Thursday, 12 February 2009

UFC Ultimate Fight Night 17 on Setanta Sports - TV Review

It’s time to step into the world of the Ultimate Fighting Championship again as we take a look at their seventeenth Ultimate Fight Night show, shown live on Setanta Sports in the early hours of this past Sunday morning, and headlined by Joe Lauzon facing Jeremy Stephens. As usual, Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan are handling the commentary duties.

The show begins with action from the welterweight division, with Luigi Fioravanti taking on Anthony Johnson. The fight began with the usual feeling out process, with both fighters trying their hand at unleashing blows. Johnson soon connected with a stinging inside leg kick. In truth, not much happened for the next minute or so until Johnson rolled off a couple of kicks, one to the head, one to the inside of Luigi’s leg. He then used his reach advantage to good effect with a good left jab. Fioravanti tried a few leg kicks and blows of his own, but seemed very weary of Johnson’s reach advantage, which is why he went for a single leg take down. The attempt failed miserably, and ended up with a clinch against the cage, which saw Fioravanti connect with an inadvertent low blow. The fight was soon re-started, with Johnson once again using his reach advantage again with the kicks and the punches. As the round entered it’s final thirty seconds, Johnson sent Luigi down with a big right hand, and as he went to finish him off, another right sent Luigi down for a second time. Johnson went down for the ground and pound, and the referee saw enough to call a halt to proceedings, giving the TKO win to Johnson in what could only be described as a very polished performance.

Action from the lightweight division followed, with Mac Danzig face Josh Neer. Round one saw Neer moving forward, and as Danzig went high with a kick, Neer pounced, getting off a good combination before the fighters separated. Seconds later they engaged in a clinch against the cage, but it wasn’t long before they were apart again, and this time it was Danzig who scored with the good shots that staggered Neer. The second clinch of the fight against the cage followed, with Neer getting a knee in from a muay thai clinch. He was also able to get in a few right hands before Danzig broke away again. Neer continued to move forward, instigating another brief clinch. Moments later Neer went for a high knee which didn’t quite connect, and as he went down to the mat, Danzig quickly took the guard. But Neer was the one who went for the submission, going for an arm triangle. Danzig quickly spun out, and Neer followed him up to rock him with some more combinations. The former Ultimate Fighter looked in trouble, with Neer able to strike at will as the round came to an end.

Round two saw both fighters teeing off early. Danzig went in for the shot, and Neer was soon in his guard, looking to finish the fight with the ground and pound. Neer stood up for a moment, before going back into the guard and transitioning to side control. Danzig soon gave his back up, but soon fought his way back into Neer’s guard. The only problem here though was that while Neer was aggressive in the guard, Neer was able to control Danzig in his guard, defending well against Danzig’s attack. It wasn’t long before Neer went for a triangle choke. Danzig tried to fight his way out, but to no avail, and it wasn’t long before he tapped, giving Neer the submission victory. Although Danzig looked okay in this fight, he was just no match for Neer, who put in an outstanding performance.

Time for the big boys next, with Cain Velasquez facing Denis Stojnic. Round one began with both fighters exchanging jabs, making it obvious that they wanted to trade early. A brief clinch followed, before they separated end engaged in another clinch against the cage, with Cain rolling off a series of knees Stojnic’s knees before they broke up. Some more exchanges followed, before Cain tried for a take down and followed up with a muay thai clinch, doing to damage with a series of knees. It was becoming obvious that Stojnic, the striker, was being out-struck. Cain was doing well with the combinations and the knees from the muay thai clinch. It looked as if Stojnic just couldn’t work Cain out, and as the round entered it’s final minute, Stojnic was rocked by Cain’s right hand. Stojnic tried for a couple of blows, but they missed their target.

Round two began with Stojnic swinging wildly, while Cain continued to target the body with his kicks, following up with more combinations and muay thai knees. Then Stojnic went on the offensive for a few seconds, looking for a guillotine that Cain easily escaped from. Cain then took side control and delivered a series of elbows and punches to Stojnic’s head. Soon, Cain took Stojnic’s back, and went for the ground and pound, continuing the attack as he went back to side control, and then back to Stojnic’s back. All Stojnic seemed able to was cover up, and as that was all he was doing, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. Stojnic was pretty poor in this one, the polar opposite of Cain, whose dominating performance was great to watch.

More lightweight action followed, with Matt Grice taking on Matt Veach. This one saw Veach connect with some leg kicks straight away, following up with a quick take down attempt which eventually saw him take Grice’s guard. Both men worked well on the mat, before Grice slowly worked back to his feet, The fighters began exchanging blows again, returning to the mat quickly where Grice attempted an anaconda choke. When that failed they went back to the stand-up game. Grice’s uppercut sent Veach down to the mat, following him down for the ground and pound. Veach tried to get back to his feet, but Grice stopped him, going to an arm triangle before settling on the half guard position before moving to the mount, and then the half guard as Veach tried to roll out. Each time Veach tried to work his way out, Grice was on top of him, and eventually went for a guillotine attempt, which ended with Veach taking the half guard position. As the round entered it’s final minute both men rose to their feet, and Grice got off a left hook combination coming out of a clinch. But then Veach got off a combination of his own, and Grice fell to the ground like the proverbial sack of spuds. Veach went for the ground and pound as the referee quickly stepped in to stop the fight, much to the annoyance of Grice, who claimed he was still able to fight. This may have only lasted for a round but it was still a very good and enjoyable fight.

Main event time, and the lightweight action continued with Joe Lauzon facing Jeremy Stephens. Round one saw Stephens throw the first punch, before they quickly went down to the mat, with Stephens in the guard. They didn’t stay on the ground for long as Lauzon kept the body lock on, before both fighters engaged in the clinch against the cage. Seconds later Lauzon dropped down to the mat attempting for a leg lock, When that didn’t work they got back up to their feet, where Lauzon took Stephens down again, taking side control. He soon moved to the full guard, but Stephens didn’t just sit there, working all the time as he attempted to get out. Lauzon was soon able to take the full mount, and soon attempted an armbar, but Stephens was able to get his arm out, and was now in Lauzon’s guard. Stephens soon postured up and came down with some heavy blows before going back down. Lauzon was soon able to get to his feet, but Stephens slammed him back down to the mat, only for Lauzon to attempt a guillotine which went nowhere.

Round two saw Stephens begin with an attempted leg kick, and it wasn’t long before both men were swinging for the trees. Lauzon then dropped down and took Stephens with him using a fireman’s carry, taking half guard soon afterwards, before moving to side control, seemingly able to transition at will before he eventually got the full mount where he unleashed with the ground and pound. Stephens moved over, allowing Lauzon to take his back, but seconds later he lost control as Stephens rolled over and took the guard so he could deliver his own brand of ground and pound. He then took Lauzon’s back for a few seconds, before Lauzon reversed things, took side control, transitioned to the mount, moved to the full guard, and went for the arm bar. Seconds later Stephens was tapping, giving Lauzon the submission victory in what was an outstanding performance. Kudos to Stephens as well for his performance in this one as well.

Filler material next, with Dan Miller facing Jake Rosholt in the middleweight division. A quick one here, with Rosholt getting a quick take down, posturing up for some ground and pound. But Miller was soon able to roll out, and seconds later he managed to apply a guillotine, with Rosholt quickly tapping. I’m not really sure what to make of this one to be honest with you.

In conclusion - unable to watch or record the show when it aired live (because I wanted to watch the boxing as well), I nearly missed this repeat showing the following night because of Setanta’s extended golf coverage. Thankfully, this show aired eventually, albeit an hour later, and it was well worth the wait. Once again there were some excellent performances here, topped off by Joe Lauzon’s master class against Jeremy Stephens, a fight that I will probably watch again in the future. Ultimate Fight Night 17 proved to be a very enjoyable show, a good taster for the UFC’s return to London shortly.

I just wish that Setanta would remember that they had a dedicated golf channel the next time they decide to delay a UFC show!

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