The Ultimate Fighting Championship 31: Locked & Loaded
– Live from Atlantic City, NJ.
– Your hosts are Mike Goldberg, Jeff Blatnick & Frank Shamrock.
– So the big change is that UFC is now operating under the new unified rules of MMA, which means that the weight classes have been renamed to what we know them as now. And now Middleweight has become Light Heavyweight, and a new Middleweight division created with no champion yet. Another minor change that would stick: No more shoes.
Light Heavyweights: Ricardo Almeida v. Matt Lindland
Lindland gets a takedown and Almeida works for the arm right away, but gets too close to the fence and grabs onto it. Lindland pounds the ribs with weak shots while Almeida tenaciously goes for the kimura, but Lindland manages to pass the guard. He traps Almeida on the fence and ends up back in his guard again as a result. Lindland passes again and Almeida upkicks to the head, which draws a foul since Lindland was technically down. So that’s 10-8 Lindland with the point deduction.
Round two and they fight on the fence in a clinch, before Lindland takes him down again. Not very busy on top, as he seems content to try a side choke. And Almeida once again gets frustrated and upkicks for another foul. They stand up and Lindland takes him down with a back suplex after absorbing a flying knee. They exchange kicks with Almeida down and that’s another 10-8 round for Lindland thanks to the foul. You can even make an argument for 10-7.
Third round sees Lindland getting another takedown out of the clinch. That goes nowhere for him so he stands up and then gets another throw for the takedown. Lindland smartly stays on one knee while Almeida starts kicking, and so with a third foul that’s a DQ win for Lindland. Well that’s kinda lame.
Heavyweights: Semmy Schilt v. Pete Williams
Schilt of course is much more notable for his K-1 success. Williams shoots on the giant and brings him down, but Schilt just holds Pete’s hands and keeps him literally at arm’s length. That’s crazy, Williams is totally hopeless despite being on top. Williams gets him against the fence to neutralize that technique, however, and quickly gets full mount. Schilt holds on through the end of the round, 10-9 Williams.
Round two and Semmy tries to keep it standing, quickly knocking Williams down with a straight kick to the solar plexus before letting him up. Williams gets further murdered by Schilt’s awesome striking, and Big John stops it at 1:28 when he goes down again. Good debut for Schilt.
Welterweights: Shonie Carter v. Matt Serra
Hey, two guys who would go on to later fame via The Ultimate Fighter. Serra gets the takedown and quickly passes the guard, but Carter bridges up out of it. Serra pulls guard to get it back to the ground again and quickly figure-fours the arm, but Carter amazingly rolls out of it. Serra wraps him up like a pretzel and then lets Carter stand up again, before rocking him with a high kick. Serra passes the guard on the ground, gets the back, and works for a rear naked choke while the crowd chants his name. Carter slips out of trouble and they stand up again, but Serra pulls guard. Carter gets it standing again, and then hits a spinning elbow that nearly knocks Serra out of his tights as the round ends. I was gonna go 10-8 but since Carter nearly won the fight there, that’s 10-9 Serra instead.
Second round and Carter gets a takedown, but wants it standing again. Serra still seems woozy from the elbow in the first round, and they clinch on the fence as Serra weakly tries for a double leg takedown. Carter blocks the takedown, but Serra was suckering him in for a legbar attempt. Carter escapes that and holds off the tired Serra until the round ends. 10-9 Carter.
Third round and Serra pulls guard right away, but has nothing from the bottom. They stand it up and Carter gets him down with a leg trip, but Serra works for the armbar. Carter gets away from that, but Serra suddenly powers him down with a takedown and gets the back. Carter quickly transitions out of that and back to the top. They stand up and Serra tries to pull guard, but Carter holds him in mid-move and would have a hell of a slam if he wanted it. Instead he just lets Serra down and they take it to the ground. Serra desperately tries for the triangle choke with time running out, but Carter wiggles out and then hits Serra with ANOTHER spinning elbow, this time KNOCKING HIM THE F#%K OUT at 4:51. That was wicked, as Carter faked with a spinning kick and then caught Serra looking. If it makes Serra feel better, I’m pretty sure Carter had the decision if it went to the judges anyway.
Light Heavyweights: Chuck Liddell v. Kevin Randleman
There is some major star power in this show. Randleman tries to stand up with Liddell, and Chuck makes him PAY, finishing with strikes after catching him sleeping, at 1:18. Quite the debut at light heavyweight for Randleman.
Welterweight title: Pat Miletich v. Carlos Newton
Hey, finally some real competition for Miletich. They do some tentative sparring and fight from the clinch, but that goes nowhere. Miletich gets aggressive with a couple of rights as the announcers discuss Miletich’s alternate nickname — “The Croatian Sedation”. It’s funny because it’s TRUE. Miletich blocks a takedown attempt and chases Newton back with more jabs, but Carlos finally shoots in and gets the takedown. No time left, however, and that’s the round. 10-9 Miletich.
Round two and Newton gets a sweet leg trip and wraps him up in a guillotine attempt, but Miletich counters into the side mount. Newton fights out and they trade good shots standing, including a high kick each. Miletich pulls guard, but Newton is the one staying busy on top for the rest of the round. Tough round to score, but I’ll go 10-9 Newton because he stayed busier.
Third round and Miletich catches Newton with a knee, but Carlos claims an eyepoke and they stop to check it. Satisfied that the eye is still there, Big John starts it again right away without any “five minutes of rest” BS. Back to the ground and Newton sinks in a choke at 2:50, and we have a new champion! Scary strength from Newton there. And that was pretty much it for Miletich’s career as an elite fighter, actually. I believe he tried a few comebacks and just couldn’t get to that level again.
Heavyweight title: Randy Couture v. Pedro Rizzo
They go right into the clinch and you have to think that’s a bad idea for Rizzo. And sure enough, Randy gets him on the ground by the fence and starts pounding. Frank Shamrock in particular loves the shoulder-butts. Rizzo is bleeding and Couture brings down the forearms, desperately trying to finish. Rizzo must be the toughest SOB alive to take this kind of punishment and still defend himself. Couture can’t finish, as the round expires with Rizzo still alive after nearly a minute straight of getting punched in the face. There’s a 10-8 round for Couture if I’ve ever seen one. Online scoring shows that 22% of people watching thought RIZZO won the round. I’d hate to see what Couture would have had to do to him to win the round in their eyes.
Second round and Rizzo gets a hard shot and goes for a guillotine, but can’t sink it in. They stand it up again and now Rizzo starts throwing bombs, stunning Couture. Couture is loopy and Rizzo throws nasty leg kicks to further throw Randy off his game. A vicious high kick busts Couture’s nose open, but Rizzo follows with a kick to the head of a downed Couture, buying Randy a quick break. Rizzo puts him down again and Couture turtles, but the end of the round saves him. And that’s 10-8 for Rizzo! You almost never see two guys trading dominant rounds like that.
Round three and the slugfest continues, as Couture wisely tries for a takedown to escape the punching power onslaught. Rizzo stuffs it, and Big John stops it to get Couture’s nose checked. They start up again with Couture getting a clean takedown and controlling for the rest of the round. 10-9 Couture, but it was close.
Fourth round and they trade from the clinch, which again is not where Pedro wants to be. Couture lets him go and fires a couple of good shots, then shoots for the takedown and gets stopped. A second try succeeds, however, and he gets side mount, then switches to Pedro’s guard. He stays there until the round ends. 10-9 Couture due to takedowns.
Fifth round and Rizzo starts getting more aggressive, while Randy wants another takedown. Rizzo stops it and lets him up. And they do it again, as Rizzo is too tired to follow up. They stand it up and exchange, resulting in Rizzo putting him on the mat with seconds to go. 10-9 Rizzo, which makes it 47-46 for Couture by my card, but this was close. Judges decision: Unanimous for Randy Couture. I can live with that. An absolutely amazing fight to cap off probably one of, if not THE, best UFC shows in history. Long live Zuffa!
Next time: Tito Ortiz defends the light heavyweight title against Elvis Sinosic!