Two debuts and controversy surrounding the Middleweight title fight before it even began are what’s in store for the first Ultimate Fighting Championship show of 2007, with Eastman, Jackson, Cro Cop, Silva and more at UFC 67: All or Nothing, shown on a twenty-four hour delay in Britain on Bravo. As usual, our hosts for the evening are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
The show begins in the lightweight division, as Tyson Griffin faces off against Frank Edgar. The first round was fast and action packed to say the least, with both fighters taking control of each other with some excellent wrestling moves, although Edgar clearly had the upper hand. It was pretty much the same in the second. While Griffin enjoyed some success standing up, Edgar was far better on the ground. In fact, the transitions between the two fighters were so fast it was hard to follow the action at times. The action followed type in the third round, although Edgar was clearly in control, especially after an accidental knee to the groin by Edgar was hardly acknowledged by the referee. Then, as the fight entered it’s last minute, Griffin applied a knee bar that looked incredibly painful. But despite the pain, Edgar refused to tap out as the final seconds ticked away. Despite this final attack, the judges gave the unanimous decision to Edgar in what was a thrilling fight.
Up to the middleweight division next, as Scott Smith goes up against Patrick Cote of Canada. The first round was very much a feeling out process, with neither man seeming willing to commit to anything, so much so that they were booed when the round came to an end. The second round saw long periods of nothingness, apart from a Cote punch with staggered Smith a little. Hardly inspiring stuff. There were brief flurries of excitement in the final round, but nothing much to write home about in a fight that had the feel of a sparring session. The judges gave the fight to Cote, although neither fighter inspired this writer.
It’s time for debut number one next and a step up again to the light-heavyweight division, as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson makes his first UFC appearance against the man who handed him his first defeat, Marvin “The Beast Man” Eastman. The first round, as with the previous fight, was again a feeling out process, although things got turned up a notch towards the end of the round with a good exchange from both men. The stand up game continued in the second round, and both fighters got in some good shots, until Jackson went to work and connected with some hard uppercuts while in the clinch. As Eastman fell to the mat, Jackson went in for the kill until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight, awarding the fight to Jackson by knockout. Certainly an impressive showing from Jackson here, and it can only be a matter of time before he squares off against Chuck Lidell.
We then step down to the lightweight division again as Roger Huerta tackles John Halverson. This one didn’t even last a minute. Huerta took Halverson down, hit him with a slightly illegal knee to the face, then took the rear mount to unleash a few shots, with referee Yves Lavigne stopping the fight and awarding the fight to Huerta by knockout, somewhat controversial, as knee strikes while an opponent is down are against UFC rules.
Then, the heavyweight fight I was really looking forward to, as Eddie Sanchez faced the debuting Mirko Cro Cop. Sanchez looked like a man about to go to the gallows in this one, and he fought like it too. The Croatian dominated Sanchez, stalking him as a hunter would stalk his prey, connecting with several of his dominating kicks and punches, before unleashing with the ground and pound in the final minute of the first round, with the referee stopping the slaughter shortly afterwards. A devastating showing from Cro Cop here.
Main event time in the middleweight division. Controversy surrounded this fight before it even began. Originally, Anderson Silva was scheduled to defend his middleweight title against Travis Lutter, but at the weigh-in, Lutter couldn’t make the 185 pound weight limit. So the match-makers had no choice but to make this a non-title and three round fight, which bitterly disappointed both fighters. This one would certainly have been worthy of title fight status. Lutter was highly impressive in the first round with some excellent grappling and a good ground and pound, but unfortunately he let things slip a little with a sloppy armbar attempt, which Silva was able to escape from quite easily. The second round saw Silva coming back strongly, applying a triangle choke. Try as he might, Lutter tried to defend the hold, but it was finally a series of elbows to the top of his head that forced him to tap, with Silva gaining the impressive victory.
In conclusion - this is probably the first UFC show in a while that I was slightly disappointed with. In recent months all of the matches have been of a high quality, but sadly the Cote/Smith fight left a lot to be desired, and the controversy surrounding the Silva/Lutter fight kind of took the shine off things a little. However, this was more than made up for with impressive debuts from Jackson and Cro Cop. But as the old saying goes, you can’t have it your own way all the time.