The Ultimate Fighting Championship 19: Young Guns!
– Live from Bay St. Louis, MS
– Your hosts are Mike Goldberg & Jeff Blatnick. – The “Road to the Heavyweight title” craziness continues, as now Bas Rutten will apparently face the winner of a Maurice Smith v. Kevin Randleman (!!!) main event instead of Pedro Rizzo. I’m guessing that’s because they were training partners and such.
Heavyweights: Petey Williams v. Jason Godsey
Not familiar with Godsey, which probably doesn’t speak well for his chances here. Plus he’s 35, although he comes from Pancrase so he should match up well with Williams. Godsey is pretty aggressive to start, but Williams takes him down and we’re right into the guard. Williams almost passes, and then hooks a kneebar instead for the submission at 1:56. For a supposed submission guy, Godsey let himself fall right into that one.
Middleweights: Val Ignatov v. Evan Tanner
Ignatov is a sambo specialist who is part of a Shamrock off-shoot group called “Shamrock 2000”, which can’t have been terribly impressive since I’ve never heard of it before. Tanner comes in throwing knees, which is smart because sambo is a strictly wrestling disclipline. Tanner gets the takedown and Ignatov tries for an arm rather than go right to the guard, so Tanner PUNISHES him with a couple of bombs to the face. Not much of a guard there. I’m shocked that Big John didn’t stop it right there. Ignatov almost gets a heel hook, but Tanner counters out and gets full mount, then finishes with elbows at 2:58. Once he got on top like that Ignatov had no defense.
Heavyweights: Maurice Smith v. Kevin Randleman
Wonder if anyone suspected what Smith was getting into here? Randleman is another one of my all-time favorite fighters. Actually most of the Hammer House is pretty awesome, come to think of it. Randleman is all energy to start, trying to bait Smith, but neither guy will make a move. Finally after about 3:00 of dancing, Randleman throws a combo attempt and they lock up on the fence, but that goes nowhere. Smith throws a kick and gets taken down as a result, but uses a butterfly guard to keep Randleman at bay. Mike Goldberg’s man-crush on Tsuyoshi Kosaka is kind of weird and funny, as he credits “TK” for invention of that guard and for all of Smith’s ground game in general. There’s nothing going on, so it’s back to standing again. And Randleman shoots in and gets another takedown, then lets Smith up again. Back to the fence and Randleman gets another takedown, then powers out of a kimura attempt. Randleman can’t pass the guard, and regulation expires with them on the ground. Bas Rutten, on commentary, is already scouting Randleman as his opponent for UFC 20. I don’t disagree given that Smith hasn’t done anything to win. Overtime, and yet again Smith throws a kick and Randleman blocks him with a takedown. Randleman can’t do anything with Smith’s guard, so he lets him up again. He pounds Smith on the fence and takes him down again, and time expires with Randleman winning an easy unanimous decision in his debut.
Middleweights: Chuck Liddell v. Jeremy Horn
This is Chuck’s debut on PPV, although he was in a prelim fight at UFC 17 before this. Funny to note that they still don’t know how to pronounce “Liddell” yet. Horn comes in with a high kick and they fight for the takedown, but Liddell sprawls and holds Horn in a facelock. He gets some good knees from there, but can’t finish. Horn tries to pull guard, but Chuck holds the fence, giving us an awkward moment with Horn laying there and totally exposed. Liddell should have just unloaded on him there, but instead he gets into Horn’s guard and plays it safe. Horn almost gets a heel hook and Liddell fights like crazy to get away, then decides to grab his own anklelock instead. That prompts Horn to let go. Good sequence there. Chuck holds a facelock, but ends up on the bottom in half-guard. They’re a human pretzel and Big John stands them up. Horn shoots in and can’t get the takedown, but Liddell lets it go the ground anyway. Chuck gets a nice reversal to get on top, but Horn holds a side choke until time expires. It looks like they’re going to OT, but Liddell is out and Big John stops it at 12:00. A really close chess match on the ground and I don’t know how the decision would have gone if given the chance.
Heavyweights: Andre Roberts v. Gary Goodridge
Good to see Big Daddy back, as he faces a last minute sub for an injured Tank Abbott. Roberts is 330 pounds, hearkening back to the freakshow days. Goodridge beats on him standing up and Roberts taps at 0:45 after getting hit in the face too much. The official reason: Broken nose. Well that was quite the shitty fight.
Middleweights: Tito Ortiz v. Guy Mezger
Tito’s war with the Lion’s Den continues, as the UFC gets its first real storyline. Mezger tapped Ortiz in Tito’s UFC debut tournament in a great short fight, and hopefully this lives up to that pedigree. Tito is actually subbing for Vitor Belfort here. Tito shoots in and gets caught in Mezger’s guard, but breaks free on the fence and they trade shots there. Tito gets the best of that and goes for another takedown, clinging tenaciously to the leg while Guy grabs the arm and tries a kimura. Tito wriggles out of that and we’re back to the guard, but Tito passes it and throws bombs until Mezger turns out of it. Back to the middle as Tito keeps trying to get the back, but Mezger flips over into a triangle attempt. Tito escapes that as well, but Mezger tries for that kimura again from the bottom. Tito stays busy on top after escaping, really keeping Mezger on the defensive, and they stand it up again. Ortiz powers him down with what we’d call a d’arce choke attempt now, but he can’t get the leverage for it. So instead he throws knees to the back and then adds hammerfists to the back to the neck. Mezger isn’t defending, so the fight is stopped at 9:55. Tito fires the guns and then flips Shamrock off before donning a “Guy Mezger is my bitch” t-shirt, as per his new tradition. You couldn’t write a pro wrestling storyline better than this one. Plus they note that Tito had half a dozen chances to submit him, but chose to beat him into unconsciousness instead. The camera cuts away from the Octagon for some reason, as the Lion’s Den threatens to rush in. Tito’s post-match interview is CLASSIC, as he smack-talks the Shamrocks while still trying to sound humble.
Hell of a card, and next time it’s UFC 20, where we finally get to see someone fight for the heavyweight title! I think. Who knows with this goofy “tournament”.