Smark Rant: UFC 20: The Battle for the Gold

UFC 20The Ultimate Fighting Championship 20: The Battle For the Gold!

– OK, so we finally get to crown a UFC Heavyweight champion, I’d hope.

– Live from Birmingham, AL

– Your hosts are Mike Goldberg & Jeff Blatnick.

Lightweights: Laverne Clark v. Fabiano Iha
They seem to be grooming Clark for bigger things judging by the buildup, but Iha ended up the bigger star. Plus he’s a Vale Tudo guy, so you know he’s gonna do well. First appearance for referee Mario Yamasaki here. Iha tries to suck him in with kick attempts, but Clark gets some impressive strikes to put Iha down…and Iha wraps himself around Clark’s leg like a spider monkey. However, Iha is gushing blood from a fluke cut, and the doctor stops the fight. This proves very unpopular with the crowd, especially since Iha was in a very dominant position with a heel hook at the time of the stoppage, and Iha basically slipped and fell into the punch that ended it.

Middleweights: Wanderlei Silva v. Tony Petarra
Silva looks even more pissed off than usual here, which doesn’t bode well for Petarra. Petarra shoots in and Silva takes it to the fence. Petarra seems to have little idea of how to take it to the mat, and Silva starts destroying him with muay thai knees. Petarra foolishly tries for the leg, leaving his head WIDE open, and Silva just keeps throwing the knees. Petarra gets one fluke shot, but Silva DESTROYS him with a hard knee to the face and the legend begins. Dude is OUT.

Tito Ortiz lays out a challenge to Frank Shamrock, setting up my favorite UFC fight of all-time (although not necessarily the best one from a technical standpoint), one that sadly didn’t make the top 100 countdown last year.

Lightweights: David Roberts v. Marcello Mello
Mello would have an awesome name if he were a WWF wrestler in the 80s. Roberts is only 19, but Mello is self-taught, so this is gonna be ugly. Mello shoots in and gets side mount without much trouble, then goes full mount and beats the holy hell out of Roberts for the stoppage at 1:22. Wow, he beat up a teenager, how impressive.

Heavyweights: Pete Williams v. Travis Fulton
Very tentative start, until Williams throws a combo and sucks him into the fence. Fulton won’t play, so Williams goes back to the leg kicks. Fulton tries a takedown and gets stuffed, then Williams gets full mount. Fulton actually has a very nice reversal out of it, pushing off his elbows, and he gets guard instead. Fulton tries to escape again, but falls into an anklelock…and stubbornly hangs on and rolls out of it! And he even ends up on top and has some ground-and-pound. No wonder Pat Miletich made so much money as a trainer. Sadly, Williams waits for the right moment, grabs the arm, and finishes with an armbar at 6:28. Good fight, best of the show so far.

Heavyweights: Pedro Rizzo v. Tra Telligman
Mike Goldberg is the first person I’ve heard actually talk about Telligman’s missing pec muscle. Big slugfest to start and it’s AWESOME. The first minute is just them throwing bombs at each other, but neither one gets a solid enough shot in. Telligman must have thrown everything he had there hoping to knock Rizzo out, because he looks exhausted and things slow right down. Telligman still wants a standup fight, but Rizzo puts him down and out with a hard right to the jaw at 4:30 as a result. Another good fight that I think gave Rizzo more cred with the fans than his dull victories over Mark Coleman and Tank Abbott had given him.

UFC Heavyweight title: Kevin Randleman v. Bas Rutten
Goldberg actually admits that the new UFC logo was patterned after Bas, so you know who the UFC is pulling for here. Randleman, beginning a great UFC tradition of fighters being sponsored by the cheesiest companies possible, has a big cheque-cashing logo on his ass. Yeah, it’s not as bad as Condom Depot, but c’mon. Randleman shoots in with a hard takedown and unleashes from the top, but Bas calmly wraps him up with the guard. Randleman just keeps coming, throwing elbows to the midsection from the side, and drawing blood on Bas. Bas tries to bait Randleman into going for a choke, but Big John stops things so they can check Rutten’s cut. The nose is broken, but Bas isn’t going to stop. They restart and Rutten gets a body kick, but Randleman takes him down as a result and they’re back into the guard. Nothing much going on there, so Big John stands it up and checks on Rutten’s nose again. Bas still won’t quit, so we’re on again and Randleman takes him into the fence and powers into a takedown, but has nothing on the ground here. Rutten, meanwhile, uses elbow strikes to the head and opens up cuts on Randleman’s head, providing a weird visual of blood mixed in blond hair. Bas gets some good shots from the bottom, and time expires. First overtime and Randleman gets another takedown, but Bas suddenly gets into armbar position out of nowhere. Randleman escapes, but it shows how dangerous Rutten could be. Other than that, Randleman lays on him in the guard and time expires again. Second overtime, and unless Rutten has a miracle finish in him, Randleman’s winning the belt. Rutten gets a good high kick, but can’t put Randleman down with it, and once again it’s a takedown for Randleman and a nothing-happening guard. And the fight ends, with a SPLIT DECISION FOR RUTTEN?!? What in the blue hell was that bullshit?

Well, at least we finally have a heavyweight champion who will undoubtedly go on to defend the belt many times and not immediately retire from MMA before going on to be a color commentator for the competition. Right?

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