Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) just put a ribbon on its first-ever trip to Portland, Ore., tonight (Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009) from the Rose Garden Arena.
The UFC 102 main event between "legendary" participants Randy "The Natural" Couture and Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira was billed as a "battle for the ages."
Couldn't have said it better myself -- what an epic battle!
Couture, 46-years-young, survived an early knockdown and submission scare to throw leather with his Brazilian counterpart for basically three straight minutes. It was a thrilling exchange.
And it was more of the same to start the second, but Couture short-circuited the action with a takedown, followed up by ground and pound.
Nogueira, however, switched things up fast with a quick reversal into full mount. From that point on it appeared that "Big Nog" began to takeover ... much to the chagrin of Couture's hometown crowd.
In the third round, Nogueira scored an early knockdown and appeared to be on his way toward victory by dominating "The Natural" with strikes. The referee in charge of the action had to be itching to stop the bout.
But then then "Captain America" pulled another trick out of his timeless playbook and reversed Nogueira, giving everyone hope that he would once again claim victory from the clutches of defeat.
Not this time.
Nogueira went on to win a unanimous decision; however, it was one hell of an exciting fight. It certainly made the case once again for five-round non-title fights. One for the ages, indeed.
Two more rounds would have made this an instant classic ... if it isn't already.
Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva hooked 'em up in a 205-pound slugfest that both fighters promised would not last long.
They kept that promise.
"The Dean of Mean" came out swinging, landing a heavy leg kick in the opening seconds of the first frame. He appeared to be the aggressor and set a powerful pace.
But Silva stayed calm and waited for an opening. He found it with a left hook as he retreated, which put Jardine on his butt. Silva followed it up with a series of strikes from the top that eventually had Jardine twitching on the canvas.
It was a mirror image of the knockout loss to another Silva, Wanderlei.
Jardine awoke from his early slumber shortly thereafter; however, not before Silva had claimed brutal victory -- trademark throat slash and all.
Silva is on his way back toward re-establishing himself as a top contender in the division. Meanwhile, Jardine has to somehow figure out a way to win ... and keep winning.
Heavy-handed Chris Leben returned from a nine-month suspension to take on world-class collegiate wrestling sensation Jake Rosholt in a middleweight affair. "The Crippler" expressed his disdain for "lay and pray" fighters, preferring instead to keep things upright and bang it out.
So it came as quite a surprise when Leben scored the first takedown of the night.
The trend did not continue for the rest of the fight -- it was up and down up all the way to the third round. Rosholt -- who has demonstrated terrible stand up in the past -- was able to hold his own in all facets of the game, including submission defense, until that time.
Losing on the unofficial MMAmania scorecard, he needed to a strong performance in the final frame to register his first win inside the Octagon. And he did just that, locking-in a surprising arm triangle choke that put Leben to sleep ... literally.
Leben wanted to tap, but appeared to have second thoughts midway through his journey out and instead took a nap. It was typical Leben and atypical Rosholt.
Solid fight with a nice twist.
In a middleweight match up that had potential number one contender implications on the line, Nate Marquardt left little room for controversy when he flattened undefeated Brazilian jiu-jitsu stylist Demian Maia with a fight-ending punch square on button just 22 seconds into the first round.
It was clear before the fight even started that Marquardt wanted to keep the fight standing and Maia didn't. He made sure it never got that far.
Marquardt -- who already has a loss on his record to reigning champion Anderson Silva on his record -- certainly made a statement tonight that he's on his way back for another bite at the Brazilian apple.
However, with Dan Henderson waiting in the wings, he'll either have to fight another eliminator match against him or keep busy while "Hollywood" gets a crack at Silva first.
We'll see soon enough.
In the meantime, Maia might want to think about testing the waters at welterweight -- he's a small 185-pound fighter. If tonight is any indication, perhaps too small.
Krzysztof "Kimura" Soszynski stepped up on short notice to take a very dangerous fight against former heavyweight Brandon Vera in a light heavyweight attraction in the opening fight of the main card.
He was riding high on a six-fight win streak. It all came to an end tonight.
"The Truth" -- a Muay Thai and kickboxing specialist -- kept the action just where he wanted it (standing) for most of the bout. In fact, despite Soszynski's intermittent efforts, it was Vera who registered the only real takedown during the 15-minute bout.
Vera kept his distance and, for the most part, picked Soszynski apart, switching stances and avoiding the looping punches of the "Polish Experiment." He appeared to be the superior fighter and the judges agreed, awarding him with a unanimous decision win.
Perhaps it was just too much too soon for Soszynski -- it was his third fight in five months. Or, he was simply outclassed by a much more talented Vera. Regardless, Vera continues his rise up the 205-pound ladder and Soszynski heads back to the drawing board.
Only time will tell how long he stays there.
That’s enough from us — now it’s your turn to discuss "Couture vs. Nogueira" in the comments section below. Sound off, Maniacs. Let’s hear what you have to say.
For complete UFC 102 results and detailed blow-by-blow commentary of the televised main card fights click here.