UFC 97 Redemption was in Montreal last night. I really enjoy having friends and our little family around to watch these events and this one was in Canada, so I was hoping for good things. I never guess as to who is going to win or by how much and in what round, etc., so I had no particular winners in mind, just wanted good matches and interesting techniques.
The first match was between Luiz Cane, a muay thai and jiu jitsu black belt guy, and Steve Cantwell, who is a kickboxer and jiu jitsu brown belt. Their skillsets are comparable and I always look for beautiful submissions, so with the jiu jitsu, that was a possibility. Cane is a lefty and connected with body shots and an uppercut. When in the clinch, he used combos and knees. Cantwell’s high kicks were either blocked or ineffective against Cane. He seemed to be unable to find his range for a while. As the first round continued, Cane fizzled out a bit and Cantwell got more shots in.
Round 2 had Cane giving Cantwell a shot right through the middle of his hands. Cantwell connected far more in this round, applying a strong right punch, head kicks and knee to the chin. Cane was hurt.
Round 3 had Cane stalking Cantwell, but they traded punches and kicks. Cane used lots of jabs and uppercuts and knees to the body. Cantwell was effective at head kicks and punches.
Cane won by unanimous decision. The jiu jitsu guys didn’t make it to the ground.
Cheick Kongo fought Antoni Hardonk in a heavyweight bout. Kongo is a freestyle fighter, whereas Hardonk is a kickboxer.
Round 1 started with Hardonk applying outside leg kicks; Kongo answered with inside leg kicks and punches. At the fence, he caught Hardonk’s leg and punched Hardonk in response. Kongo used jabs and uppercuts and, in another clinch, knees to Hardonk’s inner thighs. He managed a take down and while in Hardonk’s guard, applied elbows and hammerfists.
Round 2 Kongo again caught a kick and they ended up on the ground with Kongo’s punches bouncing Hardonk’s head off the mats, and then having Hardonk just hold on. Kongo used hammerfists to Hardonk’s ribs and face until the referee came in to stop the match. TKO - referee stoppage.
The next bout was between Krsysztof Soszynski and Brian Stann. These guys know each other very well, having trained together. Soszynski wins by mostly submissions and Stann tends to win from standing, knocking out his opponents. A sign of their friendship came as soon as Soszynski entered the octagon: he went over to Stann and bowed. Very nice.
Stann started the fight with strong inside leg kicks and, in the clinch, effective knees. As expected, Soszynski took Stann down as soon as he could and immediately had full mount. From there he went into side mount and worked on a Kimura until we had tap out. Stann seemed unable to cope on the ground. Perhaps he should work mostly on his ground techniques, since his stand up is so effective. Mark Hamill could only do ground work when he was in The Ultimate Fighter and now wins from standing. Soszynski – Technique of the Night.
Chuck Liddell came out against Mauricio Shogun Rua, both of whom win mostly with knockouts. Rua began with leg kicks, a (blocked) head kick, body kick and big right hand. His leg kicks were after Liddell’s lead leg. He then had a take down and tried a leg lock. Liddell stood up and went after Rua with punches and kicks of his own.
Liddell took Rua down for points and immediately stood up. Rua then used a big left hook, knocking Liddell out. He jumped on Liddell and dropped hammerfists until the referee stepped in. Knockout of the Night.
The lightweights came out next with Sam Stout and Matt Wiman. Lightweights are always fun to watch, so much energy and so quick. Wiman was very aggressive, immediately succeeding in a take down against Stout, who is a muay thai fighter and does not want to be on the ground. Stout managed to get up, but was treated to punches and kicks before applying some deadly leg kicks of his own. Wiman again had a take down. (Wiman moved his hair out of the way a lot; he should not be worried about his hair or being able to see. Get a haircut in advance. Sheesh.)
Round 2 had Wiman trying a flying knee, which Stout caught, resulting in a take down by Stout, followed by ground and pound. Stout was in control with leg kicks such that Wiman’s leg gave out, after which he walked quite flat-footed with the lead leg. Stout gave Wiman’s ribs an horrendous punch which, in slow motion, rippled up the ribcage. Awful. Wiman folded in half afterward.
Round 3 had Wiman aggressive again. When on the ground, he had Stout’s back and I thought that was it: he’d get his arm under Stout’s chin and it would be over. Stout isn’t a ground guy. Much to my surprise, Stout managed to flip himself over so that he was in Wiman’s guard, with Wiman on the bottom. Stout then did some ground and pound with hammerfists and elbows. Later Wiman attempted a take down again, but ended up in Stout’s guard, with Stout in control. Stout – unanimous decision. Fight of the Night.
Now I really try to be objective when I’m writing. For one thing, who am I to criticize people who do this for a living, training all the time? My interests lie in the techniques and skills involved in submitting/winning against someone else of the same calibre. In the main event of the night, headliners Anderson Silva and Thales Leites were fighting for Silva’s middleweight belt, so we were to have five rounds of hopefully excellent fighting from Silva (how many times can they say “pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world” in one evening?) and fantastic techniques from Leites (they had clips of previous fights where he did a beautiful harai goshi and some solid submissions).
Unfortunately this was one of the most boring fights I’ve seen (only a few others match this). To make it worse, it went the distance – five rounds of boring. One of the guys who was here counted strikes (punches, feeble or otherwise, and kicks) and came up with about 250 for the entire match. The first round had nothing happen for three and a half minutes.
The only thing I could think was that Silva didn’t want to get caught on the ground with Leites because Leites is so good there. So Silva did the occasional punch or kick and then would back off. Lyoto Machida uses this technique as well, but he actually scores with it. Leites managed only one effective take down and then couldn’t do anything against Silva when he was there.
We had five rounds of the same thing: Leites attempting take downs, doing the BJJ Brazilian Butt Flop, actually throwing himself into them (we didn’t count those; I contemplated reviewing the fight to count them, as there were so many, but decided I didn’t want to be bored for yet another twenty-five minutes). Since Silva didn’t want to fight on the ground, he would just look at Leites, who was lying there, or kick his legs a bit, until the referee brought Leites to standing.
Did I say FIVE rounds of this? BBF and weird little strikes and the odd kick by Silva. Then to make matters even stranger, Silva started showboating, sticking his chest out, arms down. He punched Leites in the leg and then did a little soccer kick, left leg behind right, and actually managed to connect with Leites’s leg. So we get it: Silva was/is better and he knows it. He DID NOT, however, DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. So the decision went to Silva, but it was an ugly fight, showboating, BBFs (dozens of BBFs), so few strikes and kicks. It was bad. The audience booed, gave choruses of “GSP, GSP, GSP” and what sounded like “Bulls**t”. If it had been quieter, I’m sure you’d have heard people snoring.
I understand that Silva did not want to lose his belt, but he’s a fighter, so why wasn’t he fighting? Leites followed Silva around the octagon for twenty-five minutes in hopes of connecting with him. Silva just backed away and then started showboating. If Silva is no longer interested in fighting, then he should quit. People will not want to pay for PPV or tickets to live events to see this again. And, Thales, please STOP doing the Brazilian Butt Flop! It’s embarrassing.
UFC 97 – Redemption was certainly interesting. Luckily the other fights actually had fighting, because the headliners were boring.
April 19, 2009