Las Vegas, Nevada-- The Ultimate Fighting Championship once again demonstrated its ability to put on an excellent show in the face of mainstream pressure with UFC 54: Boiling Point. Several brutal wars highlighted the eight bout card, with the standout being the fourth round TKO victory for Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell, who retains his Light Heavyweight Title belt against challenger Jeremy Horn.
Chuck Defends Title; Couture Wins in Wrestling War
Las Vegas, Nevada-- The Ultimate Fighting Championship once again demonstrated its ability to put on an excellent show in the face of mainstream pressure with UFC 54: Boiling Point. Several brutal wars highlighted the eight bout card, with the standout being the fourth round TKO victory for Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell, who retained his Light Heavyweight Title belt against challenger Jeremy Horn. Although a much different fight than their first bout, the rematch was quite the slugfest, as it looked like more of a kickboxing match than a mixed martial arts fight. Horn looked very solid in the opening stanza of the bout, utilizing excellent head movement and crisp double jabs to stifle Liddells power punching style. Halfway through the first round, Liddell connected with two stiff right crosses to knock Jeremy to the mat. Jeremy managed to survive an onslaught of ground and pound only to be knocked down once again from a big right hand.
The second round saw Horn coming out more aggressive, as he landed first connecting with a nice jab-cross combination before landing a thudding left kick to the liver. Liddell kept coming though, managing to knock Jeremy to the canvas with yet another right cross.
The third round showed a glimmer of hope for Jeremy Horn, as he managed to keep Liddell at bay with precise kicks to the lead leg. Horn even managed to momentarily stun Liddell in the rounds closing moments, connecting with a picture perfect right cross. Unfortunately for Jeremy Horn, the last glimmer of hope slipped through his fingers in the fourth round, as "the Iceman" landed one more of his patented right hands to put Jeremy down to the canvas for the final time. Referee "Big" John McCarthy motioned for Horn to get up, but Jeremy verbally submited. The official stoppage came from a TKO at 2:46 of round 4, with Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell successfully defending his Light Heavyweight crown for the first time.
The nights swing bout between Tim "the Maine-iac" Sylvia and Tra "Trauma" Telligman was also quite the strikers delight. Tra looked very good with his precise jab-crosses, and later on in the round opened up with strong lunging left hooks and right overhands. Sylvia also looked to have improved striking skills, as he constantly connected with hard right leg kicks to set up his strong straight punches. After hardly throwing any kicks with his left leg, Sylvia brought his leg up to connect firmly to Telligmans head, dropping him to the canvas in a heap. Tim Sylvia defeats Tra Telligman by KO at 4:59 of round 1.
Randy "the Natural" Couture got back on track with a third round submission victory over fellow wrestler Mike Van Arsdale in what was a great display of wrestling ability by both warriors. The first round was a difficult one to score, as both fighters neutralized each other with strong wrestling. Van Arsdale had a slight edge in the striking department, scoring with crisp double jab-cross combinations. The second round saw Couture pressing the action with some strikes, stunning Mike with a counter left hook. Couture then opened up a cut over Van Arsdales right eye with some ground and pound from side control. The third round started with Arsdale opening up with some nice flurries, but Couture scored a nice takedown to get out of trouble before locking in a "Marce choke" to submit Van Arsdale at 0:52 of round 3.
The Ultimate Fighter Middleweight winner Diego "the Nightmare" Sanchez used his superior ground skills to brutalize Brian "Mandingo" Gassaway with ground and pound. Diego first used a guillotine choke to gain side control before unleashing four minutes of punches and elbows. Gassaway somehow survived, even stifling an armbar attempt in the final seconds of the opening round. Gassaway came out hard in the second, dropping Diego with a hard right hook while Sanchez was coming in low but Sanchez managed to recover, taking Gassaway down with an ankle pick before attaining the mount. This was the beginning of the end for "Mandingo," as Sanchez bombarded him with all manner of vicious strikes until Gassaway tapped out at 1:56 of round 2.
George St. Pierre made Frank "Twinkle Toes" Trigg eat his words and in return made Trigg look like the B-level fighter, as St. Pierre dominated this one from the opening bell to the finish. "Rush" was able to secure the mounted position immediately, proceeding to pound Trigg from every position possible. Wanting no more of the strikes, Trigg gave his back to St. Pierre where he was met by his ultimate demise, the kryptonite to his Superman, the rear naked choke at 4:09 of round one. St. Pierre now moves right back into the main picture of top contenders for Matt Hughes Welter Weight belt, a bout that may not take place until 2006.
Matt "The Law" Lindland put his number one contender spot on the line, scoring a unanimous decision victory over a very game Joe Doerksen. This was one of the most exciting fights of the night, with both fighters changing positions and near submissions. Lindland did just enough to pull out the unanimous decision, and made it clear that he wants to a title fight against champion Rich Franklin ASAP.
Trevor Prangley won a unanimous decision over Travis Lutter in a classic wrestler vs. jiujitsu stylist match up. Prangley had the edge in the striking portion, but managed to low-blow Lutter twice in the process. Lutter did manage to recover both times, and came out more aggressive each time. His aggression was not enough, however, as Prangley repeatedly put Lutter on his back and forced him to play catch-up on the points.
One of the best knockouts in UFC history, came when James Irvin defeated Terry Martin. Irvin showed his striking skills early on, before being slammed by Martin. Irvin spent most of the first round on his back, and his corner must have told him to come out aggressively in the second. Just nine seconds into round two Irvin leapt into the air and connected with a flying left knee to the face of Martin, who was later carried out of the octagon on a stretcher. -MMARR-