Anderson Silva defends his Middleweight Title, Chuck Liddell gets knocked the fuck out and The UFC goes to the U.K.
The UFC has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade, passing both boxing and professional wrestling as the Pay Per View of choice by the sought after young male demographic. In my last UFC review I covered UFC 87: Seek and Destroy, which included the beginning of Brock Lesner’s rise to the top of the UFC as well as a great match with Georges St Pierre title defense. Just like boxing, the body can only take so much punishment, so the combatants are spread out over a few months so you only see a handful of fights with the same superstars over a year’s time. It would be four cards (UFC 91) before Lesner would fight for the championship, so what was there to be seen in the meantime?
UFC 88: Breakthrough featured one of the biggest upsets in a long time as Rashad Evans knocked out former champion Chuck Liddell. It was a HUGE moment that closed out the nine match card on a big time note. I know Liddell is 38 years old and is nearing the end of his fighting career and his opponent came into the match with a 16-0-1 record, but Evans went in and leveled favored Liddell with a hard right. That punch was brutal and Liddell dropped like a bag of rocks. The match was important for Liddell to get back into the title hunt but Evans was amazing in this match, the best moment on the card by a long shot.
Other memorable moments on UFC 88: Breakthrough included
- Nate Marquardt beating Martin Kampmann in just over one minute. Marquardt stunned Kampmann with a big kick to the head and then just went to town, beating the crap out of Kampmann until the official finally stopped the fight. It was total domination.
- Dong Hyun Kim and Matt Brown fought to a split decision with Kim taking it (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). The two went toe to toe, Kim’s judo against former Ultimate Fighter Brown. The first round was just awesome as Kim continued to lock Brown into various holds, Brown continuously finding ways to escape the holds. This was a very fun match, I just wish it would have had a definitive end.
- Kurt Pellegrino beat Thiago Tavares by Unanimous Decision in, arguably, the best fight on the card. I really thought the match was over in the first round and have seen matches stopped for less but the official let them continue and the two went to the limit. It is one of those cases where I question when the official stops a match and when he lets it continue. Tavares lost a lot of blood in this match, blood that stained the mat for the rest of the evening.
UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben was overshadowed by a bigger story in MMA during the month of October 2008. October was the month that Kimbo Slice, the face of EliteXC went out and lost to Seth Petruzelli. Why was this such a big deal? It effectively killed their biggest name and put the entire company out of business weeks later. Was there anything on this UFC card, held in the U.K., that should have made it more noteworthy?
- Terry Etim beat Sam Stout in a really fun match that went all three rounds. The two delivered some exciting impact kicks and went hard and strong for the first two rounds. The third round was a bit of a letdown as both men were tired, but the match in general was great fun.
- Dan Hardy, sporting a very big red Mohawk, beat Akihiro Gono by split decision. The match was hard fight until round three when cheap shots soured the match. It started when Hardy “accidentally” kicked Gono in the nuts. Gono was hurt really bad but came back quickly anyway. Hardy apologized for it and then Hardy started to dominate until Gono took down Hardy and hit two illegal knees to the head of Hardy, only getting a warning but no point deduction. It still hurt Hardy. They went head-to-head again and this time Gono “apologized” to Hardy. The fight ended when the buzzer went off and Gono tried to get in one more flying knee after the buzzer, only to be tackled to the ground by the official. This was a solid match, made interesting by the third round’s shenanigans.
- Luis Cane beat Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in the second round when he wore down his opponent in the first round. At the end of the second round. Cane took down Sokoudjou and delivered over a dozen hard right hand blows to get the win by TKO.
- The main event pitted Michael Bisping, by far the most popular UFC fighter in the U.K. against Chris Leben. Leben seems to be a complete trash talker with an attitude and following this fight tested positive for steroids, earning a 9-month suspension. He taunted Bisping most of the match and lost by decision to the fan favorite.
UFC 90: Silva vs. Cote – the name says it all. While neither UFC 88 nor UFC 89 matched up to the spectacle of UFC 87, Anderson Silva promised to bring the noise for UFC 90. While UFC 88 gave us 9 fights and UFC 89 gave us 10, UFC 90 gave us 11 total fights on the card. Highlights included
- Dan Miller faced off against Matt Horwich in a battle of two former IFL Middleweight Champions. This match was not seen on the Pay Per View, but might have been the best match on the card. What made the match so great was the two fighters exchanging holds and counter holds, delivering some great strikes and overall putting on an MMA showcase. Miller would win by decision with all the judges scoring it 29-28 for Miller. Great match.
- Sean Sherk and Tyson Griffin fought in another great match. Griffin, who came into the match with a 12-1 record, faced a veteran in Sherk that is almost identical to him physically. Sherk pretty much dominated the match but Griffin did nothing to embarrass himself. Sherk won by Unanimous Decision in a match that made both men look great.
- I know some people like long, hard fought matches, but I really enjoy a real ass kicking sometimes and that is what I got when Junior Dos Santos knocked the shit out of Fabricio Werdum. Werdum was the favorite to win the match but it ended in a little over one minute when Dos Santos landed a huge uppercut to the nose and then KOd Werdum. This would be it for Werdum, who fought fat and was released after this match. On a side note, Dan “The Beast” Severn was in the stands for this match.
- Anderson Silva defends his Middleweight Championship belt against number one contender Patrick Cote. Silva danced around and played with Cote for much of the match, although that would mean Cote was more impressive in spots than the champion. Unfortunately, Cote would not have a chance to win the belt. After becoming the first UFC opponent to last until the third round against Silva, Cote collapsed untouched with an apparent knee injury. Silva would win the match by a TKO thanks to that accident but that should not deter you from understanding Silva is a monster. Cote proved here he is someone to watch as well. Bad finish to an otherwise great main event.
After a great UFC 87, they followed it up with an average UFC 88 and a very underwhelming UFC 89. However, UFC 90 was a very fun card with some great fighters and some memorable moments. Out of the three, UFC 90 is by far the best with UFC 88 a distant second.
The UFC DVDs offer a fantastic array of extra features that makes them worth every penny. The card can be watched from start to finish or by bout. The menus give the information about the matches before you click on them. Before each match, you get a synopsis of the combatants coming into the match. As an added bonus, you get extra preliminary matches that were not seen on the televised broadcast of the events.
The second disc in each set includes the Countdown to the event which looks at the major matches on the card and the backgrounds of the fighters. These are great and informative features that introduce you to the competitors involved in the major fights. If you have not seen the card, it is a good idea to watch the extra features before you watch the card. You can also watch the weigh-in’s for the fighters before the card as well as a Behind-the-Scene feature leading up to the card as well as talking to the fighters after the cards. These extras are fantastic additions to the DVDs.