Monday, 17 September 2007

UFC 71: Lidell v Jackson on Bravo - TV Review

Chuck Lidell has been beaten three times in his career. Having avenged two of those losses, Lidell wanted revenge against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, while Jackson wanted Lidell’s UFC Light-Heavyweight title. Thus the main event was made for UFC 71: Lidell v Jackson, shown on a twenty-four hour delay here in Britain on Bravo. Our hosts for the evening are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
The broadcast begins in the middleweight division, as Chris Leben, complete with his colourful hair, takes on Kalib Starnes. This was a fight of mixed fortunes for both men, but in particular for Leben. Leben looked very reckless with his punches in the first couple of rounds, rounds in which Starnes looked on control, connecting with a wicked looking right in the second. Leben looked better in the third, his stiff kick to Starnes’ liver causing him quite a bit of pain, but he just didn’t seem able to capitalise on this as Starnes gained control towards the end of the fight. Leben’s recklessness proved to be his undoing in the end, as all three judges gave the fight to Starnes.

Up to the light-heavyweight division next, as the “Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine goes up against UFC newcomer Houston Alexander. This one lasted less than a minute. Jardine knocked his man down early, but this just seemed to light a fire underneath Alexander, as he completely unloaded on him with a series of punches and knees, a right uppercut finishing him off as the referee put a stop to the fight, with Alexander getting the knockout victory.

Back to the middleweights, with Ivan Salaverry against Terry Martin. Another quick one. Martin looked extremely impressive here, quickly brushing aside the inadvertent low blow to synch in a rear waistlock on Salaverry, before taking him down to the mat, with Salaverry landing on his head. Once on the mat, Martin unleashed with a series of hammer fists, and with Salaverry failing to defend himself, the referee halted the contest, Martin getting the TKO victory.

Then it’s down to the welterweight division, and the much anticipated contest between Karo Parisyan and Josh Burkman. Now this is what a mixed martial arts fight should be all about, two guys at the top of their game giving their all, and putting on a great bout in the process. While Burkman looked great, Parisyan looked even greater, outshining Burkman at every opportunity, and showing why is he perhaps one of the best judo practitioners on the planet. A fantastic fight saw Parisyan take the fight with a unanimous judge’s decision.

Action from the lightweight division follows, with Din Thomas against Jeremy Stephens. This is another example of MMA at it’s finest. Thomas controlled the majority of the first round with some great grappling skills, until Stephens managed to slip out of his grasp to unload with a few good shots. The great action continued into the second, until Thomas managed to lock in an armbar for the submission victory.

Main event time, as UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion, “The Iceman” Chuck Lidell tries to erase the one blot left in his copybook against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. However, this was one ghost Lidell couldn’t exorcise. After the initial feeling out process between the two, Jackson caught the champion with a hard right, and then pouncing on him as he fell to the mat. After initially defending himself, Lidell went flat on the mat as Jackson went in for the kill and referee John McCarthy stepped in to end the contest, awarding Jackson the knockout victory the Light-Heavyweight title. A highly impressive performance from the Rampage here, but I’m sure that Lidell will be back as strong as ever.

In conclusion - hey, it’s the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the premier mixed martial arts promotion in the world. There wasn’t a bad fight on this broadcast, topped off with a great showing from Quinton Jackson as he defeated the most dominant light-heavyweight fighter in UFC history, and with Pride Light-Heavyweight & Middleweight Champion Dan Henderson next in line for a shot at the title, things are certainly looking bright in the mixed martial arts world.

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