A look back at UFC 51: Super Saturday!
Mandalay Bay hotel and casino was the setting for UFC 51 which in my personal opinion is one of the best places to hold an event, went off with out a hitch in front of 11,800 screaming, intense fans. Why so intense this time? The card was stacked with talent and a couple of newbies as well. Like Pete Sell from New York stepping in to take on fellow NYer Phil Baroni, or how about the fact that Gideon Ray took this fight on 3 weeks notice. To go against a guy like Loiseau with three weeks notice is not to be taken lightly! Well I am going to tell you if you want to hear it or not the choices I made prior to the show! I chose the following guys to win their matches, Diaz, Lytle, Loiseau, Kyle, Eilers, Tanner, Sylvia, Sell, and Belfort. Now obviously I didn`t do great but hey the Tito-Belfort match could have gone either way!
1. Nick Diaz vs. Drew Fickett ====> Diaz via ref stoppage, 4:40 of Round 1
Fickett came into this match with a lot of hype behind him and in the beginning of the round he looked like he was going to push Diaz to his limit when he was able to put him on his back where he was able to utilize his ground and pound but Diaz didn`t panic and was able to escape and eventually he got Fickett on his back and started to work his own form of GnP. Fickett tried to defend by spinning on his back and I think he was looking for a leg to hook into and possibly escape but Diaz kept hitting him every time his head came around and eventually the Ref McCarthy had to step in and stop the bout.
2. Karo Parisyan vs. Chris Lytle ====> Parisyan via unanimous decision
Man what can I say about this match that would make it a bit more exciting? I really didn`t take notes on this match only because I was running around trying to get a better shot for you guys. But from the first round to the third round Lytle was able to get off some nice shots but it was Parisyan that got all the takedowns and even put Lytle on his head with a nice hip throw. To me it seemed as if Parisyan was able to negate every move and punch that Lytle had to offer and by the end of the third round it was obvious that Parysian may not be able to submit Lytle but he was able to stay on top for the unanimous decision from the judges.
3. David Loiseau vs. Gideon Ray ====> Loiseau via TKO (doctor stoppage) at end of Round 1
Now this match was day and night to the Parisyan - Lytle match! I have to say that Ray is the man for steping in and taking this match on such short notice. There aren`t to many guys that do that now days. Putting their W/L record at stake to get into the big show! Ray in the beginning was all over Loiseau with punches and kicks that I don`t think Loiseau was really expecting. About mid way threw the round Loiseau realized that Ray was there to fight and fight hard and he started to take it to Ray with a resounding knee to chin therapy that Ray could have done with out and put him on the mat a couple of times. Now not to be outdone but this Ray made his way back and let Loiseau know he was there to win with a copuple of combos but when they hit the ground near the end of the round Loiseau was able to open a cut on the back of Ray`s head with hard elbows and the doctor had to call the bout between rounds! Loiseau looked great and Ray had a ton of heart and I think we will see a lot more of him in the future! (At least I hope so!)
4. James Irvin vs. Mike Kyle ====> Kyle via KO, 1:55 of Round 1
This fight was a grudge match that you could just feel wouldn`t go very long and would end violently! Irvin threw a low kick to start things off but it was Kyle that took advantage of the off balance Irvin and put him to the mat hard with a right and somewhat of a takedown. Kyle was in Irvin`s half guard where he was able to throw some hard lefts to the head of Irvin. Irvin defended and was trying to work to get to his feet and all he could do was hold on to the arm of Kyle. Ref Dean stood them up when things go a bit slow and that was when Kyle threw a right kick to the mid section of Irvin. Irvin threw a right kick of his own that didn`t even seem to phase Kyle so Kyle returned with a nice hard left and catches Irvin with his hands down. Irvin puts Kyle to the cage and Kyle was the one that was able to take advantage of it and he threw a nice left knee to Irvin`s face. Then a right knee connected and Irvin threw a right hook that caught Kyle but that didn`t stop Kyle and he moved forward to throw a left that just missed Irvin`s head and a right that put Irvin to the mat. Just a side note, from where I was sitting I watched Irvin walk back to the locker rooms and as he did he stopped and talked and shook hands with fans and even stop to watch the end of his fight for a second to see what he did wrong. Still pretty cool guy to do that kind of thing for the fans!
5. Justin Eilers vs. Paul Buentello ====> Buentello via KO, 2:34 of Round 1
The first fight of the night on PPV was this one between Eilers and Buentello. This was Buentello`s UFC Debut and Eilers was looking to keep his record unblemished in the UFC. I had seen Buentello in KOTC but I didn`t know if he was ready to step into the "Big show!" I had called Eilers to win this one but was I wrong. It started out with Buentello throwing a low leg kick and Eilers seemed to have to shrug that one off as he had to adjust himself. They match up shins and then Buentello went off with some combos that made Eilers cover up and back away. Eilers came back with a right, blocked by Buentello and he returned the favor. Buentello moves in with a left jab and a right hook just as Eilers leaned to duck it and it looked like the hook caught Eilers in the groin! Eilers shot a jab to the midsection of Buentello and Buentello came back with a right left combo. There was a couple of other exchanges that Buentello had the most contact with and Eilers threw a right over hand and clinched with Buentello and put him to the fence where he tried to work for some points but Buentello was able to escape and it was back to the middle of the cage where Eilers was able to throw a couple of nice left jabs and catch Buentello. Buentello replied with a nice right that made Eilers back up a bit but when they engaged again it was Eilers that pushed it to the fence where he worked the body a bit with knees and body shots. The both worked against the fence and it was Buentello that pushed again away from the fence but this time he went at Eilers with some heavy shots and caught him with 2 nice upper cuts and 2 hard left hooks. Those made Eilers pause a bit and when he reengaged with Buentello it was a left hook on the ear and then another left that he blocked but it was a right to the face that put Eilers down!
6. Evan Tanner vs. David Terrell ====> Tanner via ref stoppage, 4:35 of Round 1
This was a Middleweight Championship title bout that put the young Terrell with one win in the UFC Octagon (UFC 49 he KO`d Matt Lindland in 24 seconds!) and 9 other fight`s outside with only 1 loss against the seasoned Tanner with 12 appearances in the Octagon and 32 wins and 4 losses total. At the onset of the match Terrell threw a nice left high kick that Tanner was able to block, but with Tanner smiling at that wouldn`t you wonder what was on his mind? Anyways after a bit of circling Terrell threw a low kick that missed and it was back to the center of the Octagon where Terrell threw another left low kick that Tanner blocked. After about a minute it looked to me that Tanner was just trying to get Terrell to make a mistake and then he would capitalize on it and low and behold Terrell threw a sloppy left jump jab or superman punch as Joe Rogan said, that Tanner ducked under easily but Terrell was able to take Tanner down with a double leg cause that punch set Tanner against the fence where Terrell was able to grab and bring Tanner down. Tanner is not that easy to keep on the ground though and Tanner kept pushing Terrell`s head to the mat and as he stood up Terrell threw a high left kick that just went over Tanners head! Tanner backed away fast and Terrell tried another left high kick that Tanner had to block and Terrell threw a left knee to the head of Tanner. To me it didn`t look like it connected but I could be wrong! Tanner circled to his left where Terrell stocked him and he tried another superman punch but slipped but Terrell came up with a single leg. Terrell got the takedown but Tanner was off to his side a bit and was able to get his feet under him and stand up, push Terrell to the fence where he threw a knee and Terrell took advantage of the open neck of Tanner and worked hard for a Guillotine choke. Terrell held on to it for about 30 seconds but when he hit the mat Tanner was out and this was where Tanner wanted to be, in the half guard of Terrell with Terrell against the fence. Tanner unleashed a barrage of punches and elbows that had Terrell defending the entire time they were in this position Terrell didn`t look like he had any answers for what Tanner was doing to him, but at one point he did try to sweep Tanner with no success. Tanner just seemed to impose his will on Terrell and with 25 seconds left in the round Ref Dean had seen enough and stopped the match! Evan Tanner was the new Middleweight Champion!
7. Tim Sylvia vs. Andre Arlovski ====> Arlovski via ankle lock, :47 of Round 1
This very well could have been THE fight of the night, instead it was the fastest fight of the night this was also the Interim Heavyweight Championship title fight. It started off when Silvia threw a left jab that missed and Arloviski threw a low kick that connected but not to hard as Silvia moved forward to try to clinch the head of Arlovski. Arlovski moved back and threw a left low kick again that connected this time Silvia tried to throw a left jab but missed then threw another that connected pretty hard. Arlovski moved back and with a couple more kicks exchanged it was Arlovski with a hard right when Silvia tried to jab with his left that put him to the mat! Arlovski followed Silvia to the mat and was trying to punch from the open guard of Silvia and then Arlovski sat back with a foot lock on his right foot and forced Silvia to tap! Arlovski is the new Interim Heavyweight Champion in only 47 seconds!
8. Phil Baroni vs. Pete Sell ====> Sell via guillotine, Round 3
I had heard about Sell a couple of times but I had never seen him fight live so this was kind of cool to see the two NY boys go at it. Well at the start they circled and it was Sell that threw a right jab that Baroni was able to duck and clinch with Sell and while in the clinch he threw a couple of boy shots. Nothing to big but enough to make Sell move and he did at first he tried an inside trip but Baroni defended that but it was the upper body twist with the outside leg trip that got Baroni to the ground. Baroni had Sell in his guard and Sell had to work throwing lefts and rights and a couple of backhands. Baroni seemed to be holding on and trying to get a stand up but Sell was really working hard. At a minute and 15 seconds left in the first round Baroni was able to power his way out and stand up. The way he did it still amazes me, which was a damn hard way to get up! During the stand up Baroni threw a hard left that caught sell square in the face but the follow up combos from Baroni only got Sell to flicking out his tongue at Baroni as if to say it didn`t hurt and Baroni caught Sell with a nice uppercut that sent Sell down and made him go for a double leg that Baroni defended with a nice sprawl! Now up against the fence Sell had to defend a knee from Baroni!
Second round started and it was Sell that came out with a combo and Baroni returned a few of his own. They clinched and it was a couple of body blows from each guy and right at the break Sell caught Baroni with a right hook. Not enough to win the fight but it was obvious he connected. Sell then feigned his shot and came up with a nice combo. It seemed like every time Baroni had a shot Sell would clinch and take it away from him. Good plan from Sell. Baroni pushed Sell to the fence and got the double leg to put him to the mat. Not that that was where he wanted to be. Sell, unlike Baroni is very comfortable on his back and will actually try for submissions. Baroni stayed busy trying to throw some head and body shots but nothing that looked real effective. 1:50 left in the round and not to much action Ref Yamasaki stands the fighters up. They circle a bit and Sell tries for a combo and Baroni answers with a right, a few seconds later same thing. Baroni at one point was able to catch Sell with a nice right and a body shot that Sell had to back away from but this was about the end of it and Baroni took Sell down with a hard double leg. To me it seemed like Baroni wanted to rest and this was his excuse to do so and the end of the round Sell was throwing some head shots from the bottom.
Round three opened up a bit different as Sell threw a combo and Baroni was able to catch him with a hard right but Sell recovered nicely and it was Baroni that came back swinging and it was a left right that caught Sell but Sell not to be out done threw a combo of his own but not as effective as Baroni`s. Sell keeps trying to throw a left right combo and then clinch but Baroni pushes him off him and it was Baroni that got the under hooks and put Sell on the mat. Baroni was in Sell`s guard and Baroni was keeping busy but Sell didn`t look to bad on his back as he tried to stay busy. It got a bit slow and it was back to their feet per Ref Yamasaki. Well seconds after the stand up Baroni shot in a nice double leg but wasn`t able to put Sell on his back so he backed off and when he moved in Sell threw an upper cut and then a combo that made Baroni cover up. During and exchange Baroni caught Sell with a hard right hook but again Sell seemed ok and backed away, Sell tried to throw a right hook that Baroni ducked under and double legged Sell yet again but this time Baroni stayed busier than the previous time and gave Sell some hard shots to the head. Sell sat up for a kimura but looked and saw Baroni`s head and neck was exposed and decided to go for a guillotine. Even though Baroni had an arm in it is still possible to get choked out, trust me and when Sell rolled Baroni over to his back Baroni had no choice but to tap with only 45 seconds left in the third round.
9. Tito Ortiz vs. Vitor Belfort ====> Ortiz via split decision
Ortiz started off the first round with a right but Belfort clinched and put him against the fence for a few and Ortiz tried to use the double underhooks but Belfort adjusted and defended it. Belfort was about to readjust enough to Ortiz`s side and push away from him to get the fight standing in the center. Ortiz shot a left jab that made Belfort back away and then come at Ortiz with a left jab of his own, Ortiz tried for a double leg and Belfort defended and as Ortiz stood up Belfort let his hands loose with some nice combos. Ortiz did defend them to a point but he had to move quickly and he even got in a nice counter punched with a left that stopped Belfort for a second. Ortiz clinched and put Belfort against the fence. Ref McCarthy steps in and breaks them up and it`s a bit of stocking before Ortiz throws a right that Belfort ducks and catches him with an upper cut of his own and then Ortiz tries to close the gap and Belfort has his hands around the back of Oritz`s head and slams a hard right hook to the side of Ortiz`s head that puts him to the mat, Ortiz not giving up tries for a single leg or anything to get Belfort to stop punching and it works as he is able to work Belfort to his back where Ortiz can work from the guard. That was when the blood started pouring from Ortiz;s nose. Now with Ortiz on top he is able to throw some elbows to try to gain some points. This round could have gone either way and it did obviously but I still think Belfort did more damage standing than Ortiz did with a takedown and some elbows.
Round 2 Ortiz threw a jab that Belfort ducked under and Ortiz clinched and put it against the fence where he tried to knee but Belfort would have none of that and pushed away and got the fight to the center of the ring. Ortiz shot in and Belfort sprawled nicely and it was clinch time again for these two guys. Ortiz tried to take Belfort down and when he did he got caught in a guillotine but he did defend it and Belfort rolled Ortiz over and wound up in side control. Here Belfort was able to throw some hard elbows and had Ortiz scrambling to defend and he actually went for a submission on Belfort. Belfort defended and put Ortiz back to defending with some heavy lefts and rights. Belfort was able to actually step away from Ortiz and then right back into his guard why he did this I don`t know because when he went back to Oritz`s guard where the action lulled a bit and eventually Belfort tried to pass but Ortiz defended. Ref McCarthy stood them back up and it was obvious Belfort was gassed but with a minute left in the round Ortiz shoots and gets the takedown. Belfort expended a lot of energy but Ortiz tried to throw a couple of elbows at the end of the round.
Round three kicked off with a high kick from Ortiz that missed but Belfort threw a nice overhand right that caught Ortiz but it was Ortiz that was able to get it to the fence where he got a double leg with some work. Belfort on his back and Ortiz on top looking to work the punches and the short elbow drops. This round was a bit slower for sure but damn how can you blame these guys for wanting to take a break after all the work they did in the first two rounds. So anyways at about 2 minutes in Belfort was working to keep Ortiz at bay and Ortiz was working on Belfort to keep him down well Ref McCarthy didn`t like it and it was back to the feet and Belfort was a bit slow getting up. A minute 30 left and Ortiz hot in again not wanting to let Belfort have any kind of opening to punch and they stayed clinched against the fence for a bit and with 40 seconds left Ortiz took Belfort down and laid on him and threw a couple of punches and elbows and in the end it was enough to win the split decision.