RANDY COUTURE VS. GABRIEL GONZAGA Heavyweight Championship Bout
Gabriel certainly earned this shot at the heavyweight belt, though its probably not the match that the UFC wanted. The UFC spent a lot of money to bring Pride veteran Mirko Cro Cop to the Octagon with hopes that a mega pay-per-view event again Hall of Famer Randy Couture would recoup its investment. But like a Mike Tyson comeback, it just wasnt meant to be. Mirko took a tune-up fight against a little known up-and-comer named Gabriel Gonzaga and got knocked out cold.
ImageThe 44-year old champion, Randy Couture, takes on the 28-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Gabriel Gonzaga, who bears a slight resemblance to Chief Wiggum. The ageless Couture has been here before. 10 of Coutures last 12 fights have been title fights. Couture has the ability to pull off the impossible, coming out of retirement to beat the younger and bigger heavyweight champ, Tim Sylvia. But even Couture has acknowledged his fighting style would have matched up better against Cro Cop than Gonzaga. Gonzaga has won all four of his UFC fights, none of which went to decision.
When the fight started, both guys came out swinging
and connecting. Randy kept Gonzaga pressed up against the fence where he could control the fight, throw elbows, land body shots or force a takedown. Gonzaga was dealt some rotten luck when his nose sustained a deep gash on the bridge during a takedown and most likely was broken. Gonzaga bled like a stuck pig and never seemed to overcome it. He just wasnt prepared to be muscled up against the fence for the entire round. Round one went to Couture.
In the second, Gonzaga tried a high leg kick that Randy ducked under and pressed Gonzaga back against the fence. Gonzaga told the ref he couldnt see and the ref called timeout. But Gonzaga didnt want to quit, just have the blood wiped. Referee Dean said you cant stop the fight for that. Either fight or quit. When the fight resumed Randy had his back and tried to spin Gonzaga around for a takedown but Gonzaga avoided it by holding the fence. Referee Herb Dean immedietly took a point, no warning. Randy smelled blood and poured it on. I winced each time Randy punched him in the nose. Man, that has to hurt. Still Gonzaga fought on gamely trying for takedowns but he could not get away from the fence. Round two goes to Couture even without the help of the point deduction.
Gonzaga finally landed some high leg kicks in the third. The second one really stunned Couture and Randy wisely took Gonzaga to the fence where he could control the fight. With just over three and a half minutes left, Couture got a takedown and half-guard and began the ground-and-pound process. Couture landed uncontested left-hand after left-hand until finally Herb Dean stopped the fight. Randy Couture remains the UFC Heavyweight Champion!
An unbelievable win for the 44-year-old Randy Couture, now 16-8. He overwhelmed a younger, bigger fighter. If you cannot escape when Couture has you wrapped up against the fence, you are toast. Gonzaga, now 8-2, worked hard for this shot and came away with nothing but stitches. I cant imagine where he goes from here. For those who appreciate shiny objects, celebrities in attendance included Keanu Reeves, Kobe Bryant (with who I hope was his wife), Lee Majors (who spontaneously put a chokehold on Forrest Griffin), Michael Irvin, and Jenna Jameson (hanging on her beau Tito Ortiz). What? No Kevin James?
GEORGES ST. PIERRE VS. JOSH KOSCHECK
The under-appreciated Josh Koscheck is fresh from exposing the UFCs golden boy, Diego Sanchez, as overrated. Josh dominated the previously unbeaten Sanchez for a three round unanimous decision in UFC 69 last March. Josh is on a five fight winning streak and tonight he faces the former champ Georges St. Pierre, a man who has something to prove after losing his Welterweight belt getting knocked out by underdog Matt Sera in UFC 69.
In the first round, St. Pierre shot in for the takedown and pretty much controlled Josh for 3 1/2 minutes on the ground. Koscheck got a takedown with just over a minute left and finished the round on top. Close, but the round probably went to Georges for controlling the round longer. In the second, Georges landed a leg kick and quickly went for the takedown. He held Josh down for the entire round, making three Kimura arm attempts. Josh put up no offense and lost his second round. Fortunately for Joshs face, Georges wasnt interested in ground-and-pound and seemed content to try submissions. The third round stayed standing for 3 minutes with Georges landing the only shots and leg kicks. Josh took him down with two minutes left but Georges landed on top. St. Pierre dominated Koscheck until the bell rang, this time throwing some elbows that bloodied Joshs nose.
Georges seemed really strong, really conditioned and really in control. With the unanimous decision, his MMA record improves to 14-2. As for Koscheck, the loss wont hurt him. Hell be back. Losing to GSP is nothing to be ashamed of. Koscheck (MMA 11-2) got controlled but not blown out. He just cant say hes a better wrestler than GSP anymore.
Always the gentlemen, Georges said in Koschecks ear after the decision was announced, Ive been there before
youre gonna be back
During his post-fight interview with Rogan, Georges apologized to his fans for his loss to Sera calling it the best thing that ever have happened to me for my career. Never shy about post-fight requests, Georges grabbed the mic and asked Dana White to hold a UFC event in Montreal Canada saying the people there would go crazy. Dana smiled and applauded from his seat.
ROGER HUERTA VS. ALBERTO CRANE
This lightweight bout features the Sports Illustrated cover boy, Roger Huerta, undefeated in four UFC fights, against Alberto Crane, an unbeaten Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion making his UFC debut.
The first round was a jiu-jitsu clinic with each man escaping and applying multiple submission attempts. Between which, Huerta would land some serious blows from the guard. He cracked Crane in the face and opened a bleeding mouse under his left eye. In the second, Crane went for more takedowns and leg holds leaving his face unprotected and Huertas fists would make him pay. By the end of the round Crane was exhausted as Huertas superior conditioning allowed him to escape every submission attempt and punch Crane in the face for the effort. Crane had nothing left for the third round. Huerta continued his beat down. At one point Crane was holding onto Huerta from behind. Huerta looked up at the big screen to see where Crane was hiding his head and landed some back elbows, one side then the other. With just over three minutes left, Huerta was in full mount pounding away. Crane turned over and left his head unprotected. Huerta landed a few blows before the referee stopped the fight.
This was an amazing win for Huerta, who improves his MMA record to 21-1-1, because usually those jiu-jitsu guys get a fighter on the floor, take him out of his game, exhaust him with relentless submission attempts, and eventually cinch one for the tap out. Fortunatley, Huerta overwhelmed Crane with his physical conditioning and wore his man out. The undefeated Crane loses his UFC debut and drops to 8-1. Roger Huerta is 5-0 in the UFC and is now a SERIOUS contender!
JOE STEVENSON VS. KURT PELLEGRINO
The Ultimate Fighter Two (TUF 2) winner Joe Stevenson is back for his 6th UFC fight with only 1 loss. His last win a guillotine choke submission win over Melvin Guillard in Fight Night 9 last April. Kurt Pellegrino won two of his last three UFC fights. Stevenson won TUF 2 as a welterweight but after losing his next welterweight bout, he dropped down to lightweight and became a terror, winning his next three fights. This is a good fight for Pellegrino but I would love to see Stevenson step it up and go against some upper echelon talent like Penn, Pulver, Diaz, Fisher, Gamburyan or Sherk.
Everything Pellegrino tried in the first round seemed to end up with him in a guillotine chokehold. Both fighters were active but Stevenson was silly with submission attempts. Pellegrino started to score points near the end of the round making it too close to call. The second round started with 2 and a half minutes of standup, each fighter landing some good cheese. Afterwhich the fight went to the ground where Stevenson laid down the ground-and-pound and opened up a cut on Pellegrinos forehead with an elbow. While leaping into Joes guard with 49 seconds left on the clock, Pellegrino landed a beautiful shot right on Joes face to let him know he wasnt giving up. Moe of the same in the third. Then with a minute left, Stevenson turned it on while he had an exhausted Pellegrino against the fence and pounded out a unanimous decision.
Once again Stevenson showed good sportsmanship in his post fight comments with Rogan, giving much respect to Pellegrino and blessing our troops in the armed forces. He asked Rogan if he should get a title shot and Rogan concurred. Joe ups his MMA record to an amazing 33-7. He is ready for a title-shot with Sherk or at least a big-money fight against Pulver or Penn (all things possible). The persistent Pellegrino drops to 16-3 but looked good and was not embarrassed by Stevenson.
PATRICK COTE VS. KENDALL GROVE
|Kendall Grove, the winner of the Ultimate Fighter 3 (TUF 3) television show, goes for his fourth straight UFC win against TUF 4 runner-up, Canadian Patrick Cote. The long-legged Grove is highly regarded as a future champion but will have to get past a crafty veteran first. This is definitely a test for Kendall that he needs to pass.
The first round was busy but inconclusive with both men mostly against the fence jockeying for position. Then, with 53 seconds left in the round, coming off a clinch, Cote drops Kendall with a right cross behind the ear. Kendall wobbles to the mat and Cote jumps on, gets full mount and tries to pound out a stoppage. But Kendall is squirming all over the place. Cote tries a rear naked choke but no deal. Then Kendall rolls onto his side after a taking a shot in the face. It gives Cote clear access to land some heavy right-handed bombs. After bouncing a few off Kendalls head, the ref stopped the fight.
Impressive victory for Patrick Cote who beats a formidable opponent and improves his MMA record to 12-4. For Kendall Grove, he not only lost his first UFC fight and drops his MMA record to 10-4. He also lost a lot of mystique tonight much like Diego Sanchez did after his loss at UFC 69.
THALES LEITES VS. RYAN JENSEN
This middleweight bout features, Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, Thales Leites, taking this fight on short notice, against Ryan Jensen making his UFC debut. Thales lost his UFC debut but won his next two UFC fights. Six of Ryans MMA wins came by way of choke but he prefers to stand and fight.
Ryan Jensen came out active, landing multiple leg kicks, escaping submissions. For four minutes he controlled the fight. Then with 1:17 left in the round, he got caught in an arm bar and tapped out. Thats what happens with these jiu-jitsu fighters, they can be losing the fight, their opponent makes one mistake and they catch him in a submission.
Thales improves to 12-1. Jensen loses his UFC debut and drops to 11-2.
In the Dark Matches
Renato Sobral defeated David Heath via Anaconda choke Submission at 3:30 of Rd 2
Frank Mir handily took out Antoni Hardonk by Submission at 1:17 of Rd 1
Clay Guida won over Marcus Aurelio via Split Decision after 3 rounds.