UFC: Fight Night 4
Las Vegas, Nevada
-Your hosts are Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg, and they open by running down the card and then discussing the special 90 minute season premier of TUF 3, which was of course what this show was leading into.
Middleweight Fight: Chris Leben vs Luigi Fioravanti
Leben at this point was 4-0 in the UFC, with his most recent win being over Jorge Rivera, while Fioravanti was making his UFC debut after racking up a good record of 6-0 on the smaller circuit. Size difference is notable here as Leben’s quite a bit bigger than Luigi despite being a smaller Middleweight himself. Luigi looks more like a chubby 170lber.
Luigi looks for a clinch to open the first round as Leben throws a few knees and avoids a takedown attempt. They break off and Leben blocks a single leg, and then continues his gameplan of clinching and throwing some knees, while avoiding Luigi’s takedown attempts. They continue to go in and out of the clinch, exchanging the odd shot, before Leben gets a takedown to half-guard. Luigi works back to full guard, but Leben works him over from the top with some punches and elbows. Luigi manages to scramble to his feet to end the round, landing a combo inside the clinch. Dull opening round.
Leben lands a left hand into a clinch to open the 2nd, before getting a trip to half-guard. Luigi quickly gets to his feet, but Leben clinches again right away, and they exchange inside where Leben trips him to guard. Leben lands some punches from the top and then stands to pass to side mount, but Luigi scrambles, and escapes to his feet. Leben clinches again though, and gets a good takedown to half-guard, where he drops short elbows for the remainder of the round.
Third and final round, and Leben opens with a good left hand into the clinch. Luigi avoids a takedown and backs away, but Leben quickly throws another combo back to the clinch, and gets a takedown to side mount. Luigi turns his back and eats some punches, but manages to stand and land a couple of low kicks. Leben gets another clinch though, and takes him down to half-guard before Luigi reverses to his feet. Leben lands a knee into the clinch but nothing happens so the ref breaks them, and they exchange punches before Leben takes him down again and works from the top to close the fight out.
Unanimous decision for Leben, 30-27’s all around, total shutout. Still, it was hardly an impressive victory for Leben â€“ the fight went at an excruciatingly slow pace, and everything Leben threw seemed like it was setting up for something bigger that just never came. Luigi didn’t do a bad job and managed to escape without taking much damage, but it was clear that he’s just not a natural 185lbs fighter and he wasn’t able to score any offense on Leben. Awful fight.
-Ken Shamrock joins Joe Rogan to talk about his upcoming coaching stint on TUF 3, and admits that he wanted to â€œbash Titoâ€ on numerous occasions. And he says he would give spoilers, but â€œthey’d probably kill me for thatâ€.
Welterweight Fight: Joe Stevenson vs Josh Neer
This was TUF 2 winner Stevenson’s first fight following the reality show, and surprisingly he chose not to drop to Lightweight right away, instead taking a match with Josh Neer, who had recently defeated Joe’s fellow TUF alumnus Melvin Guillard in a bloody fight back in January. This was a fight I was greatly looking forward to actually, as I’m a fan of both men.
Round 1 begins and both press forward, with Neer landing a right hand. Joe looks for the clinch, but Neer breaks off, only for Stevenson to close the distance again, and this time he drops for a rolling kneebar! Joe gets the hold locked in TIGHT and really strains at it, bending Neer’s leg at a horrible angle, but somehow Neer holds on and refuses to tap. Stevenson keeps wrenching, then decides to release and falls back for an ankle lock instead, but can’t lock it on and he ends up on his back in guard. Neer tries to drop a punch, but Joe then tries an armbar, but can’t get the hold locked in and Neer pops out into Stevenson’s guard. Neer drops some elbows and punches, and then stands, and they exchange some strikes before Joe slips to his back on a low kick. Neer follows him down into the guard, and lands some good elbows, before Stevenson reverses and gets on top. He falls back for another attempt at the ankle lock though, and Neer avoids it again, ending up in guard where he takes a few elbows to end the round. Close round but I would give it to Stevenson, 10-9.
Neer works some good combos standing to open the 2nd, and Joe ends up falling to his back off a low kick again. Neer grabs a front headlock and lands an elbow to the back of the head, busting Joe open a treat, before standing and landing a nice combination into the clinch. They break off and Neer continues to pick at him from the outside, and the cut on Joe’s head is beginning to look nasty now, bleeding all over his peroxide blonde hair and making him look like Ric Flair. Stevenson falls to his back again off a kick, and takes some punches and elbows from Neer from the top. Stevenson looks really tired at this stage, as Neer continues to work him over with some hard elbows until the round closes. 10-9 Neer, so it’s an even fight going into the third.
Neer opens the round with a combo, and then Joe tries to duck for a takedown but Neer meets him with a BIG FLYING KNEE that puts him down! Neer pounces and pounds away in the guard, before standing back up. Stevenson joins him, and Neer lands punches from the outside as Stevenson, bloody, tries to fire back with little success. He ends up dropping to guard again, and Neer lands some elbows from the top that open up another cut on Joe’s forehead now. Stevenson suddenly gets a second wind though, and reverses to his feet, getting his own takedown to half-guard. Neer scrambles to full guard, but Joe works him over with punches from the top, although Neer takes little damage, and the fight comes to an end.
I have it 29-28 for Neer and the judges agree, giving him the unanimous decision. Post-fight Neer tells Rogan that he thinks the kneebar probably popped out his ACL, but he wasn’t going to tap anyway. Hell of a fight actually â€“ it looked like Stevenson would dominate based on what happened early, but he ended up gassing really badly and Neer just took over as the fight went on. Based on this it was definitely in Joe’s best interests to drop to 155lbs, if only to give him better cardio. Could’ve been a star-making performance for Neer as he came off like a really tough guy, but they didn’t really push him and he ended up losing his next two fights. Still, great fight here.
-They run a plug for TUF 3 and then contestant Tait Fletcher joins Rogan and tells him that he’s very glad to be out of the TUF house. Based on one of Tait’s decisions there I don’t blame him.
Light-Heavyweight Fight: Rashad Evans vs Sam Hoger
Like Stevenson, this was TUF 2 winner Rashad’s first fight following the finale, but unlike Joe Rashad had chosen to drop a weight class right away, moving to a much more natural 205lbs. His opponent? Perennial â€œheelâ€ from TUF 1, Sam Hoger.
Rashad pumps out a jab to begin, before getting a single leg to guard. Hoger uses a good defensive guard though and holds on tightly, and the referee stands them up pretty quick. Rashad tags him with a combo as they restart, and then stuffs an attempted takedown before they clinch. They break and exchange strikes, with Hoger throwing kicks now, before Rashad shoots and gets another takedown to guard. Hoger holds on tightly again, and they get stood once more, where they exchange punches and Rashad’s mouthpiece gets knocked out. Referee replaces it, and then Rashad lands a nice one-two into the clinch, before they break and exchange to end. Probably Rashad’s round, 10-9.
Hoger opens the 2nd with a good knee, high kick and a glancing elbow, but Rashad gets a takedown to side mount. Hoger works his way back to full guard though, and little gets done again before the ref stands them. Rashad lands a nice flurry into the clinch from the restart, and they muscle for position before breaking off. Rashad clocks him with a sharp right into another clinch, and gets a takedown to guard from there. Little gets done again though, as Hoger continues to cling on tightly, and they end up standing and go into the clinch, before breaking off to exchange some strikes. Rashad gets another takedown, but Hoger hooks up a kimura right as the round ends. Another round for Rashad for me I think.
Third and final round, and Hoger lands a left high kick that marks up Rashad’s eye pretty badly, but he still gets a takedown to guard. Hoger looks for the kimura again and tries to use it to sweep to mount, but Rashad avoids it and they come back to the clinch standing. Ref breaks them and Rashad follows with a takedown to guard, but little gets done again and the ref stands them. Hoger lands a few more kicks, swelling Rashad’s eye pretty badly at this point, but again Evans gets the takedown. This time Hoger gets a sweep, but Rashad just explodes up to his feet, and then gets another takedown to half-guard. Hoger looks for the kimura again, but Rashad avoids and ends up in Hoger’s guard, where unsurprisingly they get stood. Rashad ends the fight with another takedown.
I’ve got it 29-28 Evans, and the judges have it 29-28 Hoger (!), 29-28 Evans, and 30-27 for Rashad to take the split decision. Don’t think you could really make a case for Sam winning that one unless you’re really against Rashad’s takedowns, but whatever. This was hardly an impressive showing from Rashad as he took Hoger down at will, but thanks to Sam’s good defensive guard he couldn’t do anything with the position. On the feet it was pretty even, but Rashad did manage to tag him a few times with his punches, and was clearly the more explosive of the two. Still, Hoger seems to have the innate ability to make any opponent look terrible though, and this was no different here, except he hardly looked great himself. Really plodding fight.
Light-Heavyweight Fight: Stephan Bonnar vs Keith Jardine
With three fights going to decision already they go straight to the main event without wasting any time here. This was TUF 1 vs. TUF 2, with the first season’s Bonnar, who was still riding the wave of his war with Forrest Griffin and looked great against James Irvin last time out, taking on season two’s Jardine, who was coming off a win against Mike Whitehead at UFC 57.
They press forward to begin the fight, and Bonnar lands a glancing spinning back kick. They exchange some feeler strikes from distance, and Jardine lands a nice leg kick in the midst of it. They clinch up, but Bonnar blocks a takedown and they break off. Both exchange kicks into another clinch, where both men land some knees before breaking off again. They continue to circle and exchange, with both landing combinations, but Jardine continues to land some sweet leg kicks, marking Bonnar’s leg up already. Pretty even round, I’d perhaps lean to Jardine for the leg kicks.
Jardine opens the 2nd with another good leg kick, and this time Bonnar changes stance from conventional to southpaw, with Rogan wondering if he’s doing it because of the kicks. They exchange, and finally Bonnar catches with a right that stuns him and drops him to his knees! Bonnar leaps onto Jardine’s back as he goes down, but can’t get his hooks in to finish the rear naked choke attempt, and Keith manages to get back up into the clinch. Jardine blocks a takedown and the referee separates them, and Keith lands another leg kick, but takes a left into the clinch. They break off, and more even exchanges follow, with Bonnar missing a wheel kick. This goes on for the rest of the round, with Jardine seemingly the aggressor as it goes on. Despite Jardine landing the better kicks there for the most part, I’d probably give the round to Bonnar for the knockdown, so it’s 19-19 going into the third in my opinion.
They exchange to open the third, and Bonnar throws a spin kick into a left high kick before Jardine clinches. He breaks off though, and then lands a couple more hard leg kicks, only for Bonnar to come back and drop him with a left hand! Bonnar tries to follow up, but Jardine recovers quickly and gets a clinch, before they break and the exchange continues. This time Jardine gets the better of it, pressing forward with combos that have Bonnar on his back foot, and then he lands a BIG RIGHT HIGH KICK that hurts Bonnar badly. Jardine continues to push forward, landing more strikes as the fight ends.
Announcers both agree that it’s probably Jardine’s fight, and I would score it 29-28 for him tooâ€¦.but surprisingly it’s a unanimous decision for Bonnar, which gets booed heavily by the crowd. Looking at this in hindsight I don’t think this was as bad a decision as people first thought â€“ it was a really even fight, firstly, and I could see it 30-27 either way depending on how you scored the first round (which was especially even) and then on how you score Jardine’s damage from the leg kicks against Bonnar’s two knockdowns. I personally would’ve gone for Jardine, but I guess that’s why people say never leave a fight to the judges. As for the fight itself, it wasn’t bad or anything, but definitely wasn’t one of the better fights Spike TV saw in 2006.
-And with them almost out of time they rush through a summary of the show and end it there.
The Inside Pulse
: Man, UFC didn’t get a lot of luck with the early UFN shows, did they? This one is probably the worst of the bunch, a really plodding show with two of the most sleep-inducing fights of the year in Fioravanti-Leben and Hoger-Evans. Jardine-Bonnar wasn’t bad and Stevenson-Neer was a very good fight which on a better card could’ve been a star-making performance for Neer, but the show was just so forgettable overall that nothing came of it. Overall it’ll be remembered for a controversial decision in the main event, but not much more, and that’s probably the deserving fate of such a bad show, too. Thumbs down for this one.
UFC: 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, Fight Nights 5-10, and the TUF III Finale.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.
Until next time,
Tags: Mixed Martial Arts