The Ultimate Fighting Championship 15: Collision Course!
As if UFC 14’s “Showdown” subtitle wasn’t boring enough. Last time out, Maurice Smith scored the biggest upset in UFC history by winning the UFC Heavyweight title from Mark Coleman. Tonight he defends against Tank Abbott, which should be a glorious trainwreck, thus making the “Collision Course” moniker very apt.
Live from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Your hosts are Bruce Beck and Jeff Blatnick.
Heavyweight tournament alternate bouts:
Harry Moskowitz v. Alex Hunter
With only one tournament tonight, they have time to show the alternate fight. Harry Moskowitz may have the least intimidating name for a fighter this side of Cabbage, but he looks like a badass biker, so it’s an interesting contrast. Hunter comes in and tries a takedown, but Moskowitz wraps him up with a choke and hangs on by sheer brute force. He’s got nothing, however, and Hunter is able to break free with knees. I think Moskowitz burned himself out there already. They take it to the fence and have no idea how to proceed, with Moskowitz actually asking the referee what he can do from there, legally speaking. With no luck from either guy, Hunter fights free of the clinch and throws some good shots, but gets nothing from it. Back to Moskowitz wrapping him up on the fence again and futilely trying for a guillotine choke, as Hunter keeps offering his neck without protecting himself in the slightest. The announcers suggest that Hunter is deliberately allowing himself to be choked out so that he can wear the bigger man down. That sounds like a pretty dumb strategy, in fact. They finally take it to the ground and Hunter gets side mount before passing whatever minimal guard that Moskowitz has. Hunter tries some ground and pound, but even #1 apologist Jeff Blatnick has to concede that he’s got no game. The ref stands them up and both guys are kind of like “Eh, why bother” in the last minute. Give me a friggin’ break. Hunter, exhausted, gets a last-second takedown and wins a shitty fight by split decision as a result. Crowd boos them both for that.
Dwane Cason v. Houston Dorr
Dorr is the local boy of note tonight, apparently a kickboxing champion. Plus he’s got USA-themed tights, just to make sure people have someone to cheer for. Cason shoots in and takes him down like he’s nothing, as Dorr goes to the guard and tries to withstand the assault. He manages to underhook both of Cason’s arms to prevent any strikes, which is an interesting idea now that headbutting is illegal. Cason is clearly frustrated at his inability to pass the guard, as Dorr remains in control from the ground, but Cason finally UNLEASHES THE BEAST and just throws strikes from the top until he knocks him out at 3:43. The lesson here: If you’re going to try for an armbar from below and get cute, you just might get knocked into the middle of next week.
Heavyweight tournament semi-finals:
Mark Kerr v. Greg Stott
Stott is a former Toughman winner, which means Kerr might get 30 seconds out of him instead of 20. Kerr is juiced to the gills and looks like money. Stott is another one of those “I invented my own fighting style” dudes. And amazingly, Kerr finishes the match with ONE KNEE at 20 seconds after I made that first joke. So I was wrong about Stott making it to 30. Oh well, gave him too much credit, I guess. This must have made one of those Ultimate Knockouts DVDs, because it was pretty awesome.
Dave Beneteau v. Carlos Barretto
Beneteau is an early UFC veteran, but he might be out of his element now. They come in trading to start and take it to the fence, but Barretto throws a headbutt and gets…what, a point deducted? The rules were a bit vague on that count, as you’d expect when you impose rules on no-rules fighting. Big John quickly breaks them up for stalling, but Barretto gets a fast takedown, takes the back, and seemingly finishes with strikes to the back of the head, but Beneteau survives. Huh. Back to the standup, but now Beneteau gets a solid takedown off the clinch and throws some good strikes from the top, but can’t finish either. They exchange on their feet again and Beneteau gets the double-leg takedown and flirts with a kneebar, but then thinks better of trying that on a Brazilian and they stand up again. Barretto uses the muay thai clinch and throws some knees, but Beneteau hits him with a solid right to answer. Beneteau is clearly winded, but gets another strong takedown to block a kick. Barretto maneuvers for the triangle attempt and gets some surprisingly vicious up-kicks from the bottom position, but they settle into the guard and trade ineffective strikes. Back to standing and Barretto goes back to the muay thai knees on the fence, but Big John splits them up after too much stalling. Both guys are sucking wind, but they keep throwing and Beneteau gets another takedown as they go into the guard again. Time expires at 12:00 and it’s overtime. Big John warns Barretto about holding the fence, as apparently one more warning means DQ. And sure enough, they clinch and he’s holding the fence. So Barretto takes it to the ground instead, and it’s in the guard until OT expires as well. That’s gonna be a very, very close call for the judges. They go with Beneteau unanimously, but really you could go either way.
Superfight: Vitor Belfort v. Randy Couture
Winner of this gets the title shot at Ultimate Japan, which sadly I don’t have. Belfort wants to trade and Couture won’t bite, and in fact Randy wraps him up in a clinch. Back to the boxing and Couture won’t give him any room to move, and takes him down and gets side mount. Belfort looks STUNNED as Couture switches to a headlock and rides him around on the ground with ease. They work from the guard and Belfort tries an armbar, but Couture gets back to standing and throws some great knees from the clinch. Couture keeps throwing and Vitor is at a total loss for what to do, and he GOES DOWN. Couture drops knees on him, gets the back, and finishes with strikes to completely expose Belfort and win the title shot. WOW. I think this Couture guy might have potential.
Heavyweight tournament finals:
Mark Kerr v. Dwane Cason
As you’d expect, Dave Beneteau is unable to continue in the tournament, so Cason gets the honor of being destroyed in the finals. Truly if ever there was a case of no shame in losing, this would be it. Trivia note: Blatnick informs us that Kerr lost in the Olympic trials to some guy named Kurt Angle. Huh. Kerr takes him down with ease and it’s Smashing Machine time, as he wallops him on the ground and then taps him with a choke at 0:54 to win the tournament for the second straight time. Jeff Blatnick’s analysis: “People don’t like to get hit in the head.” Seriously, Cason did just as well as anyone else would have. You’d think Kerr was on the fast track to stardom, but this was his final appearance in the UFC, as he moved to Pride and began a love affair with drugs that destroyed his career.
UFC Heavyweight title:
Maurice Smith v. Tank Abbott
Tank makes a terrible attempt at a takedown, and Smith opts to circle around and not engage. Tank finally gets frustrated and takes him into the fence, and then gets the takedown! Even Smith seems shocked by that, and Tank gets side mount to boot. He gets nowhere with that, but manages to bring down punches from the top, but Smith almost gets a kimura. Tank stays pretty calm by his own standards and goes to side mount again, but Smith gets into the guard. Tank gets too aggressive again and Smith makes another try at the kimura, but Tank channels Roadhouse and shows us that pain don’t hurt. Big John stands them up and Tank is pretty much done, as Smith can now throw kicks at will, so Big John stops the fight and awards it to Smith at 8:09. Boy, Smith was on the road to becoming the biggest heel in UFC history with finishes like that.
A great show after a rough start, as they hit their creative stride during a really bad period financially. Maybe that’s partly what kept them alive, I don’t know. As noted, I don’t have Ultimate Japan, so I’ll just summarize: Randy Couture wins the title from Maurice Smith, Frank Shamrock debuts by winning the inaugural Middleweight title (which was quickly renamed the Light Heavyweight title), and Kazushi Sakuraba begins his own legend by winning the heavyweight tournament.
Merry Christmas, Heavy.com readers, and hopefully Santa leaves you a Tapout shirt under the tree.