The Ultimate Fighting Championship 17: Redemption!
– Live from Mobile, AL
– Your hosts are Mike Goldberg & Jeff Blatnick.
– There is one HELL of a middleweight tournament draw tonight. I’m pumped, although it didn’t seem so exciting at the time, I’m sure. Tragically edited off this version: Chuck Liddell making his UFC debut as an alternate, defeating a nobody by decision.
Middleweight tournament semi-finals:
Dan Henderson v. Allan Goes
Both names should of course be familiar to MMA fans, although Henderson is obviously the bigger name these days. And man was he young here. Tentative start to say the least, as they dance around for a couple of minutes, until Goes puts Henderson down with a right and dives in. Henderson grabs a leg and nearly gets something before Goes wriggles free and we’re back to standing again. Jiu-jitsu guy Goes tries to lure Henderson to the mat on his terms, but Dan is having none of it. They clinch on the fence and Goes pulls guard to get it on the ground, but that kind of backfires as Henderson has some pretty effective game from the top. Goes works for a kimura, but they stand it up again after that goes nowhere. Goes keeps trying to drop to the ground but Henderson wants a slugfest. He gets a couple of good combos, but Goes catches him with a hard shot and then follows up with a kick to the downed Henderson, so the ref dives in and splits them up for the restart. Joe Hamilton actually consults with Big John on the outside to make sure of his ruling, and we’re off again. Henderson is swinging for the fences, but they run out of gas and time expires. Overtime sees Henderson trying for a takedown in between striking, and then Goes drops to the mat AGAIN. He’s not going for it, man. Henderson shows the aggression and throws rights, but Goes’ glove comes off and his corner takes their time getting it back on. Henderson beats him to the ground in frustration, and time runs out. Gotta give that one to Henderson for the killer instinct. And yeah, he wins a unanimous decision. I don’t see him bothering to go to the finals, though.
Bob Gilstrap v. Carlos Newton
Newton was a longtime favorite of mine, and it’s cool to see his debut here. He SLAMS Gilstrap right out of the gate and grabs the armbar, then turns it into a triangle to finish at 0:53. Love that guy.
Mike Van Arsdale v. Joe Pardo
This is wrestling v. jiu-jitsu, something of a theme for tonight, as Van Arsdale is a Mark Coleman trainee and Pardo is from the Gracie camp. Van Arsdale tries to shoot in a couple of times with some awkward takedown attempts, and then puts Pardo down with a shot against the fence instead. Into the half-guard, but Pardo gets a really dangerous heel hook attempt, forcing Van Arsdale to roll out of it. He gets top position and brings down some good strikes, but can’t pass the guard. Back to standing and Van Arsdale is swinging wildly, and then blocks a Pardo takedown with a sprawl and ends up in his guard again. It’s another glove problem, but at least this one gets fixed pretty quickly. Now they’re tentative and Big John pushes them onwards. And Pardo shoots in and Van Arsdale blocks him again, then gets side control. Pardo gives up the back and Van Arsdale moves in for the kill, and Pardo taps because of strikes at 11:02. Interesting fight, nothing memorable.
Tank Abbott v. Hugo Duarte
Even at this point Tank was becoming a joke and Duarte was supposed to be a next big thing. Duarte shoots in with an effortless takedown and gets the back, but Tank reverses out and DESTROYS him with shots to the back of the head for the knockout and a superhero reaction from the crowd. I believe that’s what you call a statement.
Middleweight tournament final:
Dan Henderson v. Carlos Newton
I’m kind of shocked Henderson didn’t pull the exhaustion card and sit this one out. This should be awesome. Henderson tries the takedown, but Newton outdoes him with a move that’s almost a DDT. Henderson works from the top as Newton whines to Big John about fence positioning, but he’s forced to suck it up and work through it. Finally John stands them up so Newton can replace his mouthpiece and we’re restarted. Newton is now able to get his mega-slam takedown, but can’t find the choke. Henderson throws down and Newton keeps trying for the takedown, but Henderson blocks and throws some deadly knees from the clinch. Oh, this is a good one! Back to the ground and Henderson gets some good shots from the top, but backs off and lets Newton up. They exchange shots and Henderson goes down, but Newton can’t move in fast enough for the submission attempt. Henderson ends up on top as we’ve kind of hit a lull in the action, but then Henderson picks up Newton and slams him to try and break the guard. Wow. Doesn’t work, but it sure looked cool. Regulation expires and they’re trading in OT now. Carlos is swinging for the KO and Henderson rides it out, but he manages to stagger Henderson, forcing Dan to take him down. Newton goes right for the kimura but can’t pull it off, and Henderson is on top as time expires. Tremendous fight, and I could see the argument either way, but I’d vote for Henderson here due to control and aggression. Dan Henderson by split decision to win the tournament in this case. Great fight for both guys, and Newton’s best days were still ahead.
Pete Williams v. Mark Coleman
I don’t remember many fights from this early era, but I DO remember this one. This was supposed to be Coleman challenging Randy Couture for the heavyweight title (hence the “Redemption” name) but Couture was injured while training with Dan Henderson and we get Lion’s Den fighter Williams instead. Coleman muscles him down with a takedown, but Williams nearly gets an armbar from the bottom. Coleman gets back in control with some surprisingly weak ground and pound, and they get stood up. Coleman throws some tentative punches and can’t get any traction, so he goes with the takedown instead and drives Williams up against the fence, but can’t get anything from it. He finally drags Williams off the fence for another takedown, and he holds on for overtime. Williams’ corner says to go right for Coleman, and he does. He throws rights and a knee and Coleman is stunned, and a high kick KNOCKS HIM THE HELL OUT. What a finish! Replay shows that Coleman ate foot right in the mouth. Amazing. See, when it’s the later rounds and the corner says that you need to be aggressive, that’s why!
Another tremendously entertaining show in a series of them. I’ve gotta skip Ultimate Brazil because I don’t have it, so we’ll return next week with UFC 18: Road to the Heavyweight Title!