UFC 99: "The Comeback" took place this afternoon (June 13, 2009) from the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany. It aired on pay-per-view (PPV) at 3 p.m. ET and will re-air later on this evening at 10 p.m. ET.
With six live fights featured on the broadcast, the production moved quicker than normal to get them all in, wrapping in just under three hours. It certainly wasn't because the fights finished fast -- four of
the six featured fights went the distance, including the 195-pound catchweight main event bout between Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva.
It was billed as a special attraction booked "for the fans." And "Ace" and the "Axe Murderer" delivered with a back-and-forth slugfest that had its fair share of exciting moments.
In the end, it was Franklin who came out on top, notching an important -- albeit unpopular -- unanimous decision win. He had to overcome a scare toward the tail end of the second round, however, to get it done.
Silva had him seeing black after a flurry of strikes, but Franklin held on until the horn blared to end the round. It's no coincidence that it was also at the same time that he strayed from his gameplan,
which was to stay on the outside and pick apart the Brazilian brawler rather than getting baited into a dogfight.
The three-round fight was closer than the unanimous decision result indicates -- Franklin scored a late takedown in the final frame that more than likely sealed the victory. His punch and kick accuracy was also a big help. He was the clear choice on the judges scorecards, but Silva earned the praise of the German fans for his aggressive performance.
Franklin now returns to the 205-pound ranks. And Silva is expected to continue his move south, settling at middleweight in the future. However, the big money match against his former friend and training partner, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, is out the window.
He now has five losses in his last six appearances. That's not good, even though he has been pitted against some of the best competition the sport has to offer. He desperately needs a Keith Jardine-like win in his middleweight debut to get out of this slump, otherwise he may have to seriously consider hanging up the gloves.
That hurts to say -- Wanderlei Silva is so good for mixed martial arts on so many different levels. It just seems that all the wars and epic battles have finally caught up to him.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, heavyweight up-and-comer Cain Velasquez faced the first big test of his blossoming career. Emphasis on big -- Cheick Kongo was tapped as last minute replacement for Velasquez's original opponent, Heath Herring.
Kongo was kind enough to show the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) how the big boys play just seconds into the bout, blasting him with two clean punches that turned Velasquez's legs into rubber. The All American wrestler from Arizona State University, however, was able to recover after nailing a takedown and opening up the ground and pound flood gates.
That's pretty much how the fight went for the next 15 minutes -- Kongo lands a big punch early in the round, gets taken down and then beat up. Repeat. And Velasquez really did dish out some relentless
punishment -- Kongo was gushing blood from his nose when all was said and done.
Kongo was assured a title shot before the fight had he won. Now that Velasquez spoiled those plans one has to wonder what's next -- a number one contender eliminator against Shane Carwin, perhaps?
That would be sick.
Regardless of what happens down the road, Velasquez is going to give anyone in the division a very hard time with his smothering cage control and brutal ground and pound. He was throwing the 230-pound Kongo all over cage, too.
Scary stuff. He just really needs to work his stand up to put it all together.
Mustafa Al Turk didn't seem scared, taking it to Mirko Cro Cop as fast as he could when the heavyweight scrap began. The lethal Croatian striker was moving backwards, making it virtually impossible for him to uncork his trademark kicks.
Both fighters traded some nice punches as things warmed up, but it was an inadvertent eye poke that appeared to be the difference maker. Al Turk -- who was on the wrong end of a series of effective combinations before the mishap -- covered up and went into full protection mode.
The referee, and Cro Cop, didn't appear to realize the reason for his sudden decision to disengage and the action continued. It wasn't long before Cro Cop put the finishing touches on his own "Comeback," scoring a technical knockout win midway through round one.
It wasn't the kind of decisive finish that Cro Cop and his fans are accustomed to, but it did appear that the momentum was beginning to shift in his favor and Al Turk's time would have been up soon anyway.
Regardless, Cro Cop picked up a big win and one that he can hopefully build off to make a run at the title, which may or may not include a date with Mr. Velasquez down the road. Who knows? What we do know is that the heavyweight division is all of a sudden ripe with fantastic potential match ups.
It's going to be fun to watch it all unfold. Real fun.
The welterweight division, which is seemingly always bubbling over with talent, also had a few representatives going toe-to-toe at UFC 99 -- Marcus Davis was eager to shut up Dan Hardy and Mike Swick and Ben Saunders hooked 'em to to see who was the bigger man inside the Octagon.
Despite his best efforts, Davis didn't seem as if he could get anything going against "The Outlaw." He was tagged a few times and hurt, but didn't do much return damage. He did land some clean shots and controlled at least two of the three rounds with takedowns, ground and pound and submission attempts.
In short, he was the busier fighter. However, Hardy was able to do more damage when he picked his spots, opening up a nasty gash on the bridge of Davis' nose with a well-placed elbow, as well as slicing some skin on his forehead. Davis looked like he'd been in a fight at the conclusion of the bout, while Hardy didn't.
There's usually no rhyme or reason as to how judges score fights -- it's such an inexact science. The fact of the matter is that it was a close fight and, based on the beef these guys have, more than likely means that we will see it again soon.
Let's run it back! In the meantime, Hardy takes a big step up the 170-pound ladder and Davis drops another rung. Hardy must love it when a plan comes together ... Davis, not so much.
That's enough from us -- now it's your turn to discuss "The Comeback" in the comments section below. Should Wanderlei Silva retire? Does Cain Velasquez deserve a title shot? And how about his stablemate, Mike Swick, is he ready for a championship opportunity? And let's not forget about Cro Cop -- where does he go from hear?
Sound off, Maniacs. Let's hear what you have to say. For complete UFC 99 results and detailed blow-by-blow commentary of the televised main card fights click here.