UFC 72: Victory
Belfast, Northern Ireland
-Another step on Zuffa’s Tour Of Places That Are Not Las Vegas then, with this being the first ever UFC show to take place in Northern Ireland. It actually lost Zuffa a lot of money, this one did, as it was originally scheduled to be screened for free on Spike TV, but Spike decided against it given they had two UFC shows coming up around the same time (a UFN card about three days beforehand actually) and it ended up being put on live PPV at a weird time for US viewers.
-One more thing before I forget, the reason this card only had eight fights instead of the scheduled nine was that an injury sidelined Jake O’Brien, who was supposed to fight Tom Murphy, and because they couldn’t find a replacement the UFC just dropped the fight completely.
-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
Welterweight Fight: Dustin Hazelett vs Stevie Lynch
Like the previous UK card Zuffa decided to sign some local talent for this one and the first of those locals to fight was Stevie Lynch, an Irish fighter sporting a record of 4-0 and a strong resemblance to actor Vinnie Jones. This was Hazelett’s first fight back at his more natural 170lbs, after a flirtation with 155lbs in his last UFC appearance.
They begin and immediately the Irish crowd begin a chant of â€œSTEVIE!â€ for their local hero. Both men press forward and exchange some combos, with both landing glancing shots. Hazelett pumps out a stiff left jab, and they exchange some shots with Hazelett landing a nice body kick. Lynch tries to answer with a kick of his own, but slips off balance and Hazelett capitalizes with a right hand that puts the Irishman on his back. Hazelett closes in and pounds away, and as Lynch tries to sit up he quickly slips on a D’Arce choke and drags him to the mat. Lynch holds on but Dustin tightens up the hold and turns slightly to his side, and the Irishman ends up tapping there. Whoa, lot of blood as Hazelett releases the hold too â€“ looks like Lynch’s nose got busted up in the choke somehow.
Short, exciting fight and Hazelett looked really good there, especially with the sub, and he’s one of those rare fighters that looks better each time he fights. Time for him to step up in competition methinks. Fun opener.
Heavyweight Fight: Eddie Sanchez vs Colin Robinson
Robinson was another local fighter they brought in and he’s got to be up there with the very oldest fighters to make their debuts in the UFC, as he’s one year shy of 40. Sanchez was of course coming back after his beating at the hands of Mirko Cro Cop, and the announcers are selling him as a tough guy for even taking that fight.
They clinch up early and muscle into the fence, exchanging some hard body shots and punches inside. Sanchez tries to secure a plum clinch to land some knees, but slips to his back and Robinson grabs a headlock. Sanchez escapes back to the clinch, and they continue to exchange some punches inside, with Robinson getting the better of it now. More knees and punches from both men land, before Robinson lands a clubbing right that hurts Sanchez and causes him to wobble backwards! Sanchez goes down, and Robinson pounces and lands some elbows in half-guard, before OPENING UP with some really brutal, unanswered punches. The Irishman mounts and really pounds away, and for a moment it looks like the ref’s going to step in, but he decides against it for some reason. Sanchez tries to escape and flails his left arm wildly, so Robinson finally attempts an armbar, but even though he fully extends the arm his right leg is in the wrong place entirely, and Sanchez somehow manages to slip free and escape! Sanchez now ends up on top in side mount, as Robinson looks absolutely spent. Eddie mounts and lands some BIG SHOTS of his own to end the round.
Between rounds Robinson looks exhausted, no surprise for a massive bloke pushing 40 I guess. Sanchez looks much more fresh and sure enough, the second round begins with the American landing a big right before getting an easy trip directly to mount, where he pounds away for the stoppage.
That was actually a really fun Heavyweight brawl, from a fight I was expecting absolutely nothing from. Sure, it was horribly sloppy (you’ll probably never see such a bizarre armbar attempt at UFC level) but sometimes those types of fight are entertaining and this definitely was. Robinson was unlucky in my book as the ref had a clear case for stopping the fight when he had the mount, but once Sanchez did manage to survive Robinson just had no gas left to carry on. Still, it was a fair debut for a relatively inexperienced guy.
Welterweight Fight: Marcus Davis vs Jason Tan
I believe Davis was originally scheduled to fight Paul Taylor here, but Taylor suffered an injury and was forced out, and so Jason Tan â€“ a training partner of fellow UK UFC vet Terry Etim â€“ stepped in. Funny side note â€“ Davis, normally known as the â€˜Irish Hand Grenade’, was forced to change his nickname to â€˜The Celtic Warrior’ for this show after there were concerns about how the former moniker would go down with the crowd. Understandable really – I guess you wouldn’t fight in Iraq and call yourself the â€˜Muslim Suicide Bomber’, would you?
They get underway and press the action, and it’s Tan that lands the early shots, peppering Davis with some hard leg kicks. He steps in a little too much and leaves himself open though, and that’s all Davis needs, as he catches the Liverpudlian with a BIG RIGHT HAND for the clean knockout, sending Tan down hard. In a funny moment Tan tries a single leg waaaay after the ref’s stepped in, just goes to show how out of it he truly was.
Nice shot for the knockout â€“ after a few fights that mainly showcased Davis’s grappling it was cool to see him finally use the thing he was known for when he first came into the UFC â€“ his boxing â€“ for a win here. Davis continues on his excellent roll and like Hazelett, a step up in competition â€“ probably against a top ten fighter now â€“ is due.
Middleweight Fight: Ed Herman vs Scott Smith
PPV opener was the prototypical â€œstriker vs. grapplerâ€ match, an intriguing fight between TUF alumni Ed Herman and Scott Smith. Herman was coming off his first UFC win, over Chris Price, while Smith had suffered a loss to Patrick Cote in a lacklustre fight and was still largely riding the wave he’d created with the crazy knockout of Pete Sell.
Herman comes out right away with a swift takedown to guard, no surprise there. He works the body, and then tries to pass and take the back, but Smith works his way to his feet in a clinch. Ed works inside and gets a slam, but Smith clamps on a guillotine on the way down. Herman fights his way out and then works Smith over with some elbows and punches, landing a HUGE ELBOW that opens a really horrible cut on Smith’s nose. Blood pours everywhere as Ed lands some more elbows, and then the ref calls time to check the cut. Doctor decides he’s okay to carry on and they restart in Smith’s guard, where Herman lands some more elbows. Smith scrambles, and Herman tries to take the back, but he slips and Smith ends up on top, where he tries to drop back for an ankle lock! Herman manages to escape and gets Smith’s back, landing some punches, but Smith reverses *that* and ends up on top to end the round. Hell of a first round actually. 10-9 Herman.
2nd round opens and Herman shoots in again, but Smith blocks and grabs another guillotine. He hops down to guard, but Herman works free again and continues where he left off, landing more elbows that bloody Smith’s nose once more. Smith looks in trouble from his back and tries to scramble free, but ends up turning his back and as he tries to crawl away Herman hops on and swiftly locks up a rear naked choke for the tapout. *Really* quick submission, as on first glance watching live I thought Smith had put his back out or something when he tapped, I didn’t even notice the choke.
Very fun fight but Herman was always in control from the off and this was probably the first time he’d lived up to his pre-TUF hype inside the Octagon actually. Nice win to move himself back up the ladder.
Lightweight Fight: Tyson Griffin vs Clay Guida
For hardcore fans this was easily the most anticipated fight of the night, a pretty much guaranteed great fight between two skilled lightweights who always come to fight and always put on an absolutely sick pace. Already both men had put on a great fight earlier in the year (Guida against Din Thomas and Griffin against Frankie Edgar) and expectations were high for this one. Pre-fight Guida looks absolutely PUMPED too, leaping around in his corner like an ADHD kid or something.
Round 1 begins, and they circle for a moment before Guida catches an attempted kick, and they scramble for position. Guida tries a single leg, but Griffin defends well, hopping around and then he grabs a guillotine and pulls guard. It looks tight but as always you can’t guillotine Clay Guida and somehow he manages to wriggle his head free. I swear that long hair helps him in that position. Anyway, Guida shoves Tyson into the fence and then catches him with a knee to the head as he’s on one knee, causing the ref to give a warning. Griffin works his way around to a rear waistlock and then takes Guida’s back with one hook in, but Guida grabs the leg and drops down to block, and they scramble and end up in the clinch. Both exchange knees and then Griffin breaks with a one-two, and follows with a stiff jab before avoiding a takedown. Guida comes forward and they exchange, with Griffin getting the better of it with a good combination and a high kick! Guida goes for the takedown again, but Griffin avoids and both men land rights, and Tyson ends up down on his back, only to hit a SICK switch as the round comes to an end. Unbelievable first round, I’d give it to Griffin by the slightest margin.
2nd round begins with an exchange, before Guida shoots for a single and Griffin displays some UNBELIEVABLE takedown defense, literally doing a standing split to avoid it. Good lord. Guida keeps trying and finally gets Tyson down, but he immediately reverses up to the clinch, where he breaks with a pair of left hooks and then narrowly misses an uppercut. They exchange and Guida tries the takedown again, but Tyson gets a switch and ends up on top. Guida reverses and looks to take the back, but Griffin escapes out the back door and then turns and gets a rear waistlock, before delivering a German suplex! Guida turtles up, and Tyson takes an over/under, but as he tries to advance Guida reverses and rolls through into a kneebar attempt! Guida extends it and rolls to his stomach, but Griffin sits up with the kneebar locked out and HAMMERS the back with some heavy punches. Guida’s grip loosens and Tyson rolls and tries a heel hook of his own, but Guida spins out of that and takes Griffin’s back! He gets both hooks in, and rides the back as Tyson stands, forcing Griffin to defend the rear naked choke while also carrying Guida’s weight. Eventually Tyson decides to slam Guida forwards, dropping him on his head, but Guida remains firmly clamped to his back as they hit the mat and roll. Guida gets a body triangle, but Tyson manages to turn into him and Guida ends up off to the side as the round ends. Wow. Got to go for Guida there I think. Between rounds Guida is JUMPING UP AND DOWN in his corner, absolutely sick levels of energy.
Third and final round, and this one should decide it. Another exchange opens and Griffin catches him with a good knee and a glancing left high kick. Tyson lands a one-two and avoids a takedown, landing a right uppercut for good measure. Guida shoots in again, and Tyson blocks but this time Clay manages to get him down, only for Tyson to scramble and end up on top in a bit of a weird position, almost laying on Guida with both men on their backs. Tyson lands some nice elbows and then looks for an ankle lock, but then Guida sits up on top and lands some sweet backfists before turning and ending up on top in Tyson’s half-guard. Tyson reverses and goes for a leg again, but Guida pops out once more into the guard, and they exchange from there before Guida stands and eats a hard upkick on his way back down. He passes to half-guard, but can’t advance any further, and so he finishes the fight off with a flurry from top position. Another incredible round and this fight could go either way.
Judges have it 29-28â€¦Griffin. 29-28â€¦.Guidaâ€¦.and finally 29-28 for the winner by Split Decisionâ€¦.Tyson Griffin! Crowd actually boo the decision, but I don’t think you can fault the judges here at all as that was one of the hardest fights to call a winner from I can ever remember. On first watch I would’ve said Guida took it mainly as he ended the fight on top in the third round, but on a rewatch honestly I would agree with the two judges that gave it to Griffin â€“ Guida was on top for the final two minutes but didn’t do that much damage from there while Tyson landed the better blows standing. Regardless, this was a fight where neither man came away looking like a loser â€“ if expectations were high then this fight lived up to them and actually surpassed them in my book. It had everything, from great striking to great grappling and reversals, and was fought at an unbelievable pace from start to finish. Some of the scrambles here have to be seen to be believed. For me this is the Fight of the Year so far, and I can’t see it being beaten any time soon.
Middleweight Fight: Jason MacDonald vs Rory Singer
Despite losing his last fight to Rich Franklin, MacDonald still had some momentum behind him after his wins over Ed Herman and Chris Leben, and this was his third fight against a TUF veteran, in Season 3’s Rory Singer. Singer had notched up two UFC wins himself, over Ross Pointon and Josh Haynes, although he had lost his last outing to one half of this show’s main event, in Yushin Okami.
MacDonald opens with a nice low kick, and looks immediately for the takedown, forcing Singer into the fence with a clinch. Singer blocks and both men look for the takedown, before Rory hits him with a nice combo, and follows with two knees that end up taking him off balance, and he pulls guard. Singer brings his legs up high from the guard, so MacDonald stands, and eats a hard upkick before Singer kicks him away outright and stands up. MacDonald shoots in, but Rory blocks and ends up on top. MacDonald uses a single leg to get back to his feet, but Singer lands a combo and then gets a takedown directly to mount! Whoa. MacDonald rolls and gives his back, and then does well to turn into Singer’s guard. Singer controls him well from his back though, and then locks up a tight triangle choke as MacDonald tries to pin him into the fence! MacDonald looks in trouble as Singer pulls on the headâ€¦but the round ends before he can close things. Wow, that round was ALL Singer.
2nd round and MacDonald again opens with the leg kick, before shooting and this time he does get the takedown to guard, and immediately pins Singer to the fence. Rory uses his feet to manoeuvre himself away from the cage, but MacDonald stays on top and begins to land some punches, before using a can opener to pass into full mount. Singer looks in trouble now and MacDonald lands some punches to the side of the head, nothing too harmful but Singer doesn’t really defend himself and the ref steps in there.
Finish wasn’t anything too nasty, the punches didn’t look like they were doing that much damage but the ref’s MO is that if a guy isn’t defending he needs to stop it, and sure enough Singer wasn’t defending. Disappointing for him as he pretty much clowned MacDonald in the opening round, but such is life I guess. MacDonald did well to recover from the opener actually. Decent fight overall.
Light-Heavyweight Fight: Forrest Griffin vs Hector Ramirez
When this card was released most people considered it really disappointing, and I guess one of the reasons for that was the semi-main event, given that Forrest was coming off his KO loss to Keith Jardine and his opponent was a guy in Ramirez who had lost in his UFC debut pretty handily. Still, after Ramirez’s fight with James Irvin had turned into an exciting (albeit sloppy) slugfest, there were hopes for at least a good brawl here.
BIG pop from the crowd for Forrest, naturally. Round 1 begins with Griffin firing off a combo from the outside, but Ramirez tackles him and gets a takedown to half-guard. He tries to pass, but Griffin secures full guard so Hector decides to let him up. Forrest lands a glancing left high kick, and then decides to keep his distance, circling off and peppering â€˜Sick Dog’ with leg kicks. Ramirez triggers a brief exchange and lands a couple of punches, but Griffin answers with some knees and then stays elusive, circling off and landing kicks and combos from distance. This continues for the rest of the round, with Forrest landing from the outside and avoiding Ramirez’s swings.
2nd round begins with an early clinch before Forrest breaks with some knees, and we get more of the same from the first round, with Griffin picking him apart from the outside with combos. He rocks Ramirez more than once, but rather than close in he backs off, and this continues until Ramirez takes a low blow and the ref calls time. They restart, and it’s more hit and run tactics from Griffin for the remainder of the round. Between rounds Ramirez complains that his leg is numb from the kicks.
Third and final round, and Ramirez comes out more aggressively, but Forrest seems happy to stay on his bike, landing combos and backing away from Ramirez’s wilder swings. Hector gets a clinch and gets the takedown, but Forrest manages to get up right away and breaks off, where he continues to pick Ramirez apart for the rest of the fight.
Judges score it unanimously for Griffin, 30-27, pretty clear winner in this one. This was far from the brawl that people were expecting though, and was more like the MMA equivalent of the part on Top Gun where Maverick gets back into the cockpit after Goose dies, and refuses to engage, in that Forrest fought like a man who did *not* want to get hit again following the Jardine fight, and despite having numerous chances to really hurt and possibly finish Ramirez, he chose to play it safe and stuck to picking him apart with less damaging combos from the outside. Fair play I guess and a win is a win, but this was probably Griffin’s least exciting fight in his UFC career thus far.
Middleweight Fight: Rich Franklin vs Yushin Okami
Main event was originally set to be Franklin facing Danish kickboxer Martin Kampmann in a fight to decide the #1 Contender for Anderson Silva’s Middleweight crown, but Kampmann badly hurt his knee in training and so Yushin Okami â€“ who was probably more deserving of the opportunity, with four UFC wins and a prior win over Silva â€“ stepped in to take the fight. With Okami having overpowered the likes of Alan Belcher and Mike Swick, and Franklin gunning for another shot at Silva, this was definitely a highly anticipated fight for most fans and definitely a worthy one of deciding the #1 contender.
Round 1 opens with both men circling and throwing out some feeler strikes, with Franklin being the aggressor, but he only lands a couple of glancing blows as Okami stays very elusive. Finally they clinch with two minutes left in the round, and exchange some knees, but little happens as they appear to cancel one another out, and the ref breaks them up. Round continues with little action outside of a couple of leg kicks from Franklin.
2nd round begins with more of the same, as Franklin lands a few jabs and leg kicks while Okami does nothing, completely refusing to engage in the fight. Uh, dude, this is only a three round fight! Finally he tries a takedown from the clinch, but Franklin blocks it and shoves him into the fence, becoming the first man to sort-of outmuscle Okami in his UFC career. The ref breaks them, and Franklin continues to circle and pick at him, becoming somewhat more aggressive towards the end, where he lands a strange left hand pretty cleanly. Replays show he almost hit Okami with the side of his hand, pretty weird.
Okami finally comes out more aggressively to open the third, but still doesn’t land any strikes, as Franklin catches him with a nice left to the body. He follows with a good body kick, but this time Okami gets a clinch and manages to trip him down to side mount. He looks for the full mount, but Franklin gets a knee inside to block it, and then manages to get to butterfly guard as Okami continues his attempts at mount. Franklin uses the butterfly to scramble to his feet, but Okami grabs onto a guillotine and pulls guard. It looks tight but Franklin pulls his way out and gets a rear waistlock. Okami stands, but Franklin decides to try to show his strength and drags Okami to the mat! Okami gets back to his feet though and then turns into Ace, before hooking a kimura and dropping down! Franklin’s arm looks to be in jeopardy as Okami straightens out the kimura and flips his way on top, but somehow Franklin holds on and manages to force his way free! Franklin ends the round on top, trying to land some shots from above.
Judges all have it 29-28 for Franklin, but man was that third round a close call for him. Honestly this fight was awful until the last round, which was *really* good as finally Okami engaged and almost came away with the win, which begs the question, why the hell did the guy just completely not bother to fight until then? Seriously â€“ on Pride-style scoring Okami takes this fight for the third round alone, but on a ten-point must system like UFC uses Franklin walks away with it as at least he did *something* in the first ten minutes even if it wasn’t necessarily damaging or even close to fight-ending. Disappointing main event overall thanks to Okami’s lack of engaging in the opening rounds, but the third round was definitely cool.
-And we end with a highlight reel.
The Inside Pulse
: Well, they always say that sometimes a bad card on paper translates to a really good show in delivery, and UFC 72 definitely falls into that category. It’s let down a little by the co-main events not really delivering as they might’ve, but you can’t go wrong with the undercard from this show, as not only was Guida/Griffin a strong candidate for FOTY, but all of the prelims were good fun and Herman/Smith and Singer/MacDonald were decent little scraps too. It’s not the best show of the year or anything, but UFC 72’s at least worth a mild recommendation, if only for Guida/Griffin. Thumbs up, just.
UFC: 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, Fight Night 11, and the TUF IV Finale.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.
Until next time,
Tags: Mixed Martial Arts