Affliction: Day Of Reckoning review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on December 2, 2009, 4:44 PM
Affliction: Day Of Reckoning
-Your hosts are Sean Wheelock, Jimmy Smith and Tito Ortiz.
-Backstage Chuck Zito and Scott Ferrall interview Freddie Roach, who is picking Arlovski over Fedor in the main event. Well, duh. He trains Andrei. On a side note Ferrall has one of the most annoying voices ever and how he ever became a radio or TV personality I do not know.
-Thankfully thereís no Megadeth performance on this show. Instead we get a PRIDE-like fighter introduction segment set to Mother by Danzig. No Michael Buffer this time either. I guess he cost too much or something.
After becoming one of the youngest fighters in UFC history in his fight with Spencer Fisher at just eighteen, the younger Lauzon brother was released from his contract in a surprising move (why release a young guy like that who did very well against Fisher?) and went on to win seven of his next eight fights coming into this one. Originally he was set to face the IFLís poster-boy Chris Horodecki, but the ĎPolish Hammerí couldnít get medical clearance due to a neck injury and so Bobby Green (who Iíve never heard of) stepped in on about 24 hours notice.
Round One begins and Green comes out swinging and lands a left hand. Lauzon comes right back with a left-right that lands and then goes for a takedown, but Green stuffs it and breaks off. Green comes in with some wild strikes and causes Lauzon to back up, but he doesnít look hurt. Green continues to swing, but a kick hits Lauzon in the groin and Green lands some punches before the ref can call time. Lauzon takes some time to recover and he looks really hurt, squatting down and kneeling in the corner in pain and stuff. They decide heís ready to continue after taking almost the full five minutes to recover, and then restart. Lauzon looks for a takedown and pulls guard, but Green stands up and drops a solid right hand. Lauzon gets to his feet but gets suplexed back down, and then he opens up with a combo before Lauzon comes back by pulling guard and going for a triangle. Green manages to work his head free and punches at the body before avoiding an armbar. Back to the feet now and Green wades forward with uppercuts as Lauzon answers fire with fire, but he takes another knee to the groin and Herb Dean calls time again. Lauzon takes his time and then comes back out fighting, and Green lands some more solid strikes. Sadly a THIRD low blow connects with Lauzonís groin and despite Green protesting, itís pretty clear that the kick landed low despite what the announcers are saying. Green loses a point for this one. No, I take it back, itís TWO points. Damn. Honestly even if the toes just grazed it then it still hurts. As Bas Rutten says, never underestimate a kick to the groin. They restart and Green pushes forward and gets a single leg where he quickly punches away, but Lauzon transitions to a heel hook attempt. Green drops a big right hand as Lauzon keeps trying for it, and as Green slips free Lauzon hops onto his back and slaps on a rear naked choke, without the hooks, for the tapout!
Well, Green fought like a madman there but once the fight hit the ground he was wildly overmatched and Lauzon dispatched of him nicely. Huge credit to both men though Ė Green for coming in on such short notice and being able to give Lauzon a bit of a scare, and Lauzon for being able to fight back from three groin strikes to win. Outside of the stop-start issues due to the fouls this was one exciting fight.
Buentello had beaten Gary Goodridge in the opening match at the previous Affliction show and was originally rumoured to be facing Tim Sylvia here, but that fell through for whatever reason and so he wound up with Kirill Sidelnikov Ė AKA ĎBaby Fedorí instead. Donít see where the Fedor comparisons came from really as Sidelnikovís clearly a guy who should be at 205lbs and his record wasnít exactly great either, 5-2 at this point. I guess Buentello was the big test for him. Ring introduction cracks me up as Buentello steals Miguel Torresí entrance theme.
Round One begins and Buentello looks like heís trying to keep his distance, working punches from the outside using his reach. Good jab lands for him flush. Sidelnikov comes forward but eats an uppercut en route to clinching, and they exchange from close distance with both men landing body punches and knees to the quads. Good combo from the Russian but Buentello pushes him away. Buentello goes back to the jab, but Sidelnikov wades in with punches and clinches again. Buentello switches position and forces him into the corner, where some good punches land for both men. Buentello breaks off again and takes a low kick, but he comes back with a stiff right hand. Sidelnikovís got a mouse under his left eye now from the jabs. Sidelnikov steps in and takes the uppercut again, and now weíre back to exchanging in the clinch. They break off and Buentello goes back to pumping out the jab, and following it with the right hand. They clinch again and Sidelnikovís got blood running down his face from under his left eye. Good shots from Buentello inside the clinch and he follows with a knee to the body in the closing seconds. Buentelloís round for sure.
Second round and Buentello opens with a pair of jabs. Sidelnikov tries a low kick, but it looks like it hurts him more than Buentello as he stumbles. Buentelloís jab is looking great here, really stiff and heís landing largely at will. Beautiful one-two lands for the Headhunter and heís not allowing the Russian to step inside any more. Good combo from Buentello but Sidelnikov counters with a right that stuns him. Sidelnikov comes wading in with punches but Buentello recovers quickly and clinches. Sidelnikov looks for a takedown but canít get the Mexican off his feet, and Buentello breaks with an uppercut. Big left hand lands to the jaw of Sidelnikov and heís clearly got a sturdy chin as he didnít look badly hurt. Single leg attempt goes awry for Sidelnikov and Buentello easily stuffs it. Lead right into a left hook lands big for Buentello and Sidelnikovís chin is definitely solid. More punches land for Buentello and Baby Fedor is looking tired now too, but heís still swinging and heís still in the fight. More jabs land flush for Buentello and the right handís getting through more and more often as well, as Sidelnikovís being picked apart. Round ends there. 10-9 Buentello and this is his fight to lose.
Third round and Buentello pumps out the jab and lands the right hand too. The jab is basically killing Sidelnikov. Few jabs really snap Sidelnikovís head back and his face is a mess at this stage. Big uppercut lands for Paul as Sidelnikov steps in, but somehow heís still standing. This guy has a chin of iron. Low kick by Sidelnikov but Buentello counters with a right that stuns him and forces him right back. Sidelnikov starts swinging for the fences, but he misses wildly and Buentello takes the back standing, but decides to let it go. Nice jab staggers the Russian badly and he looks on his way out now. Low kick and right hand drops Sidelnikov and his mouthpiece comes out, so Big John McCarthy calls time. McCarthy checks him over and then decides he can continue and restarts it. More punches land for Buentello as he smells blood, and McCarthy calls time again to have the cut under Sidelnikovís eye checked. This time he spits his mouthpiece out and the doctor checks him over and decides to stop it there. Fair stoppage as Sidelnikov was basically out on his feet.
This was a good win for Paul Buentello Ė his punching looked crisp throughout and he landed some seriously nasty shots to the Russian, who basically was able to stay in the fight purely on the strength of his chin. Outside of that Baby Fedor didnít show much else, but really a guy with just seven fights, whoís naturally a 205lber is always going to struggle against an experienced veteran like Buentello and this was a case of too much, too soon for the Russian prospect. After the fight he ended up being busted for banned substances too, so itís doubtful weíll see him back in the US any time soon I guess. Iíve always liked Buentello and it was nice to see him successful here, and I hope he does well in his UFC run next.
After a disappointing run in the UFC that saw him lose to Lyoto Machida and Luiz Cane before being released, I was hoping Sokoudjou would take some fights with lesser competition to rebuild himself into another run there, but instead he ended up signing with Affliction and taking this fight with Babalu, another top-level fighter, creating a fight that I was heavily anticipating probably more than any other on this card. Despite Babaluís solid run since departing the UFC I was picking Sokoudjou, the more explosive fighter, to take him out early.
First round begins and they circle quite tentatively to begin before Sokoudjou lands a good low kick. Sobral shoots in but Thierry stuffs it easily. Another good low kick from Sokoudjou but Babalu clinches. Babalu tries a suplex, but Sokoudjou lands on top and quickly gets back to his feet, holding the Brazilian in a bodylock. They trade some knees but the ref breaks them as theyíre tangled in the ropes. Couple of kicks by Babalu but Sokoudjou lands one big kick to the body, and the Brazilian clinches again. He tries to muscle the African down, and Sokoudjou ends up giving his back and stumbling out of the ropes. John McCarthy restarts them in the clinch and Babalu tries a takedown but winds up on his back in guard. Crowd begin to chant for Babalu as Sokoudjou drops a few punches and elbows down, and then he postures up and drops some bombs as Babalu rolls. Sobral tries a double leg, but Sokoudjou blocks it and hits a judo trip, but Babalu comes back up instantly and goes for another single leg. Sokoudjouís takedown defense is looking excellent here. Babalu keeps trying to get him down, but the African uses overhooks to stay on his feet, and John McCarthy breaks them up. Front kick by Sobral and the round ends there. Close round but Iíd give the edge to Sokoudjou I think.
Into the 2nd and Babalu pushes forward but walks into a hard right uppercut from the African. Babalu keeps coming forward and he lands a nice combo before Sokoudjou answers with a low kick. Takedown attempt from Babalu and this time he gets Sokoudjou on his back, and from there Sobral opens up with some solid punches. Babalu postures up to land some more shots and passes into half-guard, and for a moment it looks like heís setting up a DíArce before he goes back to dropping elbows and punches. Sokoudjou looks a little out of gas as McCarthy restarts them in the center of the ring, and Babalu steps over into half-guard and goes back to landing elbows. Sokoudjou tries to reverse, but Babalu locks up a DíArce choke as he turns onto all fours, and rolls him over to force the tapout.
Really good fight but after another good first round Sokoudjou just ran out of gas again and had no answer once Babalu got him on his back. Itís such a pity because the guy is so naturally talented, but it seems like the book on beating Sokoudjou has been written now, just weather the early storm, wait for him to gas out and then dominate him on the ground. Excellent win for Babalu though; in terms of rankings itís his best one in years in fact. Submission finish was beautiful too Ė I love the DíArce.
Post-fight Babalu talks with Tito Ortiz about the fight and then when Tito asks him about the future he says heíd love to fight Tito himself once his back is healed. That wouldíve been a really good fight actually if Tito hadnít gone back to the UFC.
-We get an interview with Vadim Finkelstein and another one of his M-1 Global cronies, and really I donít want to hear whatever nonsense theyíre spewing.
This was a pretty huge fight in my eyes as Lindland, while a ton still ranked him near or at the top of the 185lbs division, hadnít really beaten an elite-level opponent since his knockout of Jeremy Horn in 2006. Since then heíd made an ill-advised move to Heavyweight to lose to Fedor, and then took a long layoff before returning in a disappointing fight at the previous Affliction show. Belfort meanwhile, after testing positive for steroids after his loss in 2006 to Dan Henderson, had made an excursion to England with Cage Rage before returning to the US and dropping to 185lbs, knocking out Terry Martin in highlight-reel fashion at Afflictionís debut. So effectively, what we had here were two fighters at a crossroads, with the winner returning to the top of the division and the loser likely tumbling down the rankings for good. As someone who has been less than enamoured with Lindland for some time, naturally I was pulling for the ĎOld Vitorí to make an appearance with the Terrell Special on the Law.
We get underway and they circle before Lindland steps in with a left hook, but Belfort slips it and DROPS HIM WITH A LEFT! Lindland tries to get up, but Belfortís already on him and ENDS HIS LIFE WITH A FLURRY OF RIGHTS!~! BOOYAH!
Post-fight the doctors tend to Lindland and this is one of the scariest knockouts Iíve ever seen, as Lindland is completely GONE, with his right leg shaking uncontrollably, and once he comes round itís clear he hasnít got a clue whatís going on. Doctors surround Lindland as he clearly canít get up under his own power, and the officials bring in a stretcher and put him in a neck brace, but he ends up being able to walk out. Iím glad he wasnít badly hurt but I canít say I didnít enjoy seeing him knocked out like that. Massive win for Vitor who basically exploited the massive holes in Lindlandís striking game to devastating effect. You canít go dropping your hands with a guy like Vitor and Lindland paid the heaviest price for that. This win was enough to earn Vitor a one-way ticket back to the UFC as a headliner and as someone whoís always liked Vitor and rooted for him to come through all the crap heís put up with in his life, Iím enjoying it greatly. One of the sickest KOs in MMA history.
Ha, it honestly still surprises me that promotions use Yvel after his shocking assault on a referee a few years back, and it shocked me that the CSAC licensed him to fight actually. I have to admit though, as a fighter I donít mind Gilbert as despite his lack of ground skill, when he fights to the best of his ability heís pretty entertaining. I wouldíve rather seen Affliction use one of their bigger-profile HWs against Barnett here (say, Ben Rothwell or Paul Buentello), but I guess they were setting him up for the possible Fedor fight in the future so a stylistically good fight made sense for him.
First round gets underway and they circle with little action for the first minute outside of a couple of strikes from the outside from Yvel. Yvel throws a high kick but Barnett grabs the leg and works a single to get him down in half-guard. Barnett begins to work him over with some punches and hammer fists before he goes for a kimura, but Yvel surprisingly works his arm free. Heís still in trouble though as Barnett looks to lock it up again, but Yvel hangs on and escapes again. Barnett lands some more shots and passes into side mount, but Yvel manages to block a full mount attempt and get back to half-guard. Barnett goes for the kimura again, and this time he uses it to step over into full mount. Announcers already assume itís over as Barnett tees off on him with punches, and Yvel just covers up. Yvel gives his back and takes some more punches, and Herb Deanís taking a good look at this one, how he hasnít stopped it yet Iím not sure. Barnett continues to flurry with elbows and punches, but somehow Yvel manages to survive, slipping free to his feet on the buzzer! Wow, didnít think he was finishing the round there. Easy 10-8 round for Barnett though.
Second round and Yvel lands a couple of hooks, but Barnett quickly gets a bodylock and forces him to the ground, passing from guard into side mount with ease. Couple of short elbows land and then he steps into half-guard in trying full mount. He looks like heís setting up the far-side kimura again, but then decides to go back to pounding Yvel and takes full mount. Barnett doesnít really flurry this time though Ė maybe he tired himself out a bit in the first round Ė and he doesnít look like heís going to stop Yvel. Gilbert does look totally incapable of escaping, however. He continues to eat punches and then with seconds on the clock Barnett goes for an armbar, but Yvel slips free and pops out, standing above Josh to finish the round. This has been so one-sided itís not even funny. 10-8 Barnett.
Third and final round now and Yvel catches Barnett with a combo early, but quickly gets taken down and mounted almost immediately. Few short elbows land for Josh and with about two minutes to go he really opens up with a flurry and this time Yvel decides he wants out and taps. And who could blame him?
Post-fight Barnett tells Tito he wasnít happy with this performance, and he declines to call out Fedor or anything like that, saying he hopes the Russian puts on a show for the fans in the main event. He also talks about wearing something on his knee thatís dedicated to his late friend Justin Levens (RIP) which is cool. Fight wasnít dull by any means, but really Yvel was never it in and Barnett didnít look gassed at all to me, so it felt more like Josh was playing with his food a little if you will, which I donít really enjoy. Although having said that I felt the fight shouldíve been stopped at the end of the first round, so hey. Pretty much what I expected going in given the massive advantage Barnett had on the ground.
Well, you have say bravo to Affliction Ė after a few years of fighting smaller guys, tomato cans and past-their-prime legends in Japan, Fedor was finally faced with two legitimate opponents in this run, Arlovski being the second former UFC HW champion to face off with him following Tim Sylvia, who was dispatched with frightening ease in July 2008. Coming in the word was that Arlovskiís boxing had hugely improved under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, and in fact many fans saw Andreiís striking style as being able to give Emelianenko a ton of problems. While this was definitely a possibility, personally I saw this as a bad fight on paper for Andrei, as his chin has been questionable in the past while Fedorís is tried and tested, and Fedor also hits like a freight train. Still, itís Fedor vs. Arlovski so who the hell would grumble about such a fight?
Massive crowd pop for both guys upon their entrances; itís crazy in a way as if you were watching as a total neophyte then youíd never believe in a million years that Fedor is the more feared of the two given how calm he is coming to the ring, with his flabby physique while Arlovskiís chomping at the bit and looks like the star villain in an 80ís Van Damme movie.
We begin and they circle for a moment before Andrei lands with an inside leg kick. Fedor steps in but Arlovski quickly counters and catches him with a right hand. Low kick from Andrei and he avoids an overhand left. Good right hand counter and a low kick from Arlovski as Fedor winds up on the right hand and misses. Couple more wild hooks miss for Fedor and Andrei clips him with an uppercut coming in. Clinch from Fedor and both men look for takedowns, but neither can trip the other one down. Good knee to the body from Fedor. Action slows up a little in the clinch and referee John McCarthy calls the separation. Nice right hand lands for Andrei and heís clearly beating Fedor to the punch at this point. Another right lands flush and Fedor touches his nose. Left to the body from Andrei and a right hand puts Fedor on his back foot. Front kick to the gut sends Fedor backwards into the corner and Arlovski leaps forward to capitalize...but jumps right into a SLEDGEHAMMER RIGHT HAND THAT KNOCKS HIM DEAD IN MID-AIR!~! Good LORD.
UNBELIEVABLE knockout. Unbelievable. Arlovski was literally out cold before he hit the ground. I mean, what can you say about this? Arlovski was clearly ahead at the point of the knockout, beating Fedor to the punch, and he literally made one mistake Ė getting overzealous Ė and paid the price for it as Fedor turned his lights out with one big shot. Insane timing on the punch too as it connected directly with Andreiís jaw. And to think, the announcers thought Fedor looked flustered at that moment! Iíve said before that itís the measure of a champion to be able to win a fight when youíre not fighting all that well, and Fedor did just that here. Forget the idiots who say Arlovski wasnít a top-level opponent Ė he was proven at the elite level and was riding a five-fight winning streak coming into this and Fedor killed him dead. Is it shitty that weíre not going to see Fedor in the UFC to face Lesnar, Velasquez, Couture et al? Of course it is, but that doesnít mean heís not the best Heavyweight on the planet right now. For me this fight proved it once again.
Post-fight Tito asks Fedor about the possibility of fighting Josh Barnett, to which the Russian says he sees Barnett as a friend and heís not really thinking about that fight right now. Way to sell a possible fight! And just an observation, but Fedor appears to have a bigger entourage of hangers-on than possibly anyone else in MMA judging on the sheer amount of people in the ring here. Including one guy who looks frighteningly like Grigori Rasputin. Really!
-Announcers talk about the card and mainly gush over Fedor and quite rightfully so. In a hilarious moment, Gegard Mousasi tries to walk across them in camera shot and gets sent back. Do they not know who he is, bro? Oh, sorry, wrong Armenian. Eventually Gegard ends up posing in the ring with Fedor.
-Highlight reel ends our night.
Well, the first Affliction card got far more publicity and hype than this one did, but looking at them from a subjective standpoint, Day Of Reckoning is far, far better. Granted, nothing here was quite as good as Arlovski-Rothwell from that card which means it isnít a classic, but even the worst fight here (Buentello-Sidelnikov) was better than both Lindland-Negao and Babalu-Whitehead from that show, Barnett-Yvel was more exciting than Barnett-Rizzo and no more one-sided really, and Fedorís sickening knockout of Arlovski in the main event is up there with the best knockouts Iíve ever seen in MMA and is easily the equal of Fedor-Sylvia. Throw in one of the most brutal finishes of all time in Belfort-Lindland, a solid opener in Green-Lauzon and a really good, competitive fight in Babalu-Sokoudjou and youíve got a card thatís one great fight away from being up there with *the* very best. It wouldíve been cool to see Affliction go out with a bang with Fedor-Barnett, but shit happens and in the end this was a great show to finish with. Easy thumbs up.
Best Fight: Babalu-Sokoudjou
Worst Fight: Buentello-Sidelnikov
Overall Rating: ****
UFC: 101-106, Fight Night 19
Strike Force: Shields vs. Lawler, Carano vs. Cyborg and Fedor vs. Rogers
King of the Cage: Various shows