In the immortal words of Forrest Griffin, "It wasn't pretty."
But, "UFC 59: Reality Check" was certainly worth the price of admission. Unless, of course, you're Ken Shamrock.
There was controversy, blood and surprise — all the ingredients for an entertaining evening at The Pond.
Check out the recap below, courtesy of Saddoboxing.com:
ANAHEIM, CA, April 15 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½ In mixed martial arts, fortunes can change in a split second. Just ask Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski. Within moments of rocking and dropping Sylvia with a big right hand to the jaw in their UFC 59 heavyweight championship bout at the Arrowhead Pond, the champion soon found himself without a belt as Sylvia rebounded with a right to the jaw of his own that allowed the Maine native to regain the championship belt he had sought for over two years.
The bout, which was held before a sold out crowd of over 17,000 which witnessed the UFC's first show ever in California, was a rematch of a February 2005 bout won by Arlovski in the first round.
That was then, this is now.
The tension was thick early as the two heavyweights squared off and shot out range finders. Arlovski struck first with the same right hand that dropped Sylvia in their first bout, but Sylvia took it without flinching. With a little over 2:30 to go in the round, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½The Pitbull' struck again, this time sending Sylvia to the ground hard. But instead of Arlovski capitalizing on his good fortune. Sylvia was able to scramble back to his feet, and when he did, Arlovski came in wide open and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½The Maine-iac' came back with some payback of his own, courtesy of a short right hand that dropped the soon to be ex-champion to the canvas. A follow-up barrage by Sylvia came in a fast and furious fashion, and referee Herb Dean immediately halted the bout at the 2:43 mark.
In the UFC 59 co-feature, the legend grows.
Despite dropping a split decision to former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½The Ultimate Fighter' season one winner Forrest Griffin won over a partisan crowd and gained even more fans with a courageous performance and comeback that marked him as truly one of the best 205-pounders in the game.
"I feel so good right now, I could go another two," said Griffin. "Let's make it five."
It was Ortiz' night on the scorecards though, as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½The Huntington Beach Bad Boy' earned the close verdict via scores of 30-27, 28-29, and 29-27, as a huge first round and a few big moments in the final frame proved to be the difference, despite the fact that he entered the Octagon for the first time since February of 2005 with a laundry list of injuries.
"I hurt my ACL before this fight," said Ortiz. "I didn't want to disappoint the fans so I knew I had to fight. Injuries are one of those things you have to fight through. I need to heal my injuries and relax for the next few weeks. I'm a competitor and I'll be back. You only saw 70 percent of me. Forrest fought a great fight and you have to respect that."
Oddly enough, this instant classic was almost over in the first round.
With the crowd erupting as John McCarthy waved the fighters into action, both fighters began trading, with Ortiz quickly securing a takedown and then opening up on Griffin, who had no answers for Ortiz' brutal ground and pound. Within moments, Ortiz' forearms opened up a cut over Griffin's left eye, and though the gutsy Georgian refused to give in, Ortiz looked to be at his best as he opened up with any limb at his disposal. Finally, with a little over a minute to go, Griffin escaped and opened up with both hands, briefly jarring Ortiz, who fired back and put his foe on the mat again as he pounded his way through the remainder of the round.
Ortiz' jab was on target to begin round two, with Griffin's punches landing, but lacking pop. Ortiz tried for a takedown, but Griffin stuffed it, and soon a chant of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½Forrest, Forrest' went up from the pro-Ortiz crowd, which started it's own chant moments later. Seconds after, Griffin stuffed two more Ortiz takedown attempts and seemed to have regained his confidence as he tagged Ortiz with a series of roundhouse punches that may not have been hurting Ortiz, but they were scoring points, and suddenly it was a brand new fight entering the final round.
"I never said I was the best," said Griffin. "I'm just a dog. I fight."
Looking to regain control, Ortiz tried the takedown twice more early in the third, only to be rebuffed each time. All the while Griffin kept jabbing and kicking, looking to score as Ortiz appeared befuddled by the fight's turn. At the three minute mark Ortiz landed his best punch of the fight, an overhand right, but Griffin took it and then avoided yet another takedown, yet soon he was bleeding from under his right eye as well. Finally, with under two minutes to go, Ortiz got his first takedown since the first round, and the crowd's roar was deafening. This time it was Griffin though doing much of the work from the bottom, and when the Georgian stood up and started trading with Ortiz it was a moment fans won't forget anytime soon.
"At the end of the third round I looked at the clock and thought ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½if I land a few big punches, I could steal the fight,'" said Griffin. "Unfortunately, I was unable to do that. I have to take some time to heal and get back and start training. This is my job."
It was a job well done.
In undercard actionÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã‚Â¦
Sean Sherk made his last fight at 170 pounds a winning one, as he outpointed Nick Diaz unanimously over three rounds in a bout that was a lot closer than the three scores of 30-27 would indicate.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½The Muscle Shark' said after the bout that he will now move to the 155-pound lightweight class. Diaz, obviously upset at the verdict, has now lost three in a row in the UFC, the other two decision defeats coming to Diego Sanchez and Joe Riggs.
Sherk was impressive early as he moved forward behind a high guard and looked to make Diaz work for everything he got. For his part, Diaz' takedown defense was on the mark, but his habit of crouching over to meet the height of his shorter foe seemed to be a recipe for disaster. A prolonged scrum against the fence was finally broken by referee Marco Lopez at the 1:54 mark, and Sherk immediately got back to work, boxing effectively on the inside against his bigger opponent.
The second round continued the pattern established by the first, with Sherk being the busier fighter as Diaz tossed out the occasional punch while waiting to turn back Sherk's takedown attempts. After a brief break to replace Diaz' mouthpiece though, the Stockton, California native started to land more frequently and effectively with both hands while still staying off the mat. Even on the inside, Diaz fired away as Sherk appeared winded. With a minute and a half left in the round, Sherk was finally able to take Diaz down, though neither fighter was able to inflict much damage on the other.
The third round saw more of the same, and the packed house started to get restless with a bout that had the unenviable task of following Ortiz-Griffin. Both fighters kept throwing and kept trying to win though, even though the punches seemed to lack stopping power.
"I thought it was gonna be closer," said Sherk, "But I knew I had done enough in each round to get the decision."
Former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner bounced back impressively from consecutive losses to Rich Franklin and David Loiseau, submitting rising 185-pound prospect Justin Levens in the opening round.
"This was a must win for me," said Tanner. "In order to stay in the UFC I had to win. This is my first victory towards the title."
Tanner immediately took the fight to Levens, who was making his UFC debut, bulling him to the fence and landing a series of shots to the head and body. Levens was able to escape and get some breathing room briefly, but Tanner pounced again and took Levens down. After a brief pounding of Levens, the UFC newcomer tried to get Tanner's leg, only to see the veteran escape and then jump beautifully into a triangle choke. Levens gamely tried to escape with a slam, but the choke was in tight, and the Philadelphian finally tapped at 3:14 of the opening round.
"I saw the opening for the triangle choke," said Tanner. "I have been working on that in training. I'm glad I was able to execute it."
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½The Snowman', Jeff Monson, continued his rise up the heavyweight ranks with a three round split decision win over old grappling rival Marcio ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½Pe De Pano' Cruz.
Surprisingly, the two world-class grapplers opted to stand in the opening stages of the bout, with Cruz effectively using his height and reach advantage to land awkward jabs and the occasional leg kick. Monson stalked patiently, looking for an opening, but after a brief clinch the two went back to standup. At the 2:30 mark a straight left dropped Cruz and the two finally began grappling with Cruz controlling the action from the standing position near the fence until the two hit the mat. After a lull in the action, referee McCarthy stood the two up and the action continued at a diminished pace until the horn sounded to end the round.
Within the first 30 seconds of round two, Monson got the takedown, but after a brief scramble he rose to his feet, with ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½Pe De Pano' following. Monson, his nose bloodied, continued to press the standup, and then briefly locked Cruz up, only to have the Brazilian escape danger again. Monson then tried another form of attack as he bulled Cruz to the fence and landed some knees to the leg before McCarthy broke the two. Monson's jab again hit the mark regularly, with Cruz having little answer for it. With less than 30 seconds left, Cruz landed a perfect kick to the nose of Monson, but even though the blood flow increased, it also served to anger Monson, who took Cruz down and drilled him with head shots until the round ended.
Cruz went for his first takedown to open the round, and Monson stuffed it effectively, but the Brazilian was able to push Monson into the fence seconds later. The two switched positions against the Octagon, with McCarthy being forced to break them seconds later. After the two hit the mat again, it was Monson pressing the action, but Cruz was adept enough defensively to stay in the fight. With 2:20 left, McCarthy stood the fighters, and they both traded briefly, though neither thought of throwing more than one punch at a time. The final minute and a half of the bout was spent on the ground, with Monson the more active of the two thanks to a series of forearms to the head, but Cruz doing enough to survive the bout. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't enough to win the fight.
"I didn't expect the fight to go the distance," said Monson. "My plan was to knock him out but I couldn't get in tight enough. I was going to call out the heavyweight champion if I knocked out Marcio. I would still like a shot. I'm not sure if I'll get it after that fight."
Karo Parisyan may have missed his first punch of the night, but he was rarely off the mark for the rest of the four minutes and forty four seconds he pounded on Nick Thompson as he recorded a first round victory over ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½The Goat' in a welterweight bout.
After missing his first haymaker, a move that drew a taunting wave of an imaginary bullfighter's cape from Thompson, Parisyan secured a takedown of his foe and never looked back, mixing in his ground control with leaping punches to the head of his foe. Thompson was game throughout, but once Parisyan got in the mount position, it was good as over. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½The Heat' rained strikes on Thompson, opening a cut over his eye, and after a few more shots, the Minnesotan tapped and Parisyan had the victory, his first since injuries forced the cancellation of his welterweight title shot against Matt Hughes last November.
"Nick is a great opponent, but I think my experience had a lot to do with this victory," said Parisyan. "If the UFC gives me a title shot, I'll take it. I fight anyone."
David Terrell made his return to the Octagon for the first time in over a year a successful one as a submitted Scott Smith with a rear naked choke in the first round of their middleweight bout.
"I want to keep fighting and stay active," said Terrell, who was sidelined by injuries for over 14 months following a loss to Evan Tanner for the vacant UFC middleweight belt in 2005.
The fast-paced action saw Smith taking control early behind a couple of slams while Terrell held guard. After a few moments on the ground, Smith stood and implored Terrell to join him. Terrell was able to push Smith towards the fence, where he landed a few knees to the back of the leg, but after a few stagnant moments, referee Marco Lopez apparently told the fighters to break, and a moment later, to resume. In the interim, Terrell put Smith on the canvas, and as Smith looked to Lopez to complain, Terrell quickly got his back and sunk in the fight ending choke at 3:08 of the opening stanza.
With the win, Terrell improves to 2-1 in the UFC; Smith falls to 0-1 in the Octagon.
Light heavyweight prospect Jason Lambert of Long Beach improved to 2-0 in the UFC with a second round TKO win over Chicago's Terry Martin.
After a brief feeling out process, both fighters engaged, with Martin getting the better of the action after rocking Lambert with a punch to the head while at close range. Lambert recovered and quickly and spent the better part of the next two minutes trading knees against the fence until Martin was able to get the takedown with a little over a minute left in the opening round. Lambert fought well off his back though until the bell rang.
The second saw Lambert immediately trying for the takedown, but Martin stuffed the attempt and the fighters went back to the fence until Martin could again get a takedown of his own. Once down, Lambert quickly got Martin's back and started pounding away while simultaneously looking for a submission. The sub didn't come, but once Lambert got his foe's back completely, it was over, as a series of punches brought the stoppage from referee John McCarthy at 2:37 of round two.
In the welterweight opener, Thiago Alves erased the memory of a 2003 submission loss to Derrick Noble by stopping his foe with a barrage of strikes in the first round of a scheduled three.
Intent on working his Muay Thai on Noble, Alves struck early with leg kicks and knees, only to be answered back by the punches of the scrappy Noble, who took the bout on short notice after Drew Fickett was forced to pull out of the bout due to injury. With 2:30 left in the round, Noble attacked Alves with a series of shots that almost forced ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½The Pitbull' to the mat, but Alves quickly recovered, shooting in a short right hand that floored Noble. Alves pounced on his stunned foe and a barrage of unanswered blows forced referee Mario Yamasaki to halt the bout at the 2:54 mark.