The Ultimate Fighting Championship 33: Victory in Vegas!
– Live from Las Vegas, NV. These days Vegas is basically home turf for the UFC, but this was the very first time that they were sanctioned there, so it’s a big deal. Perhaps the stress caused Dana White to lose what little hair he had left by this point, I’m not sure.
– Your hosts are Mike Goldberg, Jeff Osborne & Elvis Sinosec. Yeah, Blatnick is gone and I’m a little sad about it.
Apparently the first fight on the PPV is supposed to be Dave Menne winning the first Middleweight title, but the DVD version omits that one. Because, you know, it’s not important or anything.
Welterweights: Matt Serra v. Yves Edwards
They clinch on the fence and Serra pulls guard, quickly going for the ankle on the ground. He can’t get leverage and Edwards spins out of it. Serra ends up on top of Edwards’ guard and can’t get any kind of position on him. Edwards escapes and gets some good knees from the clinch, but Serra pulls guard to get him on the ground again as the round expires. 10-9 Serra.
Second round and Edwards starts to dominate the standup battle, with Serra trying to get it to the ground again and avoid his striking. That finally does work as he forces it to his level and gets Edwards’ back, but Yves has a nice reversal to escape. Close round, but Serra wins it 10-9 with his jiu-jitsu skills.
Third round and they clinch again, and this time Serra is able to get the takedown straight away. And now he gets the back and hangs on even as Edwards stands up. Edwards shakes him off and starts throwing again, but Serra presses on the fence and gets another takedown. I think that might be enough to clinch the win. Edwards does nothing from the guard and the round expires, 10-9 Serra. The judges’ decision: Split decision for Matt Serra. Close fight, could have gone either way really despite how one-sided my scoring was. I think that’s the problem with the 10-point must system.
Light Heavyweights: Chuck Liddell v. Murilo Bustamante
This should prove entertaining. Joe Silva was really firing on all cylinders as a matchmaker at this point. Chuck comes out swinging with no luck, then tags Murilo to block a takedown attempt. Bustamante tries standing up with Chuck, which seems a bag move to say the least, and Chuck puts him down with a right and then kicks at the legs rather than following him down. Back to standing again and Chuck swings for the fences, but gets taken down when he misses. Liddell quickly stands up out of that, and they go back to boxing again. Bustamante really wants to take it to the ground and Liddell wants no part of it, but Bustamante gets a takedown to press the issue. Liddell escapes and drops him with a right as the round expires. 10-9 Liddell for several knockdowns.
Second round and Bustamante sneaks in with anklelock attempt, but Chuck quickly escapes and stands it up again. Bustamante actually gets a combo in on Chuck, although it has minimal effect on him. Liddell returns the favour from the clinch and gets another pair of glancing rights, but Bustamante tries to pull guard. DENIED. That’s gotta be embarrassing for a fighter. Speaking of which, Liddell tries a high kick and gets his leg caught, allowing Bustamante to nearly hit him with his own big right. The round expires in intriguing fashion.
Third round and…uh, we skip to the decision. What the fuck, Zuffa editing monkeys? Liddell wins by unanimous decision. He looked like he was winning, but we’ll never know for sure. Good fight from what we got to see.
Lightweight title: Jens Pulver v. Dennis Hallman
Hallman is the guy who made Matt Hughes look human a few shows ago, submitting him mere seconds in the first round. Hallman charges in looking for the takedown, but Pulver locks in a choke with no luck. Pulver winds up on top in Hallman’s guard, but Hallman nearly gets a wicked armbar before Pulver spins out of it. Hallman wants to be in the guard again, but Pulver stays back until Hallman forces it to the ground by taking him down. 10-9 for Pulver there, but it was close either way.
Second round and they go to the ground, with Hallman trying for a kimura (called as such by Osborne for the first time I can recall on a UFC broadcast, another sign that the sport and presentation was evolving). They literally lay in the guard for the entire round, drawing boos from the crowd. 10-9 Pulver round, as neither did anything but Jens was slightly less boring doing nothing.
Round three and Pulver wants to throw down, so Hallman takes him down again and it’s back to the guard. And…nothing going on there either. 10-9 Pulver again because at least he was throwing shots from the top, however much weak sauce it was. They cut out a round of Liddell-Bustamante and left this boring-ass fight intact?
Round four and Hallman takes it to the ground and quickly wraps up Pulver in an attempt at a submission, but Pulver slips out of a kneebar. Pulver stands it up and Hallman jumps onto his back, but can’t get anything, so they go back to the guard again. And there they lay until the round expires. 10-9 Hallman just to change it up, and because he was trying a kneebar.
Fifth round. Lucky me. Pulver escapes a takedown and Hallman tries rolling around on the ground to force it back to the guard again. Amazingly, that doesn’t work and he’s forced to fight standing up instead. That doesn’t work, so Hallman tries yet another takedown and gets easily evaded again. Circlemania 2001 follows as Hallman has nothing, and they finally trade punches as the round expires. 10-8 Pulver to finish off the unanimous victory in a shitty, shitty fight.
Light heavyweight title: Tito Ortiz v. Vladimir Matyushenko
Tito is hauling the flag around because of 9/11. Now there’s a true American hero for all you kids out there to aspire to be. Anyway, this fight was supposed to be Ortiz v. Belfort, but circumstances forced a last-minute change to the 1-0 Matyushenko instead. Vlad comes in swinging, because why not? Tito clinches him on the fence to stop that and throws knees, but he tries a takedown and gets caught in a bodylock on the way down. Never try out-wrestling a Russian! Vlad ties him up from the guard, and there they stay until the end of the round. Oh great, this is gonna be one of THOSE fights. 10-9 Matyushenko.
Round two and they exchange against the fence and stall there in the clinch. They stay there for almost three minutes before Matyushekno holds the fence to block a takedown, drawing a foul in the process. And then they go right back to the clinch again, but Ortiz takes him down to end the round. With the foul, that’s 10-8 Tito. Foul is a good description thus far.
Third round and Tito gets a takedown and pounds away from the top, but it turns into a hugfest on the ground for the rest of the round. 10-9 Tito.
Fourth round and Tito gets the takedown and full mount, and you’d think that someone with the vaunted ground-and-pound like Ortiz would be able to finish quickly…but no. Tito literally spends four minutes in full mount and does nothing with it. 10-9 Tito.
Final round and Vlad tries for the takedown, but gets trapped up against the fence. So they go to the ground and Tito lays on him for the rest of the round, and that’s one last 10-9 for Tito to wrap it up. Unanimous decision for Tito to retain.
Now, the original PPV airing actually cut off three rounds into the main event, as Strikeforce recently learned the same lesson UFC did here: Three 5-round title fights going to decisions means that you’re running long. So the DVD version is sloppily edited down, and if they left the main event and the Pulver fight intact, I can only imagine how bad the Menne title win must have been to warrant cutting it. This is the first real misstep in the Zuffa era, with all the fights going to decision and most of them being pretty dull. Not the worst, but not one you want to go out of your way to bother watching. Better luck next time, I guess.