February 2, 2008 – Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada TIM SYLVIA VS. ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA Interim Heavyweight Championship
This fight is for the interim heavyweight belt because the “current” heavyweight champ, Randy Couture, declined a championship fight with Minotauro Nogueira. Minotauro is a former PRIDE Heavyweight champion. He owns victories over Mirko Cro Cop, Dan Henderson, Josh Barnett, Bob Sapp, Jeremy Horn and Mark Coleman. Nogueira won his UFC debut against Heath Herring in UFC 73. He faces off against Tim Sylvia, the former UFC Heavyweight champ. Sylvia has won seven of his last eight fights, the last a unanimous decision win over Brandon Vera in UFC 77. Unfortunately the loss was a championship fight against Randy Couture at UFC 68. Nogueira has never been knocked out, Sylvia wants to be the first to do it. Sylvia is hard to take down, Nogueira is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist with one of the best guard games in the business. Sylvia looks to regain his belt for the third time, however interim it may be. Nogueira looks to gain a new one.
In the first, Sylvia floored Nogueira with a big left-right combo to the jaw. Sylvia jumped on and began pounding the face of a badly hurt Nogueira. Nogueira persevered but suffered a cut under his right eye during the exchange. Every time Nogueira tried to take Sylvia down, he was either stuffed or Tim ended up on top. Tim would then let Nogueira get up to continue the fight on their feet.
In the second, it was clear Nogueira had no answer for Sylvia. He ate Tim’s big looping punches and couldn’t take Tim to the ground. Nogueira landed a few stiff jabs and leg kicks but was on a steady diet of left hooks, uppercuts and looping right hands. Another round for Sylvia with excellent take-down defense.
The third round started with more punishment for Nogueira. He finally got a take-down by pulling Tim down on top of him. Tim was getting ready to stand up but Nogueira grabbed his leg, pulled a sweep and took side-control. Tim bucked him up and tried to slide out from under him but Nogueira grabbed his head and secured a guillotine choke. Nogueira rolled on his back and wrapped his legs around Tim’s torso, tightening the choke and forcing Tim to tap out.
An impressive come-from-behind win for the Nogueira (31-4-1) after getting man-handled by Sylvia (26-4). Minotauro Nogueira becomes the first man to own a belt in PRIDE and the UFC. Sylvia will probably be beside himself worrying about the one that got away.
In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, a classy Nogueira expressed gratitude for fighting in America and in the UFC and wondered if Randy Couture might want to return and fight him.
FRANK MIR VS. BROCK LESNAR Heavyweight bout
This fight marks the UFC debut of former WWE professional wrestler & NCAA national wrestling champion, Brock Lesnar. Lacking Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) skills and experience, the UFC has high hopes that Brock will become a marquee name in the heavyweight division. This fight should answer the question of whether a professional wrestler has the heart for a real fight. But this is no tune-up fight for Brock. He goes up against Frank Mir, the former UFC Heavyweight champion until a motorcycle accident all but ended his career in 2004. Looking to regain his belt, Frank is on an amazing comeback and fought UFC four fights, winning two. Big Brock Lesnar is the only UFC fighter to require size 3XL gloves. Will strength and power be enough to overcome the MMA experience of Frank Mir?
Within seconds, Brock took Mir to the ground and machined-gunned punches to Frank’s head. Frank looked overwhelmed. The ref called timeout because the punches were illegal blows to the back of the head and took a point away from Lesnar. Somehow I don’t think Frank will survive long enough to collect on the point. When the fight resumed, Brock put Mir on his keester with a right cross and jumped on Mir to resume the machine-gun punches to the head. Mir persevered and almost got an arm bar. Brock resumed the hammer fists but seem to peter out this time. Mir held on to Brock’s body with Lesnar on his knees. Brock landed a big elbow and Mir fell onto his back. Lesnar stood up and stood over Mir, still on his back.
Brock reached down with a few punches, not noticing that Frank had stuck his left foot behind his leg. Frank rolled around and grabbed Brock’s ankle with his left hand, eating another Brock Lesnar punch but securing a tight foot lock. Brock tried to jump out of it and fell down enabling Mir to leverage a deep knee bar. Clearly out of his happy place, Brock had no idea what to do next and settled for tapping out.
A huge, huge Victory for Frank Mir (11-3), who was overwhelmed by the strength of Brock Lesnar (now 1-1). Mir kept his composure, weathered the storm, waited for Brock to tire, waited for Brock to make a mistake and leave something out there. When he did, Frank Mir used his superior submission skills to steal a stunning victory from the brink of defeat. Frank Mir may have just saved the UFC from legions of professional wrestlers following in Brock’s footsteps. Well done, Frank Mir.
In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, a good-natured Brock Lesnar laughed at the chorus of boos. Unlike in a professional wrestling interview where there is a lot of over-hyped smack talk, Brock offered no excuses, complimenting Mir on his Jiu-Jitsu and called him the better fighter. Brock promised he would be back.
NATE MARQUARDT VS. JEREMY HORN Middleweight bout
Jeremy Horn has a long and distinguished MMA career beginning with his first fight in the UFC against Frank Shamrock at UFC 17 in May of 1998. Nearly a year later he beat Chuck Liddell in UFC 19. In the rematch against Chuck Liddell in UFC 54, Jeremy put on a gutsy performance, eating Chuck’s hardest punches, refusing to be knocked out until a broken eye socket finally did Horn in. He goes up against Nate Marquardt, who won his first four UFC fights before getting TKO’d by Anderson Silva in UFC 73. Nate took the fight on short notice, substituting for the injured Thales Leites.
Horn took some heavy punishment in the first round. From Horn’s guard, Nate landed several head-bouncing shots and a few vicious elbows. From the clinch, Nate landed a knee and later followed that with a vicious elbow that crumpled Horn to the canvas. But it takes much more than that to knock out Jeremy Horn. Horn survived the round and even managed a submission attempt before the horn sounded. Jeremy Horn is one tough son-of-gun.
Horn came out unfazed for the second round and took Nate to the ground. From the top position, Horn opened up a small cut over Nate’s right eye with an elbow strike. When Horn got to his feet for better leverage, Nate kicked him away and jumped to his feet. Horn quickly shot in but Nate secured a standing guillotine and forced Jeremy to tap out.
With an impressive submission win, Nate Marquardt improves his MMA record to 29-7-1. The very tough Jeremy Horn drops to 88-17-5.
TYSON GRIFFIN VS. GLEISON TIBAU Lightweight bout
Since losing his UFC debut to in UFC 65, Gleison Tibau dropped down to lightweight where he won his next 3 UFC fights. He squares off against up-and-coming Tyson Griffin. Tyson has won three out of four UFC fights, the last an unanimous decision win over Thiago Tavares.
The first round saw both men willing to stand and slug it out. At first, there were a lost of missed punches and a lot of posturing. With 1:30 left in the round, Tyson began to land some heavy blows, which forced Tibau to shoot in and take Tyson to the ground to escape further punishment. Tyson escaped only to get taken down again. Very close round but the nod probably went to Griffin.
The second round saw both fighters standing in the middle of the octagon landing big shots. Tibau took him down and once again, Tyson escaped and got to his feet. Tyson landed some big right hands and some nice leg kicks. Tibau got another takedown but for third time, could not keep Tyson on the floor.
In the final round, Tibau took Tyson down and this time was able to hold him there for a while. He got in a few shots but mainly had his hands full trying to hold on to the squirming Griffin. Griffin eventually got back to his feet. Tyson landed several left hooks to the body and escaped more takedowns to cinch the win.
Tyson Griffin wins the unanimous decision win to improve his MMA record to 11-1. All three judges gave Griffin all three rounds. But Tyson wanted a knockout and when he didn’t get it, it left him and the fans unsatisfied. A very game Tibau (27-4) held his own and measured up well in this contest.
ROB YUNDT VS. RICARDO ALMEIDA Middleweight bout
Ricardo Almeida has fought in Pride and in UFC 31, 33 and 35, earning one win and two losses. He goes up against Rob Yundt, who is undefeated and making his UFC debut. Recognizing opportunity Yundt, who hails from Alaska, took the fight on three days notice, replacing Alan Belcher due to injuries.
Almeida took this fight to the ground early and within a minute secured a guillotine choke hold. The strong Yundt slowly made it to his feet, his head still stuck in a guillotine, then jumped head over heels hoping to dislodge Almeida. No such luck, Yundt had to tap out.
Almeida’a return to the UFC ends in a quick submission victory, improving his MMA record to 9-2. Yundt suffers his first defeat at 7-1.
DAVID HEATH VS. TIM BOETSCH Light-Heavyweight bout
Former IFL fighter Tim Boetsch is making his UFC debut. He took the fight on ten days notice when Tomasz Drwal had to bow out due to injuries. He goes up against David Heath who is 4-4 in the UFC but coming off back-to-back losses to Renato Sobral and Lyoto Machida.
Boetsch kept Heath at bay with a combination of kicks to the body, punishing front kicks and head-jarring overhand rights. This mix of weapons kept Heath on the defensive and unable to score points. Near the end of the first round, Boetsch let loose with fifteen knees to the head, some landing flush. Then Boetsch threw Heath against the fence like a rag doll. With a stunned Heath on all fours, Big Tim came over and pounded the side of Heath’s head until the ref stopped the fight.
Tim Boetsch (7-1) wins his UFC debut on 10 days notice. What a performance! Boetsch definitely earned a bigger fight on the next card. David Heath (9-3) was hurt very badly and loses his third straight UFC fight. His future in the UFC in unclear.
CHRIS LYTLE VS. KYLE BRADLEY Welterweight bout
Chris Lytle has a scary amount of experience. He has fought Matt Hughes, Robbie Lawler, Matt Serra, Joe Riggs, and Karo Parisyan. Unfortunately, he didn’t win any of those fights. But he was on the Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 4, making it to the welterweight finals against Matt Serra. He goes up against Kyle Bradley making his UFC debut. Bradley is on a seven fight win streak on the junior circuit with only one coming by way of decision.
Lytle came in landing several haymakers that hurt Bradley. Lytle then held Bradley’s head with his left hand as pounded his face with his right. Bradley dropped to the canvas after a few of those but Lytle was right there to continue the barrage until the ref stopped the fight 33 seconds into the first round.
Lytle improves his MMA record to 35-15-4, Kyle drops to 13-5.
KEITA NAKAMURA VS. ROB EMERSON Lightweight bout
Rob Emerson, a TUF 5 contestant, is coming off a No Contest ruling in his UFC debut against Gray Maynard in the TUF 5 finale. He squares off against Keita Nakamura, who has lost both of his UFC fights by unanimous decision.
With two strikers, the first round was fought standing. Emerson was landing a far more number of punches and was on his way to winning the first round. With 38 seconds left, Nakamura landed a knee to Rob’s head that dropped him to canvas. Nakamura pounced but Rob was able to get back to his feet and finish the round.
Round two saw both fighters trading punches. Nakamura got a take-down but couldn’t keep Emerson down. Nakamura was bleeding from the nose and sustained a cut under the eye from an elbow as Emerson was scrambling to his feet from the take-down In the third, Nakamura finally got a take-down and was able to keep him down but did no real damage. Emerson wins by split decision.
In other fights, Marvin Eastman gets the unanimous decision win over Terry Martin.