September 22, 2007.  Anaheim, California.  A much anticipated fight card at UFC 76 ended with many mixed martial arts fans in awe of what they witnessed.  Two of the UFC’s highly anticipated fights ended in huge upsets as CHUCK LIDDELL and MAURICIO RUA both lost their fights.  FORREST GRIFFIN proved that he wasn’t as crazy as many thought, decisively ending his fight with RUA via a rear naked choke.  RUA appeared gassed by the end of the first round and realized it was going to be a long night for him.  GRIFFIN made sure the decision was not in the hands of the judges by finally choking out RUA and shocking the mixed martial arts world, in turn positioning himself as a top contender to QUINTON JACKSON’s UFC light heavyweight belt.  LIDDELL was unable to figure out KEITH JARDINE’s strategy and as the fight wore on, JARDINE’s hard leg kicks started to take their toll.  By fights end, JARDINE’s face had cuts and bruises all around but he handily won the fight as LIDDELL could no longer step into his punches due to his weakened left leg – LIDDELL’s feared right hand punch was neutralized as he could no longer step into his punches.  JARDINE took advantage by staying busy as LIDDELL wore down.  Where does “CHUCKY” go from here?

In the other 3 terrific matchups, DIEGO SANCHEZ lost a beautiful fight to JON FITCH.  Highly touted FITCH made his splash in the welterweight division with his win, but was almost submitted several times in the 3rd round.  RYOTO MACHIDA won a one-sided decision over KAZUHIRO NAKAMURA as NAKAMURA played Houdini all three rounds.  On three separate occasions, MACHIDA had fully mounted NAKAMURA but was unable to finish.  On another occasion, MACHIDA had NAKAMURA in a perfectly placed rear naked choke – a near impossible position to emerge from, which is exactly what NAKAMURA did.  Bottom line:  You can’t win a fight by constantly getting yoruself out of trouble.  MACHIDA now is in the spotlight at light heavyweight.  NAKAMURA’s next move should be to drop in weight and move into a middleweight division in need of stars. 

TYSON GRIFFIN’s win over THIAGO TAVARES just may have been the fight of the night.  One submission attempt after another, this fight was a beauty as GRIFFIN took the decision (though we don’t understand how one judge scored it 30-27 in his favor … what was he watching ?).  TAVARES experienced his first loss but will still be a top contender at the light heavyweight division.  Since GRIFFIN started to train with RANDY COUTURE’s camp, he has catapaulted near the top as we all watch to see if SEAN SHERK maintains the belt as he continues to fight off allegations of steriod use.  Waiting for the clouds to clear up, the light heavyweight division is fast filling up with some serious talent.  

September 8, 2007 – London, UK.  Leading up to the first ever unification of the UFC and PRIDE light heavyweight belts at Saturday night’s UFC 75:  Champion vs. Champion, UFC fans were treated to 3 other fantastic fights.  Arguably the fight of the night belonged to “The Irish Hand Grenade” MARCUS DAVIS (13-3) and “Relentless” PAUL TAYLOR (8-2-1), two up and comers that weren’t part of the list of stars headlining the event.  They both lived up to their nicknames!  The fight lasted almost one round but was one of the most exciting fights you will witness in mixed martial arts, ending with DAVIS as the victor by armbar submission.  DAVIS had to overcome a devastating kick to the head that dropped him and almost ended the fight but “The Irish Hand Grenade” was able to reverse momentum several times to finally end the fight with a masterful armbar. 

Also on the card, emerging star, CHEICK KONGO (11-3-1)overcame a slow first round to dominate PRIDE FC legend MIRKO CRO COP (22-6-2).  After the first round, CRO COP seemed as if he’s back in the thick of things as his previous fight resulted in a  KO loss via a GABRIEL GONZALEZ head kick.  But as the second round went on, KONGO picked up confidence and started to slow CRO COP down with repeated knees to CRO COP’s gigantic thighs which showed leg fatigue for the Croatian the rest of the fight.  As CRO COP couldn’t get things going, KONGO showed he could do no wrong.  KONGO’s ground game appeared much improved, quickly making him a top contender for the UFC heavyweight belt.  Look out RANDY COUTURE!

England’s own MICHAEL BISPING (15-0) also overcame a terrible first round, where he almost lost the fight, to pull out a decision over nemsis MATT HAMILL (5-1).  With cuts under each eye, BISPING was able to box the rest of the way and keep it a standup fight.  As the fight wore on, HAMILL seemed to wear out as he was unable to take BISPING down to the mat, where he is most effective.  Eventhough it was a close fight, at the end of the fight, HAMILL said that BISPING “won fair and square”.  One judge scored all 3 rounds in favor of HAMILL.  Hopefully their beef is now over. 

The last fight of the night was a 5 round, all out war between two of the greatest in the business.  QUINTON “Rampage” JACKSON (28-6) and DAN “Hollywood” HENDERSON (22-6) went the distance in a back and forth matchup of with JACKSON pulling out a win.  Each fighter showed the tremendous level of fitness as they tried to force their will on the other.  Neither fighter was truly in any danger at any point in the fight and at the end, JACKSON did just enough to pull out the win.  Now crowned the undisputed greatest light heavyweight in the world.

The biggest question now is WHO will go after RAMPAGE’s belt?  Maybe the winner of the UFC 76:  KNOCKOUT between MAURICIO “Shogun” RUA and FORREST GRIFFIN will reveal the answer.  That result is coming up September 22, 2007!

rampage-howling.gif