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UFC 56: Full Force review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on April 18, 2006, 2:42 PM



UFC 56: Full Force

11/19/05
Las Vegas, Nevada


-Your hosts are Joe Rogan and Matt Vasgersian, replacing Mike Goldberg for some reason (I never did hear exactly why). For those wondering, he’s no Goldberg, but he’s passable and didn’t make any major mistakes. The announcers immediately talk about the Joe Riggs situation, mainly the fact that his fight with Matt Hughes will now be a three-round non-title fight as opposed to a five-round Welterweight title match, due to his failure to make weight for the bout. More on that later. Cue Rogan going into a rant about the dangers of weight-cutting, and rightfully so, too.

-I’d go amiss if I didn’t mention the segment cut from this DVD for some reason, that being the segment that saw Dana White announce the return of Frank Mir, the return of BJ Penn (which I NEVER personally saw coming) and in the biggest news, the return of Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock as the TUF III coaches. The signings of Penn and Ortiz were especially big news, as they had both been at loggerheads with Zuffa for some time, and it didn’t seem likely that either would ever step into the Octagon any time soon. But like Vince McMahon, I guess Dana is smart enough to know that if you can draw money, you should be signed up ASAP. This news pretty much overshadowed the actual fighting at the time of the show, so I have no idea why the segment was cut here.

Welterweight Fight: Nick Thompson vs Keith Wisniewski

FFC champion Wisniewski was originally slated to fight Joe Riggs on this card, but after Riggs was bumped up into the Hughes fight following an injury to Karo Parisyan, Nick ‘The Goat’ Thompson – coming off a win over UFC vet Josh Neer – stepped in. Thompson is a HUGE Welterweight, completely outsizing Wisniewski here.

Round 1 gets underway, and Thompson comes out looking loose, firing jabs off at Wisniewski who seems more tentative. They go into a clinch but back out quickly, and Wisniewski tags him with a big counter right, but Thompson simply sticks his tongue out and grins! Both men start to throw big hooks at each other, but nothing major lands and they end up in a clinch, where they muscle along the fence. Wisniewski gets a takedown to half-guard, landing some right hands before standing and dropping one down into Thompson’s guard. Wisniewski brings it up again, and gets a front facelock as Thompson follows. Wisniewski slams him down to half-guard, and Thompson looks to hook a kimura from the bottom, scrambling and reversing over to top position. Wisniewski manages to escape the kimura, but Thompson works him over with some right hands to end the round, including an elbow just after the horn sounds.

Ha, between rounds Thompson yells that he’ll let Wisniewski hit him late in this round if he likes. I heard these guys are friends though, so hey.

They exchange a variety of strikes to open the 2nd with nothing major landing, before tying up in a clinch, where Wisniewski gets a nice trip directly down to mount. Thompson gets a nice reversal though before he can do anything, and ends up on top in Wisniewski’s guard. He passes into half-guard and looks for a kimura again, but Wisniewski avoids. Thompson starts to land, getting some decent punches and grinding elbows, and then lands a BIG right that stuns him, but Wisniewski continues to defend well from his back for the most part. Thompson continues to work him over from the top, landing a series of hammer-fists to end the round in Keith’s half-guard.

Third and final round, and Wisniewski looks tired out as they exchange to open. He comes forward with a flurry, but Thompson answers with one of his own and then gets a takedown to half-guard. Thompson grinds away with the elbows again, landing well, and then he tries his kimura again but Wisniewski does well to avoid it. Thompson passes into the mount, and Wisniewski rolls, giving his back. Thompson looks for an armbar, and rolls him over, getting the arm fully extended, but he has the arm turned the wrong way! No IDEA how he can make that mistake, but Wisniewski takes advantage and escapes, getting on top in side mount, before taking the full mount! Crowd pop loudly for that reversal as Thompson tries the kimura from the bottom now, but can’t lock it out as he’s mounted. He works and gets half-guard back though, and that enables him to use the kimura as a reversal, getting back on top in side mount, where he grinds away to end the fight.

To the judges, and it’s 30-27 across the board in favour of Thompson. I’d have personally had it 29-28 Thompson with Wisniewski taking the first round, but there’s no doubt that Thompson won the fight. No clue how he managed to botch that armbar, though. Enjoyable opener for the most part and I think both guys did enough to warrant a UFC return, and in fact Thompson will return against Karo Parisyan at UFC 59, so good luck to him there.

Welterweight Fight: Thiago Alves vs Ansar Chalangov

Alves had made his debut at the October 3rd Ultimate Fight Night, losing to Spencer Fisher via triangle choke, but apparently he impressed the Zuffa brass enough to be signed up for another shot here. Chalangov was coming in with quite the reputation, having taken out UFC vets Dave Strasser and Dennis Hallman in his last two fights, and sporting a full record of 7-0.

Alves presses with some strikes into the clinch to open, and Chalangov tries a takedown, but slips and ends up on the bottom in full guard. He gets a sweep and then gets a guillotine choke in, but Alves elevates him upwards with his legs to release the pressure, and manages to pop his head out. Chalangov drops back for a heel hook attempt, but Alves slips out as the Russian rolls, and then escapes into top position and swiftly passes to the full mount. Chalangov looks in trouble on the bottom, and for good reason, as Alves drops a pair of VICIOUS HAMMER FISTS onto the chin, and then follows with a flurry of punches to knock Ansar silly.

Ha, that was an awesome KO there – the replays actually show Chalangov’s eyes rolling into his head as the second hammer first lands. Very impressive performance from Alves, who reminds me (in his look more than fighting style) of a mini-Vitor Belfort. Definitely look forward to seeing him fight again.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Sam Hoger vs Jeff Newton

This was Newton’s UFC debut at the age of 38, and his nickname is, ludicrously, ‘The Karate Kid’. I guess ‘The Karate Middle Aged Guy’ doesn’t sound quite as good though. Anyhow, I’d never seen him fight before here, but most had him pegged as an exciting, but one-dimensional striker who would be easy pickings for the more well-rounded Hoger.

They get underway, with Joe Rogan remarking that Newton uses “karate that works”. As opposed to karate that doesn’t work, I presume? How do you tell the difference? Anyhow, Newton fires a kick forward out of a traditional karate stance, but Hoger takes no chances and gets a swift takedown to guard. Newton holds on tightly as Hoger looks unable to do much, and the crowd begin to boo as the action slows up. Suddenly, Newton gets an armbar from the bottom, and rolls him over, looking to have the hold locked out! Hoger manages to kick his leg over ala Josh Thomson and manages to block it, and then just muscles his way free to Newton’s guard. Christ, that was close. Things slow down rapidly from there though, triggering the stand-up call from the referee. Newton throws some karate kicks from the restart, but Hoger gets another takedown to guard and then passes into half-guard, landing some decent shots. Newton rolls from the bottom, and tries an Achilles lock, but it’s probably not a good idea for you to play footlocks with a better sub guy, and Hoger quickly replies with a heel hook of his own. It looks like he’s got it locked in tight, but he releases it thinking Newton’s tapped out, when he hasn’t. Serious note to any fighter – don’t release a sub until the ref pulls you off. Sam gets the heel hook again, but this time Newton rolls, and the round ends before he can finish it off.

Into the 2nd, and Newton comes out firing flashy karate kicks again, but Hoger gets the takedown once more and this time passes quickly into full mount. He lands some good punches from the mount, but Newton uses his legs to hook Sam’s body and reverses him down, grabbing the ankle for another footlock attempt. Hoger blocks though and gets back into mount quickly, where he lands some more punches. Newton gives his back, and one rear naked choke later, and it’s all she wrote for the Karate Kid.

Surprisingly entertaining fight actually, as Newton turned out to be a lot more skilled on the ground than anyone could’ve expected and it looked like it surprised Sam in the first round. Still, Newton had no takedown defense to speak of, and though he was better on the ground than was expected, that doesn’t make him good, and once Hoger got a dominant position it was over.

Middleweight Fight: Jeremy Horn vs Trevor Prangley

Ah, the long-awaited debut of Jeremy Horn in the Middleweight division, where a lot of people have him pegged as a top-five level fighter. Going in though I thought Prangley was actually a bad match for him, and I had Trevor (who I figured was underrated) taking this one by decision. The other, more general consensus was that this would likely be a more slow-paced, technical (read “boring” to the arena fans) fight, and it surprised me that it was chosen as the opener for the card as opposed to the St-Pierre fight.

They begin by exchanging some tentative strikes as they circle around, before Prangley stuns Jeremy with a good right hand, and follows up with some combos that Horn manages to deflect for the most part. They go into a clinch along the fence, where Horn lands some nice knees to the body and the face, with Prangley firing back with knees of his own to Jeremy’s midsection. The official breaks them up and restarts it, and they exchange some good combinations standing, before Prangley shoots in for a takedown, only for Horn to catch him in a guillotine! It looks TIGHT and Prangley looks in deep trouble as Horn pulls guard, but somehow he manages to manoeuvre himself out of Horn’s guard, relieving the pressure somewhat, before managing to squeeze his head free. Horn quickly gets full guard back, and then locks on an armbar from the bottom, as Prangley stands to attempt the escape. Horn can’t get full extension on the arm, and Prangley manages to work his way free into Horn’s guard, and Jeremy tries it once more to end the round. Those sub attempts were VERY close there.

Into the 2nd, and they exchange combos to open, before muscling into a clinch, where Horn works the body, landing some nice knees and also some swank elbow strikes in close. Horn steps back and tries a high kick from mad close range, but Prangley blocks the most of it, and they go back to the clinch where Prangley lands some uppercuts this time. Prangley gets the takedown to guard, landing some shots, but overall he doesn’t do much work from the position, and they end up being stood up. Horn closes in off the restart, but Prangley takes him right back down to guard, but the action remains slow as Prangley is clearly wary of Horn, who looks to get his legs into position for a sub attempt from the bottom. The official stands them again for inactivity, and they go into the clinch from the restart and exchange, before Prangley gets another takedown to the guard, landing some elbows. Horn reverses his way to standing, and they exchange at close range to end. Close round to score, that was.

Third and final round, and Prangley opens with some combinations and a few nice leg kicks, before they go into the clinch and muscle for position. Back out, and Prangley leans back like he’s gassed, but as Horn closes in landing strikes, Trevor comes forward with a big takedown to guard. Looks like he was playing possum there. Prangley works him with some short elbows from the top, but the action slows up again, and the official calls them up and then calls time to fix some stray tape on Prangley’s glove. They restart and Prangley lands a good combination, but Horn gets a standing guillotine, so Prangley gets the takedown again. Horn continues to look for the guillotine, but Prangley passes into side mount, only for Horn to get full guard back quickly. Again, absolutely nothing happens, so the ref stands them as the crowd get restless, and Horn closes in, but Prangley gets another takedown to side mount. Horn reverses and gets up, trying a takedown of his own, but Prangley blocks, and works his way back to standing to end the round and the fight.

We’re going to the judges, and this is a close one. The winner, by unanimous decision, is.....Jeremy Horn. And Prangley looks DEVASTATED. As I said, it was definitely a close fight. I thought Horn clearly took the first round as he came close to finishing the fight twice with his submission attempts, and also worked Prangley over in the clinch nicely. The third was probably Prangley’s round I thought as he took down Horn on numerous occasions, albeit doing pretty much nothing from the top position. The second was close, but I’d probably have given it to Horn as I thought he did better in the clinch, and again, whenever Prangley took him down, he was unable to do anything with the position. So yeah, I think the right man took this one.

As people suspected though, this was a pretty slow paced fight that was hardly the most exciting. Prangley is normally pretty good to watch as he’s usually quite vicious with his top game, but here he was clearly wary of Horn’s impressive reputation with submissions, and played it really conservative, and with neither guy having a major advantage standing, it made for a pretty listless fight as Prangley took him down at will but did nothing with the position. Prangley’s since been beaten by Chael Sonnen and whether he will return remains up in the air, while Horn should be back once his injury heals, and hopefully his next fight is a bit more entertaining than this one.

Welterweight Fight: Georges St-Pierre vs Sean Sherk

When this was announced, it was easily the most highly anticipated fight on this card, as St-Pierre was coming off his complete dismantling of Frank Trigg at UFC 54, and many fans expected him to be thrown right back in with Matt Hughes. But instead, Zuffa re-signed one of the men that most hardcore fans had been calling to see for a long time – Sean Sherk, sporting a 29-1 record and ranked by many in the top five at WW – and immediately put him against St-Pierre in what people were sure was a title elimination bout. The fight garnered interest not only because it was another case of two of the world’s top 170lbs fighters going at it, but also because Sherk was seen as almost Matt Hughes-lite, and the fight would probably give some indication of how St-Pierre would handle Hughes upon a rematch between the two.

For those who care, both guys are looking SHREDDED here, but it’s clear that St-Pierre is a LOT bigger than Sherk, as in, the biggest size advantage possible between two guys in the same weight class, pretty much.

St-Pierre comes out firing jabs, before catching a low kick and taking Sherk down, but Sean quickly scrambles up and avoids a clinch. St-Pierre keeps his distance, utilizing the reach advantage with some jabs and quick combinations, landing a high kick as Sherk looks to work the leg kicks. Sherk shoots in for a takedown attempt, but St-Pierre fires off a great sprawl to avoid, and continues to strike from distance, landing sharp jabs before blocking another takedown attempt. They go into a brief exchange and then Sherk blocks a takedown, into the clinch momentarily before they break off. They go into a quick exchange with Sherk landing a nice low kick, before Rush catches him with a groin shot. The official calls time, then they restart, and exchange into a clinch and fire off some knees. Back out, and St-Pierre lands some crisp punches and a good high kick, before getting a VIOLENT TAKEDOWN to half-guard, right into the fence! St-Pierre lands some elbows from the top, as Sherk works to get full guard back. Sherk looks to land from the bottom, but St-Pierre works him over, landing some solid elbow shots to close out the round.

Pretty dominant round for Rush there outside of the leg kicks.

They go into another fast-paced exchange to open the 2nd, with Rush landing punches and Sherk working the leg kicks once more. St-Pierre sprawls to avoid another takedown attempt, and continues to use his reach advantage well, jabbing and landing crisp shots from the outside. St-Pierre lands a nice spinning back kick to the body, sending Sherk backwards, and then lands some more punches, before getting another big takedown right into the fence. St-Pierre works the elbows from the top again, and they go into a brief exchange in the guard, before Rush just SMASHES him with a HUGE LEFT ELBOW, causing Sherk to SCREAM IN PAIN!~! Sherk’s nose looks JACKED, absolutely pissing with blood, and St-Pierre senses the end is near, and OPENS UP with a barrage of vicious elbows and punches, causing referee Herb Dean to stop things there.

Frighteningly dominant performance from St-Pierre, albeit slightly less so than the Trigg fight, but no worse in terms of the gameplan that he executed. Sherk was at a clear disadvantage with the huge reach that St-Pierre was enjoying, and not only that, but Rush’s takedown defence was phenomenal, and the Muscle Shark didn’t come close to putting him on his back. The difference maker was that St-Pierre was able to take Sherk down, and when he put him down, the assault that he brought was up there with the most vicious ground-and-pound clinics you’ll ever see in MMA. Another awesome showing from my current favourite fighter then, as St-Pierre just continues to roll along on his road to the rematch with Hughes – even if his biggest challenge on that road was yet to come. This though, gets my honours for Fight of the Night.

Welterweight Fight: Matt Hughes vs Joe Riggs

Where to begin? Well, the original fight here was set to see Hughes defending his Welterweight Title against Karo Parisyan, but when Karo suffered a quad injury in training, Joe Riggs – who was supposed to fight Keith Wisniewski on the undercard of this show – stepped in and took the shot. The problems began for Riggs of course, when he couldn’t train with Jeremy Horn, et al, as he had been doing, because they’re also Hughes’s training partners. So not only was Riggs forced to go back to his original (and lesser, no offense meant) training team, but his nutritionist Billy Rush had some problems of his own at the time (I heard depression) and this meant that Riggs’s weight cut went out of the window, too. Riggs ended up coming into the weigh-in well over 170lbs, and was only able to cut down to 171lbs, meaning the fight was rendered a non-title, three round bout as opposed to a five round title fight. And thus, Riggs was pretty much mentally beaten before the fight even began.

Staredown is interesting here as the size difference is MASSIVE, almost as much as St-Pierre and Sherk. Riggs looks pretty subdued during the whole deal, though.

They get underway and circle into a couple of brief clinches, breaking off quickly. Hughes tries an early takedown, but Riggs muscles him off easily, and both throw high kicks that miss, before Hughes lands with a HEAVY body kick. Riggs looks stunned momentarily, and Hughes shoots in on a single leg and takes him down to guard. Hughes quickly passes into half-guard, completely neutralizing Riggs from the top, and he quickly looks to isolate the right arm. Hughes looks for a kimura from inside the half-guard, locking his hands and cranking it on as Riggs looks in trouble, and Hughes quickly forces the arm behind Riggs’s back, applying a ton of pressure, and Diesel taps out there.

Yeah, complete domination from Hughes and a really disappointing outing from Riggs, who just got owned as soon as Hughes put him on his back. Whether he’d have put up more of a fight if it were a title match, we’ll never know, but the result definitely would’ve remained the same – Hughes is simply a superior fighter to all but a handful of guys in the world, and he proved that with a scarily efficient performance here. Bring on Royce Gracie!

Heavyweight Fight: Gabriel Gonzaga vs Kevin Jordan

Jordan was returning after an underwhelming UFC debut that saw him submitted by Paul Buentello, while Gabriel ‘Napao’ Gonzaga – one of the top submission grapplers in the world – was making his Octagon debut following some success in Brazilian promotions like Jungle Fight.

Jordan opens up with a combination that looks like it surprises Gonzaga, but he quickly clinches and gets a nice takedown to half-guard. Gabriel passes into side mount with an arm triangle choke locked on, but Jordan pulls out a beautiful counter, hooking his arms around his leg to avoid Gonzaga getting full extension on the arm and completing the choke. Napao keeps working for it, but ends up abandoning it, and goes to full mount instead, before Jordan gets half-guard back. Napao works him with some punches from the top, and then looks for a kimura, but simply uses the attempt to distract Jordan, enabling him to get full mount. Gonzaga lands some heavy shots, but Jordan somehow manages to slip free and gets back to his feet. Both guys look absolutely exhausted already, and Gonzaga attempts a weak takedown that Jordan easily blocks. Jordan throws a sloppy kick, and slips to his back, so Gonzaga gets on top in half-guard and works to the full mount, only for Jordan to roll to escape to standing to end the round.

Pretty cool round actually as Gonzaga pretty much ran a clinic on Jordan on the mat, albeit without the finish.

They start the 2nd by circling around, sizing each other up....and this goes on for the first TWO AND A HALF MINUTES of the round. Yeah, you read that right. Crowd are quite rightfully disgusted, as Gonzaga’s takedown attempts have no spring in them due to complete exhaustion, while Jordan looks completely unable to try ANYTHING. With 1:20 left, Herb Dean calls them to the center of the ring and threatens to take points for the lack of engagement, and as they restart, Gonzaga finally gets a takedown to half-guard, but is unable to do much as the round ends.

They come out for the 3rd, and it begins in exactly the same way as the 2nd, with circling and more circling, the odd shot maybe landing here or there. Crowd start a loud “YOU SUCK!” chant. They’re right – Jordan looks to be sucking in enough air to stop the crowd from making *any* noise altogether at this point. A very short exchange is the only action, as Rogan BEGS them to engage on commentary. This is getting hilarious. Crowd actually start a “GO HOME!” chant, and finally Gonzaga takes the opportunity to send Jordan home – by dropping him on his ass with a HUGE SUPERMAN PUNCH!~! Jordan is GONE, and mercifully, this fight is OVER.

Well, let’s be positive to begin. The first round was pretty entertaining. Gonzaga looked to be uber-skilled on the mat, and basically toyed with Jordan for the most part. The problem, of course, came in the conditioning of both men. After all the posts of disgust on the message boards following this, it came to light that a family tragedy prevented Gonzaga from training properly (if at all) for this fight, so you can perhaps excuse his performance as really, his cardio was the only thing that let him down. Jordan though, what can you say? After a UFC debut that saw him gas out in around four minutes and end up tapping to what was basically exhaustion rather than a legitimate submission from Buentello, you’d expect him to work his cardio non-stop. Instead, he came in and gassed out even faster than the last time. I’ve said it before – I don’t like to bash fighters, but bad cardio is INEXCUSABLE unless there’s clear circumstances like Gonzaga’s. Hopefully we never see Jordan grace the Octagon again. Worst UFC fight of 2005, by a large margin.

UFC Middleweight Title: Rich Franklin vs Nate Quarry

A lot of fans felt this was a letdown as the main event, as Quarry – despite winning his first three UFC fights with first round KOs – was thought to be nowhere near ready for a fighter of Franklin’s calibre, and the general thought was that he was rushed into the shot due to his fame from TUF, and the lack of a real #1 contender following Matt Lindland’s controversial release. But hey, I guess as we’ve seen thus far in 2006, nothing is for certain in MMA, and if Quarry were to land a heavy shot, the potential for an upset – small potential, but potential all the same - was there.

They begin and both men press the action, looking to strike. Neither lands anything significant, before Quarry slips on a high kick and narrowly avoids a big knee as Franklin follows up. Franklin looks to fire combinations, and misses a high kick while Quarry seems to be looking for the one big punch to end things – his big right hand. They continue to press and circle, before Franklin lands a clean left hand to the jaw, and follows with a combo that rocks the challenger! Quarry avoids a knee and manages to escape off, but Franklin keeps coming, and NAILS him with two huge lefts, before decking him with a follow-up combo! It looks for a second like McCarthy’s going to stop things as Quarry grabs a leg for dear life, but somehow Nate manages to hold on and comes back up. His nose looks badly broken. Both men press forward, and Franklin paws with the right jab, before unleashing a HUGE LEFT FOR THE KNOCKOUT!~!



Jesus, that’s similar to Tank Abbott’s knockout over John Matua, what with the stiffening leg and the convulsive look upon hitting the mat. One of the sickest KOs you’ll ever see in UFC.

Post-fight Franklin plays Russell Crowe and asks the crowd, are they not entertained? Answer – YES! Awesome performance from the Middleweight kingpin who blew through Quarry as expected, making it seem like Quarry just wasn’t in his league at all. At the time most people (myself included) just assumed that that was exactly the case – Quarry was out of his depth – but recent events would quite possibly suggest that it was less that Quarry was out of his depth, and more that Franklin is just THAT DAMN GOOD. A hell of a way to end the show.

-We end with a montage of the night’s fights. And a shot of TITO!~!

Final Thoughts....

UFC 56 lies pretty much slap-bang in the middle when it comes to UFC’s shows in 2005. It’s nowhere near the quality of the best three shows (51, 52, 54), but it’s far better than UFC 55 and is probably on par with UFC 53, albeit with less exciting finishes. The show’s best performances undoubtedly came from St-Pierre, Hughes and Franklin, but their fights were largely one-sided, while the rest of the card was clearly less exciting to watch, especially the abortion that was Gonzaga-Jordan. Unlike some other shows too, nothing on the preliminary card stands out either – the fights were fun, but nothing special – and really this is about as average a UFC card as you’ll find. Recommended if you’re a fan of St-Pierre, Hughes or Franklin, but if you do pick it up, it’s best you skip over Jordan-Gonzaga. Unless circling is your thing, in which case, it’s the fight for you!

Coming Soon....

Pride: 9, 10, 11, 18, and 28.
UFC: 18, 20, 21, 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:
OratoryNewman@gmail.com





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