(You ready for this? Photo courtesy of MMA Weekly.)
We are live at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for an extra-special, on-the-scene liveblog of UFC 91. What does that mean for your life? It means preliminary results, witty observations about crowd members, and constant updates as to what Arianny Celeste is up to throughout the night. At the same time, I don’t want to miss out on all your hilarious quips about the live broadcast, including but not limited to the banter between Joe Rogan and the century man, Mike Goldberg, so please fill me in with your comments.
Liveblog begins after the jump. Hit refresh often. If you don’t want the prelims spoiled for you…too bad. Just suck it up and deal.
The arena is barely more than half-full as the preliminaries begin. Matt Brown and Ryan Thomas both look a tad bit nervous anyway. Brown comes right across the cage and fires off some punches, but Thoms changes levels and looks for a takedown. They clinch and Brown executes a nice hip throw, but Thomas stays with him and reverses the position on the mat. He seems to be controlling Brown well and landing some decent punches.
Brown gets back to his feet, only to get taken back down. Brown grabs an arm and may have it locked in. Thomas rolls with it and fights his way out. Brown sweeps him, ends up in Thomas’ guard, but can’t do much damage. With under thirty seconds left in the round, Brown locks up a tight guillotine, but the wily Thomas slips out. Looks like 10-9 Thomas to me. Arianny is stretching.
Thomas looks for a takedown right away and eventually gets it. Both men are starting to look a little fatigued. Brown locks up an armbar from the bottom. Thomas tries to slam his way out, but no dice. It’s Tapuary first, and rent’s due. A gritty performance by Brown results in a victory. Arianny appears to be texting. Naturally, her cell phone is pink.
Matt Brown def. Ryan Thomas via submission (armbar) at 0:57 of round two.
I just realized, after Bruce Buffer said it, that Robinson’s nickname is “Kid.” I think that’s awesome, in an old-timey kind of way. Bocek gets a takedown almost immediately and goes to work from Robinson’s guard. It’s not exactly an overwhelming work rate, but he’s staying busy enough. Bocek passes, gets to half-guard and does a little more damage with elbows, then gets to side control. Bocek moves to north-south and works for a d’arce choke in the last ten seconds. It looks tight, but Robinson toughs it out until the end of the round. 10-9 Bocek.
Robinson lands a good straight right and gets Bocek moving backwards, but the Canadian pulls a sweet wizzer for a takedown. He looks for a guillotine, then flips Robinson over, then gets put on his back again. This continues a few more times. They’re all over the place now, a frenetic pace on the mat. Bocek is in control, taking Robinson’s back, working a little ground-and-pound, but can’t find a finish. He looks for an omaplata at the end of the round but Robinson is out. Great back and forth, but it’s definitely Bocek’s round, 10-9.
Robinson looks for a standing guillotine to start the final frame, but Bocek slams his way out of it and then moves to side control. Now Bocek mounts Robinson. He’s controlling the fight, but his ground-and-pound isn’t as effective as it could be. No sooner do I type that, then he starts to open up and land some punches from the top. Robinson doesn’t care for this. He rolls and gives up his back. Bocek digs for a rear naked choke and gets it. Tappy, tappy, tappy.
Mark Bocek def. Alvin Robinson via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:16 of round three.
A guy somewhere behind me seems to know exactly what Robinson should have done to get out of that. Don’t worry, he’s letting the whole arena know about it. And here I was worried he might keep that knowledge to himself.
And we have our first ‘Kick his ass, Sea Bass’ shout of the night. I can’t believe it took this long. Dos Anjos and Stephens are both tentative to start. They clinch against the cage, Dos Anjos looks for a single-leg, can’t get it, but gets around behind Stephens and gets him down with a suplex-type attempt. Dos Anjos is controlling Stephens on the mat, and fights his way through a guillotine attempt to get side control. His corner is screaming ‘Porrada!’ constantly. From what Brazilians tell me, that’s basically an exhortation to kick ass. Not necessarly the most helpful advice, but it’s a morale-builder.
Dos Anjos looks for a omaplata as the round nears its end, but Stephens suffers through it. 10-9 Dos Anjos. Arianny is playing with her hair and sitting next to Mario Yamasaki.
We get a little stand-up action to start the round. Stephens is throwing big, looping rights, but Dos Anjos is defending well. He times one of Stephens’ punches perfectly and shoots for a double-leg. He scoops Stephens up high and slams him so that the whole arena feels it. Dos Anjos gets Stephens’ back and is porrada-ing the shit out of him right now. He transitions to an armbar, but Stephens sees it coming and escapes, giving him the opportunity to work some ground-and-pound of Dos Anjos’ guard. A few decent punches get through before the bell, and it might be enough to steal the round for Stephens. I gotta call it 10-9 for Dos Anjos, though.
Some tentative jabbing and a few traded leg kicks start the final frame. Stephens backs Dos Anjos up to against the fence and then winds up and unloads with a huge right uppercut that knocks Dos Anjos on his ass. Stephens adds a few more unnecessary punches before the ref stops it.
A huge knockout for a comeback victory. Stephens flings himself at the Octagon fence in celebration. The crowd just woke up. Dos Anjos is starting to come around, too, albeit slowly.
Jeremy Stephens def. Rafael Dos Anjos via KO (uppercut/porrada!) at 0:39 of round three.
An especially sweet Buffer turn during the introduction of Riley. Bruce is feeling it tonight.
After trading a few punches, Riley straight-up punts Gurgel’s testicles. The impact sounds like someone hitting an orange with a fungo bat. Gurgel doesn’t use much of his allotted time to recover, which always irks me for some reason, but he looks fine as he comes right back and delivers some punishing body kicks. They are going toe-to-toe with everything they’ve got now: punches, body kicks, head kicks, you name it. Gurgel is getting the better of it as the round winds down, but it’s a war that has both men looking battered. 10-9, Gurgel.
We now resume our regularly scheduled brawling. Riley is starting to come on. He throws a head kick that Gurgel blocks but still seems to take some damage from. Later in the round Riley lands a good left that momentarily stuns Gurgel, but can’t capitalize. Jorge Gurgel is in a very exciting, fast-paced fight. I almost can’t believe what I’m seeing. Riley continues to be the aggressor and even tosses Gurgel to the mat once. It’s enough to win the round for him. 10-9, Riley. All square heading into the final round.
Riley lands a left head kick that has Gurgel reeling. He follows it up with big left hands in close, working his dirty boxing in the clinch. Gurgel is looking wobbly, but he weathers the storm. The left hand continues to land cleanly for Riley. Gurgel slips on a leg kick and Riley helps him the rest of the way down with a kick of his own, but it isn’t long before Gurgel is back on his feet again. As the round winds down, Gurgel keeps shooting for takedowns, probably because he sees a decision slipping away. One such shot ends up with Riley briefing mounting Gurgel.
What a fight. I didn’t think Gurgel had it in him. In a fair world, it could easily be Fight of the Night, though Gurgel’s likely to lose the decision.
And so it goes. All three judges give it to Riley. Well-earned.
Aaron Riley def. Jorge Gurgel via unanimous decision.
After a brief coffee break, we’re ready to go live on pay-per-view. The house is pretty packed now. As soon as they see Lesnar’s big, square mug on the big screen, the fans voice their disapproval big time. These people love them some Couture. Lesnar says he isn’t just here to do his best. Is he saying my Little League was wrong?
Despite the excitement, Arianny is slouched in her chair, eyes closed, getting a scalp massage from the woman who appears to be the official UFC ring girl handler. Good work if you can get it.
+10 points for Maia for coming out to the “Encore/Numb” mash-up. 50 Cent is in the house. This appears to please Arianny.
Maia is making little secret of the fact that he would like this fight to be a grappling affair. A few perfunctory punches and then down we go. He’s all over Quarry and it isn’t long before he has The Rock’s back. Maia has a body triangle, is peppering Quarry with punches and hammer fists from behind. Maia slips his arm in for a rear naked choke and Quarry can’t tap fast enough. Damn, is Maia that good, or is Quarry that rusty? Maybe a little of both, but I tend to think it’s more the former than the latter. Take note, UFC middleweights.
Demian Maia def. Nate Quarry via submisision (rear naked choke) at 2:13 of round 1
Josh Hendricks vs. Gabriel Gonzaga.
Show me a person who doesn’t get pumped when they hear Danzig’s “Mother,” and I’ll show you a person I don’t want to party with. Gabriel Gonzaga is not such a person. It seems that Hendricks is sponsored by both Guns America and Jesus Didn’t Tap. What a combination. I feel a “U.S.A.!” chant coming on.
Gonzaga is manhandling Hendricks early on, shoving him around, landing some hard shots. These punches have some stank on them. A hard right finds Hendricks’ chin and he crumples. Gonzaga adds a couple more for good measure while Steve Mazzagatti looks on approvingly. Welcome to the UFC, Mr. Hendricks. Enjoy your nap.
Gabriel Gonzaga def. Josh Hendricks via KO (punches) at 1:01 of round one.
Hazelett is sporting a Unabomber beard as he comes out to “Bad Moon Rising.” Interesting choices.
The Barn Cat swarms all over Hazelett with a torrent of punches, but Hazelett covers up and looks mostly unfazed. McCrory slips and Hazelett tries to capitalize with a flying knee-type thing. When it doesn’t work he gives an ‘aw, shucks’ smile that is downright endearing. McCrory’s leg and body kicks are his most effective weapons thus far. In a scramble Hazelett locks on an omaplata, but McCrory is defending well. Hazelett turns it into more of a straight arm lock and McCrory has to tap. Impressive, technical performance from Hazelett. The replay confirms that McCrory’s arm is going to be sooooooore.
Dustin Hazelett def. Tamdan McCrory via submission (arm lock) at 3:59 of round one.
When Anderson Silva is shown on the big screen, the crowd lets him know that they still love him, no matter what anyone says.
Florian and Stevenson come out to Jay-Z and 50 Cent, respectively. Arianny is digging it. She’s up out of her chair and dancing for the first time all night. Go on, girl. Florian takes the center of the Octagon and bows. His banner reveals that he’s sponsored by Versa Climber. How bout that.
IMPORTANT: If you’re enjoying this liveblog — hell, even if you’re not — please, please, please Digg it. Seriously, do us this one favor.
Florian is the more active fighter at the start, outdancing Stevenson and slipping in a few decent punches. Stevenson clinches and looks to get the action to the mat. He picks Florian up and KenFlo briefly grabs the cage before going down, which earns him a stern rebuke from referee Herb Dean. Bakc on their feet, Florian tries a high kick to Stevenson’s dome, then slams him to the mat a few second later. Florian mounts and drops some punches. Stevenson gives his back, and the choke follows soon thereafter. Over here on press row, Franklin McNeil doesn’t hide his pleasure at seeing his MMA Live co-host get the win.
Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture
Lesnar comes out to some black album-era Metallica. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to being won over by him. Couture is coming out to Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle.” Predictable? Maybe. Totally fucking sweet? Definitely. They’re chanting Randy’s name in the MGM Grand. And he is loving it.
Buffer is selling this shit hard. He must be watching old videos of the Pride lady. His enthusiasm is almost frightening. I want him drug-tested.
It is immediately apparent when they square off just how much bigger Lesnar is. Lesnar controls him in the clinch at first, but Couture gets some space and fires off a good right. Lesnar tries for a takedown, but settles for another clinch. Single-leg by Lesnar put Couture on his back. Couture works his way back up bit by bit and almost takes Lesnar’s back before getting slung back to the mat. Lesnar’s strength is thus far making up for his lack of polish. A couple punches from Lesnar get through, but Couture is back to his feet, pressing Lesnar against the cage. Couture picks the big man up for a quick moment, but it doesn’t go anywhere. The round ends just as they separate. Looks like a 10-9 for Lesnar from where I’m sitting.
They exchange punches and Lesnar lands a good right. Couture plays it up and Lesnar charges in, but it seems like a savvy veteran trick more than anything else. They stand and bang in the middle of the cage, with Couture getting the better of it. Lesnar is cut around his right eye. A right hand behind the ear from Lesnar drops Couture. The big man pounces and lands about thirty hammer fists in his patented ‘angry four-year-old’ punching style. Couture may be out. The ref is giving him lots of leeway. He attempts to roll off his back, but Lesnar is overwhelming him. Yamasaki stops it. And we have a new UFC heavyweight champ.
Lesnar hops atop the cage and surveys his kingdom. The crowd does not appreciate it.
Brock Lesnar def. Randy Couture via TKO (punches) at 3:07 of round two.
He gives Couture props for coming in after a year off and facing “a young buck like me.” Even when he’s giving someone else credit he manages to sound a little dickish. Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta chat with Lesnar during Couture’s post-fight interview. They seem…pleased.
That’s it for me, Potato Nation. I’m off to the press conference. Hope you enjoyed the evening as much as I did. If you haven’t dug our liveblog yet, do it now before I get pissed.