Alright fight fans, MMA has been dormant long enough here on the blog (although keep your eyes open for Brian's upcoming love letter to the sport on his newest Burger Kang) I did one of these once before with the Rock-Austin series from Mania, the name is merely a shot at the moniker fan boys have given the original Star Wars series but if you considered what feud really ignited the world of MMA as far as main event guys, it would have to be the fights these two have waged. So here i will be reviewing all 3 of their Lightheavyweight Title fights. Actually, I'm going to go one step better and review all 3 complete shows they aired on! I knew you'd like that one. A big shout out goes to Big Lots for selling this to me for $2.50 when Best Buy almost snagged $25 cool dollars from my pocket. Ok, Fight!
UFC 43: Meltdown (June 6, 2003)
1) Pedro Rizzo v. Tra Telligman - 6
2) Matt Lindland v. Falaniko Vitale- 3
3) Yves Edwards v. Eddie Ruiz- 5
4) Frank Mir v. Wes Sims -3
5) Ian Freeman v. Vernon White -4
6) Vitor Belfort v. Marvin Eastman- 3
7) Kimo v. Tank Abbott- 1
8) Randy Couture v. Chuck Liddell - 7
1st fight was a slugfest, Telligman was from a boxing background, he's the guy with the caved in chest and was looking for revenge on Rizzo from an earlier defeat. He didnt' hold back, won the 1st round and these guys were letting the hands fly. Rizzo's leg kicks were sick, even spinning Tra around like a dervish at one point. An unfortunate doctor's stoppage ended this but I came away with a great respect for Telligman's fortitude.
2nd bout didn't go far, Lindland seemed in control against a younger, impressive looking dude, but one mistake on a takedown and he was out cold.
I could see how this bout may not interest the casual fan, it was a calculating ground war with a wrestler v. striker. Edwards was like a young, less dominating Anderson Silva, and Ruiz was a tenacious wrestler, he took some nasty shots throughout but really showed tons of heart. A lot of good technique between both guys in a 3 round battle.
This match will be known for MMA's resident nutcase Wes Sims getting DQ'd for stomping a mudhole on Mir's face in a fight Mir was handily in control of.
Our next fight was a heavyweight war of attrition, it goes all 3 rounds with both guys finding close success with both takedowns and standing, I actually had it as a draw as well, Freeman's hands looked really good in the final round but his wind ran out and White looked well rounded in every area. A short interview with Ken Shamrock between rounds showed how many downers a guy could take and still do a interview without passing out.
Wow, Vitor is as explosive then as he is now, he just waited patiently for the right shot and when he does, it's an A bomb going off. Beastman looked armed too, but couldn't stand up to it.
Tank was an Ultimate Fighting Joke at this point and didn't last long in a subpar choke by Kimo who couldn't even cinch it in right.
The 1st of their battles was an awesome fight. Liddell was the superstar of the UFC at this point, it was hinted multiple times that this was going to be a walkthrough for Chuck since Tito had ducked him for 2 years. But Randy's power is his heart, he toppled Chuck with takedowns in all 3 rounds and then for the last 2 rounds he dominated the standup in a shocking display of boxing. A masterful performance, you can tell Chuck was very surprised by a lot of what Couture brought to him, possibly underestimation. A very awesome moment when Randy gets the stoppage as they pull in close to a bloody Chuck on the ground and he mouths "I'm done."
UFC 52: Liddell-Couture 2 (April 16, 2005)
1) John Marsh v. Mike Van Arsdale - 6
2) Patrick Cote v. Joe Doerkson - 7
3) Ivan Salaverry v. Joe Riggs -2
4) Renato Babalu v. Travis Wiuff -5
5) Georges St. Pierre v. Jason Miller- 7
6) Matt Lindland v. Travis Lutter- n/a
7) Matt Hughes v. Frank Trigg- 5
8) Randy Couture v. Chuck Liddell- 4
Our opening fight featured known great wrestler and prick among pricks Van Arsdale, this was a war though, Marsh i've never seen before, he looked like a bodybuilder gas head, and got owned in the 1st but came back to dominate the 2nd round with heavy hands and expert sprawling. 3rd was a toss up until Van Arsdale used the dreaded "69" position to trap Marsh and make him relive a male college rape he endured, i'm just joking, hopefully.
2nd fight was just a clinic, Doerkson was on his A game with submission and ground wizardy, he had a counter to everything Cote tried to do, and was attempting submissions at every turn. It was an interesting fight because Doerkson had clearly won the first 2 rounds when Cote nearly punched him into defeat, but an amazing comeback by Doerkson. I was really digging his one legged trips that worked time after time. Good example of a ground fight that was really exciting.
Not a lot happened here, quick fight, only thing of note was the crazy upkick Ivan hit right before the finish went down. Riggs prematch fight interview was quite the pat on the back though
This was a really aggressive fight, Babalu has a hot/cold rep and he was in danger of being outclassed with wrestling here but was def. better at submissions which helped him. Saw Tim Sylvia in Wiuff's corner, so that's never a good thing. Also, if anyone was to run into Wiuff today, could you ask him if he still paints his toenails?
Wow, amazing early display of how great GSP is in the MMA game, Mayhem (of Bully Beatdown fame) took a shclacking for all 3 rounds, but the guy is tougher than KMart brand sneakers because he tried everything in the world to stop GSP but it wasn't happening. Another awesome ground fight that never slowed down. Wonder how this fight would play out today? Probably the same but Mayhem would have that ever present smile on his face, i bet.
Unfortunately the Lutter v. Lindland match wouldn't play on my dvd, tried it 2 different players so alas it will not be reviewed. Trigg v. Hughes also wouldn't play but luckily i have a small stash of UFC fights on VHS (yes it still exists, sort of) so plugged it in and watched and was a cool little fight. After seeing it and his latest few efforts, Trigg is talented but way overhyped. He nearly got the win after a low blow wasn't called on Hughes. Real tense moment where Trigg tried to choke out Hughes but couldn't quite get it done.
Our 2nd in the main event series went barely 2 minutes, Chuck came in prepared looked solid in his poise and just plowed Randy's face in with a nasty shot. The electricity in the arena was so huge though, really made this short bout feel like one of the biggest fights of all time. Okay onto the last part.
UFC 57: Liddell v. Couture 3 (February 4, 2006)
1) Keith Jardine v. Mike Whitehead- 2
2) Jeff Monson v. Brandon Lee Hinkle- 3
3) Paul Buentello v. Gilbert Aldana- 5
4) Alessio Sakara v. Elvis Sinosic- 2
5) Nick Diaz v. Joe Riggs-6
6) Babalu Sobral v. Mike Van Arsdale -3
7) Frank Mir v. Marcio Cruz- 4
8) Brandon Vera v. Justin Eilers- 3
9) Chuck Liddell v. Randy - 5
So, apparently Whitehead was this great prospect back in 06, wow, who the hell made that prediction? This 3 rounder didn't do much for me, from Whitehead's really plodding style, with takedowns doing nothing with them and the lazy, unrefined exchanges they traded during the standup portions.
Monson kind of bulls through Hinkle, at one point shoving him like in a hockey fight. Really nice choke though that puts BLH into early nap time.
What a nasty fight, not sure where Aldana is today but despite him running out of gas early, he took a hell of a beating here. Buentello has some sick uppercuts, maybe better than Apollo Creed, and he used them beautifully here.
Another dud, Sakara just owned Elvis on the ground, bursting his face open like he found oil but never being able to finish, Elvis hung in there but this was a snoozer.
Man, Nick Diaz is a tough son of a gun, very close judges decision here, funny because you could hear Goldberg disagreeing with Joe throughout the 2nd & 3rd rounds. Riggs was landing bombs but Diaz slow start didn't come through as usual but with the ground work involved as well, this was a real fun 3 rounder.
Bablu was pretty secure here, Van Arsdale looks like one of the townspeople from the world in Stargate and despite him being touted "the best wrestler in the history of UFC" he got outwrestled.
Mir was just coming back from his horrific motorcycle accident, a whole video montage was shown and this was to be a great return and storybook beginning to his rise again in the UFC. they just left the part out about how he was hooked on painkillers at this time. He was beaten bloody by a big, lanky and never before heard from again giant. This was quick but is notable for the upset.
Vera showed at one point he was a game competitor and completely dominated Eilers with his crazy muy thai.
This would rank near the first fight but didn't get out of the 2nd, at this point Liddell's punching power was on par with Tyson's run in the 80's he was KO'ing everyone, Randy no exception. He tried to play a smart battle and did for the most part, even scoring a go nowhere takedown but Randy at this point needed some time off.
Great trilogy of fights, showed both men's strengths and weaknesses and combined with some of the hottest crowds to ever watch a UFC show, these guys both showed why they are considered among the top dogs to ever compete.