MMA on DVD: UFC: Fight Night 3

UFC: Fight Night 3

Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan. They talk about tonight’s ‘Big Announcement’, before discussing the future of UFC in 2006, with (according to Rogan) twelve PPVs as well as an undetermined number of free TV cards on Spike. We then run down the card, ending with the main event of Tim Sylvia vs. Assuerio Silva for a shot at Andrei Arlovski’s Heavyweight Title.

Middleweight Fight: Chris Leben vs Jorge Rivera

Another “step up in competiton” fight for Leben then, and I think it’s fair to say this one was a legitimate step up, as Rivera is always a solid fighter who up to this point had given Rich Franklin his toughest fight in the UFC and also had a win over the then-#1 Contender at Middleweight in David Loiseau. His most recent win had come over Dennis Hallman at UFC 55.

They clinch up early, and Leben works to trip him down into half-guard. Rivera quickly reverses back to his feet though, and breaks off. Leben gets another clinch, and they exchange inside, before breaking off once more. Rivera comes forward and tags him with a couple of punches, and then lands a BIG RIGHT HAND flush as Leben grabs the back of his head. Somehow though Leben completely shrugs the shot off, and clips Rivera with a short left hook that knocks him to the mat. Some heavy right hooks follow with Rivera in the turtle position, and that’s all she wrote.

Replays show the left hook only clipped Rivera, but it hit him right on the point of the chin and put him right onto Dream Street. Post-fight Leben says he’s happy that he beat Rivera faster than Franklin, but he doesn’t want to rush into a title shot, instead wanting to “beat everyone in the division” first. This was probably Leben’s most impressive UFC win, actually, as Rivera’s definitely a tough guy to put away and Leben knocked him out in quick fashion.

-Joe Rogan catches up with Chuck Liddell in the crowd, and they talk about his upcoming rubber match with Randy Couture, as well as a guest slot on the new Blade: The Series show.

Welterweight Fight: Josh Burkman vs Drew Fickett

This was a pretty interesting pairing, as Fickett was coming off his big win over Josh Koscheck at the previous Fight Night, and was looking to knock off his third Josh in a row (he’d previously beaten Josh Neer) while Burkman had looked impressive in taking out Sammy Morgan at the TUF 2 Finale, and was already calling out the likes of Diego Sanchez. Both men come off as confident to the point of arrogant in their pre-fight interview.

Round 1 opens and Burkman grabs an early clinch, before breaking with an elbow strike. Fickett looks to strike, but Burkman bulls him into the fence hard, and they muscle for position. They break and exchange some punches, before Burkman grabs him and just THROWS him down like a rag doll. Fickett looks stunned, and lunges forward for a takedown, but Burkman blocks and clamps on a guillotine, and then pulls guard for the tapout.

Post-fight we get the most bizarre interview ever, as Burkman tells Joe Rogan that “Fear isn’t a factor for him”, to which Rogan randomly replies, “Next you’ll be telling me you don’t smoke rocks!” The hell? Gist of the interview is that Burkman wants Diego next.

Burkman looked good here in the way he physically overwhelmed Fickett, but although he’s a skilled guy, Fickett’s not the strongest fighter at 170lbs, and I definitely think people overrated Burkman a little based on this win. Still, don’t get me wrong, good win for him.

-It’s BIG ANNOUNCEMENT time as Dana White enters the Octagon and tells us that while 2005 saw new records set by the UFC in terms of successful PPVs and big fights, 2006 is going to be even better. Couture vs. Liddell is already set up, but another mega-fight’s been signed for May, and from there he introduces Matt Hughes (“The greatest Welterweight of all times”) and none other than….“THE greatest fighter in the history of the UFC”, Royce Gracie. HUGE pop for Royce, naturally, as Hughes goes on to say that he thinks Gracie’s behind the times, while Royce says the Octagon is “my house, I built it”.

Simple yet tremendous segment to set up what actually turned out to be a very one-sided fight, and looking back the UFC did an incredible spin job to get as many people as they did to honestly believe Royce had a chance against Hughes. People knock the UFC for various reasons, but to hell with them – how can you knock promotion like this?

-We get a plug for UFC 57: Liddell-Couture 3 and then Couture himself joins Joe Rogan for a quick chat about the fight, saying he’s going to “dump Liddell on his head”.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Stephan Bonnar vs James Irvin

This one was originally scheduled for either UFC 55 or the October Fight Night card, but Bonnar ended up breaking his hand in training so it was delayed until this show. At the time I was actually looking forward to this one a lot, as it was the first non-TUF test for Bonnar following the legendary Griffin war. Irvin’s last fight had seen him knock Terry Martin out with an unbelievable flying knee, so his hype train was firmly on the rails here too.

Round 1 opens with Bonnar pushing forward, getting a clinch, where he works to take Irvin down to half-guard. Surprising, yet smart tactic from Bonnar. He tries to pass, but Irvin manages to keep half-guard, so Stephan looks to set up a kimura. He steps over the head, but then decides to switch to a straight armbar instead, but this allows Irvin to slip free and get back to his feet. Bonnar quickly closes the distance and clinches again though, before tripping Irvin down and taking side mount. Bonnar works for the kimura again, and this time locks it up, twisting Irvin’s left arm right behind his back. He steps over the head for more leverage and locks on a pseudo-body triangle for good measure, and the angle on Irvin’s arm at this point is SICK. Irvin holds on for as long as he can, but it looks like his shoulder’s being torn up, and finally acknowledging the pain, he verbally submits.

Really sick submission there, how Irvin’s shoulder and elbow weren’t completely torn apart by that hold I don’t know. Dude has some seriously flexible joints, as that was a very nasty angle his elbow was at. Like Leben, this was probably Bonnar’s most impressive performance inside the Octagon, and the only time I looked at him and saw a potential future contender, too. I actually suspected Stephan would attempt to trade with Irvin in order to put on another one of his “wars”, but instead he used a much smarter tactic, putting Irvin on the ground where he was clearly uncomfortable and going from there. I still argue that the passing of Carlson Gracie triggered Bonnar’s downfall, but that’s another story – I digress, anyway, this was definitely a good showing from him.

-Joe Rogan is joined by some guy who plugs an upcoming Spike TV show called ‘King of Vegas’, in which gambling experts play various different games.

Welterweight Fight: Duane Bang Ludwig vs Jonathan Goulet

This is a prelim from earlier in the night, and it’s a pretty thrown together one to say the least, as the original fight was set to be Josh Koscheck vs. Jeremy Jackson, and Goulet ended up replacing Koscheck about a month before the event, while Bang stepped in for Jackson on about a week’s notice.

Fight begins and Goulet comes forward and throws out a lazy left jab….but Bang counters with a NASTY RIGHT HAND and knocks him silly, sending him into a faceplant at just FOUR SECONDS!

Holy God that was quick. For some reason though they announce it as being eleven seconds, despite the clock clearly showing 4:56 remaining as referee Mario Yamasaki steps in to stop things. Bleh. Just as confusing is the fact that UFC never bought Bang back after this, despite him scoring the fastest knockout of the year in the first show of the year! No idea about that one.

-Quick recap of the Hughes-Gracie announcement for those who missed it. I remember saying I would eat my hat if the big announcement was Royce. Still surprising that they managed to bring him back even now.

Heavyweight Fight: Tim Sylvia vs Assuerio Silva

Hard to believe that at this point the #1 Contender’s match for the Heavyweight title was between a guy who had only *lost* his opportunity at the title two fights beforehand and a guy who had a decent-if-not spectacular 2-1 record in Pride and hadn’t fought in well over a year! The fight had originally been scheduled for August’s UFC 54, before Silva was forced out by an injury, but the pre-fight interviews from him showed a man who was definitely not short on confidence, as he’d stated that he would walk through Sylvia before walking through Arlovski to take the belt. Sylvia’s promise, meanwhile, was to knock Silva out so badly that people would forget his high kick knockout of Tra Telligman.

They circle to begin, before Silva closes the distance and gets a clinch. Sylvia spins him and shoves him into the fence, so Silva tries to jump guard, but ends up in the DREADED KOALA POSITION. Silva tries desperately to pull Tim down, but Sylvia’s having none of it and remains firmly vertical…although his shorts begin to come down. Goldberg and Rogan begin to panic like a bunch of Japanese referees and sure enough the referee steps in to call the break and allows Tim to pull them back up. They exchange off the restart and go into a clinch, and Sylvia blocks a takedown attempt and punches at the body. He blocks another trip and then the ref breaks them up, and Tim works some jabs and avoids an attempted overhand right. Sylvia lands a couple of straight right hands, and then a combo follows and Silva looks rocked and staggers back towards the fence. Sylvia comes in with a big knee to the body and follows with a flurry, but Silva manages to block most of it. Tim lands a glancing left high kick, and then follows with some good knees and uppercuts inside, before Silva fires back with a pair of low kicks. Sylvia continues the offensive though, landing some long punches and a glancing jump knee to end the round.

2nd round begins with Silva missing a spinning kick, and Sylvia continuing to work his long jab. Silva blocks the left high kick, but then slips to his back attempting one of his own. Ref stands him back up, and Silva blocks some of Tim’s punches before landing a pair of nice overhand rights to cut him open near the eye. They clinch up, but for some reason Silva jumps up into the koala position again. Referee naturally breaks them up when he doesn’t come close to pulling Tim down, and Silva throws another unsuccessful spinning kick from the restart. Silva blocks a few punches, but Sylvia comes back with a good leg kick and keeps the distance by using his jab. Silva manages to land a couple of bodyshots, but then Sylvia answers with a pretty shoddy spinning kick to the body, and works the jab some more, catching a kick and shoving Assuerio to the mat to end the round.

Third and final round of what has been a slllloooow fight so far. Silva comes out and misses a bizarre wheel kick to begin with, and Tim continues to jab, jab, jab away, Nothing major lands, and the dull exchange continues, with Silva seemingly at a loss as to how to combat Sylvia’s reach. Finally he decides to change things up, and clocks Sylvia with a couple of solid hooks to the body that appear to hurt the big man. Silva gets a clinch, and then moves into a rear waistlock, but as he looks for a German suplex Sylvia grabs the fence to avoid, earning a warning from referee John McCarthy. Sylvia manages to turn into a regular clinch though, so…you guessed it, Silva jumps to the koala spot again. Ref breaks them AGAIN and Tim lands some more jabs, before Silva throws a spin kick and then gets an ankle pick, only for Sylvia to pop right back up. More long punches and low kicks follow until the fight comes to an end.

To the judges, and it’s a unanimous decision for Sylvia, though they don’t outright read the scores. Personally I had it 29-28 for Sylvia, giving him the first and the final round, with the second going to Silva for the two shots that opened the cut, as they were pretty much the only damaging shots of that round. You could even make a case for Silva deserving a draw really, as Tim probably should’ve been docked a point for the fence grab that enabled him to avoid the one time Assuerio came close to getting the fight to the mat. Regardless, neither fighter looked like a world-beater here – Silva just didn’t know how to deal with Sylvia’s long reach – despite seemingly solving the problem with the bodyshots, he didn’t exactly follow them up – while Sylvia just seemed content to stay on the outside and throw a ton of jabs and the odd power shot. He apparently was very sick with stomach flu though (this is the infamous fight that saw him crap himself, in fact) so I guess he has some excuse. Whatever the reason, this was a dull main event – one of the most plodding fights I can recall seeing in a long time.

-And we roll the credits from there.

The Inside Pulse
: UFC fired a bit of a blank with this one, as despite the undercard featuring a number of exciting finishes, all of the fights bar Bonnar/Irvin were over before they really began, and the main event basically comes right on the opposite end of the scale, being one of the slowest fights possible. The undercard isn’t horrible, the afore-mentioned Bonnar fight is good stuff, and I guess Sylvia fans would be interested in the main event, but overall there’s little to see on this one. Thumbs in the middle, leaning down.

Coming Soon….

UFC: 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, Fight Nights 4-10, and the TUF III Finale.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.

Until next time,

Scott Newman: