The Ultimate Fighting Championship 34: High Voltage!
– Live from Las Vegas, NV.
– Your hosts are Mike Goldberg, Jens Pulver & Jeff Osborne.
Heavyweights: Josh Barnett v. Bobby Hoffman
They tussle on the fence to start and Hoffman actually gets a takedown. Barnett works well from the bottom, almost getting an armbar. He tries for the kneebar, but Hoffman slips out and they return to standing again. Barnett gets the takedown this time and quickly gets full mount, but Hoffman gets a nice reversal and ends up on top. Barnett keeps trying for the arm, and the round expires. 10-9 Barnett there, he was clearly in control.
Second round and Barnett comes out swinging, then quickly gets a takedown off the fence. He works the ground and pound, then passes into side control. He throws some weak elbows, but can’t gain any significant traction there, so he just fires away with rights until Big John stops it. Josh is starting to look like a star now.
Lightweights: BJ Penn v. Caol Uno
Winner of this gets a shot at Jens Pulver. Uno dives in with the flying knee, but Penn puts him down and DESTROYS him with rights to finish. Take that, Uno! Penn doesn’t even wait for the decision, and sprints back to the dressing room in a weird moment. So yeah, it seems like Penn is for real.
Welterweight title: Carlos Newton v. Matt Hughes
This ended up being a pretty famous fight. Newton’s entrance, with WWE-style video wall and a model wearing the belt, seems a bit over-the-top for a sport that was trying to get taken seriously. Still pretty awesome, though. Hughes immediately takes it to the ground and tries to pass Newton’s guard. Carlos actually manages to elevate himself on top and nearly gets Matt’s back, but a GIANT slam changes things again. Hughes was just a monster at this point. More very nice wrestling on the ground sees Hughes try for a guillotine while Newton reverses out and back into Matt’s guard again. Hughes fights up and gets another punishing takedown off a pair of knees, and he starts to work the ground and pound from there. Newton fights him off, and that’s round one. Almost too close to call, but if I had to choose I’d go 10-9 Hughes.
Round two and Hughes takes Newton down again, but Carlos hooks him in a triangle. Hughes powers him up and into the cage to counter in the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in the UFC, and then slams him to break the hold, knocking Newton out to win the title at 1:27. However, Newton would later point out that Hughes was out due to the choke! I smell a rematch. That finish would actually be used by WWE a few months later, with Undertaker and Kurt Angle replicating it to show that MMA was becoming influential on pro wrestling. And vice-versa, apparently. Kind of funny to hear the announcers talk about what a huge upset this was, given that Hughes went on to seemingly hold the belt forever.
Heavyweights: Ricco Rodriguez v. Pete Williams
Oh god, the Ricco era begins. I’m dreading this whole upcoming stretch in the heavyweight division in general. Ricco takes Petey down to start and demonstrates the fine art of lay-and-pray. Williams escapes the boredom and almost gets a fluke armbar in the process, but Rodriguez will have no excitement in his fights. He actually tries a kneebar, which is so ineffective that Williams almost looks amused by it, and then gets on top again as the round ends. 10-9 Ricco.
Second round and Ricco tries punching, but then goes to his back to draw Williams into the guard. Pete gets the back, but Ricco reverses out and into side mount. Williams makes it to his feet, but Ricco takes him down again and throws elbows from the top. Rodriguez gets the back and finishes with strikes. He’s just such a boring fighter.