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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Big Knock Outs For UFC 92

Dramatic UFC wins for Rashad Evans, Frank Mir and Rampage Jackson
A dramatic title-changing night in Las Vegas at UFC92, with triumphant returns for Frank Mir against the odds, Rashad Evans continuing his rise to usurp the light-heavyweight title, and for Quinton Jackson, sweet revenge over his nemesis Wanderlei Silva.

By G. davis

Another one bites the dust: Frank Mir delivers the final blows to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira during the second round of their UFC fight.

Rashad Evans packs a right to Forrest Griffin during their UFC light heavyweight fight.
UFC’s end in 2008 sets up an intriguing plot for 2009. The re-match between Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar for the outright claim to the heavyweight title, ‘Rampage’ Jackson’s full rehabilitation, and the rise and rise of ‘Sugar’ Rashad.
Evans versus Anderson Silva for the light-heavyweight title could be a potential classic encounter, for example, in 2009. Or, indeed, Evans v Jackson. Mir against Lesnar, the return, sells itself. The three mainline contests saw three dramatic stoppages, by KO and TKOs. This was thrilling fare in front of a sell-out MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Between the lines, moreover, two of those three victories represented significant notches for the Wolfslair Academy, the UK training base in Widnes, of Michael Bisping - and now ‘Rampage’ Jackson. With Rashad Evans continuing his rise to become UFC light-heavyweight champion with a third round TKO of Forrest Griffin, Bisping’s split points decision loss to the American 13 months ago augments his case as a title challenger, and even more so at middleweight.
There was another Wolfslair success, indeed, at heavyweight, with Frenchman Cheick Kongo, also based at the Widnes Academy, defeating Mostapha Al Turk in emphatic style. Kongo, 6ft 4ins tall and 240 lbs, a former professional kickboxer, dominated with knees and elbows in the first period, putting Mostapha down with a left-right followed by a ground and pound elbow assault which opened up a gash in the UFC debutant’s forehead.
Several hammer fists later saw the fight’s stoppage at 4 mins 37 secs of round 1. This was only a sign of fights to come. Ultimate 2008 was a night of stand-up, of dramatic action, of punches and strikes.
Jackson, promising to avenge his two previous defeats to the Brazilian Silva, fought cannily, and on his feet, not rushing the action. He meant business, KO-ing Silva with a left hook flush on the chin, in what had been a cagey, rather than frenetic first round. Jackson looks so much more dangerous when he is measured in his approach. He ended the proceedings clinically here with a flush left hook, the fight stopped 3 mins 21 seconds into the opening period.
“I went to the Wolfslair, got my wolf on, I moved my training camp there, and I want to give thanks to them,” said Jackson. Will he be back for the light heavyweight title ? “That’s up to the UFC to decide.” On this evidence, the new Jackson with his self-belief restored will not be too long in getting that call up.
The upset of the night, but one which I had predicted might happen, was Frank Mir stopping Antonio Nogueira by TKO for the interim heavyweight title. Mir fought as close to a perfect fight as he could have, came in great shape, won the stand up, and showed that Nogueira’s many wars may have taken their toll. Mir stopped the Brazilian, the most decorated heavyweight in UFC history, for the first time in his career.
“I faced my mythological monster in there. I have never been as frightened as I walked into the Octagon,” said Mir, who put Nogueira thrice on his backside with clinical strikes. “I faced emotional demons after my [motorbike] crash and I’ve come back to defeat the greatest heavyweight in the UFC. People say you can’t do things, but if I was a betting man I would not have been on Mir’s side. But I proved that if you believe in yourself, you can achieve great things.”
After dominating the first round in the stand up, Mir put Nogueira down with a left hook in the second period before a ground and pound assault took him to victory.
Lesnar awaits. Mir can beat him again.
The main event of UFC 92 produced a phenomenal finish by Rashad Evans against Forrest Griffin, who lifted the UFC light-heavyweight title, to become the third holder of the belt in 2008.
Evans improves his all-round game exponentially with every contest. Again in a stand up fight until the final few dramatic seconds, Evans overcame significant height and reach advantages enjoyed by Griffin, to win with a ground and pound finish in round three of the championship contest. Evans has become a devastating finisher. I must eat my words on this - I underestimated Evans, again.
While Griffin won the first and second rounds (which resembled a kickboxing bout) outscoring Evans with leg kicks, one of them punishing to the body, and jabs, Rashad had some success with his fast hands. In the third, keeping his distance, Evans showed again how he can produce a sudden finish – as he did against Chuck Liddell – nullifying the first two rounds’ deficit.
After catching a kick to his body, Evans dropped Griffin with a right hand, then launched into the champion with a ground and pound attack after Griffin attempted to take his guard. Stunned, Griffin’s defence was ineffective. Griffin looked out before the referee came between the two warriors.
A dozen devastating punches proved exactly why Evans can now be considered one of the most lethal finishers in the division.

My thoughts on what needs to come after tonight ...Rashad Evans vs Rampage has to happen and would draw in HUGE PPV numbers. I thought Rampage beat Griffin and he should certainly get a shot after that KO against Wanderlei SIlva.Obviously Mir and Lesnar are going to fight to unify the heavyweight championship belt. After tonight and after watching the Lesnar fight against Randy there is no way I would bet against Mir or lesnar in those fights. both men are on a mission at this point.Maybe we also need to see Big Nog fight Randy Couture with the winner being next in line to fight the unified champion. Just a thought. These two really need to fight although I have serious doubts about both of their longevitity in the sport after their last two devistating losses. In all honesty Randy looked much better in his loss than Big Nog.Either the winner of Dan Henderson vs Rich Franklin and Machida vs Thiago Silva should get the winner of Rampage vs Evans. I think we will probably see Evans vs Rampage or the winner of Hendo vs Ace fight Evans next because those are big name fighters unlike Machida and Thiago Silva.Maybe we see Shogun Rua fighting the winner of Machida and Thiago Silva if he can get past Mark Coleman (which he should). If Shogun looses this fight all his pride luster is completely gone. It was pretty much gone after he lost to Forrest Griffin but hardcore fans still remember his performances. I'm also really looking forward to the Fedor and Arlovski fight as that is in my mind the fight for the best heavyweight fighter on the planet. One more thing ...We all know how Dana loves these champion vs champion fights. Maybe just maybe we see Anderson Silva fight Rashad Evans for the light heavyweight title. That would be just as sick as the GSP vs BJ Penn fight. Knowing BJ Penn's history (moving upt to heavyweight to fight Machida) he would probably want to move up to middleweight and fight Anderson Silva if he beats GSP. Maybe we could see GSP move up in weight. I don't think we have seen the end of these champion vs champion superfights this year for the UFC.

UFC 92 Results

Ryo Chonan vs. Brad BlackburnRound 1Blackburn walks into the Octagon to the perfectly suited "Bad" from Michael Jackson. No moon walk is performed, unfortunately. They exchange kicks to the body. Good combos from Blackburn early; punches and kicks. Loopy left hook glances Chonan's head. Short left hook from Chonan inside. Not much action. Chonan misses a flying knee and falls onto his back. He springs back up. Blackburn with good leg kick, right cross combo. And another. Chonan is pushing the pace but Blackburn is more active. Close round. 10-9 Blackburn. Round 2Chonan starts the second round with a head kick but it’s blocked. Chonan slips as he's punched as he falls onto his back. Blackburn pounces. Chonan is let back up after no damage is inflicted. Hard right- and left-handed punches score for Blackburn. Blackburn shoots for a takedown but it’s stuffed. The pace slows considerably. Hard kick to Blackburn's ribs. A leg kick connects for Chonan. And another. The close round goes to Blackburn, 10-9. Round 3Left kick to Blackburn's ribs. And another. Blackburn continues to back away to his left. Very little action. Chonan throws a head kick and it’s blocked. And two more, all of which are blocked. Chonan is starting to look desperate. Blackburn is not taking any chances. The crowd is getting restless. Chonan catches a leg but he can't sweep for the takedown. A hard right uppercut rocks Blackburn with 40 seconds left. Blackburn is retreating. A big straight right by Chonan followed by another uppercut. The third frame is all Chonan, 10-9. All three official judges score the contest 29-28 for Brad Blackburn.

Matt Hamill vs. Reese AndyRound 1The fighters trade punches but nothing clean lands. Hamill dumps Andy onto his back. Andy gets up. Left head kick by Hamill but it’s blocked. Good left kick to body from Andy. Andy tries a takedown but is stuffed and caught in a loose guillotine. Hamill lets it go. Left jab by Andy. Gash opens under Hamill's right eye. Very little action. Looping right hand by Andy near bell. 10-9 Hamill. Round 2There's a mouse under Andy’s left eye. Good right hand by hamill. A left and right by Hamill. A hard right knee in the clinch from Hamill. Andy is in trouble. Hamill unloads a furious barrage of punches and another knee. Andy takes another knee and falls. Hamill pounces along the fencing, teeing off with punches. Dozens of punches rain down though most are blocked. Hamill takes his opponent’s back and unloads again. Referee Steve Mazzagatti steps in to halt the bout at the 2:19 mark of round two.

Antoni Hardonk vs. Mike WesselRound 1Wessell comes right at Hardonk and pushes him to the floor. Wessell pounces but is sucked into Hardonk's guard. Hardonk secures an armbar. Wessell escapes and scrambles to his feet. They clinch along fence. A series of knees from Hardonk land. Wessell looks tired already. More knees to body and head from Hardonk. Wessell desperately looks for a takedown. Hardonk pulls guard. The action slows considerably and the crowd is booing. Hardonk just misses another armbar. He goes high with his hips in search of a triangle, but the round ends. 10-9 Hardonk. Round 2Wessell scores a quick takedown. Hardonk is playing a high offensive guard. Hardonk sneaks out the back door and takes his opponent’s back. He's softening him up with punches. Wessell turtles to avoid the rear-naked choke. Wessell rolls over but is stuck, fully mounted. Hardonk tees off with punches. Wessell rolls back over and eats more punches. Yves Lavigne saves him at 2:09 of the second.

Yushin Okami vs. Dean ListerRound 1Lister enters the cage sporting a pre-fight black eye. Lister misses badly with a wild right hook. Lister tries a single-leg, but it is stuffed. Lister is able to pull guard but he can't keep Okami down. Okami lets him up. Okami is dragged to the ground after another single leg. Okami gets back up. A hard left hand by Okami connects. And another. Lister wants the fight down and pulls guard. Lister rolls to rubber guard but nothing unfolds. Okami’s round, 10-9. Round 2Head kick by Lister misses and Okami is pinned against the fence. They separate. Left hand by Okami lands. A takedown by Lister is stuffed. Lister lays on his back to try and lure Okami into his guard. The crowd boos. He does it again. More boos. They're up and clinch along fence. Lister pulls guard. Lister applies an omaplata but Okami escapes. Okami lands three hard punches from on top. Lister scrambles out of danger. He tries to pull guard again. Three more hard right hands from Okami connect. The round ends as the arena showers the Octagon with boos. 10-9 Okami. Round 3Lister comes out firing, but misses wildly. Lister is trying more takedowns but his shots are telegraphed. Lister tries pulling guard again. Finally he successfully pulls guard, but Okami lands two more right hands. Very tedious fight to watch. The crowd is restless and are begging Referee Herb Dean to stand the fighters. Okami lands a decent right and left. Lister is unable to pull any submissions. Dean stands them. Lister misses badly with looping punches. Lister tries another single leg. It’s stuffed. 10 seconds left and the crowd boos. 10-9 Okami. All three official judges see the bout 30-27 for Yushin Okami.

Cheick Kongo vs. Mustapha al Turk Round 1The fighters exchange jabs to kickoff the heavyweight contest. Kongo catches an al Turk kick and trips him to the canvas. Al Turk drops levels for a takedown, but Kongo defends it well with underhooks. Al Turk switches to a double-leg attempt and then gives it up. The fighters clinch against the fencing and Kongo delivers a knee to the body. Al Turk fires back with a knee, but it’s low. Referee Steve Mazzagatti steps in to give Kongo, who absorbed the strike on his groin protector, a reprieve. Action is resumed and al Turk drops for a single-leg takedown. Kongo stuffs it and blasts al Turk with a knee that lands south of the border. Al Turk is given time to recover. Mazzagatti gathers the fighters and tells them to keep it clean. Kongo drops al Turk with two right hands. Kongo pounces with elbows and punches, opening up a huge gash over the right eye. Referee Steve Mazzagatti finally saves al Turk after a savage beating at 4:37 of the first. The stoppage should have come quicker. The gash is about as bad as anything you’ll see in MMA. Starting from above the eye, it follows a jagged path well into the hairline.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton JacksonWanderlei Silva enters the Octagon to the sounds of Darude’s“Sandstorm,” the theme he used for years in the Pride fighting championships. Quinton Jackson follows as WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres snaps a picture with his cellphone as “Rampage” passes. Round 1Jackson storms forward and takes the center of the cage. Jackson lands a left straight and a right hand. Silva loads up on a right hand that is blocked by Jackson’s left glove. Silva goes to work on Jackson’s lead leg with a low kick. “Rampage” drops down for a takedown, but Silva is game. He sprawls on it and lands two low kicks. Jackson catches a low kick attempt but loses his balance trying to take the Brazilian down. Jackson knocks Silva out cold with a left hook counter punch. Jackson unnecessarily nailed his fallen foe with three right hands to the face as referee Yves Lavigne pulled him off at the 3:21 mark of round one. Silva lay with his legs quivering for several tense moments, but appeared to be OK as he left the cage under his own power.

CB Dollaway vs. Mike MassenzioRound 1Dollaway attacks Massenzio’s body with a kick. Massenzio, whose left knee is heavily bandaged, appears to be slow in his movement around the Ocatgon. Massenzio hurts Dollaway with a right hand. Dollaway is hurt and is forced to fend off a tight guillotine choke. Dollaway escapes and then has to defend a Massenzio triangle choke attempt. Dollaway gets out of danger and moves to side control. To mount goes Dollaway. He punches the head, forcing Massenzio to give up his back. Dollaway flattens out Massenzio and cracks the head with both hands until referee Yves Lavigne steps in at 3:01 of the opening frame.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Frank MirRound 1Mir fires a head kick that misses. Mir goes to the inside of Nogueira’s front leg with a low kick. Mir is picking Nogueira apart with punches and kicks early. Mir trips Nogueira to the mat and enters his guard. Mir stands and invites “Minotauro” to follow. Mir blasts Nogueira with an uppercut and another low kick. The pace slows a bit as Mir appears to tire. Nogeuria takes the center of the cage looking fresh with his jab. Mir drops Nogueira to the canvas with a right hand. Mir pounces but patiently stands back to his feet once Nogueira had recovered. To the body with a knee and a left kick goes Mir. Nogueira gets off with his hands for the first time in the bout. Mir scores another knockdown with a right hand at the sound of the bell. TJ De Santis scores the round 10-9 MirMike Fridley scores the round 10-8 Mir Jordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Mir Round 2Mir attacks with a flurry of punches that come up short. Nogueira answers with a stiff low kick to Mir’s right leg. Mir’s lateral movement is good as he bounces on his toes, moving away from Nogueira’s power. Frank Mir steps forward in the pocket and puts Noqueira down with two left hooks. Mir finishes the Brazilian with punches on the floor. Referee Herb Dean stops the mauling at 1:54 of the second stage.

Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad EvansRound 1Griffin stalks the challenger around the cage, but Rashad connects first with a left hand. Grffin misses on a low kick. Griffin loads up a right hand that nearly connects. Griffin lands a low kick and a foot to the body. Evans returns the favor with a hard low kick of his own. The champion throws three jabs but they all fall short of their target. Griffin abandons his jab with a punching flurry and is cracked with a straight right to the ribs and a low kick. The champion again goes at Evans’ left leg with a kick. Evans switches to a southpaw stance to avoid punishment on the leg. He switches back to orthodox and gets the best of a punching exchange. A hard body punch prompts Griffin to take a deep breath. TJ De Santis scores the round 10-9 GriffinMike Fridley scores the round 10-9 EvansJordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Griffin Round 2Griffin takes the center of the cage and moves toward Evans. Griffin lands a low kick and a right hand. Griffin gets busy from the Thai clinch with knees to the chin and body. Evans eats a punch and then taunts the champion by blowing a kiss and then touching his athletic cup. Evans, still smiling, absorbs another low kick to his left leg. And two more. Griffin is scoring big with his low kicks. The challenger attempts to kick back but his balance has been affected by the abuse to his legs. Evans connects with a clean straight counter right to the chin. Griffin shakes it off and stays busy with kicks and punches from the outside. A hard right from the champion closes the period. TJ De Santis scores the round 10-9 GriffinMike Fridley scores the round 10-9 GriffinJordan Breen scores the round 10-9 Griffin Round 3Griffin slips during an exchange and is forced to work from his back. Evans pounds away with punches from both hands as referee Steve Mazzagatti looks on closely. Griffin hangs on and recovers enough to attempt a triangle choke and an omaplata. Evans lands five hard right hands from the top position that hurt the champion. Evans pours it on with left-handed power shots until Griffin taps out from the abuse. Rashad Evans claims the UFC light heavyweight title at 2:46 of the third round.

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