UFC 56: Full Force Aftermath

Ultimate Fighting Championship provided a lot of incredible moments in 2005, but Saturday night’s UFC 56: Full Force was one of the most exciting nights in the history of the company.

UFC 56 RESULTS
I’m going to run through this as it aired on television:

  • Jeremy Horn d. Trevor Prangley by unanimous decision

Horn said after the fight that he expected Prangley to get the decision, and apparently so did everyone else. Prangley spent most of the fight on top of Horn, who really didn’t do shit offensively, but did a good job of keeping Prangley in his guard. It was an undercard caliber fight, and a lackluster Middleweight debut for Horn. Since he and Franklin refuse to fight each other, the weight class move doesn’t make much sense.

  • A Night of Surprises

Following Horn vs. Prangley, we were treated to a video montage promoting the rematch we’ve all been waiting for: Liddell vs. Couture 3! The fight will go down at UFC 57 on Saturday, February 4th in Las Vegas. After the clip, they go to UFC President Dana White, who is in the Octagon with Chuck and Randy. This is going to be one hell of a battle. If that wasn’t a big enough announcement, White announced the return of former Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir. Mir stood in the Octagon as White announced his first opponent, current Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski. This is going to be a sick fight, which will presumably happen at UFC 60.

Now, these two announcements were huge bombshells, but it wasn’t enough. Dana White followed up by dropping a few nukes on us.

The coaches for The Ultimate Fighter 3 were announced. White thanked the fans for their support of TUF 2, and since these motherf*ckers don’t need an introduction, he just let them walk out without being announced properly. The first coach: ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Man’ Ken Shamrock emerged from the curtain, and was greeted by a standing ovation. If you don’t know what “marking out” means, then you can’t quite understand my reaction to Shamrock’s entrance. “Holy shit!” echoed throughout my house, and was quickly followed by a gasp as Dana announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know if you can believe this or not, but here’s your other coach…” With that, ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Tito Ortiz stepped through the curtain, and was greeted by a symphony of boos.

Your mother!

The second Ortiz got in the Octagon, Shamrock was right in his face. Security and UFC staff immediately separated them. Big John McCarthy held Shamrock back as the two TUF 3 coaches jawjacked from across the Octagon. To everyone bitching that it felt like a staged WWE moment, f*ck you. That was f*ckin’ exciting! As Joe Rogan said about twenty times throughout the night, Shamrock hates Ortiz, White hates Ortiz, and Ortiz hates them back. You wanted more drama in TUF 3? You f*cking got it.

Oh, but the surprises weren’t over yet. “Check out the new Welterweight I just signed…” Dana dropped a third nuke in the form of BJ Penn. Man, I thought they needed a surplus of sweaters in Hell when Bret Hart met with Vince McMahon a few months ago. Penn and Zuffa/UFC were set to go to court next month, but it was settled prior to Saturday’s shocking return.

  • Georges St. Pierre d. Sean Sherk at 2:53 of round 2, via TKO (strikes)

I can’t get enough of Georges St. Pierre. This guy is f*cking awesome. This turned out to be the fight of the night. Sherk is fast as hell, and got some damn good shots in on St. Pierre, but Sherk gave up a significant reach advantage to St. Pierre. Most of the fight was spent standing, which surprised the hell out of me, but in the end, St. Pierre was able to ground-and-pound his way to victory. Joe Rogan referred to Georges as St. Loiseau at one point. It’s a known fact that Joe Rogan loves cannabis, and this proved it. I get that St. Pierre and David Loiseau are both bald and French Canadian, but the fact that one of them is black should clear up any confusion.

  • Matt Hughes d. Joe Riggs at 3:28 of round 1, via submission (kimura)

Did anyone really think this one would go to a decision? Look, I like Riggs, but the f*ckin’ guy couldn’t even make weight for the fight. He should be fighting at 205; no question about it. Riggs held his own for the first minute and twenty seconds of the fight, but once Hughes got him on the ground, it was total domination. Even if he had made weight, I don’t think Hughes would have had to worry about his title.

Believe it or not, that’s Matt’s happy face.

  • Gabriel Gonzaga d. Kevin Jordan at 4:39 of round 3, via KO

This was the biggest piece of shit fight I’ve ever seen. These two idiots were completely gassed before the end of the first round. The crowd was booing them after a minute into the second, and it just got worse from there. This fight stunk worse than Matt Lindland vs. Joe Doerksen from UFC 54. Ortiz got a warmer reaction than these two assholes. The highlights of the fight: TUF 1 hetero lifemates Forrest Griffin an Stephan Bonnar mugging for the camera, Joe Rogan giving a shoutout to Wesley Snipes, Rogan and Vasgersian trying to decipher a crowd chant (“Go Home”? or “Homo”?), and Rogan repeating Paul Buentello’s pleas at ringside, “Stop the bullshit!” Gonzaga’s last minute “Superman punch” was cool, but it was a case of too little, too late. I hope to never see either one of these guys in UFC again.

  • Rich Franklin d. Nathan Quarry at 2:34 of round 1, via KO

I wrote a haiku for Nate to describe this fight.

I wasn’t ready yet
Ace hits really hard
Ow, my f*cking nose

Quarry looked a little jumpy from the start, but when he missed the head kick, and Franklin went after him, Nate looked scared. Almost as if he was wondering how the hell he wound up fighting the Middleweight Champion so soon (something a lot of people were wondering on Saturday night). Rich Franklin, on the other hand, looked like he wanted to f*ck Nate up…and he did. Right before the final KO, Franklin knocked Quarry down, and it looked as if Big John was going to stop the fight, but he let them continue. About forty seconds later Franklin knocked Quarry’s nose to the other side of his face, and it was over. Remember Daffy Duck’s beak being blown around his head by Elmer Fudd? That’s what Franklin did to Quarry. Just a sick knockout. It may not have been fight of the night, like I predicted, but it was a shitload of fun to watch.

UFC 56 UNDERCARD RESULTS

  • Nick Thompson d. Keith Wisniewski by unanimous decision
  • Thiago Alves d. Ansar Chalangov at 2:25 of round 1, via TKO (punches)
  • Sam Hoger d. Jeff Newton at 2:05 of round 2, via submission (rear naked choke)

UFC 56 FALLOUT
Sure, the surprises on Saturday night were exciting as all hell, but how will it affect UFC in 2006?

Liddell vs. Couture 3 was bound to happen, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. After seeing what happened to Quarry, I’m glad they chose not to book Liddell vs. Griffin or Liddell vs. Bonnar. Plus, this is a classic match-up. It’s like Gatti vs. Ward. This is one of those series of fights that people will remember for a long time.

The return of former Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir was inevitable, much like his impending war with Andrei Arlovski for the title. Mir has been out of action since September 2004, after breaking his femur in a motorcycle accident. An interim Heavyweight title was created while Mir was recovering, which Arlovski won at UFC 51. When UFC officials found out that Mir would be unable to fight Arlovski at UFC 55, Mir was stripped of the title, and Arlovski was named the Undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion. This could be the most brutal Heavyweight fight we’ve seen in years, if Mir is truly ready for the fight of his life.

Ken Shamrock’s last appearance in UFC saw him suffering a TKO loss to Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin at The Ultimate Fighter 1 finale in April. I suppose it’s only fitting that The World’s Most Dangerous Man would return as a coach for TUF 3. No details have been released as far as any fight contract with Shamrock, but I think we can count on a rematch with Ortiz before the end of the year.

Seeing Tito Ortiz back in UFC was mind-blowing…especially after all my ranting about him the last few weeks. If you don’t understand why it’s a big deal, just imagine Lucifer back in God’s good graces (or God partying in Hell, depending on your point of view). Ortiz agreed to terms on a three-fight deal, plus a spot coaching the third season of The Ultimate Fighter. Tito’s first fight will presumably be against TUF 1 Light Heavyweight winner Forrest Griffin, with a potential October rematch against Shamrock as his second. Depending on the outcome of his first two fights, his third could be a title shot against the Light Heavyweight Champion. This sets up a full year of Tito Ortiz in UFC. Looks like I’ll have a lot to write about.

The return of BJ Penn was as big of a shock as Ortiz. The former Welterweight Champion was stripped of the title in May 2004 after Penn signed with the K-1 promotion, which would have prevented the Champ from competing in UFC events. Penn filed a lawsuit against Zuffa/UFC in July 2004, claiming Zuffa violated his contract by stripping him of the title. The suit has been settled, and it looks like everyone, especially the fans, are big winners. Penn is obviously going to be looking for a rematch with Matt Hughes, the man Penn defeated to win the Welterweight Championship at UFC 46. Logic would dictate that Penn will first have to face the number one contender, Georges St. Pierre. While this will make one hell of a fight, it sucks for St. Pierre, who has won his last three UFC fights in a row since losing to Hughes at UFC 50. St. Pierre has earned another title shot, but Penn vs. Hughes II would be huge.

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY
A quick breakdown of UFC 56.

The Good:

  • A solid card with intense fighting (for the most part). UFC 55 was a bit of a letdown, and it was obvious that Dana White wanted to make it up to the fans.
  • It was also UFC’s final pay-per-view of 2005, so White pulled out plenty of surprises to get the hype rolling for next year. I think Dana White just secured a strong audience for 2006.
  • Joe Rogan was out of his mind, which made the commentary extremely enjoyable. He called so many people by the wrong name, and blurted out profanity like he was doing his stand-up routine.

The Bad:

  • Matt Vasgersian filling in for Mike Goldberg. Where the hell is Goldberg this time? Holy shit, Matt Vaginitis sucks. You might remember him from Celebrity Blackjack or the XFL. Probably not. He’s atrocious. Good thing Rogan was on the money.
  • Joe Riggs not making weight. Way to go, stupid!
  • Putting Gonzaga vs. Jordan on the main card. This was barely deserving of a spot on the undercard.
  • On the flip side, putting Hoger vs. Newton on the undercard. This could have easily been swapped with the aforementioned disaster.
  • The “Aeon Flux Chick” interviewed before the main event. The only good part was Rogan ranting about who in hell she was, and why she was qualified to make a prediction.

The Ugly:

  • Hughes’ kimura on Riggs. I seriously thought Riggs’ elbow was going to snap.
  • Gonzaga’s “Superman punch” KO on Jordan. It was a sick blow, but still not enough to win over the crowd.
  • Franklin’s devastating KO on Quarry. Nate’s nose makes Shamrock’s look pretty.
  • The fans booing a drunken Jason Giambi, and Giambi loving it.
  • The fans booing Diego Sanchez. Weren’t they booing Nick Diaz a few weeks ago?

ULTIMATE FIGHT NIGHT
The next edition of Ultimate Fight Night will take place on January 16, 2006. It will air at 9pm (EST) on Spike TV. Bouts confirmed for the show are Tim Sylvia vs. Assuerio Silva and Stephan Bonnar vs. James Irvin.

END OF THE LINE
Since the next UFC event, Ultimate Fight Night, won’t be until January 16th, it looks like I’ll be taking a small sabbatical. I’m trying to get caught up on Pride FC and King of the Cage, so hopefully I’ll have a few columns on them in early January. In the meantime, look for a two-part UFC Year in Review in December.

Photos courtesy of UFC.tv and Rick Guzman

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