UFC 72: Victory Review

Live from the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, it’s UFC 72: Victory. Your hosts, as usual are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Fight #1, Middleweights: Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith (Elk Grove, CA, 11-3) vs. Ed “Short Fuse” Herman (Portland, OR, 12-5)

This fight was originally to be a dark match, but apparently Herman bitched about it and so here we are. Smith fittingly comes out to “Iron Man”… and with Quinton Jackson, the UFC Light-Heavyweight belt and Brandon Vera. Short Fuse, meanwhile, comes out to… Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”. There’s a two inch height and reach advantage for Herman.

The referee is Herb Dean.

Round 1
Quick takedown by Herman. Smith looks like he’s wearing some compression shorts, could be indicative of an injury. Ed does some damage but Smith gets back up. Clinch, and Herman gets a bunch of knees. Smith tries a guillotine, but Herman comes back with a huge slam. Herman is trying to work through Scott’s guard. He throws some short elbows, and one guts Smith’s nose. Now Herman is trying to pound away. Dean stops the fight with 1:30 left to check on Smith’s nose. It’s OK, and they restart in the same position. Ed’s now trying to posture and get some more shots in. Scramble, Herman tries for an armbar, and Smith ends up on top. Smith gets a leglock in, but Herman escapes and gets Smith’s back. Rear naked choke attempt is escaped and Smith gets a hard punch in to end the round.

Herman, 10-9

Round 2
Herman shoots again, but Smith stuffs it and gets a guillotine. Herman with a sweep but now Smith is in full guard and the guillotine is deep. Herman manages to escape though and he starts to posture and pound away. Another elbow reopens the cut. More elbows from Herman, Smith scrambles, but Herman gets his back and slips on a rear naked choke for a quick tapout.

Winner: Ed Herman (Tapout -> Rear Naked Choke, 2:25 R2)

Fight #2, Lightweights: Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (Johnsburg, IL, 21-7) vs. Tyson “The Other” Griffin (Las Vegas, NV, 8-1)

Guida bounces to the Octagon and gets punched by his cornerman to pump him up. Tyson Griffin comes out to “Eye of the Tiger” and Affliction gear, which gives us two good Joe Rogan lines: “Oh, no he didn’t” and “If I see one more Affliction t-shirt I think I’m gonna throw up.” I suppose Ned Holness will go to town on Rogan for stealing that first one. He also has Randy Couture in his corner (since he’s now affiliated with Xtreme Couture) as well as Jay “Got FUBARed by GSP” Heiron. Guida has a two-inch reach advantage, but I don’t think that this will play a factor in this fight.

The referee is “Big” John McCarthy.

Round 1
“Feeling out process” to start as both fighters look for their range. Griffin kicks and Guida gets a takedown. Both guys back up and Guida still has the leg. Now Guida tries a slam but Griffin has a facelock and stays on his feet. Now he drops down to a guillotine but Guida gets to half guard and pops back up. Griffin kinda sorta behind Guida but Guida is trying for a kneebar. Back up, Griffin gets a knee and now Guida gets some knees in. Tyson controlling, and gets a comination in. Guida gets a combrination of his own. Guida shoots and Griffin gets in a nice sprawl. Tyson is jabbing now, and sets up a combination that stuns Guida. Guida knocks down Griffin with a right and tries to follow up but Tyson manages to spin and end up on top as the round ends.

10-9 Griffin

Round 2
Griffin starts out swinging. He hits Guida again, Guida grabs a leg and somehow Griffin stays on his feet. Tyson has an arm and Guida takes him down, but Griffin is back up right away. Now Griffin is peppering Clay with punches, but Guida comes back, but still can’t get Griffin down. It’s only when Griffin reverses and tries to get on top that Guida gets Griffin’s back. Griffin tries for a German suplex that is, shall we say, not exactly what he was expecting – Guida kinda sits on him at the apex and Griffin whacks his head on the mat. Yet Griffin scrambles on top and is trying for a back mount. Now it’s a mad scramble and Guida now has a kneebar, but Griffin is in a nice position to hammer Guida’s ribs. Now Griffin gets a heelhook, but Guida spins out to Griffin’s back. Both hooks in and Guida tries for a rear naked choke. Rogan thinks that Griffin is going to fall back and slam Guida, but instead he drops forward and Guida’s face whacks the mat, yet Clay still hangs on to the back. Now a body triangle is applied but Griffin isn’t in trouble at this point.

Close round, but I’ll make it 10-9 Griffin since Guida’s main offence was the choke and a kneebar that Griffin reversed while Griffin was pressing more. Still, real close.

Round 3
Griffin again starts with punches. Griffin is getting the better of the standup. Guida shoots and AGAIN gets stuffed. More of the same, and now Guida presses Griffin against the cage, gets him down and gets his back, but Griffin rolls and hammers away at Guida. Clay nails some backfists as Griffin has a heel hook. Now Guida’s on top but Griffin gets out. A scramble gets Guida back in mount. Griffin hits some elbows from the bottom. Guida postures and rains down hammerfists. He’s trying to pass but Griffin is really doing a great job keeping him in the same position. Guida rains down fists to end the fight.

10-9 Guida, so I’ve got 29-28 Griffin but it’s anybody’s fight.

Winner: Tyson Griffin (Split Decision 29-28 (Douglas Crosby), 28-29 (Jeff Mullin), 29-28 (Andy Roberts))

We hear some boos from the crowd but it was a close fight and you could really give an argument in favour of either fighter.

Fight #3, Middleweights: Rory “Outburst” Singer (Athens, GA, 11-6) vs. “The Athlete” Jason MacDonald (Edmonton, AB, 18-8)

Rory immediately annoys me by coming out to Black Eyed Peas’ “Pump It”. MacDonald stays true to his Canadian roots by coming out in a hockey jersey. Obviously, I’m rooting for Jason. 2.5″ reach advantage for “The Athlete”.

The referee is Yves “Not related to Avril” Lavigne.

Round 1
Inside leg kick by MacDonald to start, and they fight for control. Neither man can get a takedown, so they exchange foot stomps. Still working for a takedown, and Rory gets a flurry out of the clinch and pulls MacDonald into his guard. He’s working for a triangle as MacDonald throws some shoulders. Jason postures up and eats upkicks. Now they stand back up and MacDonald slips in a takedown attempt. Rory gains full mount and gains MacDonald’s back, but Jason is defending well and turns into Rory’s guard. Trying to pass but Singer’s guard is proving very tough to pass. Rory finally sneaks in a triangle but MacDonald holds out until the end of the round.

10-9 Singer

Round 2
Jason shoots and gets a takedown into Singer’s guard. MacDonald trying to pass again but Rory is defending well. Jason is working but he’s not doing much damage here. Now he’s landing some punches to the head. Now throwing bodyshots and he uses a can opener to get to half-guard, and now full mount, and he starts pounding away. Singer looks helpless and finally Lavigne steps in and ends the fight.

Winner: Jason MacDonald (TKO -> Strikes, 3:18 R2)

Well, in case you thought Martin Kampmann was dodging Rich Franklin, here he is – with a full leg cast.

Fight #4, Light-Heavyweights: Hector “Sick Dog” Ramirez (Norwalk, CA, 6-2-1) vs. Forrest Griffin (Las Vegas, NV, 13-4)

Ramirez is sporting what Rogan and Goldberg jokingly call the “Rampage starter kit”, which is fitting for a guy who’s been training with the Light-Heavyweight champ. Griffin sucks up to the crowd by coming out to what I think might be The Pogues. He’s got a six inch reach advantage over Ramirez. That’s pretty huge. They do NOT touch gloves to start.

The referee is Herb Dean.

Round 1
Leg kicks from Forrest, and a huge “Forrest” chant from the crowd. Takedown, and Ramierz reverses to the top. They get back up, and a high kick from Griffin connects. He’s really working those leg kicks. He’s getting the better of the standup right now. Ramirez gets a left hook, and Griffin responds with some knees. He works the kicks again and Ramirez tries to respond with some wild swings. “Ole ole” chant from the crowd and I’m half expecting Samoa Joe. Forrest gets a right and he gets in a combo. He continues to press the pace and score some hits as the round draws to a close. Those low leg kicks seem to be scoring at will.

10-9 Griffin

Round 2
Forrest with knees out of the clinch. Using those leg kicks to keep Ramirez at a distance. Ramirez with a nice uppercut but Forrest stepping out of it. Nice kick combinations from Forrest. Ramirez really hasn’t figured out Forrest yet. Now Forrest with a nice flurry, but he doesn’t press in. Another combination and this time Forrest doesn’t back away, but he catches Hector low and they take a breather as Ramirez has 5 minutes to recover. Restart, and Forrest comes in with yet another combo. High kick from Griffin connects. He’s been in total control of this fight and the round ends.

Griffin 10-9. Ramirez’ corner gives him an earful.

Round 3
Griffin starts right away with a combo and he’s hitting Ramirez at will now. Ramirez gets a takedown but Griffin pops back up after a couple of shots. “Ole ole” chant again, and he’s really hitting Ramirez with some nice kicks and a knee. Ramirez is limping now. Two minutes left and Griffin is still nailing combos. He closes in and lands another flurry. He’s hitting good combos about every 20 seconds now. This is going to the judges but Griffin leaves no doubt as to the winner.

Griffin 10-9 for a 30-27 win from me.

Winner: Forrest Griffin (Unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Randy Couture joins the announce team, and that can mean only one thing:

MAIN EVENT – MIDDLEWEIGHTS
Yushin Okami (Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, 20-3) vs. Rich “Ace” Franklin (Cincinnati, OH, 21-2, 1 NC)

Prefight interview shows that Ace once again has a cut under an eye. As usual, Ace has Jorge Gurgel with him, and of course he’s wearing his pink shorts. Franklin, not Gurgel. Okami has a two inch reach advantage, we’ll see if that comes into play. Randy Couture notes that Franklin’s ankles are taped, and that we might see some kicking.

The referee is “Big” John McCarthy.

Round 1
According to Joe Silva, Franklin will fight Anderson Silva should both fighters win their fights. I’m sure that if both fighters LOSE they’ll be matched up as well. Not a lot going on right now. Rogan notes that Okami’s not trying to engage. Some quick jabs from both fighters, Okami doing a good job with his counterpunching right now, but Rich is controlling the pace. They tie up about 3 minutes in, Franklin throws knees, Okami as well, and neither man is really doing anything, so McCarthy breaks them up. Franklin gets a nice leg kick in. He’s the aggressor, and that will pretty much earn him the round. Crowd boos at the horn.

10-9 Franklin. Gurgel caresses Rich’s back with an ice pack and tells him that he looks great. Joe wants to hear what Okami’s corner said, and Goldberg notes that we did, but leaves out the obvious – we don’t understand Japanese.

Round 2
Randy notes that Okami needs to mount some offence. Punches are landing occasionally. Franklin bull rushes in, and connects with a head kick. Leg kicks are exchanged, and they bump heads. Okami tries a takedown, Franklin blocks and pushes Okami against the fence. More boos from the audience – a notable difference from the Griffin-Ramirez fight. McCarthy breaks up the clinch and the crowd cheers. The commentators are talking about the weight cutting instead of the fight. Rich lands a kick but Okami hits a right at the same time. Rogan is wondering what Okami is doing to try and win this fight. Rich hits a quick combo and lands a nice left to end the round.

10-9 Franklin. Randy thinks that Rich may have hurt his hand with that last punch.

Round 3
Okami misses a flying knee to start. Rich gets a hold of a leg but nothing doing there. Now Okami’s pressing a bit. Rich shoots but it’s Okami who gets a takedown into side control. Okami in half-butterfly guard and now a full mount. Franklin scrambling back to butterfly guard but Okami is landing some punches in the meantime. Scramble and Okami now has a standing guillotine. He drops to guard but Rich escapes. Okami up but Rich tosses him back down. Okami now trying a kimura drops to the ground and he gets it. He’s cranking it and Franklin is trying to hold off. He manages to escape with an impressive show of strength and he stacks Okami up and tries to finish strong. He can’t get any more damage in and that’s it.

10-9 Okami, making it 29-28 Franklin on my card.

Winner: Rich Franklin (Unanimous Decision, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Bonus Match, Welterweights: Jason Tan (Liverpool, England, 4-1) vs. “The Irish Hand Grenade” “The Celtic Warrior” Marcus Davis (Bangor, ME, 11-3)

Tan comes to the ring, and it seems like the cut man has gone missing, so Tan’s corner has to apply the vaseline himself. Davis comes out to House of Pain in his kilt. Rich Franklin’s buddy Jorge is in his corner. Height and reach are just about identical.

The referee is Yves “Did not infiltrate the Bandidos” Lavigne.

Round 1
Jabs to start. Tan gets in some nice leg kicks. High kick misses, Davis gets in some punches. Right hook knocks Tan down, he charges in with a few more shots and it’s over.

Winner: Marcus Davis (KO, 1:15 R1)

Thoughts:
I think that most people went into this PPV expecting some solid fights, but outside of Griffin/Guida, nothing spectacular. And we got exactly that. Franklin/Okami underwhelmed but the rest of the fights were watchable, but not loaded with star power. You can’t have a loaded card every time out but if you’re trying to build up your audience internationally you’ve got to give them something… more. Fortunately for Londoners, they’re getting just that for UFC 75, as the Henderson/Jackson fight is taking place there, as well as the return of Cro Cop and a rumoured Michael Bisping/Ken Shamrock match.

The Ultimate Fighter Finale is just around the corner. We’ll see you then.

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