Sunday, 16 September 2007

UFC 66: Lidell v Ortiz 2 on Bravo - TV Review

We make a return journey to the world of mixed martial arts and to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, with a look at their last pay-per-view of the year, headlined by a Light-Heavyweight title bout between Chuck Lidell and Tito Ortiz. It’s UFC66: Lidell v Ortiz 2, shown on Bravo here in Britain and hosted by Mike Goldberg and the returning Joe Rogan.
The show begins with a light-heavyweight fight, with Britain’s Michael Bisping taking on Eric Schafer. This is actually the first time I’ve seen Bisping fighting, so as a fellow Brit this was a match I was looking forward to.
The one and only round was action packed to say the least. Schafer took control early on, using his grappling skill to good effect, and even managing to keep hold of a leg hook after Bisping dropped him on his head. But the Brit fought back well, catching Schafer with a hard knee, and then going to the ground and pound, with the referee stepping in to stop the fight, Bisping getting the win via TKO. A good show from Bisping here, and there are big things expected of him in 2007.

We move up a division with heavyweight action, as former champion Andrei Arlovski starts his comeback trail against Marcio Cruz. Arlovski had been less than impressive in his last two outings against Tim Sylvia, which was disappointed considering his previous dominant performances.

Arlovski needed an impressive performance, and he got it this one. After the early feeling out process, both guys went for leg locks near the cage, and after referee Herb Dean warned Arlovski for a kick to the face, the former champion unloaded with a massive right to the side of the Cruz’s face, and after unloading with a barrage of blows on the back of Cruz’s head, the referee stopped the fight, awarding Arlovski the knock-out victory.

Moving down to the middleweight division next as Chris Leben faces Jason MacDonald. The first round was quite a scrappy affair, with Leben constantly trying to pound his way out whenever MacDonald tried to use his grappling skill, which didn’t make for attractive viewing. It was pretty much the same at the beginning of the second round, until MacDonald managed to take Leben down, before eventually synching in a choke hold. Leben refused to tap as MacDonald put him to sleep, the referee stopping the fight immediately. Not the best MMA fight I’ve seen, but MacDonald did look good in the end.

It’s back up to the light-heavyweight division as Keith Jardine takes on the ever popular Forrest Griffin. A lot was expected of Griffin in this fight, but sadly, he didn’t come through. The one and only round began with both fighters preferring the stand-up game, both of them connecting with some good shots, and when it looked like it would go to a second round, Jardine connected with a powerful uppercut, and with Griffin off his feet, Jardine went to work with the ground and pound, something which Griffin had no answer to as the referee stopped the fight, Jardine winning the fight via TKO. A good showing from Jardine here, and hopefully Griffin will become a better fighter for it.

Then it’s down to the welterweight division for Thiago Alves against Tony Desouza. The first round saw a feeling out in the early parts, with Desouza going for the shoot a couple of times, before Alves managed to catch him with a few good shots, with the round ending with Alves dishing out a beating, pounding on Desouza from behind, with the bell saving the Peruvian from defeat. Alves dominated things from the beginning of the second as Desouza looked completely out of it, and referee John McCarthy called a halt to proceedings after Alves kneed Desouza in the face, knocking him out. Alves looked great in this one.

Main event time, as Tito Ortiz challenges Chuck Lidell for the Light-Heavyweight title, possibly one of the most anticipated re-matches in the UFC in the last few years, and it was one I was certainly looking forward to. After a slow start to the first round, Lidell began to dominate, opening up a cut above Ortiz’s left eye, then knocking him down with a blow to the temple and going in for the kill, but the challenger was able to defend himself superbly, and able to survive the round. The second round saw each men probing for an opening, and not getting much until Ortiz was able to score with a takedown, although Lidell was able to escape quite easily. Lidell was able to do the same in the third round, catching Ortiz with another good blow, knocking him off his feet, and then connecting with several unanswered shots as Ortiz tried to defend himself on the mat, with referee Mario Yamasaki calling an end to things, with Lidell retaining his title, and proving once again that he is still the dominant force in the light-heavyweight division.

In conclusion - Lidell v Ortiz 2 was all that it promised to be, and apart for the Leben/MacDonald fight, UFC 66 gave us a strong undercard as well, with both Keith Jardine and Andrei Arlovski putting in great performances, and with the addition of Mirko Cro Cop and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the only man to have ever beaten Lidell in an MMA contest, the Ultimate Fighting Championship continues to go from strength to strength.