Saturday, 15 April 2006

UFC 59 Reality Check - TV Review

It was an historic night for the Ultimate Fighting Championship with UFC 59: Reality Check, as they held their first show at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, with the ban on MMA being lifted by Governor Arnie’s men in California. As usual, out hosts for the show were the man who turned down McMahon’s big bucks, Mike Goldberg, and Joe Rogan.
First up, Marcio Cruz against Jeff Monson, two old adversaries who had faced each otherthree times before. The first round saw the stocky Monson knock Cruz down with a quick jab,but although he was on top for the majority of the round, he was the one with the bloodied nose, courtesy of a Cruz knee. The second round was pretty slow, with the referee admonishing both fighters on a number of occasions, and it only really came to life as the round came to an end. It was pretty much the same thing in the third round, with both fighters visibly tiring. A pretty uninspiring fight here, with the judges awarding Monson the verdict with a split decision.

Next up, Evan Tanner takes on Justin Levens. There was a clear difference in class between these two fighters, as Tanner dominated from the outset, applying the triangle armbar at just past the three minute mark to earn the win with an impressive showing.

Then it’s on to the fight that a great number of people were looking forward to, as the great Tito Ortiz took on the winner of the first Ultimate Fighter series, Forrest Griffin. Round one began with Ortiz taking Griffin down, busting him open and really unloading on him, with Griffin frustrating the former light-heavy champ by escaping from the mat and not giving up. The second saw Griffin frustrating Ortiz again, evading the take-down attempts and keeping the fight upright, growing in confidence as the seconds ticked away. It was pretty much the same in the third, Griffin staying upright, and getting out of Ortiz’s takedown, impressing everyone that was watching. But to everyone’s surprise, the judges awarded a split decision to Ortiz. Griffin was robbed in what is the best UFC fight I’ve seen for ages.

After all that excitement it was time for Sean Sherk to take on Nick Diaz. Both guys looked good in the first round, Sherk with his power and Diaz with his grappling. The second saw Diaz use his massive reach advantage to good effect, and some good grappling and reversals from both fighters, with the third round following a similar patter, with Sherk winning by unanimous decision. A good fight, but everyone seemed burned out after the Ortiz/Griffin fight.

On to the main event, as UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski defends against former champion Tim Sylvia. Lasting just one round, Arlovski caught Sylvia with a great shot, but the former champ came back extremely quickly with an uppercut to the chin, knocking Arlovski down, with the referee stopping the bout with Arlovski failing to defend himself as Sylvia went in for the kill and regained the belt. Quick but impressive stuff here.

In conclusion - another good outing from the UFC here. Some great fights, with Ortiz and Griffin clearly stealing the show. I shouldn’t really need to say anything about production values, so I won’t. Here’s looking to Matt Hughes against Royce Gracie at UFC 60.