The Ultimate Fighting Championship 12: Judgement Day!
More accurately, the Dark Day, as UFC 12 marked a major turning point for the young promotion, but in the worst possible way.
Live from Dothan, AL. This is the first casualty of the political right’s war on the promotion in the early days, as it was originally supposed to be held in New York and got banned from the state the day before the show. Even worse, the UFC was dropped from every major PPV provider except for DirecTV, meaning that people such as myself had to watch them at bars with grey market dishes, if we could at all.
Your hosts are Bruce Beck and Jeff Blatnick. Plus Joe Rogan debuts as a backstage interviewer, looking like he’s 18 years old at this point.
So the next wacky idea is to divide into weight classes, with two tournaments tonight, one for the heavyweights and one for “lightweights” (under 200 pounds rather than the more official classification that they’d determine later). I’m assuming this is to allow guys more time to rest between matches, thus preventing a circus like UFC 11 turned into. And the main event tonight is Mark Coleman facing Dan Severn to determine the first ever UFC Heavyweight champion. Oh, and you may have heard of one of the guys debuting in the heavyweight tournament.
Lightweight tournament semi-finals:
Jerry Bohlander v. Rainy Martinez
Ken Shamrock, on color commentary, is a walking advertisement for Bohlander. Bohlander shoots in with the takedown to start but can’t get control on the mat, as Martinez reverses out. He gives up the back against the fence, however, and Bohlander finishes quickly with a rear naked choke at 1:24.
Wallid Ismail v. Yoshiki Takahashi
The announcer notes that Takahashi is currently a top star in “Pancreas”. Where did they find this guy? Takahashi powers Ismail down and hooks in a guillotine choke against the fence, but Ismail goes for the leg patiently and manages to reverse out. He takes Takahashi down, but both guys stubbornly fight back up again, drawing the support of the crowd. Takahashi makes an error, knocking Ismail down and then not following up because he apparently doesn’t know that strikes on the ground are legal. More bombs from Takahashi as Ismail tries to find the takedown without much luck. Takahashi sprawls to block an double leg, and Ismail keeps trying the single-leg. There’s patience and then there’s time to try another tactic. They won’t get off the fence and we get a…uh…equipment problem from Ismail, as his cup is hanging out of his shorts. Ken Shamrock is ready with an explanation for how this could possibly happen, bless him. Takahashi finally gets it to the ground and Ismail goes to the guard, but Takahashi controls with strikes to the ribs and headbutts. He looks like the clear winner if they go to the judges. So they go to the time limit and it’s a 3:00 OT. Thankfully this gives Ismail the chance to get his junk back in place again. Ismail looks totally gassed and Takahashi should be trying to destroy him, but instead they both hang back. Takahashi knocks him down with strikes but then kicks a downed Ismail to draw a warning. Did anyone explain the rules to him AT ALL? Takahashi evades him for the rest of the fight, riding out the time and claiming a unanimous victory from the judges. This was a bit of a mess, to say the least. Hopefully someone gives Takahashi a copy of the rulebook before the finals.
Heavyweight tournament semi-finals:
Scott Ferrozzo v. Jim Mullen
Really? Out-hugging Tank Abbott at UFC 11 earns Ferrozzo a spot in this tournament? His goal for this fight: Don’t get hit in the face. That’s truly a noble ambition. Mullen wants to fight standing up, but Ferrozzo takes him into the fence and smothers him, then tries for the guillotine before just throwing down. Mullen isn’t really defending himself out there, and Ferrozzo just unloads on him against the fence. Points to Ferrozzo for trying some submission stuff, but he’s pretty terrible at it and probably should have finished the clearly-overwhelmed Mullen by now. Mullen manages to fight up, but Ferrozzo gets a good slam for top control. He opts for the neck crank as his submission attempt but doesn’t have the technique, allowing Mullen to fight back from the ground. Ferrozzo’s strategy here appears to be of the “lay and pray” variety, so Big John stands them up. Mullen’s face is hamburger so they stop to check him out, but let him continue. Ferrozzo immediately knocks him out anyway, at 8:17. Ferrozzo better hope there’s no future legends of the sport in the other half of the bracket…
Tra Telligman v. Vitor Belfort
Belfort is only 19 years old here! Belfort is just awesome, firing away and knocking Telligman down within seconds, then passing his guard and destroying him with elbows to the back of the neck for the stoppage at 1:17. WOW. Tank Abbott’s analysis: “I bet Telligman wishes he had his other pectoral muscle now.” Tank needs a Gorilla Monsoon to his Bobby Heenan.
Light Heavyweight tournament finals:
Jerry Bohlander v. Nick Sanzo
Ugh, the tournament fatigue strikes again, giving us an alternate in the finals. This format has gotta go, and it does pretty soon. Sanzo tries for the takedown and gets taken down and tapped with a crucifix like he’s nothing, at 0:35. What a disappointment for the finals. Obviously they were trying to build Bohlander as their big star, but that plan never came to fruition.
Bad time management rears its ugly head again, as they show an old Oleg Taktarov v. Dan Severn fight from UFC 5 to fill time thanks to the quick previous match. They also show Mark Coleman’s debut at UFC 10.
Heavyweight tournament finals:
Scott Ferrozzo v. Vitor Belfort
This should be GLORIOUS. I’m thinking at this point that if Belfort does anything short of ripping out Ferrozzo’s heart and eating it in the middle of the Octagon I’m probably going to be disappointed, though. Ferrozzo actually dares Belfort to come at him, but Tank thinks Belfort’s got no chance due to size. A technical knockout of the suddenly cowering Ferrozzo at 0:44 says otherwise, beeyotch. Two punches put him on his back, and a flurry of strikes to the head finish it. Ferrozzo tries to keep fighting and whines to Big John, but another 10 seconds and he’d be in the hospital.
UFC Heavyweight championship:
Mark Coleman v. Dan Severn
I guess you could call this a unification bout between the Superfight title belonging to Severn and the UFC championships won by Coleman, to create the Heavyweight title. Don Frye, who was supposed to be in this match against Severn until an injury sidelined him, does commentary before leaving the UFC for good. Much like most of their talent base at this point. Like, for instance, Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock, thanks to the greener pastures of pro wrestling. Does anyone know what was up with Severn’s bizarre pre-match conversation with Big John McCarthy, by the way? Big John gave the instructions and Severn responded with what sounded like a math problem. Severn shoots in and gets stopped cold, and Coleman gets his back and throws strikes to the head. Severn tries to escape and ends up with Coleman in full mount, and a side choke is all she wrote at 2:57. Man, Coleman was just unstoppable at this point.
I think this one is worth checking out for Belfort’s amazing debut, but there was kind of a dire aura hanging over the show thanks to the many problems they were having in the wake of the “human cockfighting” remarks by John McCain, and it would only get worse for SEG from here. This is another one where the miracle of DVD makes it easier to deal with the filler than the original PPV would have been, though.