Sunday, 23 September 2007

UFC 75: Champion v Champion on Setanta Sports - TV Review

So I had a problem. UFC 75: Champion v Champion at the 02 Arena in London was being shown live not on pay-per-view, but on Setanta Sports’ regular channel. So, after deciding that I didn’t want to subscribe to a channel I’d only watch every once in a while when the UFC over here. So I put out a plea on forum, and a kind gentleman from Scotland agreed to record a copy for me. So, a little later than planned, The Two Sheds Review takes a look at the historic champion v champion match between UFC Light-Heavyweight king Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and his Pride counterpart Dan Henderson, as well as the return of Mirko Cro Cop. Our hosts for the show are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.
The first fight features action in the light-heavyweight division, as Alessio Sakara takes on Houston Alexander. A quickie to start the show with, both fighters exchanged a few punches, but as soon as Alexander connected with a knee to Sakara’s jaw, the fight was his. As soon as Sakara hit the mat, Alexander went to work, and with his shots going unanswered, the referee stepped in to stop the fight, Alexander getting the win via knockout. This was certainly an explosive performance from Alexander here, and given a few more fights he could become a viable contender to the title.
It’s down to the welterweights next, as Britain’s Paul Taylor faces Marcus Davis. Now this was certainly an explosive fight. Taylor started off really well, connecting with a few good shots, and looking in total control in the first half of the fight, looking great after he connected with a left kick to the head, and unleashing with the ground and pound, so much so that the referee almost stopped the fight. But Taylor fought back well, coming back with his own ground and pound, before synching in an armbar for the submission victory. A great performance from Davis, recovering well to get the impressive victory. And kudos to Taylor for his performance as well.
The battle of the strikers was next, as Mirko Cro Cop looked to get back on the winning trail against Cheick Kongo in the heavyweight division. As a Cro Cop mark, this was the fight I was really looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. The fight began with the Croatian stalking the Frenchman like an animal, but it was Kongo who looked impressive throughout the three rounds, controlling the pace, making Cro Cop fight his kind of fight in the second and third rounds, although he received a warning from the referee for two low knee blows when he had Cro Cop in the clinch. In the second Kongo connected with an axe kick to Cro Cop’s mid-section, and he used his knees throughout to good effect. But overall, this was Kongo’s best performance during his time in the UFC, and he was duly awarded the judge’s unanimous decision, the biggest victory in his career so far, while Cro Cop was very disappointing.
Back to the welterweights, with Jess Liaudin facing Anthony Torres. The Frenchman, who had waited thirteen years to make his UFC debut, looked tremendous in his second UFC outing, controlling the fight from the start with some excellent boxing skills, and scored the TKO victory after a flurry of punches towards the end of the first round, with Torres failing to respond. A great showing from Liaudin here.
Then it was on to the fight that all the locals had turned up to see, as Michael Bisping faced Matt Hamill in the light heavyweight division. If I was to introduce mixed martial arts to a newcomer, this is one of the fights I would show them. With tons of drama and tension throughout, Hamill began to fight well, stalking Bisping like a tiger, out boxing him and out moving him at almost every step. By the end of the first round Bisping looked like a beaten man, but as the fight progressed, Bisping, with the London crowd firmly behind him, managed to keep up with Hamill’s stand up and ground attacks, and it was this that earned him the split decision, and although I was willing my fellow Brit to win, I would personally have given the fight to Hamill.
Main event time, as UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson faces his Pride FC counterpart Dan Henderson in a unification bout. Although unspectacular at times, this was certainly an interesting fight with both men putting in a good account of themselves. Henderson controlled the early stages with his grappling skills, while Jackson for his part was good at the stand-up game, at one time knocking Henderson down with a good left hook, and again knocking him down towards the end of the fight. The fight was a good example of the light heavyweight division, and after five gruelling rounds, the judges gave the unanimous decision to Jackson, a well deserved win, but Henderson ran him extremely close.
In conclusion - another good show from Dana White’s crew, and while I was disappointed with the performances of Cro Cop, the rest of the show made up for this. As for the unification fight, it’s good to see Dana White trying to bring both the UFC and Pride divisions together, and maybe this is just the start of a long glorious journey in the mixed martial arts world.
Before you go, Douglas Nunally of The Wrestling Voice, and one of the many sites that carry this column, asked me to pass on the following information.

TheWrestlingVoice.com is having it's annual voting for its Hall Of Fame. They will be inducting 5 of 15 nominated male workers, 2 of 6 nominated tag teams, 2 of 6 nominated promoters & personalities, 1 of 3 nominated women workers, and (new in 2007) 2 of 6 wrestling matches. Voters will pick 10, 3, 3, 2, and 3 respectively for each category. Voting opened on September 15th and will stay open until October 15th with the Class Of 2007 being announced on October 20th! Even more, with the addition of the matches category, TWV is offering the option of downloading each of the 6 matches that are nominated for this year's induction class. To vote, just simply click http://thewrestlingvoice.com/information/hof/. Please help participate and spread the word as this is the only Wrestling Hall Of Fame out there that relies fully on fan participation & votes.