers from close range, but Gurgel looks recovered and manages to clinch for a moment. Riley keeps on slugging though and then he lands some brutal knees to the body. They break off and Gurgel is noticeably slower now. They trade punches and now Riley is getting the better of all of the exchanges. Big body kick from Jorge but Riley lands a combo and they clinch and exchange knees before breaking. Gurgel slips to his back off a kick and Riley pounces into the guard, landing some hammer fists. Riley lands some shots but Gurgel scrambles to his feet, and shoots for a takedown but Riley stuffs it. Knee and elbow from Riley break the clinch, and he avoids another takedown. With seconds to go they trade some more strikes.
Judges all have it 29-28 for Aaron Riley. Really fun fight to watch but again as a fan of Jorge Gurgel this was disappointing, as after a great first round, once Riley landed and hurt him he got drawn into trading strikes rather than working a gameplan and it was all Riley’s fight from there. Good return win for Riley, but surprisingly Gurgel was released from the UFC following this fight, showing that just having exciting fights isn’t enough to survive in the UFC - you have to win them too.
Third Team Quest opponent in four fights for BJJ ace Maia then, although I’m not 100% sure of Quarry’s status with that team these days. Quarry was coming off (dare I mention it?) the horrid “win” over Kalib Starnes and obviously wanted a more exciting fight this time around. Pretty much a classic striker-grappler fight with Quarry wanting to remain standing and Maia wanting to take it to the ground, but I was picking Maia as somehow he’s always found a way to bring it to the ground thus far in his career.
They get underway and Quarry is clearly looking to strike, but Maia shoots in and then pulls guard as Quarry sprawls. From there Maia transitions to a whizzer and uses it to hit a beautiful reversal to get Quarry on his back. Nice! Maia passes pretty much right away to full mount and Quarry is in deep trouble. Quarry tries to roll but gives his back, and within seconds Maia has a body triangle locked in and from there it’s just a matter of time. Punches loosen Quarry up and then Maia locks up a tight rear naked choke for the tapout.
Maia is just a total machine on the ground; perhaps the best pure submission fighter in UFC history in fact. As Rogan points out post-fight, part of the key to his success is that he doesn’t need top position to tool guys, instead he’ll just pull guard and go from there. It’s amazing that unlike with some fighters, when they’re on top you’re in big trouble, but with Maia as soon as you hit the ground you’re pretty much screwed. This was a complete owning and Quarry is no slouch on the ground too. Post-fight Maia calls out Michael Bisping which would be a hell of a fight at some point down the line.
This was the second “bone” that Zuffa threw Gonzaga after two consecutive losses and then a win over Justin McCully, as while newcomer Hendricks had an impressive record (15-4 with no losses since 2005) a closer look would tell you that he’d simply crushed cans over that three-year period and with his losses being to TUF alumni Tom Murphy and Sam Hoger, the odds on him being able to beat Napao were pretty damn slim. Gonzaga, to add, looks HUGE here. I mean he was never small before but Christ he’s backed on some muscle since the Werdum loss.
Touch of gloves to begin and they clinch right away before Gonzaga muscles him off. Hendricks tries to clinch again but Gonzaga’s having none of that and lands a right hand before grabbing a plum clinch. Knee to the body from Gonzaga breaks, and he follows with a left to the body as Hendricks leans forwards. Hendricks tries to clinch again but gets dragged down in a front facelock. They pop up again and once more Hendricks looks for dirty boxing, but takes some knees to the gut. Pair of big knees land and then Napao follows with a BRUTAL RIGHT HAND that drops Hendricks to the mat! Napao follows with another and Hendricks is BLATANTLY out now, but Steve Mazzagatti, surprise surprise, doesn’t stop it until Napao lands another sickening shot that stiffens him up. Christ.
That doesn’t show the needless, brutal third punch from Gonzaga. Not that he’s to blame as he did look at Mazzagatti to stop it before whacking him again. Absolutely vicious ending and another criminal display of refereeing from The Mazz, who could’ve gotten poor Hendricks badly hurt. Total squash as was expected, but hey, it’s a cool highlight KO for Napao at least.
This fight got bumped to the main card following Amir Sadollah pulling out of his fight with Nick Catone and Zuffa being unable to find a replacement for the TUF 7 winner. Not that many people were complaining as since when do either of these guys have boring fights? Surprisingly nobody made the “battle of the nerds” crack here, despite McCrory being the dude who wears horn-rimmed glasses and Hazelett nicknaming himself ‘McLovin’. Hazelett is also sporting a crazy beard here, quite possibly in tribute to the late, great Evan Tanner. My pick was McLovin with another mind (and limb) bending submission as he’d looked fantastic last time out against Josh Burkman.
They begin and McCrory starts off aggressively, landing with a wild combo that has Hazelett covering up along the fence! Body kick from Hazelett to answer and then he knocks McCrory down with a front kick, but misses a flying knee as the Barn Cat pops back up. Nice leg kick and body kick from McCrory, answered by a leg kick from Hazelett. McCrory throws out another combo and a couple more leg kicks, looking great standing. Big right hand lands for Hazelett now though, stunning McCrory and putting him on the retreat. Tamdan recovers though and lands a vicious leg kick. Another one nearly drops Hazelett face-first. Hazelett misses a head kick and Tamdan gets a takedown, but right away Hazelett goes from the rubber guard to an oma plata. Tamdan defends but Hazelett switches to a straight armbar. McCrory rolls over him to avoid, but Hazelett goes back to the oma plata, and as Tamdan tries to wriggle free, Hazelett switches the arm the other way and locks in a reverse armbar for the tapout.
Great fight as they started with some violent striking exchanges, but as soon as they hit the mat it was all Hazelett. Never seen an armbar like that before – Hazelett continues to pull off some of the most unorthodox, sick submissions in MMA and I’d go as far as saying he’s the best submission guy in the Welterweight division at this stage. McCrory is no slouch on the mat and yet he got clowned here. Great showing from Hazelett.
Another unfortunate victim of BJ Penn’s Welterweight Title challenge, Florian realistically had proven himself the #1 Contender at 155lbs with his win over Roger Huerta, but due to Penn moving up he was faced with a seriously tough bout against former title challenger Joe Stevenson in this show’s co-main event. Worse for Florian, I felt on paper Stevenson’s crushing grappling game and excellent takedowns could negate Kenny’s Muay Thai and BJJ skill, and I was picking ‘Daddy’ to take the decision and steal away Kenny’s title shot.
We’re underway and Florian fires off a low kick. Florian is circling off as Joe Daddy stalks him, and then he lands a left hand as Joe comes in. Nice right hook from Kenny as Stevenson continues to come forward. Jumping knee to the body and a front kick land for Florian. Stevenson chases him down and throws some haymakers, before looking for a takedown. Kenny tries to block it as Joe drives him into the cage, but Stevenson gets him down. Only for a second though as Kenny pops right back up and manages to get to a standing clinch. Joe really drops for a takedown and lifts him up for a slam, but Florian grabs the fence to avoid impact. Ref warns him; I would’ve taken a point personally. Kenny works back to his feet and then manages to avoid the takedown and breaks off. Few sharp jabs land for Kenny as Stevenson continues to push forward, landing some punches into a clinch. BIG takedown from Florian follows and Stevenson looks shocked to end up on his back. Joe gets half-guard and then works a second butterfly hook in, but Kenny stands over him and then passes to side mount before taking full mount! Flurry of punches follows and Joe gives his back, and as Stevenson tries to stand with Florian on his back, Kenny secures a rear naked choke and pulls him down for the tapout!
WOW, did not expect that to be so quick and easy for Florian at all. I mean I picked Joe but I could see Florian winning, but not in such a one-sided way. Literally as soon as Florian took Stevenson down it was one-way traffic. When you consider it took two rounds of a vicious assault for BJ Penn to put Stevenson away, then this performance becomes more impressive still. Easily Florian’s best showing in the Octagon thus far. Never seen Joe Stevenson get tooled like that.
Post-fight Florian calls out BJ Penn, saying BJ is a master but “now it’s time to kill that master”. Total money promo. I can’t believe I’m saying this stuff about Kenny Florian, either – who would ever have guessed back in 2005 when he was on TUF that just three-four years later he’d be in the top five at 155lbs?
Alright, so I’ll be honest. When I first heard the rumor that Randy Couture – who had walked out of UFC over a year beforehand citing disrespect, pay problems and a desire to fight Fedor and ONLY Fedor – was coming back to defend his title against Brock Lesnar, I laughed. I really did. It seemed preposterous. And yet, well, here we are. Personally I don’t think we’ll ever get the full story behind the reconciliation, although I suspect it had something to do with Randy realizing that A, he was never going to win the legal battle against Zuffa and was only getting older while it took place, B, Fedor was probably never interested in taking a fight with him in the first place, and C, he was largely in the wrong anyway.
Enough on the legal situation then, and onto the fight. Despite Lesnar only being 1-1 in the Octagon and 2-1 overall in MMA, with Nogueira tied up with Mir and defending the ‘Interim’ title in December, Brock was clearly the most intriguing bout for Couture that UFC could put together. I mean as I said in the UFC 90 review, would anyone have cared about Couture vs. Werdum? Coming in there were SO many questions – how would Randy deal with Lesnar’s obvious speed, size and power advantages? Did Lesnar have anywhere near the ring savvy he would need to beat a veteran like Randy? Could Brock take a punch? What would he be like if Randy put him on his back? Had the time away from the cage affected Couture badly? – and that made for probably the most intriguing Heavyweight bout of the year in the Octagon. My personal pick was the old man, however. I figured Randy would weather an early storm before wearing Brock out in the clinch and putting him on his back in the third or fourth round, where he’d finish him with his usual assault while Joe Rogan yells “UNBELIEVABLE!~!” in the background.
I seem to say this for every review, but I really wish they’d stop overdubbing the entrance music as it totally takes away the crowd reaction to the walk-ins, and as I remember it the entrances were incredibly heated for this fight, just tremendous crowd reactions for both men. Size difference is of course huge, with Lesnar looking to be around 280lbs to Couture’s 220lbs or so. And Randy doesn’t look great if I’m being honest – he looks drawn out and well, old. I guess he is old though – dude is pushing 50 after all! Lesnar gets pretty firmly booed during the introductions while Couture gets a monstrous pop, so it’s obvious who the crowd are behind.
Touch of gloves and here we go! They clinch up immediately and Lesnar lands some knees to the body. Randy looks like he’s going to work for his dirty boxing, forcing Lesnar into the cage, and they exchange knees. Good right hand to break for Couture. Randy avoids a couple of haymakers and then Brock shoots on a double and drives him into the cage. Randy defends the takedown though and remains standing. Big takedown eventually follows though and Couture gets half-guard. Brock almost gets full mount, but Couture reverses out and then stands and gets Lesnar down! Crowd explode as Randy tries to take Brock’s back, putting one hook in...but Brock simply grabs the leg and throws him onto his back. Jesus. Randy ends up in half-guard again and Rogan mentions they look like they’re three weight classes apart. Well, at the weigh-in you had a 45lb difference, which would be like GSP against Miguel Torres, so yeah. Lesnar works to pin Randy’s right arm and drops some hammers, but Randy squirms and manages to work to all fours. He works to his feet in the clinch, and now Brock looks like he’s breathing heavily. Randy leans him into the cage, and almost gets a takedown, but Brock grabs the fence to prevent it. Buzzer sounds just after. Very interesting first round. Probably have to give it to Lesnar but he didn’t quite overpower Couture like I’d expected him to early.
BIG “RANDY!” chant between rounds as the crowd are fired up.
Second round and they exchange a couple of punches before Brock lands with a short elbow that stuns Couture. They clinch and Couture forces him into the cage, and then lands a nice knee as they muscle for position. Brock breaks off with a big knee, but Couture comes right back with some punches from short range that land flush. Uppercut lands for Couture and Brock is bloody now, cut over the right eye. Nice right hand from Randy as he’s looking to use the same head movement that he did against Tim Sylvia to outstrike the bigger man. Lesnar ducks for a takedown but Couture stuffs it and moves him into the cage again. Randy is looking for the takedown now but he can’t get Lesnar off his feet. Exchange of knees breaks the clinch and then Brock comes forward and lands a right hook to the temple that drops Couture! Lesnar smells blood and looks to finish, and he lands a TON of hammer fists that bounce Randy’s head off the mat, and the ref steps in there! Brock Lesnar is the NEW UFC Heavyweight Champion of the World!
Punch looked like it clipped Couture in the temple, didn’t really land cleanly but it was reminiscent of the Serra-GSP knockout as it just took Randy out of it. The hammer fists that finished things didn’t even look like much but the power in them was ridiculous and post-fight Randy can barely even get to his feet. Man, Brock’s striking might be crude still but he packs such freakish power that if he catches you, it’s going to do serious damage. Insane stuff.
Post-fight the crowd sound more in shock than anything else. Lesnar puts Couture over in his post-fight interview and then says he may sound cocky sometimes, but it’s just his confidence in the gifts he’s been given, and to win the belt in just his fourth fight is proof of what hard work can do. Really humble stuff for Brock actually. Randy then basically says he felt fine, wasn’t rusty and basically just got caught by the bigger guy.
What can you say about that, really? I mean, it’s one thing for guys like Couture to have won their first title with just a few fights under their belt, because that was back in the early days of the sport, but for Lesnar in modern day MMA to have won the title in his fourth bout is amazing. Say what you will about him being handed an undeserved title shot (and yeah, you could probably make a fair case) but hey, he knocked out Randy Couture standing, and regardless of Randy’s advanced age, only Chuck Liddell was ever able to do that. Pedro Rizzo couldn’t, Josh Barnett couldn’t, Tim Sylvia couldn’t and Gabriel Gonzaga couldn’t. So you have to give Lesnar a tremendous amount of credit. When he first came into the sport (before signing with the UFC this was) I said if Brock took the sport seriously – as in, didn’t just sign up for waste-of-time freak show fights in Japan – he could become a heavyweight version of Josh Koscheck. Judging by his fight with Heath Herring and then this showing he’s well on his way to doing that. At this point I think there’s only like two heavyweights in the world I’d pick against him. The guy is going to be terrifying once his full game is rounded out completely. Fight wasn’t a classic or anything but the crowd heat made it feel like a *huge* fight and the ending was very memorable.
-We end with a highlight reel but unlike the live PPV show the DVD overdubs the 50 Cent track with some generic music. Ugh. They should make overdubbing illegal or something, seriously.
Overall I thought this was one of the better UFC shows of 2008. Granted, a lot of the highlight reel finishes – particularly on the main card – came because the fights were one-sided, and in fact I can’t remember another recent UFC card where nearly all the favourites won – but hey, like with some old PRIDE shows a good finish is a good finish. There’s nothing epic here, but on the other hand nothing stinks, and another thing I really enjoyed on this show was the amount of fights that ended up largely on the ground (Dos Anjos-Stephens, Bocek-Robinson, Maia-Quarry, Hazelett-McCrory) as groundwork is sorely lacking on some of these cards. Main event wasn’t outstanding but it felt like a mega-fight and had a great ending too. So it’s a solid recommendation for UFC 91.
Best Fight: Stephens-Dos Anjos
Worst Fight: Brown-Thomas
Overall Rating: ****
UFC: 92-97, Fight Nights 16-18, and TUF VIII Finale.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, Shockwave 2006, 31, Bushido 10-13 and the Openweight Grand Prix.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.