Guest Liveblogger Ben Fowlkes of The Fighting Life here, all set and ready to go for UFC 82. I’m looking forward to a good night of fights, which I’m warming up for by watching Dana White swear through the countdown show. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Click the “MORE” link and refresh the page every few minutes for round-by-round updates.
For me, the highlight of the countdown show is Dana White’s repeated assertion that there has never been a more exciting time in the heavyweight division. That, and Heath Herring‘s claim that he is the only fighter who has a “knockdown” in every fight. As if that means something. Sounds suspiciously like a baseball stat to me. You know, the whole I-lead-the-ball-club-in-night-game-triples kind of boast. Oh well.
Jon Fitch vs. Chris Wilson
I can’t argue with Jon Fitch’s music choice. Johnny Cash doing “Rusty Cage” has me pumped up.
Wilson’s early strategy looks like a good one. Takedown defense will be a key for him against Fitch. Nice right hand from Wilson, followed by a knee and a high kick, but Fitch holds on and manages to get him down. Fitch is holding Wilson down, but the ref stands them up when he can’t advance position. This prompts Joe Rogan’s first cringeworthy comment of the night: “If a guy can hold you down and molest you for three rounds…”
And we’re not even out of the first round of the first fight.
The horn sounds with Fitch working modestly from Wilson’s guard. I give that round to Wilson.
Wilson escapes the single-leg twice, but the second time he slips up and ends up on his back anyway. It’s like Fitch can just will people to the mat with his mind. Fitch moves to side control, but he’s not doing a whole lot of damage just yet. Mount for Fitch, could be the beginning of the end, but Wilson gets the half-guard. More of the same to end the round. Fitch is good at doing just enough not to get stood up.
Nice shot of the ring girls, who seem to have added the peace sign to their arsenal, which includes blowing kisses and waving next to their faces.
Wilson knows he needs to stay up here, but he’s maybe a little too cautious as a result. Fitch starts to come on in the standup game now. The crowd’s getting restless, God knows why. Another takedown for Fitch, and a decision win for him is beginning to seem inevitable. Fitch’s ground-and-pound is looking better, but Wilson looks for a triangle that could do something but for the time ticking away.
Jon Fitch defeats Chris Wilson via unanimous decision. Sounds about right, but 30-27? Cecil Peoples, you so crazy.
We follow this up with a commercial for UFC 83, promising it will be the “biggest UFC event ever”…until the next one.
Rogan sits down with Mark Coleman to remark upon his induction into the UFC Hall of Fame, but wait! There’s an announcement! Coleman says he wants another fight, and he’ll get it against Brock Lesnar in Minnesota (Minnesota? Really?). All right. I guess Brock Lesnar has to get a win somehow, and Coleman has to pay his mortgage. Works out for everyone.
Evan Tanner vs. Yushin Okami
Rogan, on Tanner: “He was basically a traveler for the past two years. He traveled the country. He grew a beard.”
A good left from Okami puts Tanner on his butt, but Tanner recovers well and takes Okami down briefly. Tanner seems to be cut already, reminding us all of his scar tissued past. Okami is moving well, striking from distance. First round is all his.
Okami is controlling this fight, and Tanner’s timing looks off. That’s what two years of traveling and drinking and writing weirdly affecting MySpace blogs will do to you. Okami’s left is finding the mark more and more. A knee in the clinch from Okami and it’s lights out for Tanner. Okami punches him once more while he’s out, just cause.
Am I the only one who never gets tired of the whole Roman legionnaire theme that Sakara is working with? The tattoos, the nickname, I love it.
You know what else I love, though, is Chris Leben coming out to 2Pac’s “Picture Me Rollin’”. Way to raise the bar, Leben.
Buffer, intro for Sakara: “This man is a boxer…” Really? Are we still doing that? They’re all mixed martial artists. The sooner we accept this, the better.
Leben’s looking to brawl right off, but Sakara is circling well and not standing in front of him. Leben’s hands are way down and he’s winging his punches. Sakara is finding those openings, but Leben isn’t slowing down. Two big looping left hooks from Leben buckle Sakara’s legs, and Leben follows him to the ground to finish it.
Herb Dean moves in to stop it, and that’s the right decision. Sakara doesn’t like it, but he probably also doesn’t remember half of the punches he got hit with there at the end.
Leben describes his performance as “slanging and banging”, adding, “That’s just action, that’s all that is.” Leave it to Leben to make the post-fight interview seem worthwhile.
Cheick Kongo vs. Heath Herring
I have to say I love Heath Herring’s entrance, but he has a reputation for — as they used to say about The Ultimate Warrior — “generating a lot of excitement…prior to the bell.”
Kongo looks subdued but terrifying, as usual.
Herring comes charging out and connects with a right. Nice use of the old gong and rush by Herring. Kongo rebounds with a takedown and we see some his improved ground game. They exchange a few sweeps and takedowns, though Kongo seems in control. He gets Herring’s back at one point and inexplicably gives it right up. The first round goes to Kongo on my scorecard.
Herring tries to start fast again, but Kongo has wised up and puts him on his back. An upkick from Herring, and Kongo decides to stand over him and toy with Herring for reasons unknown. After a restart Kongo puts Herring down again, but gets reversed. Herring grinds away at Kongo with knees from North-South, and Kongo may be gassed because he seems content to wait out the round. Herring stole that round due to Kongo’s inactivity and lackadaisical attitude.
Herring knocks Kongo down with a kick to the body, but he manages to scramble. They get back to the ground and Herring again gets North-South, pounding Kongo with knees. Kongo doesn’t seem to understand that he needs to get up if he doesn’t want to lose this by decision. As much as this fight has shown an improved ground game from Kongo, it’s also showcased some poor decision-making from the French fighter.
Heath Herring wins by split decision. It’s the right call, but a split decision? Guess who was the lone judge was who scored it for Kongo? That’s right. Cecil Peoples rides again.
Herring says he’s disappointed it wasn’t a standup battle, claims he didn’t train on the ground at all. That’s a strange thing to say, but not as strange as Herring’s public plea for a Budweiser-sponsored “Crazy Horse Beer Tour” in Iraq. I gotta be honest, I don’t see it happening, Heath.
Main event time.
Goldberg, on Henderson: “This man right here defines cagefighter.”
I don’t know about that, but Hendo’s entrance definitely defines old school awesomeness. They’re even showing off the Pride belt, as if it’s still relevant. If Silva wins, will he get it? You see my point.
Silva comes out to DMX. Rogan wastes no time trotting out the “ballet of violence” phrase, while Goldberg resorts to the old stand-by, immovable object versus the unstoppable force. Let’s just get to the fighting.
Silva is doing a good job of keeping the distance with his kicks, but Dan isn’t rushing anything. A nice front kick from Silva slips through Hendo’s defenses. A body lock by Henderson and down goes Silva. Right away Henderson adopts some big brother tactics, covering Silva’s mouth and hammer-fisting him in the ear. Silva tries to scramble away and Henderson ends up in his guard as the first round comes to a close.
Silva opens up his stand-up game in this round, trying to bait Henderson into trading with him. Henderson goes for a takedown and settles for trying to pull guard. He gets up into a body lock, but Silva is stinging Henderson now with knees and big punches. Henderson hangs on somehow, but Silva keeps the pressure on. He takes Henderson’s back, pounding away at him and securing a body triangle. Henderson tries to roll out but Silva locks up a rear naked choke. The seconds are ticking away, but Henderson can’t hold on. He’s forced to tap with just eight seconds left.
Anderson Silva retains his title in an impressive display of all around dominance. It’s hard not to think of Silva as the pound-for-pound best in the world after that display.
That’s it for me, fight fans. A good night of fights for the UFC, and I hope you enjoyed the live blog.