Wednesday, 6 February 2008

UFC 81: Breaking Point on Bravo - TV Review

It was Brock Lesnar’s time of reckoning. Could it cut it in the mixed martial arts world? And who would become the interim Heavyweight Champion? Former title holder Tim Sylvia, or former Pride Heavyweight Champion Antonio Nogueira? This is what we’re going to find out as we take a look at UFC 81: Breaking Point, shown on a twenty four hour delay on Bravo here in Britain. Our hosts for the evening as, as usual, Mike Goldberg & Joe Rogan.

The broadcast begins with action from the lightweight division, as Tyson Griffin squares off against Gleison Tibau. Griffin as really impressed during his last few UFC outings, and it was the same in this fight. But then again, Tibau did his fair share of good work as well in what was a great way to open the show. With Griffin dominating the stand-up game and having the better of the various exchanges, Tibau went for the ground, but Griffin was able to scramble back to his feet, and with the fight going the three round distance, with Griffin get the unanimous decision. An entertaining fight from Griffin here with some great striking technique, showing that it won’t be long before he becomes a real force in this division.
Then it’s up to the middleweights, with Ricardo Almeida against Rob Yundt. Almeida, who hadn’t fought for nearly four years, and hadn’t fought in the UFC for nearly six years, was looking to make an impact, and her certainly did. Taking Yundt down early, it wasn’t long before Almeida locked in a guillotine choke for the quick submission victory, taking just over a minute. A quick but impressive return for Almeida.
Another middleweight bout followed, with Nate Marquardt taking on Jeremy Horn. This was a perfect example of the grappling game. The first round saw both fighters showing excellent Brazilian Ju-Jitsu skills. But the second round belonged to Marquardt, able to withstand Horn’s submission attempts before locking in a standing guillotine for the victory. A good performance from Marquardt here.
Then it’s up to the light heavyweights, with David Heath facing Tom Boetsch, who took the fight at ten day’s notice. It was a very impressive showing from the newcomer. After the feeling out process, Boetsch began to really unload on Heath with kicks, strikes, and in particular knees to the head. Then came the best part, as he threw him to the ground with relative ease, before unleashing with more punches, before the referee stepped in to stop the fight, awarding Boetsch the TKO victory. When this fight started, I didn’t think it would amount to much, but then Boetsch upped his game.
Then it was time for the fight that everyone was talking about, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir taking on former WWE Champion Brock Lesnar. The hype surrounding this fight was phenomenal, and it had a lot to live up to. Lesnar took Mir down early, but quickly had a point deducted for punching Mir in the back of the head, illegal under UFC rules. Lesnar then knocked Mir down again, and unloaded with more shots, but Mir quickly worked his way out, locked in a knee bar, and got the submission victory. It was all over in ninety seconds, and although Lesnar did well to begin with, his inexperience in the MMA field showed as he was unable to defend against Mir’s far superior submission skills. Is this the last we’ll see of Lesnar in the UFC? No. It’s still early days in his MMA career, and way too soon to write him off.
Main event time, with Tim Sylvia and Antonio Nogueira fighting it out over the Interim Heavyweight title. This was certainly going to be an interesting fight, because while I’ve never really been a fan of Sylvia, I am a big fan of Nogueira. The first round saw plenty of action, mainly from Sylvia, as he rocked Nogueira with some heavy blows, knocking him off his feet and bloodying his eye. The round clearly belonged to Sylvia, although Nogueira did manage to take him down as the round came to an end. It was pretty much the same in the second round. While Sylvia was able to get off some good punches, Nogueira always had trouble keeping the distance, and just couldn’t take the big man down, Sylvia’s take down defence was that good. But in round three it all changed. Nogueira finally took Sylvia down, took side control, then locked in the guillotine choke to get the submission victory. As quickly as that, it all changed. Nogueira became the first man to have held both the Pride and UFC Heavyweight titles. Kudos to Sylvia for possibly his best performance in ages, and to Nogueira for coming back strongly to win the title.
In conclusion - a very good broadcast from the UFC here, as they continue to give us the best MMA fights in the world today. The main event was worthy of it’s status, while the under card was also strong. This is certainly one UFC show you should go and buy when it’s released on DVD, even if it’s just for the novelty of seeing a former WWE star on the card.
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