(MMA legend Jens Pulver made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut at UFC 24 – photo Zuffa)
The Ultimate Fighting Championship 24: First Defense!
– Live from Lake Charles, LA
– Your hosts are Mike Goldberg & Jeff Blatnick.
Lightweights: Jens Pulver v. David Velasquez
The big hype here is that Velasquez is trained by Frank Shamrock, but this is a far bigger debut for his opponent. I’d actually recommend Pulver’s autobiography “Little Evil”, it’s quite an interesting read. He went through a lot of crap in his life leading up to this moment. Pulver is the first of many Pat Miletich trainees who went on to dominate.
Velasquez comes in with a leg kick, but Pulver catches a high kick attempt and FLATTENS him with a right, then passes the guard with ease and just unloads with ground and pound. Velasquez survives by getting to the fence and pulling himself up, but Pulver gets him in a clinch and throws. Pulver lets up, then hooks him up again and alternates the devastating hook with muay thai knees. I am astonished that this guy is still standing. Pulver finally runs out of bloodlust and takes it to the ground in side control, then gets full mount and decides to further mess up Velasquez’ face. He tries an armbar as the round expires. That’s as clear a 10-8 round as you’ll ever see.
Round two and Pulver takes him down with a headlock/legsweep combo (with a move that would be called an STO in the world of pro wrestling), hooking in an arm triangle on the mat as a result. He switches to full mount and fires at will, and Big John finally has mercy and stops it at 2:41. Good, fast-paced fight.
Lightweights: Tiki Ghosn v. Bob Cook
Tiki is a trainee of Tito Ortiz, while Bob Cook is a trainee of Frank Shamrock. So yeah, they’re still crossing their fingers and hoping. I don’t care how tough someone is, “Tiki” is a fucking stupid name. Tiki charges in and runs into Cook’s knees , and they take it to the mat. We get some crazy work there, as Cook tries an armbar from the bottom and Tiki picks him up and swings him around to break. I’ve never seen that before. They trade more wild shots and it’s back to the mat with Tiki on top. They trade knees standing as neither guy has any kind of defense whatsoever. This is like the early UFC fights. Cook pulls guard to get it on the ground again, but they stand it up and throw down again. It’s incredibly sloppy fighting but there’s a certain entertainment to it, no doubt. How do you even score it? I’ll say 10-9 for Cook but I’ll be gob smacked if there’s not a decision in this fight.
Round two and they trade wild shots again before Tiki pulls guard, but Cook quickly gets full mount. Great moment as Blatnick notes that full mount is the second-worst position in MMA, with the worst being giving up your back to escape. And sure enough, Tiki rolls over as if on cue and gives up the back, allowing Cook to finish with a rear naked choke at 1:40. Great fight!
Lightweights: Dave Menne v. Fabiano Iha
Iha gets another shot after losing to Laverne Clark in an earlier show. They take it to the ground quickly and Iha tries for the arm, but can’t get it. Back to standing and Menne nearly sinks in a guillotine choke, but Iha takes him to the fence to break. Menne gets a facelock and throws knees (back when that was legal), but Iha pulls him into the guard. Back to standing and Menne holds him in a clinch and gets some good shots until the round expires. 10-9 Menne for sure, he had control.
Round two and it quickly goes to the ground, with Menne on top. Not much going on there, and they stand it up. Back to Iha’s guard again, and Menne gets a good flurry as the round ends. Another 10-9 round for Menne and unless he does something dumb he’s got this one wrapped up.
Round three and we’re back to the guard, as Iha is unable to take Menne down and pulls guard instead. Menne stands it up again and presses the fight, and Iha pulls guard AGAIN. The crowd rightly boos the shit out of that. Menne wants it standing again and throws some good knees from a facelock, but Iha hauls him down yet again in frustration. The round expires to give Menne an easy unanimous decision, 30-27 all around I’m assuming. Amazingly, Iha walks around the cage celebrating as though he’s won right after the horn.
Middleweights: Lance Gibson Sr. v. Jermaine Andre
Gibson is a black guy with one of the whitest names I’ve ever heard. They trade shots against the fence to start and Gibson brings it to the ground for some nothing ground-and-pound. He passes the guard after a few tries and gets side mount and an armbar, but Andre escapes even as the announcers declare that it’s over. And now he’s pissed, as he EXPLODES and slugs Gibson to the mat as the round expires, but can’t finish. Not enough to win the round for him, though. 10-9 Gibson for the submission attempts and control on top. The announcers think it’s a draw, though.
Second round and Andre seems to want to attack again, but can’t quite find an opening. They clinch against the fence instead and Gibson gets it to the ground again. Gibson pounds away and gets nowhere until the end of the round. Another 10-9 Gibson for me because of submission attempts again.
Third round and they’re clinching on the fence again, with Gibson doing foot stomps ala Marco Ruas. And then, out of nowhere, BAM, knee to the chin and Andre is knocked the fuck out at 3:37. The muay thai knees will kill you dead every time. This was pretty dull stuff up until the big finish.
Lightweights: Shonie Carter v. Brad Gumm
This is a prelim fight so they must be running short, which is kind of amazing since all the fights have gone pretty long thus far. Carter of course went on to be a bit of a star, despite his ridiculous short/long combo tights, but both fighters are overshadowed by the ref…Dan Severn?!? Carter gets an awesome judo takedown and they quickly stand it up for some boxing. Carter gets another nice takedown (basically a t-bone suplex in wrestling terms), but Gumm works for a triangle choke off the ground. Carter waits him out and escapes, but he’s hurt. Gumm tries to take advantage of Carter’s weak state and throws some good shots, but Carter takes him down again and gets some good ground and pound. The round expires and Carter has to win 10-9 on takedowns.
Round two sees Carter getting it to the ground, but Gumm makes it up right away. They throw some wild strikes at each other and it goes to the ground again with Carter in control, but Gumm has a nice reversal and goes for the choke. Carter escapes that and gets top control again as the round expires. And since prelims only go two rounds, we go to the judges, and Carter gets the unanimous decision.
Heavyweights: Tedd Williams v. Steve Judson
Judson got his ass handed to him by Brad Kohler at UFC 22, and yet he gets another look and the badass Kohler doesn’t? Judson comes out swinging this time and Williams holds him off and he’s pretty clearly gassed already. He stops to breathe and Judson hits him in the face as a result, and they kind of lay against the fence pawing at each other. Judson tries for a single-leg for reasons I can’t fathom, and Williams hits him in the head to get him to back off, then knocks him out. Again. Yeah, I don’t think Judson will get another second chance.
And with about 10 minutes left in the show, we go to another prelim match. You’re probably thinking “What about the heavyweight title match?” and we’ll get to that.
Heavyweights: Ian Freeman v. Scott Adams
Adams gets it to the ground right away and works for a kneebar, but Freeman is able to roll out of it. Another try and this time Freeman can’t escape and taps at 3:08.
So basically what happened was that Randleman slipped and fell in the back during the show, putting him in the hospital and leaving him unable to defend his title. This was probably the worst thing that could happen to a promotion that was already bleeding money and I can see how you’d be pretty pissed off if you ordered this show, but this is kind of a great show even without the main event. The first few matches have an exciting early-UFC feel to them and there’s some big debuts here like Jens Pulver and Dave Menne. You probably can’t find this show unless you have the original PPV taped, but it’s well worth watching if you can get your hands on it.
Next time: Tito Ortiz v. Wanderlei Silva for the Middleweight title. We hope.