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UFC 17: Redemption review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on April 5, 2006, 2:43 AM

UFC 17: Redemption

Mobile, Alabama

-We open with a video package playing up to the ‘Redemption’ title and concentrating on Mark Coleman and Tank Abbott redeeming their last losses. They don’t mention it here (but they do during the Henderson match) but the original main event for this show was Coleman challenging Randy Couture for the Heavyweight title, but Couture injured himself in training and had to pull out, so rookie Lion’s Den fighter Pete Williams ended up taking the fight on short notice.

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Jeff Blatnick, who start talking about how people need to let their cable companies know that they want to see the UFC, I’m guessing this was a hint at the cable ban that would come some time after this show.

-They show us the brackets for the night’s Middleweight Tournament, with Dan Henderson vs. Allan Goes and Carlos Newton vs. Bob Gilstrap in the semis. Along with the MW tournament we’ve also got three Heavyweight Superfights, with Tank Abbott vs. Hugo Duarte, Mike Van Arsdale vs. Joe Pardo, and the afore-mentioned Coleman vs. Williams. Rules/times are the same as UFC 16.

-Backstage Joe Rogan talks about Vitor and his problems, as he was originally scheduled for this card but pulled out due to sickness. Rogan mentions that Vitor seems to have some psychological problems, and I guess he had no idea how prophetic that would prove to be.

Middleweight Tournament: Semi-Finals

Dan Henderson vs Allan Goes

Henderson comes out with Couture and Rico Chiaparelli of the rAw team, so this must’ve been before they broke away to form Team Quest. Anyone got any idea why that happened? Anyhow, this is the classic wrestler vs. BJJ clash.

They circle to begin and Goes lands a couple of nice leg kicks, They continue to press, and Goes lands a big right hand that puts Hendo on the canvas! Henderson recovers quickly though and grabs Goes’ leg, looking for a heel hook, but Goes rolls and they come back up to standing, before Henderson shoves him down off a clinch. Goes pulls the butt-scoot position, so Hendo waves him back up, and Goes comes forward into the clinch. Henderson lands some nice knees, causing Goes to pull guard, so Hendo pins him right into the fence and works him over with some punches and forearms, bloodying him up around the nose. Goes looks for a kimura from the bottom, but Hendo avoids and continues to drop elbows, then tries to pass the guard, before standing instead. Goes joins him and presses, but Henderson lands a nice knee strike and Goes drops to his back. Henderson waves him back up like he’s Cro Cop or something, and lands another good knee in a brief exchange, but as he presses forward, Goes decks him again, this time with a big left! He follows with a NASTY soccer kick to the head, then leaps onto his back and gets a rear naked choke, but the official stops things for the illegal kick. Hendo looks on Dream Street but the replays show that it was clearly the kick that caused it rather than the punch, good decision from the official there. They restart, and Goes lands a left into a clinch before Henderson muscles out and presses the action to end the regulation period.

They go into the overtime period and exchange in and out of a clinch to open, before Henderson lands a hard right, countered by a kick from Goes that buckles Hendo’s leg. Henderson comes back with some hard right uppercuts in a clinch, so Goes drops to his back, but Hendo stands off again and calls him back up, and then continues to work him over in the clinch. They stop the fight momentarily to fix a problem with Goes’ glove, and then Henderson presses off the restart and works him over with some more uppercuts, causing Goes to drop to his back to end the fight. We’re going to the judges, and Henderson gets the unanimous nod.

No surprise on the decision there as outside of the two flash knockdowns (which didn’t seem to really hurt Dan anyway) Henderson had pretty much all of this one, with a good ground-and-pound segment and also some nice uppercuts and dirty boxing in the clinch. Pretty good fight here, not as entertaining as a modern Henderson one, but still solid stuff.

Carlos Newton vs Bob Gilstrap

This was Newton’s UFC debut at just 21 years old, although he’d had some experience fighting in Japan already at this point. Gilstrap is one of the guys training under Maurice Smith/Frank Shamrock’s Alliance, but I’ve personally never heard of him. The announcers play up too that Newton is the lightest guy in the MW tournament by some margin, coming in at around 187lbs.

Newton shoots in immediately to open, grabs a double leg and gets a BIG bodyslam to side mount. Carlos gets the full mount and tries an armbar, but Gilstrap escapes and rolls him over, getting on top in Newton’s guard. However, he completely ignores the fact that Newton’s legs are still half around his shoulders, and Carlos quickly applies a tight triangle from the bottom for the tapout.

Quick and seemingly easy win for Newton who was just too fast and too slick on the mat for this guy. That was just about the slickest submission finish you’ll see in UFC at this point in fact. So it’s Newton-Henderson in the finals!

Heavyweight Superfights:

Mike Van Arsdale vs Joe Pardo

Pardo is billed as a boxer/Jiu-Jitsu fighter who trains his groundwork under Royce Gracie, while Van Arsdale was actually with the Hammer House at this point. It’s weird to see Mike here at about 32 actually, given that he’s in better shape now at aged 41. Not that he’s in bad shape here or anything, moreso that he’s ridiculously cut up for a guy the wrong side of 40 these days.

Pardo looks for a takedown to begin, but Van Arsdale avoids it easily, sprawling back and working some elbows to the body before standing. Van Arsdale lands a low kick and avoids a clinch, continuing to circle around as he works kicks and switches from stance to stance, something that you don’t really see much of in this period of MMA. MVA lands a kick and they wildly exchange, before Van Arsdale drops him with a side kick to the body coming off the fence! They go down into Pardo’s half-guard, and Van Arsdale looks to pass, but Pardo rolls for a heel hook, so Van Arsdale sits up and pounds him with a flurry of strikes. Back into Pardo’s guard, and Van Arsdale lands some heavy punches and looks to pass, before standing and calling Pardo up to join him. They circle and Van Arsdale lands a nice combo, following with a front kick to the chest. Pardo shoots again but Mike sprawls to avoid, landing some elbows to the back before spinning over on top in Pardo’s guard. Things slow down from there, and McCarthy ends up standing them, stopping things for a moment to fix Van Arsdale’s glove.

They restart, and Van Arsdale lands a good low kick, answered by a nice right hand from Pardo. Van Arsdale gets the takedown and lands a short flurry, then stands and avoids a takedown from Pardo, sprawling back and elbowing the kidneys again. Van Arsdale spins over into side mount, then takes Pardo’s back and pounds away, so Pardo rolls over, eating some heavy punches along the way. Van Arsdale secures the side mount and lands some more shots, and then applies a keylock for the tapout at just under ten minutes. Pretty entertaining fight that was dominated by Van Arsdale, who used his athletic ability and wrestling skill to completely shut Pardo down, and also showed some unique, if not hugely effective striking offense too.

Tank Abbott vs Hugo Duarte

The announcers explain that Luta Livre/Vale Tudo fighter Duarte pretty much hates everything that Tank stands for, as he feels he’s an unskilled bully who can’t handle a legitimate fighter. Ouch. Duarte unsurprisingly gets HUGE heat from the crowd who are completely pro-Tank. Abbott looks in just about the best shape I’ve ever seen him in here, incidentally.

They begin and Duarte bulls his way forward, but struggles to take Abbott down. Finally he manages to get him on the mat, taking his back and looking for a rear naked choke. Abbott blocks somehow, so Duarte floats over into an armbar attempt, but Tank slips out and grabs a rear waistlock, before dropping some JACKHAMMER RIGHT HANDS!~!, knocking Duarte silly and McCarthy stops things there.

Ha, that was a nasty finish for sure. One of Abbott’s more impressive performances even if Duarte isn’t exactly a major name in MMA. Tank just blasted right through him and the fight definitely lived up to the show’s title for Abbott.

-Joe Rogan is backstage with Campbell McClaren who is introduced as SEG’s ‘Motor Sports Director’, and they talk for a while about some racing PPV called Street Legal. Weird plug to put in the middle of an MMA show but I guess they were both under the SEG brand at this point.

Middleweight Tournament: Finals

Dan Henderson vs Carlos Newton

UFC Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock joins us on commentary to scout a couple of potential future opponents, I guess. Interestingly enough this is pretty much the first fight I can think of from this era where both fighters went on to have major success as MMA branched out in the next decade, and in fact off the top of my head, it might be the only fight in a UFC tournament that saw both men go on to capture World Titles later in their careers. This should be good.

They begin and Newton presses the action to open, showing fast hands with a combination, but Henderson closes the distance and gets a swank flipping slam to Newton’s guard. Henderson opens up with a flurry of short strikes as Newton gets full guard, and looks for a sweep as Hendo lands another good right. McCarthy breaks things momentarily to sort a problem with Newton’s mouthpiece (couldn’t quite tell what was wrong) and they restart with a standing exchange, before Newton gets a nice slam down to side mount! Newton looks to capitalize, but Hendo rolls free and scrambles back to his feet, where he lands two good right hands, only for Newton to grab a waistlock and pull him to the mat. Henderson uses a front headlock to work back to his feet, and abuses Newton in the clinch first with uppercuts, then an AWESOME series of hard knee strikes to the head, before they break off and trade for a moment. Henderson grabs the head clinch again, so Newton rolls to his back to avoid the knees and they go into Newton’s guard, where Henderson quickly moves to pin him into the fence. Hendo starts to grind away with ground-and-pound from the top, working Carlos over with hard rights, landing to the body and head. Things slow down momentarily so Henderson stands, and Newton follows. Carlos comes forward and buckles his leg with a kick, and then continues to press, landing a combination and a knee to rock Henderson! Hendo slips to the mat and tries a single leg to survive, going into Newton’s guard, but Henderson quickly passes into side mount as Newton lands some shots from the bottom. Newton works to get his guard back, but Hendo gets a second wind and lands some nice shots from the top, before scoring with a beautiful mini-slam. Hendo continues the top work until the round ends, and we’re going into overtime!

Bear in mind now too that Henderson had fought for almost 30 minutes at this point, while Newton had only fought for around 13.

Into the Overtime period, then, and Newton clearly recognizes that he’s behind on the cards, so he presses with some kicks to open, avoiding a clinch as Henderson looks to close the distance. Newton continues to press, and then lands a BIG RIGHT HOOK to stagger Henderson! Newton flurries, looking for the knockout as Hendo seems to be in survival mode at this point, but somehow he avoids the big shots and gets a takedown to guard! Newton goes for a kimura from the bottom, but Henderson manages to escape, and chops away for a while with punches in the guard, before they stand to end the fight. And wow, what a fight that was.

First judge has it for Henderson, second for Newton, and the winner, via split decision, is Dan Henderson! The announcers discuss about whether Newton actually did enough to win during the overtime period, but personally I’d agree with the decision as Henderson was clearly ahead in the initial period, and despite being rocked standing twice, I think he had the best sequence of the fight with the knees to the head, and also did some damage pounding on Newton when he had him against the fence. Regardless, that was a hell of a fight – I’d argue it to maybe be the best fight UFC had ever put on up to this point – and you can clearly see why both men went on to have the success that they did. I honestly have no idea why both weren’t immediately signed on long-term by UFC after this, either, as they both ended up in Japan and it would be three years before Newton returned, while Henderson has never come back! I’d be grateful to anyone who can shed some light on that one, that’s for sure.

-They air a plug for the Night of Champions PPV, a show that was created to showcase some of the most famous fights in UFC history, and it was actually headlined by a new fight – Frank Shamrock vs. Jeremy Horn, which was taped following this show. For those wondering, Shamrock tapped Horn with a kneebar in around 17 minutes.

-Jeff Blatnick is named the new commissioner of the UFC, and what he wants is mainstream acceptance. Hey, it only took another seven years after this I guess.

Heavyweight Superfight:

Mark Coleman vs Pete Williams

As I mentioned earlier the original plan here was a Coleman/Couture Heavyweight Title fight, but Randy got injured in training and Lion’s Den fighter Williams took the fight on short notice. As he explains in his pre-fight interview though, this wasn’t a problem for him as he’d been training for a fight with Dan Severn anyway. Basic background then is that Coleman’s looking for redemption following his loss to Maurice Smith and subsequent knee surgery, while Williams is after the biggest upset in UFC history.

We get underway, and Coleman gets double underhooks immediately and hoists Williams up, looking for the big slam. Petey grabs the top of the Octagon fence to avoid the impact, but Coleman pulls him right down and puts him on his back in half-guard. Williams gets full guard back as Coleman keeps a methodical pace, clearly wary of the cardio-sapping flurries that he was doing against Smith. Suddenly Williams gets an armbar from the bottom and looks to have it locked in, but Coleman rolls to avoid, and manages to work his way out into Pete’s guard! That was *close*. Coleman begins to land from the top, pounding Williams with methodical shots to the body and the head, and grinding away with the forearm. Things slow down though, so McCarthy stands them up....and surprise surprise, Coleman is beginning to look GASSED!~! Williams presses forward, but Coleman catches him with a glancing right hook that knocks him back a step. Pete continues to come forward though, and begins to land some nice low kicks as Coleman looks tired, throwing big, telegraphed hooks that Williams avoids easily. Finally Coleman manages to catch a kick, and gets a takedown into a rear waistlock. Williams works to standing, so Coleman - getting a second wind – shoves him into the fence and NAILS him with some huge uppercuts from behind while holding him in the waistlock. Williams manages to turn back to face Coleman in the clinch, and lands some knees, holding the fence to avoid the takedown. Coleman finally pulls him to the mat, where he gets guard, and Coleman grinds away to end the regulation period.

Into overtime, and Williams’ corner have him convinced that he pretty much needs to stop the quickly-tiring Coleman if he wants to win the fight. Coleman indeed looks slow as he comes out, so Williams closes in, landing a low kick and then a flurry of rights, hitting him with some good uppercuts. Coleman shoots in, but the shot lacks the normal power, and Williams sprawls back and catches him with a BIG knee to the head! Coleman shakes his head, but it looks more like he’s trying to shake the cobwebs than show Williams he’s not hurt. Coleman tries to swing for the fences, but Williams comes forward, and then as Coleman drops his hands momentarily, Petey catches him with a BIG KICK RIGHT TO THE FACE!~! COLEMAN IS OUT!~!

Good fight for the most part outside of a couple of slow moments, but really it’s all made from the total highlight-reel ending, which is still one of the most widely shown endings to any UFC fight even today. Williams beating Coleman at the time was obviously one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, but once again it was Coleman’s bad cardio that cost him the fight, as once the overtime period began and they were standing, Coleman was completely out of gas and was basically a sitting (or standing, as it were) duck for Williams who was clearly the superior striker. Not the greatest fight of all time, but certainly one of the greatest endings.

Aaand, we end things there.

Final Thoughts....

UFC 17 is one of those shows where nothing is all that historically significant, but I’ll be damned if it’s not one of the best shows the company put on under SEG in terms of the fights. There’s nothing here that you could fairly call “boring” or even “slow”, and Newton-Henderson is a real forgotten gem that’s worth the whole show alone. If you’re a big MMA fan you’ve probably seen the ending of Williams-Coleman a thousand times anyway (I certainly had before I’d seen the full bout) but with the context of the whole fight behind it, it’s even more incredible than just seeing it on a highlight reel. It’s annoying that they didn’t include Horn-Shamrock on the package, but that’s not a big deal I guess, as UFC 17 is still one of the best shows you’ll see from this era. Highest recommendation.

Coming Soon....

Pride: 9, 10, 11, 18, 27 and 28.
UFC: 18, 19, 20, 56, 57 and 58.
Cage Rage: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.
WFA: 1, 2 and 3.
King of the Cage: 18, 23, 30 and 32.
FFC XV: Fiesta Las Vegas
IFC: Shogun
Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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