I was going to whip-up a clever little intro but after the fight I just saw I think it would be in everyone's best interest if I just get over myself and dive right into the action:
Jason "The Punisher" Lambert vs Renato "Babalu" Sobral
Round one finds a striking Babalu all over Lambert. Sobral gets him to the ground and works for the choke. Lambert defending well under pressure and escapes to his feet. They clinch and Lambert sneaks in an uppercut. Babalu backs off and eats a HUGE right, dropping to the canvas. Lambert pounces but can't finish before the bell.
Sobral comes out to the second looking punch-drunk. Lambert scores a takedown of his own and follows up with some GnP. A little too long on the floor and they get stood up. Babalu tries for a flying knee but Lambert clowns him with a left, knocking the Brazilian out cold.
Winner by KO: Jason "The Punisher" Lambert.
This is a devastating loss for Babalu. There is no question that he is a gifted fighter but this loss will undoubtedly send him tumbling down the rankings. I'm not sure if he ever got over the loss to Chuck and this certainly hasn't helped matters. Babalu is still young enough where he can afford to get out of the UFC for a while. He needs to be someplace else where he can fight with a clear head and get his confidence back.
Lambert on the other hand has quickly erased the loss to Rashad Evans with perhaps the biggest win of his career. I wouldn't spend a whole lot of time celebrating however since the LHW division can be a merciless place to call home. With Rampage, Tito and Chuck running around at 205, this victory could be short-lived. I would like to see Lambert/Bisping but Joe Silva doesn't seem to care about what I like.
Matt Hughes vs Chris "Lights Out" Lytle
Round one and Hughes gets tagged with a left. Hughes shoots and takes Lytle down. Lytle working a guillotine to no avail. Hughes moves to side-control and works the elbows. Hughes sinks an armbar but runs out of time.
More of the same in round two as Hughes gets Lytle to the mat and punishes him with elbows. Lytle is cut. Showing a ton of heart, Lytle sweeps and gets top position. Hughes tries for a kimura and Lytle goes for the armbar. Neither is successful.
Round three and what a shock – Hughes takes Lytle down. Hughes working from different positions but Lytle refuses to quit. A restless crowd is ALL OVER Hughes with relentless booing. Matt tries an unsuccessful armbar as the bell sounds.
Winner by unanimous decision: Matt Hughes
I think GSP said it best: "I was not impressed by your performance". The UFC guys and Eddie Bravo were hamming it up for the camera and trying to convince us that the old Matt is back, but this was a very rigid and underwhelming performance by the former champ.
Hughes was expected to dismantle Lytle and while he controlled the entire fight, he looked far from dominant. From what I saw tonight I do not believe he is ready for a GSP rematch. Lytle showed a lot of heart and has nothing to be ashamed of. Expect Lytle to continue fighting in the UFC against TUF alumni or perhaps on a future undercard.
Rich "Ace" Franklin vs Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald
Ace looks jittery in the opening round but still finds his mark. MacDonald looks for the takedown and gets denied. Franklin turns up the heat and starts peppering MacDonald in short bursts. MacDonald gets tossed to the canvas and eats a flurry but manages to escape to his feet. He eventually gets Franklin to the ground but it gets him nowhere.
Round two picks up right where round one left off. MacDonald scores the takedown but Franklin rolls into side position. Franklin, looking confident, starts teeing off on the grounded Canadian. The clock is winding down and MacDonald is in a world of trouble, taking shot after shot. MacDonald is saved by the bell but upon return to his corner throws in the towel.
Winner by TKO: Rich "Ace" Franklin
Franklin was visibly nervous being in is hometown and coming off the loss but by the second round he was the old Rich again. MacDonald I thought fought a little too conservatively and ended up taking a lot of punishment. Even when he had Franklin on the ground Ace was too strong and too skilled to gift-wrap anything. We haven't seen the last of MacDonald by any means but how long before we see Franklin/Silva II?
Franklin calls out Silva during the post-fight interview and Silva was game enough to come to the ring and accept. Things got a little too chummy for my tastes as they kept embracing and calling each other "champ". You're both nice and classy chaps, we get it. But don't kill my buzz - this is a PPV!
Andrew McFedries vs Martin Kampmann
Round one see Kampmann eat some heavy bombs from McFedries. Kampmann's eye swells up like a water balloon. Kampmann's had enough and takes McFedries down. Kampman stays busy and makes a beautiful transition to an arm-triangle choke.
Winner by submission: Martin Kampmann
Kampmann tries to get cute early on and McFedries made him pay with some devastating shots. It's unfortunate that McFedries doesn't have a ground game to match his striking because once he was grounded he was outclassed and submitted with ease. Look for Kampmann (now 3-0 in the octagon and winner of his last eight) to move up in the rankings. Look for McFedries to drop off the radar.
Randy "The Natural Couture" vs Tim "The Maine-iac" Sylvia
In the opening seconds Couture tosses in a low kick and then lunges with an overhand right AND SYLVIA IS DOWN! HE'S ROCKED! Sorry about the caps but it happened so fast and was so shocking I leapt from my couch and started screaming. Randy sinks in the hooks and looks for the guillotine but Sylvia keeps him at bay. Round one is all Couture.
Sylvia looks to have recovered at the start of round two and tries his jab but eats a right for his efforts. Randy is bobbing and weaving like Rocky Balboa. They lock up and Sylvia gets tripped and taken to the ground. Couture puts the heat all over the grounded champ. Sylvia starts bleeding from the nose. Like round one, round two is all Couture.
Round three starts and Randy is sucking wind. I start to get that sinking feeling. Sylvia tries everything he can to make contact but Couture is just picking him apart. Astonishingly, Randy is out-striking Sylvia, even with his hands at his side from fatigue.
Round four and Couture takes Sylvia down with ease. Randy grinds him up with elbows and smothers him with the body. McCarthy stands them up and Sylvia eats a few more punches. ANOTHER takedown by Randy who rains down elbows. The crowd is on its feet. Sylvia finds his way to his feet and gets punished with strikes.
One round away from history and Couture muscles Sylvia to the floor. Couture stays busy with knees. The champ has no answer. Randy works to mount and drops some bombs. Sylvia escapes but Randy throws him back down like a rag doll. Sylvia's left eye looks like a rotting plum. The seconds tick away and history is made.
Winner and new heavyweight champ: Randy "The Natural" Couture! (Unanimous Decision)
Wow. From the moment Sylvia was dropped in the first he had absolutely no answer for Couture. He said it best himself: "He would strike when I thought he would shoot and shoot when I thought he would strike – he kept me guessing all night".
There was no way I thought Randy was going to win this but ladies and gentlemen I just finished a nice hot serving of my own words. In fact, it's very difficult to type standing up. Unfortunately I can't sit down because my tail is between my legs.
Randy didn't just win, he dominated. He outstruck Tim from the opening round and took him down at will. It was very reminiscent of Randy/Chuck 1. What an amazing performance by an amazing athlete. I'm stunned. Congratulations Randy. You were right all along.
Well folks, there you have it. I apologize if it's a little choppy but it's almost 3am and I am out of coffee. Overall this was a mediocre PPV that was quickly elevated into a must-see PPV based on the unbelievable main event that still has me tingly. I can't say enough about Randy's performance and if you want to see a match that embodies everything that is exciting about MMA than look no further than Couture/Sylvia.
Randy Couture is the man.