UFC 82 - Pride of a ChampionMarch 1, 2008 Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio
ANDERSON SILVA vs. DAN HENDERSON
UFC and Pride Middleweight title unification bout Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva is 5-0 in the UFC. He has easily dispatched everyone put in front of him in two rounds or less, including Rich Franklin, Nathan Marquardt, Chris Leben, and Travis Lutter. Each fight Silva highlights different skills in beating his opponent. Each fight, Silva seems to go in as the underdog. This fight is no different. Experts predict Pride Champion and legend, Dan Henderson, is too big, too strong and Anderson Silva has finally met his match. This is Hendersons second fight in the UFC having lost his debut against Quinton Jackson in the UFC 75.
When the first round started, Henderson reached out a glove but was snubbed by Silva, an unusual move from the classy champion. There was a feeling out period where no punch was thrown for over a minute. With just under 3 minutes left in the round, Henderson got a take down and was able to keep Silva down for the rest of the round. Henderson was able to land several hammer-fists to Silvas temple.
In the second, Henderson landed an uppercut which seemed to really piss off Silva. After a Roman clinch, Henderson landed a hard right which jarred Silvas head. Silva responded by moments later landing a knee that rocked Henderson. Henderson back-pedaled but Silva followed while landing several right hands knocking him against the fence. Henderson fell to his knees and ducked under a Silva leg kick. Silva jumped into half-guard and caught Henderson with a big elbow. Silva then softened Henderson with knees in the ribs until Henderson rose up on all fours. Silva then rolled behind Dan and took his back. He flattened Dan with some hard punches to the face with his long arms. With Henderson prone on his stomach, Silva jumped on his back and sunk in both hooks and pounded Dan in the head. Dan rolled over but Silva rolled with him onto his back and secured a body triangle. With Dan secured away, Silva pounded away at his head. With 18 seconds left, Silva secured a rear-naked choke to go along with the body triangle. Game over, Henderson taps out with 10 seconds on the clock.
Once again, Silva proves the experts wrong and adds another marquee name to his list. Silva (21-4) remains the UFC middleweight champion and is looking like no one can stop him. Henderson (22-7) has now lost both of his UFC fights and is in danger of following Diego Sanchez and Andrei Arlovski into prelim banishment.
The first UFC Heavyweight champion Mark Coleman, crowned during UFC 12, was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Coleman says thanks but he is not retired and has asked Dana to let him fight. Dana relented and Coleman will fight Brock Lesnar. Colemans last fight was a loss to Fedor Emelianenko in Pride 32 held in October 2006.
HEATH HERRING vs. CHEICK KONGO
The Frenchman Cheick Kongo is best known for the dismantling of MMA legend, Mirko Cro Cop, in UFC 75. Kongo embarrassed him so bad, Cro Cop hasnt fought since. Kongo has won four of five UFC fights. He faces longtime Pride veteran Heath Herring. Heath is coming off a disappointing loss where he had Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira battered and beaten in UFC 73. But instead of pressing the attack and finishing him off, Herring chose to stay weary and backed-off, giving Nogueira time to recover. It was a huge mistake that ended up costing Herring the fight.
Herring opened the fight surprising Kongo with a straight right that knocked big Cheick on his keester. Kongo got up right away and caught Herring and they went up against the fence. Kongo got a couple takedowns but both men squirmed in and out of top position. This round was hard to call because even though it was Herring who scored the knockdown, it was Kongo controlling the fight, Kongo who landed the hard shots and Kongo getting most of the takedowns. Herring sustained a cut under the right eye.
In the second Kongo continued to bully Herring on the ground. Herring, while on his back, uncorked a great upkick to Kongos neck. Then, with a minute and a half left in the round, Herring got side control and metered out several knees to Kongos unprotected body until time ran out.
Both fighters brought it for the third round. Kongo spent the first half of the round in the dominant position while Herring got top position for the remainder of the round. The round, and the fight, was too close to call.
The Judges were split as well giving the split decision to Heath Herring, who improves his MMA record to 28-13. Kongo falls to 21-4-1. A fine showing for Herring who moves into a top contender role. Afterwards, Herring apologized to the fans for a boring fight rolling around on the ground. He thought Cheick was going to stand and fight like he did with Crop Cop.
CHRIS LEBEN vs. ALESSIO SAKARA
After winning his first five UFC fights, Chris Leben ran into Anderson Silva and a string of bad luck. Since then, he has lost three out of his last five UFC fights. Leben is coming off a knockout victory over Terry Martin at Fight Night 11. He takes on hard-hitting Italian, Alessio Sakara. Sakara is moving up to the middleweight division after a TKO over James Lee in UFC 80. Sakara is 3-3 in the Octagon with one No-Contest for kicking Ron Faircloth in the groin.
The first round was all action. Leben coming forward to do damage, shrugging off several hard blows to the face. Chris wasnt able to get close enough to unload a bomb, but was able to land some hard shots straight away. With just under two minutes left in the first round, Chriss plan to eat several shots just to uncork one, finally paid off. Leben punched Sakara against the fence and once there, eventually caught Sakara with two big left hooks. The second one sent Sakara to the canvas. Leben fell on top of him and landed several uncontested shots to the face before the ref called a halt to the fight.
A bloody-faced Leben knocks his way to a 18-4 MMA record. No matter how many times Chris loses, hell always be back because he invariably puts on an exiting fight for UFC fans. An unmarked Sakara (16-7) looked like he was winning the round. Unfortunately, a UFC round lasts a full five minutes.
EVAN TANNER vs. YUSHIN OKAMI
This fight marks the return of former UFC Middleweight Champion Evan Tanner, who last fought in UFC 59 in April 2006 earning a win over Justin Levens. His two year hiatus was due to alcohol abuse and other personal problems. Tanner has fought a Whos Who list in the UFC including David Loiseau, Phil Baroni, Robbie Lawler, and losing his belt to Rich Franklin. He broke into the UFC in January 1999 beating Darrel Gholar at UFC 18. He faces Japanese fighter, Yushin Okami, who has quietly won four of five UFC fights. His last a win over Jason MacDonald at UFC 77. Okami has feasted on TUF fighters Mike Swick, Rory Singer, and Kalib Starnes. His only loss in the Octagon was a decision to Rich Franklin in UFC 72.
Three and a half minutes into the first round, Okami put Tanner on his butt with a straight left. Okami pounced but Tanner fended him off and recovered well. The knockdown cinched the round for Okami.
In the second, Okami peppered Tanner throughout the round with straight lefts. With two minutes left in the round, Okami was against the fence with Tanners head in a Muay Thai clinch. Okami forced Tanners head down and brought his left knee up flush into Tanners face. Tanner dropped like a beanie baby and was out cold. Okami leaned down and bounced Tanners head with a glancing blow before the ref called a stop to the fight.
Okamis disposal of an UFC legend with a beautiful knockout should get him noticed by the UFC brass and earn him a title shot. Okami improves his MMA record to 23-4 while Tanner drops to 34-7.
JON FITCH vs. CHRIS WILSON
Jon Fitch is coming off an impressive win over Diego Sanchez in UFC 76, helping to take the shine off the Latin MMA sensation in the process. Experts agree Fitch was helped tremendously by training with Josh Koscheck, the first man to defeat Sanchez only five months before. Fitch has an amazing 7-0 record in the UFC beating fighters like Thiago Alves, Josh Burkman, and Brock Larson. Chris Wilson is an IFL Fighter making his UFC debut. Wilson has defeated noted IFL fighters such as Rory Markham and Jay Hieron.
In round one, Wilson landed a couple hard strikes and a leg kick right on Fitchs bean. Fitch scored a couple of takedowns but was unable to inflict any damage. One of them was ended by the ref standing them on their feet. The second round saw intense wrestling with Fitch in the dominant position for the majority of the round. Though Chris was able to tie him up and avoid any serious damage, the round went to Fitch.
In the third, Wilsons only hope was to keep the fight standing which he did for three minutes. Unfortunately, Wilson didnt press the attack and was ineffective. Fitch landed the only shots. With two minutes left Fitch got the takedown and finished the fight on the ground. With 18 seconds left, Wilson secured a triangle but Fitch was able to last out the round for his twenty-first win against two losses.
Fitch won the unanimous decision and now has an amazing 8-0 record in the UFC. Jon has quietly earned a shot at the title. A great performance by Chris Wilson (12-4) who loses his UFC debut.
JOSH KOSCHECK vs. DUSTIN HAZELETT
Hazelett is looking to escape obscurity by beating a big name in the UFC like Josh Koscheck. Though Hazelett has fought four times in the UFC, the only person to ask for his autograph during UFC 72 turned out to be the wife of the guy he was fighting.
Hazelett cracked Koscheck with a head kick and followed it up with knee. Kos responded with a flurry of haymakers, some landing and hurting Hazelett. For a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu guy, Hazelett surprised all by standing and trading with Koscheck. Hazelett managed to get in some stiff jabs and Koscheck landed some stingers as well. But it was Koscheck who went for the takedown and almost succeeded in getting himself choked out. But Kos was saved by the bell. He rose and congratulated Hazelett on a good first round.
In the second round, Koscheck landed his own head kick that floored Hazelett. Koscheck had fallen, too, but he sprang up and ran over to reign down the final blows so the ref could call the fight.
With the TKO, Koscheck runs his MMA record to 12-2, while Dustin Hazelett falls to 12-4.
The most surprising turn of events was the number of big-name veterans fighting on the prelims. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski, who has won both his UFC fights since losing his belt, is a surprising name to see on the undercard. Arlovski is the latest fighter to have issues with how Dana White runs the company. More understandably is the Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Sanchez, who lost two fights in a row after once being thought invincible. And finally, Josh Koscheck, the man who first beat Sanchez is fighting on the prelims despite a five fight winning streak that was ended by none other than Georges St. Pierre. Which, of course, is nothing to be ashamed of.
I guess this proves there is very little room for error in the UFC. These fighters would rather stay in the UFC and prove themselves rather than headlining a smaller organizations events, probably making the same or more amount of money. Though one has to wonder why one of these fights couldnt have replaced the Herring vs. Kongo matchup.
Andrei Arlovski defeats Jake Obrien by Technical Knock Out at 4:17 of the 2nd round .
Luigi Fioravanti defeats Luke Cummo by Unanimous Decision.
Diego Sanchez defeats David Bielkheden by Submission at 4:23 of the 1st round.
Jorge Gurgel defeats John Halverson by Unanimous Decision.