Retro-Review: UFC: Ultimate Brazil

UFC: Ultimate Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil

-This was the UFC’s second foray into the international market, following the Ultimate Japan show the year prior. Up to this point it’s still the only UFC show to take place in Brazil, but I expect that to change pretty soon with the way Zuffa are expanding internationally right now.

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Jeff Blatnick, and naturally we start by discussing Royce Gracie and the advent of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the early days of the UFC. Bas Rutten then joins us and Goldberg explains that the breaking news is that Randy Couture’s vacated his Heavyweight Title and left the company, and so tonight will see the beginning of the “road to the Heavyweight Title” with two eliminator bouts to decide who will progress on said road. They don’t really explain how this road will work, however; simply hinting that one of the winners tonight will probably go on to face Rutten in the future.

Middleweight Fight: Ebenezer Fontes Braga vs Jeremy Horn

Pre-fight they show us a highlight clip of Jeremy Horn’s UFC debut; a surprising fight with Frank Shamrock taped after UFC 17 that saw Horn bring the fight to the champion and come as close as anyone in the UFC to defeating him, before finally falling prey to a kneebar in overtime. Crowd seems pretty hot here and huge too; I’d like to know the attendance figures. Braga, being the Brazilian native, seems to be the crowd favourite. And I’d go amiss if I didn’t mention the absolutely dapper white tuxedo that Bruce Buffer is rocking here. Tremendous.

We begin, and Braga bulls into the clinch right away and they muscle for position along the fence, exchanging some knees inside. Horn appears to be looking for a trip, but Braga avoids it and lands a right hand, before Horn blocks a knee strike. Braga then gets a trip down to Horn’s guard and lands some punches, but Jeremy quickly reverses back up, and shoots for a takedown of his own. He makes the mistake of leaving his head hanging out though, and Braga clamps on a standing guillotine and leans right back into the fence, forcing Horn to tap out.

Bad break for Horn, who made one simple mistake and got caught. Braga would never return to the UFC, no idea why as they usually, even in this period, always brought back anyone who won their first fight. Fight wasn’t much to see as it was over before it really had a chance to get going.

Heavyweight Fight: Tsuyoshi Kosaka vs Pete Williams

This is the first of the eliminator bouts on the road to the title, and Bas joins us on commentary for it, and strangely enough, listening to this you would say he’d be the last guy to have a future in broadcasting, as he barely says a word and you forget he’s there most of the time. Both of these fighters were coming off impressive UFC debuts; Kosaka in beating down Kimo at UFC 16, and Williams with the big head kick KO of Mark Coleman at UFC 17.

Petey comes right out where he left off against Coleman, throwing a high kick that glances off Kosaka before avoiding an early takedown attempt. They circle around, both throwing some feeler strikes, with Williams throwing much more kicks, but nothing major really lands. They go into the clinch, and from there TK gets a big hip toss takedown to half-guard. Williams scrambles quickly to full guard, but TK passes to half again, and begins to work for a keylock. Williams defends and gets to full guard, and we go through exactly the same sequence again until Williams manages to scramble to his feet. Kosaka gets a guillotine, but Pete pulls out as they hit the mat and ends up on top in guard. He passes to half-guard, then decides to stand instead, and TK joins him standing, where he catches a kick and lands a right hand, getting another takedown to guard. TK passes into half-guard, where Williams works to avoid a couple more keylock attempts before reversing to his feet once more.

They exchange some strikes, and then Kosaka botches a throw attempt and ends up giving his back. He rolls, allowing Williams to take full mount, but before Pete can do any damage TK brings his legs up and hooks them around Pete’s shoulders, pulling him downwards in a reversal. Nice! Williams manages to stay on top though, in half-guard, but TK gets another reversal and avoids a triangle attempt to get into top position in Williams’ half-guard. Pete gets full guard, and then goes for an armbar, but Kosaka avoids nicely and uses it to pass to side mount. Williams reverses though, and stands as the opening twelve-minute period comes to an end.

They begin the three-minute overtime by exchanging strikes, with both men landing before Kosaka catches a kick and gets a takedown to guard. Kosaka lands a few short punches inside the guard, and then tries a keylock again, but Williams uses the attempt to get a reversal, landing some punches of his own from the top position. Eventually Williams stands, and both men throw some strikes as the fight comes to a conclusion.

Judges give a unanimous decision in favour of Kosaka, which is the same way I saw it, but that was actually a pretty close fight. Neither guy seemed in any real trouble at any point and the grappling sequences were mostly even, but Kosaka had more submission attempts and did come close with a couple of the keylocks, so the decision was fair. I thought that was a pretty good fight as it goes, not the most exciting in terms of pure action, but from a technical grappling standpoint it was solid enough. And indeed, Kosaka did go on to fight (and lose to) Rutten in the road to the Heavyweight title.

UFC World Lightweight Title: Pat Miletich vs Mikey Burnett

What is it with them using the international shows to introduce the title belts? First you had the Middleweight Champion being crowned in Japan, and now they’re crowning the first ever Lightweight Champion here in Brazil. To avoid any confusion, this “Lightweight” belt was for fighters 170lbs and under, so for all intents and purposes, it’d be a Welterweight Title today. The fight was set up at UFC 16, where Miletich won the four-man Lightweight tournament, but did it without facing Burnett, who despite winning his semi-final, had to pull out through injury. As this is a title fight, it’s a fifteen-minute opening round, with two three-minute overtime periods if needed. Pre-fight though both guys are saying this isn’t going the distance.

They circle off to begin, before Miletich shoots for a takedown and Burnett blocks by grabbing a guillotine. Miletich works his head free and they break off, before Miletich throws a high kick and then grabs Burnett in a clinch. Burnett gets a takedown to guard, but Miletich stays really active from the bottom defensively, not allowing Burnett to get any offense going, and so Mikey stands. They exchange into a clinch, and from there exchange knees, with both men tugging at the other’s shorts in what appears to me to be a pretty crappy tactic. They muscle along the fence like this for a while, exchanging some short strikes, before McCarthy finally breaks them up. Miletich shoots in for a takedown again, but Burnett blocks using a headlock and they end up in the clinch again, where Mikey continues to avoid the takedown as they exchange some knees. Miletich finally manages to get the takedown, but Burnett immediately locks up a kimura and uses it to sweep into top position in Miletich’s guard. Miletich continues to use his guard defensively well, and they slow down until the ref brings them back up. Burnett seems unable to land any of his big strikes standing, and again Miletich grabs the clinch and they continue the exchange of grabbing one another’s shorts. Finally McCarthy breaks them up on an accidental groin strike delivered by Burnett, and they don’t have time to restart before the buzzer sounds the end of the opening period.

Into the first overtime then, and Miletich clinches up right away and they exchange knees, before Pat pulls guard. Both strike from inside Miletich’s guard, but very little happens and that’s pretty much the whole three minutes. Terrible fight thus far.

Second overtime period, and Mikey begins strong, catching a kick and landing a right hand to put Miletich down on his back in guard. Burnett stands up right away, but as Miletich gets to his feet he manages to get to the clinch again, and they muscle for position like before. They break with punches, but Pat lands a right into another clinch. That gets broken swiftly, but Miletich gets a clinch again, where Burnett lands a knee this time. They stay clinched up, exchanging in close quarters until the fight ends.

To the judges again, and this time it’s a split decision in favour of….Pat Miletich, making him the UFC’s first Lightweight Champion. Burnett doesn’t look pleased with the decision and gets out of there pretty fast. Crappy fight for the most part and a difficult one to judge, too – Miletich was arguably the aggressor in terms of bringing the fight to the area in which he wanted (the clinch), but he did very little there and the offense was probably even, if not leaning towards Burnett for the guillotine attempt and the right hand in overtime. Personally I would’ve given it to Burnett but I can see why and how Miletich ended up with the decision. Still, between this, and that awful fight with Jorge Patino, I can see how Pat ended up with the unfortunate ‘Croatian Sedation’ label for a while.

Post-fight Miletich says he’d like to fight Rumina Sato for the title, and also he’d consider a fight with Frank Shamrock if he beats John Lober.

Heavyweight Fight: Pedro Rizzo vs Tank Abbott

The second Heavyweight eliminator; this time Bas does not join us on commentary as he’s in Rizzo’s corner. This was Pedro’s UFC debut, and at this point he was unbeaten in MMA with a strong reputation for striking prowess. Tank actually gets a huge pop upon his entrance, but ends up with a mixed reaction during the introductions and then the fans start chanting for Rizzo anyway. Weird.

They get underway and Tank comes charging out as usual, swinging wild punches at Rizzo and catching him once or twice, but eventually he wades right into a vicious right from Pedro that causes him to do the front faceplant. Tank comes up and Rizzo lands hard again, putting him back down, but Tank manages to survive and gets to the clinch. They break off momentarily, before Tank swings back into the clinch, but this time Pedro breaks with a hard right hand. He lands a low kick, but takes a counter from Tank that cuts him near the eye. Tank continues to swing, but Rizzo begins to pick him apart from the outside, avoiding Tank’s bombs and landing leg kicks and counterpunches. Tank finally changes tactics and goes for a takedown, driving in with a double leg that manages to get Rizzo down to guard. Tank looks exhausted though, and pretty much lays on Rizzo as the Brazilian peppers him with strikes from the bottom. Referee stands them up as things slow down, and then Rizzo really begins to pick Abbott apart, landing vicious leg kicks as Tank staggers about looking winded. Abbott tries a desperation shot, but Rizzo easily avoids and then lands some nasty punches as Tank ends up on all fours, trying to move. Another leg kick lands as he comes up, and finally Rizzo ends things with a big right hand that puts Tank down for good.

Very good debut for Rizzo who showed some excellent – as well as powerful – counter-striking to pick apart Tank once he’d weathered the initial (short) storm. This was basically a nastier version of what Maurice Smith was able to do to Tank by neutralizing any offense that he could muster before picking him apart from the outside, only Rizzo was able to score the full-on KO. Such a pity that Rizzo would become one of the most frustrating guys to watch in the long run.

Middleweight Fight: Vitor Belfort vs Wanderlei Silva

Announcers are talking up Silva’s big win over Mike Van Arsdale some time prior to this fight, as at this point Wanderlei was largely unknown, especially in the UFC as this was his debut. This was actually Belfort’s debut at Middleweight and even here they’re asking about whether the “old Vitor” will show up. He looks to be in great shape if nothing else, that’s for sure.

Silva presses forward to begin, and misses a low kick, spinning off as Vitor backs away. Wanderlei continues to come forward….but walks right into a one-two and then Vitor follows with the MACHINE GUN COMBINATION, sending Silva across the Octagon under a flurry of punches, and into the fence where he continues to unload until McCarthy steps in!

Holy crap, I’ve seen that like a hundred times now and it still never gets old. One of the most famous finishes in MMA history – even the commentary is pretty legendary.

“Vitor’s wearing shoes so he will not be able to strike with the feet….OH, HE DOES WITH THE HANDS THOUGH! VITOR BELFORT IS THE WINNER! FOURTY-FOUR SECONDS!”

Despite all his faults, it’s this sort of fight that people will remember Vitor for in the long run, and this is why people are still hoping that somehow the “old Vitor” will emerge at some point today. Granted, Silva didn’t defend all that well in terms of how he backed up straight, but hell, how can you comprehend for that sort of hand speed coming at you? One of *the* defining fights in UFC history.

UFC World Middleweight Title: Frank Shamrock vs John Lober

The DVD doesn’t give us much build for this one; not sure whether they’ve cut out a video package or something or what, but basically the premise is that Lober had defeated Frank in his first MMA (meaning non-Pancrase) fight back in Hawaii’s Superbrawl, and Shamrock was gunning for revenge. Announcers mention some bad blood still stands between the two following that fight, which I believe is a pretty legendary one too although I haven’t seen it. They do mention that Frank knocked out Lober’s two front teeth, however. Shamrock was going for an unprecedented fourth title match victory here, too.

They begin and Lober dances around Frank to begin, before catching a kick and going for a takedown. Shamrock shows some BJ Penn-esque takedown defence, basically hopping around on one leg to block, before grabbing a guillotine. It looks tight and Lober struggles, and ends up being lifted into the air and dropped down under a side mount from Shamrock. Frank works for position and appears to be trying to trap the arm, but Lober defends and scrambles out, and Shamrock tries the guillotine again. They go down momentarily and then back up, where Frank pulls guard for the guillotine attempt, but Lober works his way free into Frank’s half-guard. Lober appears to be going for an arm triangle choke as Shamrock punches the body from the bottom, before the champion gets a reversal and stands, landing a kick into the clinch. Shamrock knees the body, but Lober gets a takedown and quickly takes full mount. Shamrock reverses right away though and gets on top in guard, where he pins Lober into the fence momentarily before standing.

Lober suddenly looks tired as he comes up, and Shamrock begins to pick him off, landing some nasty leg kicks from the outside while avoiding Lober’s strikes, before countering a kick with a big right hand that puts Lober down! Frank stands off though and yells at him to get up rather than follow in, and Lober pulls himself up. Shamrock closes in with another big right, and then grabs him, landing a pair of BIG KNEES to put Lober down again. This time he follows down with a BRUTAL RIGHT HAND that busts Lober wide open, and he follows by pounding away at the body until Lober finally taps out.

Man, Shamrock was SO AWESOME at this point. Just a totally complete fighter, able to win a fight wherever the action takes place, and this was another great performance by him. Started off pretty slow, but once Lober got tired and Frank took over, he *really* took over, just destroying Lober with strikes and as he’d wanted to, forced the guy to tell Frank that he’d had enough and he wanted out. Post-fight SEG chairman Bob Meyrowitz presents Frank with his fourth title belt and basically calls him the greatest champion UFC’s ever had, and at this point I don’t think you can disagree with the guy.

-Mike and Jeff wrap things up and we hit the credits.

The Inside Pulse
: Outside of the awful Lightweight Title fight, Ultimate Brazil is a pretty strong card for this time period. Williams/Kosaka, Tank/Rizzo, and Shamrock/Lober are all good stuff and the latter of those three is a must-see for anyone wondering why Shamrock is still such a revered fighter today. Plus, it’s got Belfort vs. Silva and how can you go wrong with Vitor machine-gunning Wanderlei across the Octagon in front of thousands of his fellow Brazilians? Thumbs up for this one but skip the Lightweight fight if you’re not in the mood for that sort of thing.

Coming Soon….

UFC: 68, 69, 70, 71 and 72.
WEC: 10 and 11.
WFA: 1, 2 and 3.
Strike Force: Shamrock vs. Gracie.
Gladiator Challenge: Summer Slam.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.
Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman: