Monday, July 24, 2017

UFC Fight Night 1: Back to TV

Nate Quarry (Photo

UFC Ultimate Fight Night 1 – Las Vegas, Nev. – Cox Pavilion - Aug. 6, 2005

The Ultimate Fighter finale was such a huge success that UFC began airing “Ultimate Fight Night” shows on Spike TV later that summer.

Although Forrest Griffin and Diego Sanchez were the TUF winners, Nate Quarry became the first alumnus to earn a title shot.

Quarry beat Pete Sell by TKO in 42 seconds, although the fans protested that the fight was stopped too early. Quarry went on to challenge Rich Franklin for the middleweight belt at UFC 56.

Former King of Pancrase Nate Marquardt won a unanimous decision over Ivan Salaverry in the main event. However, Marquardt tested positive for a banned substance in his post-fight drug test.

UFC 53: School's Out

Rich Franklin (Photo:

UFC 53 – Heavy Hitters – Atlantic City, N.J. – Boardwalk Hall – June 4, 2005

Rich Franklin, a teacher from Cincinnati, Ohio, won the UFC middleweight title from Evan Tanner at UFC 53.

Franklin had earned the title shot win a win over UFC legend Ken Shamrock at the finals of The Ultimate Fighter.

Franklin dominated Tanner in the second and third rounds before the doctor called for an end to the bout in the fourth.

Andrei Arlovski retained his UFC interim heavyweight title with a win over Justin Eilers, who got the title shot because fights with Mirko Cro Cop and Ricco Rodriguez fell through.

With less than a minute to go in Round 1, Eilers blew out his knee. Arlovski moved in for the kill and won by TKO.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

UFC 52: The Iceman Winneth the Title

Chuck Liddell (Photo:

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:

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:

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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 

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:

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:

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.

Monday, June 19, 2017

UFC 40: Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz: Million Dollar Fight


UFC 40: Vendetta – Las Vegas, Nev. – MGM Grand Arena – Nov. 22, 2002

Ken Shamrock battled Tito Ortiz in a main event that drew 13,265 fans, plus 100,000 pay-per-view buys at UFC 40.

After collecting $1.5 million at the box office, UFC’s owners started to see a return on the investment they made almost two years earlier.

Shamrock increased his star power by appearing for the World Wrestling Federation during its super-hot “Attitude Era.” He stepped back into the Octagon for the first time since 1996 and cashed in on a war of words with Ortiz.

Referee Big John McCarthy told MMA Sentinel that UFC 40 proved that the sport of mixed martial arts would survive.

“I remember standing there before the Ortiz/Shamrock fight and looking around,” he said. “The energy of that fight, it was phenomenal, and it was the first time I honestly said, it’s going to make it.”

UFC 39: A New Heavyweight King

Ricco Rodriguez (Photo:

UFC 39: The Warriors Return – Uncasville, Conn. – Mohegan Sun Arena – Sept. 27, 2002

Ricco Rodriguez knocked off Randy “The Natural” Couture to win the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 39.

Rodriguez won his 11th fight in a row to capture the belt, which was vacated when previous champion Josh Barnett tested positive for steroids.

As the show’s name indicated, the heavyweight “warriors” battled into the fifth round. 

Couture won the first two rounds, while Rodriguez controlled the third and fourth.

UFC 38: Panic on the Streets of London

UFC 38: Brawl at the Hall – London, England – Royal Albert Hall – July 13, 2002

UFC invaded England for the first time at UFC 38, as Matt Hughes beat Carlos Newton to retain the welterweight title.

This was a rematch of the “Double Knockout” fight at UFC 34. This time, Hughes used a flurry of unanswered strikes to win by TKO in Round 4.

British star Ian "The Machine" Freeman scored a big win over undefeated Frank Mir. Referee John McCarty ruled that Mir had taken too much punishment at the 4:35 mark.

Mark Weir also thrilled his UK countrymen by knocking out Eugene Jackson in just 10 seconds.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

UFC 37.5: Welcome to Cable TV

Robbie Lawler (Photo:

UFC 37.5: As Real As It Gets – Las Vegas, Nev. – Bellagio Hotel and Casino – June 22, 2002

UFC has been a staple of pay-per-view TV since its inception, but it never had a fight on regular cable TV until UFC 37.5.

As its name would imply, this show was thrown together at the last minute, to gain UFC publicity on “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” on Fox Sports Net.

The best fight of the night would air on the show, and that honor went to welterweights Robby Lawler and “The Red Nose Pitbull” Steve Berger.

Lawler got the victory by TKO at the 27-second mark of Round 2.

Monday, June 12, 2017

UFC 37: Double Tapout

Murilo Bustamante (Photo:

UFC 37: High Impact – Bossier City, La. – CenturyTel Center – May 10, 2002

Usually, a tapout will end a fight, but Murilo Bustamante needed two submissions to retain his middleweight title at UFC 37.

Bustamante apparently forced Matt Lindland to tap out to an armbar, but Lindland claimed he did not tap out. Referee John McCarthy restarted the fight.

The champion cleared up the controversy by forcing Lindland to tap out to a guillotine choke in Round 3.

Bustamante was stripped of the middleweight title later in the year when he jumped to PRIDE Fighting Championships.

UFC 36: The One That Got Away

Anderson Silva (Photo:

UFC 36: Worlds Collide – Las Vegas, Nev. – MGM Grand Arena – March 22, 2002

Anderson Silva almost debuted at UFC 36 for a welterweight “dream fight” against Matt Hughes.

Unfortunately, Silva signed with PRIDE and wouldn’t arrive in UFC for another four years.

Instead, Hughes retained the welterweight title with a fourth-round TKO win over Hayato Sakurai.

UFC was starting to regain popularity one year into the Zuffa era. UFC 36 drew a crowd of 10,000 fans and picked up 55,000 buys on pay-per-view.

Monday, June 5, 2017

UFC 35: Down with the Sickness

Dave Menne (Photo: sherdog,com)

UFC 35: Throwdown – Mohegan Sun Arena – Uncasville, CT – Jan. 11, 2002

Fighting is hard enough when you’re healthy, but it’s a whole new challenge when you’re sick.

The flu bug bit the fighters and production staff hard at UFC 35, and the ailing Dave Menne lost his middleweight title to Murilo Bustamante.

The challenger landed a huge right to win by TKO at the 44-second mark of Round 2.

“Dave was so dehydrated from having the flu and vomiting and diarrhea that he was hallucinating during the fight,” Pat Miletich recalled in an interview with

Lightweights took the main-event spot at UFC 35, as Jens Pulver defeated B.J. Penn to retain the 155-pound title.

Monday, May 29, 2017

UFC 34: Whose Lights Went Out First?

Matt Hughes (Photo:

UFC 34: High Voltage – Las Vegas, Nev. – MGM Garden Arena – Nov. 2, 2001

Matt Hughes captured the UFC welterweight title from Carlos Newton in a controversial finish at UFC 34.

Newton had almost knocked out Hughes with a triangle choke, but Hughes slammed the champion to the mat, knocking him out. Hughes had to be told that he was the winner and new champion.

Here’s a video of the finish, and here’s another video with the jubilant new champion seeming to tell his cornerman “I was out! I was out!”

The main event saw Randy Couture retain the UFC heavyweight title at the age of 38. “The Natural” defeated Pedro Rizzo by TKO in Round 3.

UFC 33: Let's Hear It For the Judges

Time to call The Janitor (Photo:

UFC 33: Victory in Vegas – Las Vegas, Nev. – Mandalay Bay Events Center - Sept. 28, 2001

Sometimes a fight card looks great on paper, but it just falls flat. Welcome to UFC 33.

Tito Ortiz was set to defend his light heavyweight title against Vitor Belfort in a stellar matchup. It was UFC's first show in Las Vegas, and pay-per-view carriers were warming up to televising UFC again.

However, due to Belfort’s arm injury, Ortiz battled “The Janitor” Vladimir Matyushenko and beat him via unanimous decision.

In fact, all of the pay-per-view bouts ended in decisions. No knockouts. No submissions. Let’s go to the judges … again.

That caused the show to run long, so the main event was cut off on some pay-per-view carriers.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

UFC 32: First Bite of the Big Apple

An unexpectedly ominous poster (Photo: sherdog,com)

UFC 32: Showdown at the Meadowlands – June 29, 2001 – E. Rutherford, N.J. - Continental Airlines Arena

UFC invaded the New York area with UFC 32. The promo poster featured Tito Ortiz and Elvis Sinosic in front of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed less than four months later.

Ortiz remained one of the company’s top stars, as he beat Sinosic to retain the light heavyweight title.

The champ used a series of punches and elbows to earn the TKO over “The King of Rock & Rumble” in 3 minutes, 32 seconds.

“The Prodigy” B.J. Penn improved to 2-0 in the UFC with a TKO win over the debuting Din Thomas.

Monday, May 22, 2017

UFC 31: Heavyweight Slugfest

Randy Couture (Photo:

UFC 31: Locked and Loaded – Atlantic City, N.J. - Trump Taj Mahal - May 4, 2001

Randy Couture hung onto his UFC heavyweight title with a unanimous decision win over Pedro Rizzo at UFC 31.

Couture bloodied Rizzo in the first round, and the challenger came back to bust Couture open in the second round.  Couture rallied in the fourth and fifth rounds to retain his title.

Carlos Newton captured the UFC welterweight title, forcing longtime champion Pat Miletich to submit to a bulldog choke in Round 3.

UFC 30: The Era of Zuffa Begins

Lorenzo & Frank Fertitta bought UFC in early 2001

UFC 30: Battle on the Boardwalk – Trump Taj Mahal – Atlantic City, N.J. – Feb. 23, 2001

New UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta presented the “All-New” UFC 30, with Dana White running the show for the brothers’ Zuffa LLC.

The first show under new ownership didn’t present a dramatic change, but the company was now free from the threat of bankruptcy.

Check out this video of White (with hair!) talking about his vision for the company on the UFC 30 broadcast.

Tito Ortiz retained his UFC middleweight title in the main event. He knocked Evan Tanner out with a huge slam in just 30 seconds.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

UFC 29: Out With The Old Owners

Matt Lindland (Photo:

UFC 29: Defense of the Belts – Tokyo, Japan – Differ Ariake Arena – Dec. 16, 2000

Tito Ortiz and Pat Miletich successfully defended their titles in Japan at UFC 29, the final show under the ownership of Semaphore Entertainment Group.

Ortiz retained the light heavyweight belt by defeating Yuki Kondo with a neck crank at the 1:52 mark. Kondo was no slouch, as he racked up 59 wins in his career.

Pat Miletich continued to dominate as lightweight champion. He beat Kenichi Yamamoto with a guillotine choke in Round 2 for his fourth title defense.

Monday, May 15, 2017

UFC 28: Return to Greatness

Randy Couture (Photo:

UFC 28: High Stakes – Atlantic City, N.J. - Trump Taj Mahal – Nov. 17, 2000

Randy “The Natural” Couture recaptured the UFC heavyweight title, beating Kevin Randleman at UFC 28.

Couture had relinquished the title in 1998 during a contract dispute, but he used knees and punches to score a TKO late in Round 3 to repeat as champion.

Renato “Babalu” Sobral brought a 16-2 record into the UFC, and he immediately made a splash by defeating former UFC heavyweight champion Maurice Smith by unanimous decision.

UFC 27: Unwelcome Home

Dan Severn (Photo:

UFC 27: Ultimate Bad Boyz – New Orleans, La. – Lakefront Arena – Sept. 22, 2000

Dan Severn had a rough return to the Octagon at UFC 27, as he lost to Pedro “The Rock” Rizzo in 93 seconds.

Rizzo softened up the 42-year-old former UFC Superfight champion with two crushing leg kicks, and Severn was unable to continue.

Rizzo was reinvigorated by the win, bouncing back from a loss to Kevin Randleman three months earlier at UFC 26.

“The old Pedro Rizzo is back,” he said. “I come to knock everybody out.”

Monday, May 8, 2017

UFC 26: The Crowd Goes Mild

Jens Pulver (Photo

UFC 26: Ultimate Field of Dreams – June 9, 2000 – Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Five Seasons Events Center

Kevin Randleman and Pedro Rizzo battled for the heavyweight title at UFC 26 to make up for the “Backstage Knockout” incident at UFC 24.

The fans booed the fighters out of the building, after they presented a boring, tentative fight. Randleman retained the title by unanimous decision.

“I understand the boos and I definitely deserve it,” Randleman said. “I think Pedro and I just respected each other too much.”

Pat Miletich made Iowa proud by retaining his UFC welterweight title against John Alessio at UFC 26.