Tuesday, July 11, 2017

UFC 52: The Iceman Winneth the Title

Chuck Liddell (Photo: lowkickmma.com)

UFC 52: Couture vs. Liddell 2– Las Vegas, Nev. – MGM Grand Arena – April 16, 2005

Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell won the UFC light heavyweight title by knocking out Randy Couture at UFC 52.

The bout drew a crowd of 14,562, paying a record gate of $2.5 million. Couture and Liddell were the coaches for the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, which concluded one week earlier.

Liddell gained redemption for his loss to Couture at UFC 43 two years earlier by knocking out the champ at the 2:06 mark.

Matt Hughes retained the UFC welterweight title by defeating Frank Trigg with a rear naked choke at the 4:05 mark. This was the first fight to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2015.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale: The Fight That Changed Everything

Forrest Griffin (Photo: heavy.com)

The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale – Las Vegas, Nev. – Cox Arena – April 9, 2005

An electric battle of newcomers launched UFC into the mainstream of the sports world at The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 finale.

Forrest Griffin defeated Stephan Bonnar by unanimous decision in the best fight of the year, drawing millions of fans to the first live MMA show on cable TV.

Everything UFC achieved later – fights on Fox TV, coverage on ESPN, million-selling pay-per-views – can be traced directly to this fight.

The Ultimate Fighter was a reality show that ran on Spike TV for 14 seasons before moving to the Fox family of networks. 

Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture were the coaches during Season 1, and they fought one week later on the UFC 52 pay-per-view.

TUF drew big numbers on Spike TV, retaining more than half of the viewers from WWE Monday Night Raw.

Bonnar was so impressive in defeat that he also earned a UFC contract from company president Dana White.

Three years after his big win, Griffin defeated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to win the UFC light heavyweight title.

At the TUF 1 reunion three years later, White said,"It's amazing to think how close we came to not being here today. If it weren't for what these guys did, I don't know if there would even be a UFC. I'll never forget these guys. Ever.”

In the main event of the telecast, Rich Franklin defeated Ken Shamrock by TKO at the 2:42 mark.

Diego Sanchez won TUF 1’s middleweight tournament by defeating Kenny Florian by TKO in 2:46.

Sanchez went on to challenge B.J. Penn for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 107. He also invented the “YES!” chant, which was popularized by Daniel Bryan in WWE.

Florian got three title shots (against Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn and Jose Aldo), but he was unsuccessful each time. Florian eventually moved on to become a UFC broadcaster.

The preliminary bouts also featured several fighters who went on to successful MMA careers.

Bobby Southworth lost by unanimous decision to Sam Hoger, but Southworth went on to become the first Strikeforce light heavyweight champion in 2006.

Josh Koscheck knocked out Chris Sanford at the 4:21 mark. Koscheck went on to challenge 
Georges St. Pierre for the UFC welterweight title in 2010.

Nate Quarry beat Lodune Sincaid by TKO in 3:17. Quarry was fast-tracked to a middleweight title match later in the year. Sincaid won the WEC light heavyweight title in 2006.

In other bouts, Chris Leben defeated Jason Thacker by TKO in 1:35; Alex Karalexis by Josh Rafferty by TKO at the 1:40 mark; and Mike Swick knocked out Alex Schoenauer in 20 seconds.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

UFC 51: Tito Ortiz vs. Vitor Belfort on Super Saturday

Evan Tanner (Photo: therichest.com)

UFC 51: Super Saturday – Las Vegas, Nev. – Mandalay Bay Events Center – Feb. 5, 2005

Tito Ortiz won a razor-thin decision over Vitor Belfort at UFC 51, the second annual Super Saturday show.

The judges scored the bout 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 in favor of Ortiz, who won his second straight pay-per-view main event.

The Ortiz-Belfort fight was a big hit, drawing 105,000 PPV buys and nearly $1.5 million at the gate.

Andrei Arlovski captured the UFC interim heavyweight title, defeating Tim Sylvia in 47 seconds with an Achilles lock. Frank Mir, the heavyweight champ, was sidelined after a motorcycle accident.

Evan Tanner won the UFC middleweight title, which had been vacant since 2002, when champ Murilo Bustamante defected to PRIDE Fighting Championships. Tanner beat Dave Terrell by TKO in 4:35 to win the title.

In another middleweight fight, Pete Sell beat Phil Baroni with a guillotine choke with 41 seconds left in the fight.

UFC 50: Welterweight Greatness

Revised DVD cover for UFC 50
(Photo: wikipedia.org)

UFC 50 – The War of ’04 – Atlantic City, N.J. – Trump Plaza – Oct. 22, 2004

Matt Hughes conquered Georges St.-Pierre at UFC 50 in a battle of the two most dominant welterweights in MMA history.

BJ Penn held the welterweight title after upsetting Hughes at UFC 46, but he was stripped of the belt after he signed with K-1.

In the battle for the vacant title, Hughes used an armbar to force GSP to tap out with one second left in Round 1.

Tito Ortiz defeated Patrick Cote by unanimous decision in the main event. Ortiz was scheduled to face Guy Mezger, who had to drop out due to medical issues.

Monday, July 3, 2017

UFC 49: Four Titles For Randy Couture

Randy "The Natural" Couture (Photo: lowkickmma.com)

UFC 49: Unfinished Business – Las Vegas, Nev. – MGM Grand Arena - Aug. 21, 2004

Randy Couture collected his fourth career UFC title by defeating Vitor Belfort at UFC 49.

This was a rematch from UFC 46, where the doctor stopped the fight due to a cut on Couture’s eye after just 49 seconds of action.

Belfort defended the title, and this time the doctor determined that he had taken enough punishment. At least the fans got three full rounds of action.

Couture, 41, earned his second UFC light heavyweight title to go with his two heavyweight titles.

UFC 48: Ken Shamrock vs. Kimo: Nostalgia Sells

Kimo (Photo: lowkickmma.com)

UFC 48: Payback – Las Vegas, Nev. – Mandalay Bay Events Center - June 19, 2004

Kimo returned to battle Ken Shamrock in a “classic” rematch at UFC 48.

The fans literally bought into the nostalgia act, as the rematch from UFC 8 drew slightly more buys on pay-per-view than the Tito Ortiz-Chuck Liddell matchup at UFC 47.

Shamrock won the first meeting, and he bested Kimo again here. Shamrock knocked out Kimo with a knee strike at 1:26 mark.

Frank Mir captured the vacant UFC heavyweight title by defeating Tim Sylvia with an armbar in just 50 seconds. 

UFC 47: Tito Ortiz Finally Battles Chuck Liddell

Chuck Liddell (Photo: fightsday.com)

UFC 47: It’s On! – Las Vegas, Nev. – Mandalay Bay Events Center – April 2, 2004

Chuck Liddell knocked out Tito Ortiz in a a long-awaited grudge match at UFC 47.

The former training partners engaged in lengthy negotiations before finally deciding that “It’s On!”

Most of the fight was on the feet, and Liddell used a right-left combination to KO Ortiz at the 38-second mark of Round 2.

Andrei Arlovski was supposed to battle Tim Sylvia for the vacant heavyweight title, but the card was reshuffled.

Instead, Arlovski  beat Wesley “Cabbage” Correia by TKO in Round 2. Arlovski would have to wait until UFC 51 to battle Sylvia for the title.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

UFC 46: Rise of The Prodigy and The Phenom

Vitor Belfort (Photo: mmafighting.com)

UFC 46: Super Natural – Las Vegas, Nev. – Mandalay Bay Events Center – Jan. 31, 2004

UFC crowned two new champions on the night before the Super Bowl at UFC 46.

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort won the light heavyweight title from Randy Couture, ending an amazing run by the 40-year-old champion.

In the opening minute, Couture’s eyelid was cut by the seam of Belfort’s glove. The doctor stopped the fight at the 54-second mark, and Belfort was the new champion.

BJ Penn captured the UFC welterweight title from Matt Hughes, whose 13-fight win streak came to an end. Penn won with a rear naked choke at 4:37.

Penn had been unable to win the lightweight title on two occasions, but he ended Hughes’ quest for a record-breaking sixth title defense.

Monday, June 26, 2017

UFC 45: Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock Enter the Hall of Fame

Royce Gracie (Photo: zimbio.com)

UFC 45: Revolution – Uncasville, Conn. – Mohegan Sun Casino – Nov. 21, 2003

UFC celebrated its 10th anniversary by inducting Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock into its new Hall of Fame at UFC 45.

Gracie won three of the first four UFC tournaments, and Shamrock won the first Superfight championship at UFC 6.

““Their contributions to our sport, both inside and outside the Octagon, may never be equaled,” UFC boss Dana White stated.

The fans also voted 10 fighters to receive the Viewers’ Choice Award. The winners were Shamrock, Gracie, Mark Coleman, Tank Abbott, Dan Severn, Don Frye, Oleg Taktarov, Pat Miletich, Randy Couture and “The King of the Streets” Marco Ruas.

Matt Hughes retained the UFC welterweight title in the main event. He forced Frank Trigg to tap out to a standing rear naked choke at the 3:54 mark.

UFC 44: Tito Ortiz vs. Randy Couture - Undisputed

Randy Couture (Photo: ufighting.com)

UFC 44: Undisputed – Las Vegas, Nev. – Mandalay Bay Events Center – Sept. 26, 2003

Randy Couture dominated Tito Ortiz to emerge as the undisputed king of the light heavyweights at UFC 44.

After winning the interim version of the title at UFC 43, Couture plowed through Ortiz with ease. He even spanked the outgoing champ in the closing moments of the fight.

At the age of 40, Couture had reached the top of the sport for the third time.

“I guess I’m a late bloomer,” he said.

The title unification fight drew more than 10,000 fans paying $1.1 million. UFC 44 also garnered 94,000 buys on pay-per-view.

UFC 43: Randy Couture Makes History

Chuck Liddell (left) battles Randy Couture 
(Photo: fcfighter.com)

UFC 43: Meltdown – Las Vegas, Nev. – Thomas & Mack Center – June 6, 2003

Randy Couture became the first UFC fighter to win championships in multiple weight divisions at UFC 43.

Couture, a two-time heavyweight champion, beat Chuck Liddell by TKO in Round 3 to capture the interim light heavyweight championship.

Even more impressive was the fact that Couture was a heavy underdog and almost 40 years old. Couture would face the light heavyweight champ, Tito Ortiz, at UFC 44: Undisputed.

“Tito, if you want this belt, you’re going to have to come in here and take it,” Couture said after the fight.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

UFC 42: Can the Shark Be Stopped?

Sean Sherk (Photo: ca.news.yahoo.com)

UFC 42: Sudden Impact – Miami, Fla. – American Airlines Arena – April 25, 2003

Sean Sherk carried a 20-0 record into UFC 42, but he couldn’t take the welterweight title away from Matt Hughes.

The wrestlers engaged in a bloody brawl, and Hughes held off a late rally by the “Muscle Shark” to retain the belt with judges’ scores of 49-46, 48-47 and 48-45.

In a battle of debuting welterweights, Dave Strasser defeated Romie Aram by unanimous decision.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

UFC 41: New Champion? No Champion!

Caol Uno (Photo: sherdog.com)

UFC 41: Onslaught – Atlantic City, N.J. – Boardwalk Hall – Feb. 28, 2003

Can a tournament end without a winner? It happened at UFC 41.

BJ Penn battled Caol Uno in the finals of a four-man lightweight title tournament. The semifinals took place at UFC 39, with Penn defeating Matt Serra and Uno beating Din Thomas.

In the finals, one judge ruled 48-46 Penn while another ruled 48-47 Uno. The third judge scored the bout 48-48. So the fight was a draw and nobody won the belt.

This decision put the lightweight title on ice, as a new champion was not crowned until UFC 64 more than three years later.