Monday, 17 September 2007

UFC 73: Stacked on Bravo - TV Review

Dana White has described this as being the best fight card not just in MMA history, but in the history of combat sports. Is he correct? That’s what we’re going to attempt to find out by looking at the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Stacked, shown on twenty-four hour delay here in Britain on Bravo, and hosted by UFC regulars Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
The broadcast begins in a massive way, and not just because it’s in the heavyweight division, as Antonio Nogueira takes on Heath Herring. This one promised a lot, and it certainly delivered. Nogueira began the fight well, and looked in control until Herring unleashed a kick that connected with Nogueira’s jaw, sending him crashing to the mat. Nogueira still looked dazed as the second round began, and this was where Herring made his mistake. Instead of going in for the call, Herring held back, giving Nogueira extra time to recover and stage a comeback, taking control, for the most part, for the rest of the fight, almost synching in a rear naked choke and maintaining the upper hand, and with the fight going the three round distance, Nogueira got the unanimous judge’s decision. You have to wonder though what would have happened if Herring had taken control at the beginning of the second round. 

The first title fight of the evening sees Hermes Franca challenge Sean Sherk for the Lightweight title. This was a tremendous performance from Sherk. With Franca only managing to connect with a few knees, a couple of which left the champion reeling, Sherk dominated this fight. No matter what Franca did, Sherk always seemed two or three steps ahead of him, and by the end of the fight, Sherk’s conditioning meant that he looked as fresh as he did at the beginning of the fight, while Franca looked exhausted. So it was really no surprise when the judges gave Sherk the unanimous decision. Sherk looks like he’s going to dominate the lightweight division for quite a while.

It’s up to the light-heavyweight division next as Rashad Evans faces Tito Ortiz. The great action continued with this fight. Ortiz began things quickly with a take-down, and early on, Evans looked almost nervous, unsure at what to do against a fighter with the experience of Ortiz. But Evans acquitted himself well, and towards the end of the fight, with Ortiz visibly tiring, Evans came back well. However, Ortiz was docked a point in the second round for holding the fence twice while he tried to stop Evans taking him down, and it’s this indiscretion that cost him the victory, with both judges scoring the fight as a draw. A good fight, with Evans giving a good account of himself, and Ortiz’s deducted point costing him dearly.

The second title fight of the evening sees Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva defending against Nate Marquardt. The first fight of the evening to end with a stoppage, the beginning of the fight saw tons of grappling, but with neither fighting gaining an outright advantage on the mat, the referee stood them up, and that’s when Silva went to work, with a single leg take down, and then unleashing with the ground and pound, with the referee stopping the fight just before the end of the first round, and awarding the TKO victory to Silva. Silva looked great here, and deserved his victory.

The final fight features action from the lightweights, with Kenny Florian against Alvin Robinson. The second fight that didn’t go the distance saw both fighters go at it one hundred percent, until Florian attacked towards the end of the first round, attacking with the ground and pound. Robinson tried to tap, but Florian’s attack stopped him from doing so, and just thirty seconds before the end of the first round, the referee stepped in to stop the fight, Florian getting the win via TKO in a good showing.

In conclusion - Dana White was right - Stacked was a great card. From the opening heavyweight contest, the enthralling lightweight title match through to Silva’s outstanding middleweight title defence, UFC 73 delivered, as they always seem to do these days. Kudos to the match-makers again for putting on a great show, and for once again keeping these closing comments to a minimum. After all, what else do I need to say?