WOW. That’s all I can think of. What a show. This UFC was one of the best ever. What a show and with 2 major changes, they pulled it off. After arriving in Las Vegas I heard quickly that Tim Sylvia was rumored to be out. At the weigh-in it was confirmed, he still had residual amounts of steroids in his blood. At least that’s what we heard. So the big news was now instead of fighting Mike Kyle, they brought in Cabbage to fill Tim’s place and fight Arlovski. In one day Wes Simms accepted to fight Kyle, and now it was really on. Tito did finally fight Chuck Liddell and he did bringing in the big audience he usually does. Despite what I previously thought, there seemed to be nothing that could outshine the main event, even the spectacular other fights that occurred.
Genki Sudo vs Mike Brown went basically exactly the way I expected. Genki came out in his usual style wearing a mask and doing a fantastic walk to the Octagon. Once he entered the cage he was all business and went after Brown. Mike did a good job of landing some good shots in the standup, but eventually he got tangled up with Sudo in a triangle. While mike tried to turn out of it, and land some punches in the process, it was not enough to put Sudo out, and he finished the triangle/armbar viciously. Personally I would be surprised if Mike’s arm wasn’t hurt in the process, it looked painful.
Wade Shipp vs Johnathan Wiezorek turned out to be a fair fight at best. Both guys came out burning gas and it seemed Wade was going to win as he was getting the better of the clinch, but he was landing shots that didn’t have enough on them to put Johnathan down. Eventually, Shipp gassed out and ended up getting put on the mat and TKO’ed.
Mike Kyle vs Cabbage had become Mike Kyle vs Wes Simms, and for me it seemed obvious what would end up happening. I picked Kyle by KO, and sure enough that’s what happened, but the big story is the alleged bite during the fight. As the fight started Kyle ended up trying to take Wes down almost instantly, but Wes worked up against the cage and seemed to have got his arms inside for a guillotine. While standing, it looked close to being over, but as they fell to the ground, Kyle’s head popped out. The story being told by Wes is that he had that choke sunk, and Kyle bit him to get out of it. Sure enough, when the ref stood them up after a period of inactivity, the mark on Simms chest could be seen. After being stood up, it appeared that Wes was going to his corner, but the fight had been re-started and Wes was eating punches before he could get fully turned around. After a couple good knees Wes was waving his hands around as if to signal someone, or maybe this was more of his tough guy antics, we don’t know. What I did see was Mike Kyle come in and land a series of punches that put Wes down and out. After the fight Kyle said he didn’t bite Wes, he said his mouth was open in the choke, but he didn’t bite him. At the post fight press conference, during Kyle’s explanation, Ricco Rodriguez was talking through Kyle’s speech and making comments. When his chance came Ricco addressed Kyle directly, he said, “If we fought and you tried to bite me during the fight, I would kick your ass”. Kyle then responded by saying “You talk a lot of shit for a guy with a glass jaw”. It seemed like we may see these two fight soon.
Nick Diaz vs Robbie Lawler was the fight of the night. No doubt Robbie had everyone’s vote as the better striker, but we were all wrong. While Robbie does have power, he didn’t have the skills to compete with Nick. Diaz used simple boxing technique to tag Lawler at will with jabs and hooks. He even was taunting Lawler, something I never expected. Eventually, Lawler was caught with a combo that sent him to the ground, and I do have to give it to him, he tried to fight, but he was stumbling all over the octagon, and the fight was stopped.
Tim Sylvia vs Andrei Arlovski was now a future possibility as now Cabbage was going to take on the Pit Bull. This fight was strange as I watched Arlovski beat Cabbage with a series of well-executed punches, but I was more convinced that Andre would not be able to hang with Tim Sylvia than anything else. Sure Arlovski’s tactical pummeling of Cabbage was impressive, but I think Andre is just too big for Cabbage and who knows; maybe Cabbage was off that night. All I do know, is Andre took a few punches from what seemed to me to be a weakened Cabbage and he didn’t deal with it well at all. Sylvia will be my choice if they ever fight.
Yves Edwards vs Hermes Franca could have been the fight of the night but it wasn’t. It was a good fight, but too even for me and it seemed to be a stalemate except for a few punches landed by Yves. Hermes did fight his heart out, but it wasn’t enough. Yves pulled out the split decision.
Tiki vs Chris Lytle turned out to be a great fight. Tiki was actually doing very well in the standup, but he ended up getting caught with what I like to call the second grade headlock choke, basically the same choke Newton used against Miletich. It was enough to make Tiki tap.
Tito Ortiz vs Chuck Liddell was totally crazy. The arena was so loud I couldn’t hear myself think. Chuck came out with a smile on his face, he truly is the Iceman. Tito came out with Fernando Vargas and his traditional entourage. As the fight started the two came out throwing punches, not wild but calculated. Felling each other out, and soon Tito tried for a takedown. It wasn’t a very serious attempt, and it seemed to me Tito really was going to stand with Chuck. I couldn’t believe it. Near the end of the round the two entered into a small exchange and it seemed like Chuck was about to unleash the furry. He threw a huge high kick to Tito’s head and it was partially blocked but did seem to have the former champ rocked. Just then the round ended and Tito looked like he was furious and he was screaming. Seemed to me the action was so intense that most of the arena had missed the bell indicating the end of the round. Soon everyone was caught up and the two fighters stood again. After some quick punches Chuck caught Tito with a left, possibly to the eye. Tito backed up and looked hurt, Chuck being the animal he is, moved in for the kill. He threw 16 punches or so, and about half of them were somehow finding their target circling around Tito’s hands and arms to find his chin time and time again. After a solid combo Tito went down hard and the crowd went nuts. I can’t even remember what was going on, it was totally crazy. Everyone was screaming and jumping around like maniacs. Incredible.
What a show. In the post fight press conference Tito said he took a thumb to the eye, but also credited Chuck for the great win. Personally, I think Tito took a bullet for the UFC that night. My hat goes off to him for giving the fans what they wanted to see, a standup battle. Not only that, but the first thing Tito said was how he wanted to fight again in the next show. Is this the same Tito I’ve seen on TV talking about how he wanted to do movies? This new Tito seems like a real fighter, maybe not a real good one if you ask me, but damn it I am starting to like the guy. He still has his little excuses and what not, but he gave the UFC a fight that would turn the viewing audience into fans, while it might have been smarter for him to take Chuck down and fight a boring ground and pound victory, he didn’t he stood tow to toe and took his beating like a man. I have nothing but respect for Tito for doing that. With only 2 more events before the UFC’s 50th show, I think this will be the year we see the UFC get the coverage it deserves. Great show.
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