The Smark Rant: UFC 37.5

Light Heavyweights: Chuck Liddell v. Vitor Belfort

Belfort actually hasn’t been in the UFC since 1998, and he returns to a totally different beast. Belfort shoots in and gets a takedown right away, but Chuck walks the wall to escape. Belfort takes him down again, but Chuck fights up again and they trade body shots against the fence. Belfort backs off and gets a couple of good leg kicks as the round ends. 10-9 Belfort, good aggression there.

Round two sees Chuck taking over, bullying Vitor against the fence and then throwing a spinning back kick! He tries it again and nearly gets caught as a result, but no harm done. Chuck keeps pressing as the round expires, winning it 10-9.

Round three and Chuck keeps pressing, hitting leg kicks and mixing in punches. Belfort wisely fights back, trying for the knockout, but Chuck won’t let him get close enough to explode. Chuck, however, gets lazy and falls victim to Belfort’s left…and that wakes him up. He knocks Belfort down with a right, finally getting pissed off, and then goes into Belfort’s guard until the end of the round. 10-9 Liddell for what should be a unanimous decision. That was exactly the kind of hot fight they needed to win over a TV crowd. Judges’ decision: 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Liddell. Really? Two judges had it that dominant for Liddell? So this sets up the next challenger for Tito Ortiz: Chuck Liddell! And yeah, obviously that didn’t turn out quite as they wanted.

Still, this is a hell of a show and well worth tracking down. Lots of quick fights and good finishes.