Ten years ago this week, UFC 63 took place in Anaheim, Calif., airing live on PPV. The main event featured B.J. Penn vs. Matt Hughes, but there are other still active and familiar names on the card. The following is my report as published on MMATorch.com the night of the fight…
SEPTEMBER 23, 2006
Hit refresh throughout the show to see the latest results and analysis. Also, check the Main Listing for Shawn Ennis’s other “Virtual Time” report on this PPV for another perspective.
-Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan introduced the show. They showed the scene outside the Anaheim Pond. As a Minnesota Wild fan, it’s strange hearing Goldberg’s voice introducing an event from the Pond, since as a former Wild announcer (including during the Wild’s improbable run to the conference finals several years back), I’ve heard him introduce NHL games from the Pond before. So going into the arena to see an Octagon instead of an ice rink feels weird. He was a very good NHL play-by-play announcer, for those who haven’t heard him outside of UFC. Goldberg and Rogan talked about how it was strange to hear Matt Hughes say he “relieved” after his loss to B.J. Penn. They also previewed David Loiseau vs. Mike Swick, the return of “Little Evil” Jens Pulver, and Jason Lambert vs. Rashad Evans.
1 — JENS PULVER (31, 5-7) vs. JOE LAUZON (22, 5-10) – 155 Lb. Lightweight Division
Rogan talked about Lauzon having great potential, but this is a big test. In addition to listening to Rogan’s and Goldberg’s preview of the fights, it’s been great reading the previews in articles here at MMATorch.com by Mike Jarsulic and Shawn Ennis previewing each of these matches and cutting through any promotional hype or conveniently left out facts about their backgrounds. Needless to repeat, Pulver is a heavyweight favorite, but in the case of Lauzon, although he hasn’t beaten impressive competition, his upside is untested. But those who know strongly favor Pulver and see this fight as a squash win and showcase opportunity for Pulver. Lauzon took Pulver right down, which surprised Rogan who said Pulver has a great takedown defense. Lauzonsurprised Pulver with a knee and a left hook and KO’d Pulver. Lauzon was the most surprised guy in the arena with wide-eyed. Rogan said Pulver was a 7-1 favorite. The crowd wasn’t sure how to react because Pulver is a big name fighter and they were looking for a show. A replay showed it was a left hook, not the knee, although during the knee, his foot caught Pulver’s cup, so that may have thrown him off and made him more vulnerable for the KO left hook.
In the post-match interview, Rogan said Pulver never lost the lightweight title so he basically is the champion now. Lauzon said he wouldn’t go that far. Lauzon said he’s ready for what he’s sure will be a very tough follow up fight because UFC will throw someone very tough at him. Pulver said he didn’t take Lauzon lightly. He said he got caught, but he wants a chance to come back and redeem himself. Rogan asked if he’s discouraged. Pulver said he’s been knocked out harder than that, “so that sh– don’t matter to me.” He said he’s so glad to be back in UFC and he said he’ll die in the ring before he quits. Rogan said that’s why they love him.
WINNER: Lauzon via TKO at 0:48.
STAR RATING (**): That’s one of those fights that, although short, gets into the two star range based on the shock value and the strong KO punch. An early adrenaline rush. The stunned silence of the crowd afterward said it all.
RAMIFICATIONS: What’s great about UFC is that in 48 seconds, they created a new PPV draw in less than a minute who we’ll pay to see in the future to see if he’s for real, yet at the same time, Pulver is still marketable because he’s really got his back against the wall in the next fight.
-They showed Rob Schneider in the crowd. He ripped off his shirt and posed.
-Rogan interviewed Rich Franklin about facing Anderson Silva. Rogan asked if he thinks Silva is getting a title shot too soon. Franklin said most fighters have to put some time in an organization before getting a shot, but his credentials in international organizations is strong. It’s fun seeing how UFC talks around Pride but tries to avoid mentioning it too much. It’s smart business now that they’re a clear no. 1 by a wide, wide margin in the U.S.
2 — RASHAD EVANS (26, 5-11) vs. “THE PUNISHER” JASON LAMBERT (29, 5-10) – 205 Lbs. Light-Heavyweight
ROUND ONE: Rogan said Lambert has the submission edge in this one. Goldberg talked about how nobody gave Evans a chance, but all he does is win. Evans toook Lambert down early and got in some punches as they stood up. He began punching Lambert from behind as Lambert tried to stand again. Evans took him down again as they struggled against the fence. Lambert almost got an armbar from the bottom during side guard, but Evans escaped after about five seconds. At 3:00 Lambert got it back to the feet. Evans took him down to the mat against at 4:10. Evans won that round easily. Evans lived up to his ref for a relatively boring fight style.
ROUND TWO: Evans took Lambert down again early. At 2:00 he got a full mount and got in some solid punches, and then several more, and Lambert went out cold. The ref let him take quite a few punches before stepping in – I counted 15, most of which connected somewhat, and some really well. Decisive win. Evans checked on Lambert afterward. It took more than a minute before he was helped to his feet.
Rogan interviewed Evans, who said it was his most impressive victory to date. Rogan asked how long before he deserves a title shot. Evans said he wants to take his time and mature his game and mindset so when he steps up to that level, he’ll be ready.
WINNER: Evans at 2:20 of Round Two via knockout.
STAR RATING (**-): I am grading these myself before looking at Ennis’s scores, but he has it graded the same. Not particularly entertaining, but the knockout moves it into the low two-star range. The rest of it was just there.
RAMIFICATIONS: Pretty simple. Evans moves up a notch with a 4-0 UFC record and Lambert moves down a solid notch, but neither are top contenders or money-draws for UFC.
-They showed Penn lounging in jeans and a shirt on a couch backstage, as if he was waiting for pizza delivery at home while watching TV.
-They showed Jason Statham from the movie “Crank” sitting in the crowd.
-They showed Mike Swick’s fists being taped backstage.
-They went into a plug for Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock on Oct. 10 as a free Spike TV special. Normally, it’s annoying to see free TV events plugged on PPV, because your PPV audience is so likely to also watch free TV and know about it, but they’re going for a huge cable ratings record and their PPV audiences are so huge, that it can make a difference to use the PPV to drive cable viewership at this point.
-They went to Joe Rogan at ringside while the audio still played for the hype for Tito-Shamrock. Rogan’s facial reaction was great as he didn’t know whether he was or not. Rogan interviewed Georges St. Pierre. He said hopes the best fighter wins so when he gets his shot, it’s against the best opponent. Rogan asked if it’s frustrating to sit there and watch a title shot that was his. He said it’s not frustrating because nothing happens for nothing. He said he may have gotten injured for a reason, but he hopes to fight the winner in November or as soon as possible. Rogan asked about the Loiseau fight. He said he doesn’t think his friend Loiseu can lose. Rogan pressed for a prediction on the main event. St. Pierre said if it ends in the first two rounds, Penn has won. If it goes to a decision, Hughes.
3 — GABE “GODZILLA” RUEDIGER (28, 5-10) vs. MELVIN “THE YOUNG ASSASSIN” GUILLARD (23, 5-9) – 155 Lightweight Division
ROUND ONE: Ruediger came out wearing a lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) mask. Goldberg put over Guillard as perhaps the best athletic specimen in UFC. Guillard had Ortiz in his corner. “When I see Melvin Guillard at a weigh-in, it’s not like looking in the mirror,” said Goldberg. Guillard took Ruediger down early and threw some elbows against the fence, then a couple punches. They eneded up back on their feet seconds later and Ruediger took a punch that nearly knocked him out. Guillard might have been able to finish him, but he approached the next minute more methodically. Guillard had him against the fense, but went back to stand up. he threw a roundhouse,. but got caught and Ruediger took him down in a surprise. They ended up cliched against the fence seconds later. At 3:00 they circled mid-ring. At 4:00 Ruediger got a full mount in Guillard. Guillard rolled onto his stomach and exposed himself with 40 seconds left. Ruediger went for a rearr choke or sleeper, but Guillard tucked his chin and blocked it. He was saved by the bell. Reuudiger nearly stole that round and the fight in the final minute even though Guillard won the first four minutes highlighted by an early near-KO punch.
ROUND TWO: Ortiz told Guillard to throw no more kicks. Tito talked really fast and fit a lot of advice into that break. They showed Kevin James in the crowd from “King of Queens.” Guillard threw an early punch that connected. Then came a body shot at 0:45 that looked powerful. A second punch to the stomach took his air. Ruediger keiled over and the ref stepped in as Guillard threw an illegal kick while his opponent was down and then threw a couple punches. Rogan said he’s never seen that finish before. Ruediger was up and congratulated Guillard about a minute later
Rogan asked Guillard if he was worried at the end of the first round. He said he doesn’t get worried given his great training partners. Rogan said that was the first one punch body knockout in UFC. “When you get hit in the stomach like that and go down, you’ve gotta have a soft-ass stomach,” said Guillard, losing his chance at Dana White’s Mr. Humility Award Bonus.
WINNER: Guillard at 1:01 of Rd. 2.
STAR RATING (***-): Entertaining fight throughout, with a near finish at the end of round one, and a memorable, decisive, and unique KO bodyblow finisher.
RAMIFICATIONS: Guillard moves up another notch for sure with an impressive performance (although not perfect), but Ruediger will be back in UFC (after a few more sit-ups in his training next time).
-They showed Tim Silva in the crowd. They also showed Kevin James and Jamie Presley in the crowd.
-They went to video hype for the next match, then Rogan and Goldberg were joined by Randy Couture for pre-fight analysis. Rogan said it’s the biggest test of Loiseu’s career, but he thinks he’s up for it. Couture said Swick belongs in this fight. Goldberg said Swick wants to be the first TUF contestant to win a belt.
4 — MIKE “QUICK” SWICK (27-, 6-1) vs. DAVID “THE CROW” LOISEAU (26, 6-0) – 185 Lb. Middleweight Division
ROUND TWO: Slow, tentative start drawing boos at 1:00. Swick went for a reverse sidekick that barely connected. Loiseau caught another kick attempt. Rogan said Loiseau is one off the few fighters who utilizes tae kwan do kicks, a discpline in which he’s a black belt. They cliched against the fence and the ref brought them back to center ring at 2:00. Swick threw a series of punches. Loiseau covered. Rogan said Loiseau looks tense. Goldberg noted that Swick seems to be gaining confidence by Loiseau’s tentativeness. Swick went for another reverse sidekick to the body that connected more this time. Swick hit another flurry of punches, but Loiseau seemed to cover nicely. He threw a nice roundhouse after the punches that connected to the ribs. Loiseau went for a punch, and Swick took him down. They ended up back on their feet quickly, after a brief advantage by Loiseau. Couture said Swick has done his homework by seizing openings exposed in the Evan Tanner fight. Loiseau looked not just scared to lose, but scared to get hurt. Swick deserves the round. Eddie Bravo gave it to Swick.
ROUND TWO: After an early flurry, Swick gave the “bring it on” body language. The crowd booed a minute later at lack of action. Swick took a half-hearted attempt at a knee. He followed up with another reverse sidekick. Loiseau returned with a reverse sidekick of his own. More boos ffrom the crowd by 1:30, which was uncalled for as they were fighting, not stalling. Louiseau kicked Swick’s left leg a few times and it seemed to be hurtiing Swick a bit. Swick went for another knee, then dropped him to the mat onto his back. Goldberg pointed out this is Swick’s first time past the first round in the Octagon. Pretty bland round. Swick deserves it with the takedown at the end.
ROUND THREE: They each threw some kicks and punches without much effect, then Swick ducked a punch and took Loiseau down again. On the mat, Loiseau went for an armbar; Loiseau tried to reverse, so Loiseu went back to his feet. Swick waved his finger at Loiseau. Loiseau threw some hard elbows and got in a strong flurry of offense. Swick looked to be on the verge of trouble. Loiseau took him down and threw more elbows. Swick was in trouble and looked to be gassed. Loiseau was fighting like he needed a KO to win. Swick was breathing hard as the cliched against the fence. He looked up at the clock as they went back to center ring. Swick trie to psych himself up. Swick threw a nice knee with 20 seconds left. Loiseau went for a knee, but Swick turned it into a takedown to save himself from any chance of being knocked out. Loiseau won the round for sure, but it shouldn’t be enough. While waiting for the decision, the two fighters hugged.
WINNER: Swick via decision (unanimous 29-28 scorecards).
STAR RATING (**+) There were some slow parts, but the crowd was a little hard on it. It had some good drama to it, especially with Loiseau’s barrage in the final half of the third round.
RAMIFICATIONS: Couture said Swick needs to take this win and try to turn it into a championship performance in his next fight. In other words, this wasn’t a championship performance. He needed a decisive third round and better endurance to justify it. Swick admitted afterward he got winded. He has an appealing spirit and personality, so he can become a money fighter besides being a winner. He’d be a good spokesman for the company. He said he deserves a title shot. “I don’t know what you gotta do to get one,” he said, clearly eager for one (not just the opportunity, but the potentially high six-figure payoff that comes along with it).
They went to a prelim fight to fill some time before the live main event…
A — TYSON GRIFFIN (22, 5-6) vs. DAVID LEE (28, 5-10) – 155 Lbs. Lightweight Division
This was pretaped earlier in the evening. It was the first prelim match, actually. Rogan said he’s heard of Griffin for years and he’s UFC material. He said Lee has his hands full tonight, which is Rogan’s code for “he’s going to lose.” Lee went for a big swing early and a knee. Griffin blocked the knee and then got Lee on his back on the ground. Lee, being strong in submissions, knows how to defend himself on the mat. Griffin eventually locked on the rear naked choke for the expected quick win.
WINNER: Griffin at 1:08 of Rd. 1.
STAR RATING (*): Nothing wrong with it. Griffin did what he was supposed to. Lee went for a flying knee (i.e his prayer, his hail mary), but Griffin was good enough to turn that into a great submission position.
RAMFICATIONS: Griffin is ready for a bigger test next time. Lee got a chane to score a big upset, and didn’t. He may or may not be brought back. A few wins outside of UFC against strong opponents will be necessary.
-A video feature aired on Hughes vs. Penn. They went to Couture, Goldberg, and Rogan analyzing the fight.
5 — MATT HUGHES (5-9, 32) vs. B.J. PENN (5-9, 27) — Welterweight Championship Fight (170 lbs.)
ROUND ONE: They stood and swung at each other as the crowd chanted “B.J., B.J.” early. Hughes grabbed one of Penn’s legs, but Penn hopped on one leg all the way to the fence. Hughes couldn’t get him down, though. Penn, meanwhile, was maneuvering for an armbar while defending against the takedown. Couture noted that he had trouble taking Penn down when he trained with him for a week. He added that even when you get him down, it’s impossible to keep him down. The crowd cheered Penn’s defense. Penn landed a right, and Hughes came back with a left that landed. They walked back to the center. Penn landed a right that led to Hughes instantly going for a takedown. Penn’s flexibility prevented Hughes from succeeding and they ended up back center ring exchanging swings. Hughes hit Hughes a couple times, and Hughes bled from the mouth. Hughes shook it off and looked strong. Penn hit Hughes with a thumb to the eye, so Hughes backed off. The crowd ohhed and booed as Rogan said, “Oh, no.” The ref called for a time out and the doctor checked on him. Hughes gets unlimited time to recover. Just remember, Matt, the doctor always raises two fingers when he asks how many fingers he’s holding up. About 30 seconds later, the fight was back on with one minute left. Hughes went for another takedown, but Hughes again defended against it. A loud “B.J.” chant began again. Rogan said this is the best B.J. he’s seen in a long time. The round ended with the two throwing punches that weren’t landing hard.
ROUND TWO: Early Hughes weng to a takedown again. Penn sprawled. Hughes eventually maneuvered on top of Penn finally. Goldberg noted that Penn was remaining calm under duress on his back. Penn showed his incredible flexibility on his back and went for a submission on Hughes from his back. Hughes slipped out and threw an elbow. They showed an inset of Georges. St. Pierre watching at ringside. Goldberg said he gets the winner. Penn escaped as Hughes threw elbows and got Hughes’s back, a similar position as when he beat him previously. With 90 seconds left, he had Hughes from behind and leveraged for a clear grip on his neck. Hughes looked to be in huge trouble as he rolled to try to get to a better position. Penn locked on a triangle and an armbarr at the same time with 30 seconds left. The question was whether Hughes could survive a very long 30 seconds before passing out or tapping. Penn threw some elbows. Hughes stood up and slipped out as the horn sounded. “What a fight! Man!” said Rogan. Incredible finish to the round. Hughes sat there, caught his breath, and walked back to his corner with the smile of a mouse who just escaped the cat. Penn looked winded as he staggered to his corner, having expended a lot of energy in that final minute, not to mention the first two rounds. Without a doubt, the first and second rounds were 10-9 for Penn.
ROUND THREE: Penn came out looking blank-faced and winded, while Hughes looked inspired. Hughes landed some punches early and Penn seemed flat-footed. Goldberg called Hughes a “cardio freak.” Hughes threw a low sweeping legkick to stagger Penn. Penn threw a punch, but Hughes easily stepped aside. Penn dropped his arms as Hughes threw a left jab and a right roundkick to the ribs. At 1:30, Hughes went with a barrage of punches, then took Penn down. Couture said he was crazy to take it to the ground. Rich Franklin was shown shouting the same thing from the corner, as Penn could surprise Hughes with a submission from underneath. Instead, though, Hughes got into the same side position as he had against Carlos Newton and threw a steady series of stiff punches to a defenseless Penn, whose arms were pinned underneath Hughes. Ref John McCarthy let it go a while, but eventually called it.
Hughes was met in the ring by fellow UFC Champs Tim Sylvia and Rich Franklin, plus his twin brother, Dana White, and the Feretti brothers (UFC owners). Sylvia said he was so proud of him. White told Hughes: “Greatest champion of all time. Ever. Ever. Ever. I’ve never seen anything like you in my whole f—ing life.” Penn couldn’t even stand for the announcement of the decision.
Rogan interviewed Hughes afterward. “I kind of wish B.J. was in shape to go five rounds. I was looking for five rounds. He either couldn’t keep up with my power or he wasn’t in shape.” He said the armbar was more severe than the triangle in the second round. He said B.J. is a heck of a fighter. He said he knew he lost the first two rounds, but he had three left. Hughes said he was surprised at his takedown defense. Hughes noted that he finished him the same way he finished Hughes, and said he was surprised how long it took the ref to stop it. Rogan asked him what there is left for him in the sport. He said it sounds like it’ll be Georges St. Pierre. “So let’s go,” he said.
Pierre entered the octagon and hugged Hughes. He said, “I’m very glad you won that fight, but I’m not impressed with your performance and I look forward to fighting you in the near future.” Hughes said, “That’s his opinion. It might stink, but it’s his opinion.” After the exchange, Pierre tried to talk to Hughes, and Hughes smiled but also kind of blew him off and walked away. Rogan said it appeared Hughes was really upset with Pierre’s comments. Good start to the hype for their upcoming title match.
WINNER: Hughes via ref stoppage at 3:33 to retain the Welterweight Title.
STAR RATING (****): Awesome drama. The end of the second round was one of the most exciting near-submissions in UFC history. The way Hughes turned the tables in round three because Penn, according to predictions, was gassed and unable to go any further. Really exciting fight. It lived up to expectations.
RAMIFICATIONS: I’d pay for a Penn-Hughes rematch, especially if Penn hired a cardio coach and really prepares for a 25 minute five-round fight next time. That was good enough, he’ll get a rematch, but he’ll have to beat one or two strong opponents first.
They aired a prelim fight from earlier to round out the telecast…
B — MARIO NETO (32, 6-1) vs. EDDIE SANCHEZ (23, 6-2) – Heavyweight Division
ROUND ONE: Rogan complimented the Cage Rage organization in England as an up and coming organization with good fighters. Neto took Sanchez down in the opening ten seconds. Sanchez fought to his feet only to immediately be leveraged back to the mat. They ended up back on their feet. Sanchez threw Neto down, went for a big swing, threw some kicks to Neto’s legs as he lay on his back Antonio Inoki style. Sanchez then called for Neto to stand. They did. Rogan said Seanchez was gaining confidence and Neto looked like he was getting frustrated. They slapped hands at the end of the round. I’d give the round to underdog Sanchez based on a better second half. TUF alum Michael Bisbing gave Neto a pep talk in his corner.
ROUND TWO: Sanchez landed a huge right to take Neto down and then followed up with a flurry of about four more on the mat before the ref could step in to stop it. Rogan called it “an excellent killer instinct.”
Rogan interviewed Sanchez afterward. Sanchez said if he lands that right against any heavyweight in UFC, he can beat anyone.
WINNER: Sanchez at 0:17 of Round Two by Knockout.
STAR RATING (**-): Great knockout, and a solid first round with Neto looking like he’d control on the ground early, but Sanchez coming back quickly with his power advantage and dominant strikings.
RAMIFICATIONS: Sanchez is now on path to be presented increasing difficult challenges and if he can get a run or two or three more victories, he’ll be talked about for a title shot. In UFC’s heavyweight division, it doesn’t take much to get there. Neto has enough credentials that he’ll be given another chance, assuming he wants it after this humbling loss.
Now back live for the wrap-up…
-Goldberg and Rogan discussed the evening. Huge credit to Rogan for acknowledging that St. Pierre’s comment about not being impressed with Hughes was just St. Pierre trying to sell the fight with “American hype.” Rogan said Hughes was upset, but maybe just looking for motivation for a match against someone he’s already defeated.
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