It was certainly a night to remember as Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes made their returns after title losses, and Randy Couture came out of retirement to challenge Tim Sylvia for the heavyweight title as the Ultimate Fighting Championship presented their 68th pay-per-view, The Uprising, with our usual hosts for the evening, Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
The action begins in the light-heavyweight division, as Jason Lambert faces former title challenger Renato Sobral. Something of an upset in the eyes of many. Sobral put in an impressive showing in the first round with some excellent grappling, almost getting the submission with a rear naked choke, and controlling the majority of the first round until Lambert came back strongly at the end with an uppercut. The momentum stayed with Lambert in the second, controlling the fight on the mat, and after referee John McCarthy stood the fighters up, Lambert caught Sobral with a big left to get the knockout win.
Down to the welterweight division, as Chris Lytle takes on former champion Matt Hughes. This was a great example of the mat wrestling aspect of the UFC, as Hughes and Lytle put on a great match, with Hughes showing just why many consider the best MMA fighter at the moment, and Lytle proving that he deserved to be in the same octagon as Hughes. For the most part, Hughes was the superior fighter with some great grappling techniques, with Lytle doing well to fend off his attacks. But although Lytle put in a good account for himself, Hughes was just too much for him, and it was no surprise when Hughes won by unanimous decision.
Middleweight action next, as Jason MacDonald faces former champion Rich Franklin. After the disappointing loss to Anderson Silva last year, Franklin needed a performance to prove he still had what it took - and this was it. Although MacDonald did well early on, Franklin controlled the majority of the bout, blocking his opponent’s take down attempts early on, and controlling the entire second round, when, towards the end, he unleashed a barrage of shots from the guard position. As the round ended, MacDonald had to use the cage to help get back to the corner, and that was it as he pulled out, with referee Herb Dean declaring Franklin the winner by TKO.
Main event time, as UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia defends the title against former Light-Heavyweight and Heavyweight title holder Randy Couture. So what can I say about this one? From the moment he threw the right hand that knocked the giant off his feet, to the closing bell of the fifth round, the 43 year old Couture controlled everything in this bout, putting on a perfect exhibition of everything. Boxing, grappling, submission - you named it, and Couture did it perfectly. Sylvia was simply outclassed in each and every department, and the judges saw it that way as well, giving every single round to Couture as he won the unanimous decision, becoming the first ever three time heavyweight champion, in what could possibly be the greatest and most emotional performances in UFC history.
In conclusion - what more can I say? This could be the greatest night in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Each and every bout delivered, with great performances from Lambert in the opener to Couture in the main event. I’ve watched this event twice already, and I have no doubt that I will watch this superb event again and again.