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UFC: Fight Night 16 review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on May 26, 2009, 10:07 AM

UFC: Fight Night 16 – Fight For The Troops

Fayetteville, North Carolina

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

-Premise of this show then was to raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a charity to raise money for soldiers returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly those suffering with traumatic brain injury. Even the staunchest Zuffa haters have to admit that it’s a really cool idea. Show is interspersed with little clips of various soldiers who have suffered horrific injuries and are trying to recover, as well as various celebs (Jack Black, Matt LeBlanc, Samuel L. Jackson to name three) encouraging the viewers to donate money. I won’t recap them because they don’t really have anything to do with the UFC show itself, but you have to respect what these guys go through. The soldiers that is, not the celebs!

Lightweight Fight: Jim Miller vs Matt Wiman

Wiman’s original opponent was Frankie Edgar, but he injured himself in training and so Jim Miller – whose only loss, incidentally, came to Edgar in 2006 – came in on short notice. And when I say short notice I mean short notice, as the dude literally came back off his honeymoon and took the fight! Amazing that he’d be able to get into fighting shape so quickly.

First round begins and Miller clips him with a right early but Wiman looks okay. They clinch briefly but Miller breaks with an elbow. Wiman pushes forward and then looks for a takedown, getting a slam, but Miller locks up a deep guillotine as they hit the mat. Miller sweeps over to full mount with the guillotine locked in, and Wiman begins to grab at Miller’s shorts to try to create some room. Referee Mario Yamasaki yells at him to stop but he refuses, and the announcers speculate he’s trying to lose a point in order to have the hold broken. Finally Wiman manages to break free, but takes some punches from the guard. Miller works from the top and tries to pass the guard, landing some elbows and hammer fists. Wiman’s bloodied up now and Miller continues to pound him. Miller stands and passes the guard, taking the back briefly, but he slips off and Wiman ends up on top in Miller’s guard. Wiman stands over him and takes an upkick before Miller pops to his feet. Good right hook from Wiman in an exchange and they clinch briefly before Wiman breaks and lands a combo. Good body kick and a follow-up left to the body looks to have Wiman hurt, but he manages to get a takedown. Miller reverses on the way down though and ends up grabbing Wiman in a front facelock. They stand back up and Miller lands some punches, but Wiman answers right back and Miller looks a little tired now. Exchange of strikes ends the round. Well, that was a great round.

Round Two and Wiman pushes forward with strikes, but Miller ducks and takes him down with a single. Wiman immediately scrambles to his feet though but takes a couple more shots to the body. Nice combo of hooks from Miller hurts Wiman and they clinch up, before Miller breaks with a knee. Miller really begins to take over now, flurrying at Wiman and landing punches with Wiman backing into the fence. Big knee to the body and left hook stun Wiman but somehow he’s still on his feet. Miller drops for a single leg and gets him down, landing on top in the guard. Miller is keeping a furious pace considering how late he took this fight. He works to pass into half-guard and continues to land shots from the top, pretty much owning Wiman. Wiman tries to roll for a leg but Miller pulls out and then lands a diving left hand into the guard. Wiman tries to push him away using a butterfly guard, but Miller is just all over him. Round ends with Miller keeping top position and working Wiman over with strikes from the top. Both rounds go to Miller so far, pretty easily.

Final round and Wiman needs a KO or sub to pull this one out of the bag. Sure enough Wiman comes out swinging for the fences and lands a flurry, but Miller drops for a takedown and puts Wiman on his back again. Wiman uses the butterfly to push back to his feet, but eats a left on the way up. Left hook to answer from Wiman and he lands a right, but Miler takes him down again. Wiman’s defensive guard is looking better now though and he’s doing a good job of avoiding damage. Miller struggles to pass, but finally he stands and drops a left over the top and ends up in side control. It looks like Miller’s setting up to go for full mount, but then he decides to remain in side mount instead. Wiman does a great job of scrambling back to guard though, and then explodes to his feet. Miller gets right back in for a takedown, but takes a knee en route to putting Wiman on his back. Good upkick by Wiman and he gets a reversal and takes Miller down, but literally as they hit the ground Miller gets a reversal and takes Wiman’s back with both hooks in. Miller is a hell of a grappler. Both guys look exhausted now as Miller works for the choke while Wiman works to defend it. Miller tries to move to full mount, but Wiman does a good job of slipping into guard instead. With seconds to go Miller grabs a guillotine from the top, but he can’t finish it and the buzzer sounds.

Hell of an opening fight. Miller takes the unanimous decision as it was basically a shutout for him in terms of offense, but Wiman did a great job defensively and did land some decent shots standing, so it made for a very exciting fight overall. Miller was unbelievably impressive here though, pushing a torrid pace throughout with his takedowns and ground work, which is amazing when you consider he took the fight on late notice and had to cut weight, etc.

Middleweight Fight: Tim Credeur vs Nate Loughran

Two BJJ-based guys here, with Louisiana’s first black belt Credeur taking on David Terrell (!~!) student Loughran. Both men had looked impressive at Fight Night 14, beating Cale Yarbrough and Johnny Rees respectively, and Credeur’s stand-up had particularly looked very much improved. Personally though, due to my bias towards well, anything Terrell-related I was taking Loughran by submission.

First round gets underway with a touch of gloves. Both men throw out some strikes early and then they go into the clinch and Credeur muscles him into the cage. Announcers discuss David Terrell and it nearly has me in tears wishing he’d come back. Credeur breaks off and narrowly misses a head kick. Loughran looks for a takedown but Creduer stuffs it. Front kick to the body from Credeur. Credeur is swinging some bombs here and he lands a good combination. Loughran is hanging in there, but Credeur looks like the better striker here. Exchange continues with Credeur landing a body kick and a superman punch. Loughran keeps pushing forward though to his credit, even if he hasn’t hurt Credeur yet. With seconds remaining Tim hits a heavy combination and then forces Loughran to the mat, where he lands a couple of punches and passes to side mount. That round was basically all Credeur.

Loughran comes out swinging to open the 2nd, landing a body kick, and then he shoots for a takedown and ends up pulling guard. Loughran tries the rubber guard but it’s too loose and Credeur ends up in the regular full guard. Loughran is cut now over the left eye. Loughran tries to stay active from his back, but Credeur works and passes to half-guard. Nate looks for a triangle but Credeur’s having none of that and easily postures out, landing some more elbows. Ref brings them up as the fight slows down in Loughran’s guard, and both men come in swinging with Credeur landing a good right and Loughran answering with a body kick. Exchange continues and Credeur complains of an eye poke, but he seems alright and they carry on fighting. Credeur continues to get the better of the striking and Loughran’s taking some deep breaths now. Right hand and left hook land flush for Credeur and Loughran is not coming forward any more now. Credeur really takes over towards the end of the round, landing some bombs, but Loughran manages to end the round by clinching.

Between rounds Loughran’s corner throw the towel in, apparently he’s suffered some sort of injury, looks like he’s holding onto his ribs so it’s probably a rib injury. Credeur takes the win by TKO. Decent enough fight but it was nothing special and there were some admittedly dull moments in there.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Steve Cantwell vs Razak Al-Hassan

WEC Light-Heavyweight Champion Cantwell was the first fighter to make the migration over to the UFC when WEC disbanded their LHW and MW divisions at this time, and originally he would’ve faced old rival – and US Marine – Brian Stann in a third fight between the two here, but Stann was injured and so the largely unknown Razak Al-Hassan, fighting out of Iowa and sporting an AWESOME afro, stepped in. So effectively Cantwell went from being the villain against Stann to the crowd favourite as he was facing a dude with a foreign-sounding name.

We get started and Al-Hassan presses forward looking to strike, but he’s keeping his chin way up in the air which is dodgy indeed. They end up clinched and Al-Hassan moves him into the cage, but they quickly break off. Razak throws a couple of low kicks, but eats a left uppercut that snaps his head back. Brief clinch allows Razak to land an uppercut, and then he throws a flurry but his chin is still way out there. He continues to push forward swinging punches, but Cantwell looks really calm and clips him with a couple of counters. Takedown from Cantwell into Razak’s guard. He stands over Al-Hassan and easily passes to side mount, and from there steps over to full mount. Al-Hassan is in deep trouble. Cantwell goes for an armbar and straightens it out, but Al-Hassan tries to roll and steps over Cantwell, but then Cantwell puts some torque on it and HOLY SHIT AL-HASSAN’S ARM POPS! Mario Yamasaki spots it right away and calls a stop to things there. Jesus.

Ugh. That’s some nasty stuff right there. Not quite as bad as when Frank Mir broke Tim Sylvia’s arm I wouldn’t say and sure enough Al-Hassan’s arm wasn’t broken – he just tore tendons and dislocated the elbow from what I read – but it was still a sick, sick injury.

Post-fight Cantwell courts some controversy by telling Joe Rogan he “always wanted to do that” and generally seems a bit too happy about almost breaking a dude’s arm. In the end he was pretty much forced to apologise online for the promo, blaming it on his rush of adrenaline following the fight. Eh, he’s 22 and was excited; it’s just one of those things. At least he said sorry. Al-Hassan seemed a bit overmatched but this was an impressive UFC debut from Cantwell, and at his young age he could well develop into a force in the future.

-Segment worth mentioning now as Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes visit a military medical centre and actually do some submission grappling with the injured veterans. Pretty awesome stuff and hey, I guess Hughes isn’t as much of a dick as certain people make him out to be, is he?

Welterweight Fight: Mike Swick vs Jonathan Goulet

This one had originally been scheduled for UFN 11 in September ’07, but Swick had pulled out with injury and they’d gone down different paths until this point, with Swick racking up two wins at 170lbs, albeit not really impressive decision wins. Announcers discuss a “verbal feud” between the two but I can’t really recall any trash-talk coming in myself. On paper this was a tailor-made fight for Swick as Goulet is always willing to trade but has a horribly questionable chin. Swick physically looks properly acclimatised to 170lbs here, shredded up and looking better than he ever has at that weight before.

They circle to begin and then Swick wades in with a flurry and DROPS HIM WITH A SHORT RIGHT! Goulet desperately grabs for a leg, but Swick UNLOADS with lord-knows how many hammer fists to the head and finally a series of short uppercuts put him out cold.

Vicious stuff. This was like the return of the old ‘Quick’ Swick after his previous two slower-paced fights with a more conservative gameplan. You could argue that it was due to him having a tailor-made opponent, but to be fair you could probably make an argument too for Swick being more comfortable at 170lbs now and that was why he looked so good. Guess we’ll find out in his next fight. This was obviously a squash but man, it was an awesome highlight reel moment for Swick, who was in dire need of something just like this.

Welterweight Fight: Ben Saunders vs Brandon Wolff

This was a prelim taped earlier in the night. Saunders, a favourite of mine, had looked impressive last time out in beating Ryan Thomas, while former Navy SEAL Wolff had gained some attention online after Jon ‘War Machine’ Koppenhaver was released from the UFC after refusing a fight with him for some reason.

Touch of gloves gets us underway and instantly you can see there’s a ridiculous size difference here as Saunders is a MASSIVE 170lbs. Very first kick from Ben lands low though and the ref is forced to call time. Wolff recovers pretty quickly and they restart, and then Saunders throws a left high kick before grabbing a plum clinch and GOING TO TOWN WITH THE KNEES! He throws about eight of them before Wolff manages to break off, and as soon as he does he touches his forehead. Massive head kick and knee follow and then Saunders grabs the clinch again and more BRUTAL KNEES follow as Ben channels Wanderlei Silva circa the first Rampage fight. Wolff is in deep trouble and he eats another high kick as Ben lets the clinch go. More knees land and then Saunders follows with a huge body kick that slams Wolff backwards into the cage. Plum clinch again and Wolff is just eating knee after knee after knee, this is a slaughter. Wolff turns sidewards now and eats some more CRUSHING KNEES to the head and body as Saunders is not letting up, and really this should be stopped at this point. Ben keeps on kneeing though and finally Wolff collapses in a heap and the ref mercifully stops it. Good God. Wolff’s head is frighteningly swollen post-fight; like he’s had a pair of safety goggles embedded into his forehead or something.

Honestly that clip doesn’t do the brutality of that fight justice. That was the most scary, one-sided beatdown I can personally remember in modern-day UFC. Closest comparison would probably be Wanderlei Silva vs. Rampage Jackson from Final Conflict 2003, albeit without the soccer kicks. A lot of people leapt onto Ben’s bandwagon after this and while the truth is probably that Wolff was badly overmatched by the larger and more experienced Saunders, I’m actually buying into the hype on this guy and I think he’ll be a serious title contender within two or three more fights. ATT, baby, ATT. Terrifying stuff.

Welterweight Fight: Josh Koscheck vs Yoshiyuki Yoshida

Main event came into question when Koscheck stepped in to take on Thiago Alves in October, but despite taking a bit of a kicking he was still okay to face Yoshida here. This was quite the intriguing battle on paper, I must say, as I had both men ranked in the top ten at 170lbs at the time and Yoshida had looked fantastic in his UFC debut, choking out Jon Koppenhaver in about a minute. I figured he’d probably be in trouble against Koscheck though as his best game comes from the top position and I didn’t see him taking down Kos. Yoshida winning wouldn’t have outright surprised me either though – I mean the guy has a win over Akira Kikuchi by TKO, so you know he means business!

Koscheck actually gets a big crowd pop here strangely enough, after being roundly booed against Thiago Alves and Chris Lytle in his last two outings. I guess the fans were impressed by his heart against Alves; either that or he’s just popular with the soldiers, who knows?

Round One gets started and they circle around with Yoshida throwing out a couple of low kicks. Koscheck paws out with his left hand and misses an overhand right, and then Yoshida glances off him with a head kick. Couple of short rights land for Kos but Yoshida backs up and lands an inside leg kick and a glancing body kick. Koscheck narrowly misses the overhand right again and Yoshida circles out. Yoshida tries a knee to the gut but catches a right hand coming in. The Japanese fighter continues to circle out and throw kicks, but Koscheck closes him down and then NAILS him with a VICIOUS RIGHT HAND! Yoshida is OUT, but the fence keeps him standing and so Koscheck follows up and KILLS HIM DEAD WITH A RIGHT HAYMAKER!~!

Oh. My. God. Yoshida is as stiff as a corpse, and post-fight he’s down for what seems like ages before they end up taking him out on a stretcher. Insanely brutal knockout that even puts the rest of the stuff on this show in the shade. Replays show the first punch outright knocked Yoshida unconscious, but he bounced off the cage rather than going down which allowed Kos to land another one. Probably the second best knockout of 2008, behind Rashad Evans over Chuck Liddell by the slightest margin. Huge victory for Josh Koscheck over a fellow top ten ranked Welterweight. Guy has turned into quite the badass since his lay-n-pray days on TUF, hey? And that’s the second awesome knockout of 2008 for him after the flying kick on Dustin Hazelett.

Welterweight Fight: Steve Bruno vs Johnny Rees

As the main card fights went so fast they’ve got time to show another prelim before we finish. This time it’s American Top Team’s Steve Bruno – a former Coastguard Rescue Swimmer (yep, just like Ashton Kutcher in The Guardian!) against Johnny Rees, who had made an unsuccessful UFC debut in July, being choked out by Nate Loughran after bloodying the Terrell student up pretty badly.

Round One begins and Rees wades in with a combo before getting a plum clinch to land some knees. He lands nicely to the head and body but Bruno escapes and they end up in a regular body clinch. Rees drops for a takedown as the crowd randomly get impatient and begin to boo. Takedown from Rees and he pins Bruno into the cage in full guard. Into half-guard for Rees and he grabs a guillotine as Bruno looks to sit up, but Bruno escapes to his feet. Good leg kick from Bruno, and then he catches a body kick and gets a takedown to guard. Bruno stands and takes a couple of upkicks, but it’s worth it as he throws the legs off to the side and drops into side mount. Rees spins from the bottom and Bruno takes his back, but he doesn’t have the hooks in and Rees rolls back to guard. Pass to half-guard from Bruno and the crowd are booing again. No idea why as this is perfectly acceptable thus far. Rees works to his feet momentarily, but Bruno slams him back down and lands in side control before taking the back. Rees manages to stand with Bruno behind him, and then the ref breaks them up, angering Rogan on commentary. I don’t get that either – why separate them when Bruno was in a great position? Big left hook from Rees off the restart and they wildly trade into another clinch, before Rees drops for a takedown. Bruno stuffs it though and they muscle for position, and then the ref is like “come on guys, do something” which disgusts Rogan further. Crowd are booing like they’re watching Shamrock-Severn and I do not get that at all. Round ends in the clinch.

Into the 2nd, and they circle around before Bruno closes the distance and forces Rees into the cage. Bruno looks for a takedown and then works into a rear waistlock, but Rees drops for a kimura ala Sakuraba. He lets it go though and they end up in the waistlock position again, before Bruno turns to go for a double leg. Rees stuffs it and so Bruno goes for a single leg instead, but Rees blocks that too. They muscle for position in the clinch and then the ref breaks them up. Big combo from Rees stuns Bruno off the restart, but he manages to get a clinch. Jumping knee in the clinch from Rees, but it doesn’t do much damage. Rees drops for a takedown but Bruno blocks it and takes an uppercut before getting Rees down with a single leg. Rees attempts to wall-walk to his feet, but Bruno uses the opportunity to sneak onto Rees’s back, and locks up a tight rear naked choke! Rees holds on, but ends up falling to his back and taps out there.

Despite the reactions of the crowd and the referee, that was a perfectly acceptable mid-level UFC fight. No idea why they reacted the way they did. The fighters were evenly matched but Bruno seemed in control every time the fight hit the ground and once he got an advantageous position on Rees it was over. Good win for the former Rescue Swimmer.

-Goldberg and Rogan wrap up the night’s action, talking about how impressive the two AKA boys, Swick and Koscheck were. They talk again about the bravery of the troops and close it out there.

Final Thoughts....

Considering this was a show to raise money for injured soldiers, it’s incredibly ironic that it turned out to be arguably the most brutal UFC show in the history of the company. Five fighters ended up hospitalized following this one – Brandon Wolff (the forehead damage), Razak Al-Hassan (injured arm), Jonathan Goulet (suspected concussion) and Yoshiyuki Yoshida (concussion) – and they didn’t end up showing the fifth nasty moment of the show, which saw the worst injury in UFC history as Corey Hill snapped his tibia on a botched leg kick in his prelim bout with Dale Hartt. Still, as terrible as it sounds, Hill’s injury notwithstanding, the brutality made for a hell of a good show, as we got one highlight reel moment after another with the lone fight that went the distance (Miller-Wiman) also being the best fight of the night. The fighters clearly wanted to put on a good show to raise money for the troops, and I would say they definitely succeeded. This is probably the best Fight Night show of the lot thus far. Thumbs way up.

Best Fight: Miller-Wiman
Worst Fight: Credeur-Loughran

Overall Rating: ****1/2

Coming Soon....

UFC: 92-97, Fight Nights 17-18, and TUF VIII Finale.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, Shockwave 2006, 31, Bushido 10-13 and the Openweight Grand Prix.
WEC: 34-40.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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