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By Wade Keller, MMATorch Editor UFC 64 PPV REPORT
OCTOBER 14, 2006
LAS VEGAS, NEV. AT MANDALAY BAY
-I'm getting in late to watch this on DVR, so to keep up with the very latest, check out Shawn Ennis's report on the Main Listing. I'll be running about a half hour behind.
Mike Goldberg and Randy Couture introduced the show and previewed the matches. They ran down the rules and then showed Dana White and Chuck Liddell in the crowd, mingling.
1 -- SPENCER FISHER (30, 5-7) vs. DAN LAUZON (18, 5-10) -- 155 Lb. Lightweight Division
FIRST ROUND: Lauzon is the younger brother of Joe Lauzon who upset Jens Pulver at the last PPV. Fisher, a striker out of the Miletich Camp, is a heavy favorite. Goldberg said Lauzon said he wouldn't have taken the fight if he didn't think he could win. Goldberg noted that Lauzon is only the second 18 year old in UFC. Lauzon took Fisher down early, but I only heard it because my screen went fuzzy for the first 45 seconds of the fight. Lauzon took the fight on three week notice, and Goldberg said that UFC match-maker Joe Silva couldn't find anyone else with any credentials willinig to take the fight. They snuck in a plug for UFC 65 in November featuring Silva-Monson as Fisher remained underneath Lauzon until 3:30 when he leveraged and sprung himself up. Lauzon immediately shoved Fisher into the corner post. He backed up and 4:00 and let Fisher stand. Fisher scored with a strong running knee. He followed with an elbow and another knee, then backed him against the fense and punched away. Lauzon went down on his back. The ref stood him up. Fisher then knocked him down again immediately with a right uppercut. Lauzon just fell and turned over and covered up. The ref called it. Fisher and Lauzon hugged afterward. Fisher called out Pulver. Fisher thanked God afterward, then his family and trainers. He admitted that his wrestling sucks, so he wasn't shocked that Lauzon took him down early. He said he's working with great trainers to change that. He said Lauzon took the fight on such short notice, he knew he was tired early. He said he wants to face his brother.
FINISH: Fisher at 4:38 via TKO.
STAR RATING (*+): Good finish, but otherwise mundane action leading up to it.
RAMIFICATIONS: Fisher remains a contender in the division. Lauzon is so young and took the fight on such short notice, he won't lose any standing with this loss, and because he stepped up on short notice, he has earned another shot in the Octagon with full prep time.
-They showed Anderson Silva walking around backstage, then a preview of UFC 65 "Bad Intentions" headlined by Tim Silvia defending the heavyweight belt against Jeff Monson and Matt Hughes vs. Georges St. Pierre for the Welterweight Title.
2 -- CARMELLO "THE FURY" MARRERO (25, 6-0, 222) vs. CHEICK KONGO (31, 6-4, 226) -- Heavyweight Division
FIRST ROUND: This is Marrero's UFC debut and he has limited experience and only one fight against someone with a winning record. Goldberg acknowledged that, stating, "He's stepping into the A-class." Kongo, from France, has had two impressive first round knockout wins in UFC. Goldberg said Kongo looks like a cross between Evander Holyfield and Seal. Goldberg finally mentioned Joe Rogan, saying, "He's on assignment (whatever that means), but I know he's watching somewhere." Courture has gotten much better since his early color work, but he's so low energy compared to Rogan, the show has a different feel. They circled each other in the opening minute, with Kongo scoring with a couple of kicks to Marrero's lead leg. Marrero took Kongo down on the third kick and went right into side control. At 3:30 the crowd got restless as nothing much was happening. Marrero turned it up with some more kneees and punches to avoid a stand-up, but not much damage at all was being done. Kongo tried to get up, but Marrero easily stopped it and willingly went into Kongo's guard. This first round weight right as our own Mike Jarsulic predicted in his preview (on the Main Listing). Marrero ended with a flurry of punches in the corner in the closing ten seconds, but did little damage. Marrero gets the first round even though the two kicks by Kongo probably did more damage than anything Marrero threw, other than potential endurance issues.
SECOND ROUND: Marrero had quite a welt on his left thigh. He took Kongo down in the early seconds of this round. The crowd sighed, anticipating another four minutes of nothing much. Kongo wrapped his left around around Marrero's neck. Kongo looks strong enough to perhaps do damage even without any additional leverage or positioning. Marrero began to stand to try to leverage Kongo to the mat. Kongo slipped inot a more traditional guillotine and appeared to be in a strong position. Marrero tried to pop his head out, and he finally succeeded and threw a series of punches. The ref stood them up at 3:00. Kongo threw two punches, but Marrero immediately ducked and took Kongo down. Kongo tried to scambled away, but Marrero's controlled him. The stood them up again at 4:10. Kongo threw another two kicks to Marrero's thigh, so Marrero took him down easily again. Back to the familiar position. They each wrapped an arm around the neck of the other for a few seconds, but both slipped out. Another boring round win for Marrero. The crowd booed. The fighters were working hard, but the style difference led to Marrero knowing his best chance was to control the fight, avoid strikes, and win by decision.
THIRD ROUND: Kongo blocked a takedown attempt this time, knowing that was necessary to avoid a decision loss. He pushed Marrero against the fence. By 1:15 Kongo ended up on his back again. The ref stood them at 2:00. Kongo was getting every chance to show his striking couldwin, but failed in every attempt so far to avoid the takedown whenever Marrero wanted it. Couture said he had to open up the strikes to have any chance of a KO. He ended up on top of Marrero for the first time and threw some elbows and punches, but nothing amounting to serious damage. Kongo, though, went for an arm submission that looked threatening once or twice, but Marrero slipped out. Kongo stood up and threw a couple punches, but a winded Marrero easily took Kongo down again. The ref stood them again. Marrero was slow to stand, but so was Kongo. Both seemed winded. Marero sshot in and Kongo blocked it and shoved Marrero against the fence as the fight ended. The boos began in the final five seconds.
Couture interviewed Marrero who said he was surprised at how tired he got in the second round. He said his conditioning is usually strong, but he took the fight on short notice. Marrero talked like he his bell was rung and he admitted he didn't remember much about the fight. He said the strikes hurt, as did landing on his head.
RESULT: Marrero via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
STAR RATING (*+) Just one of those fights where neither fighter was well-rounded enough to offset the strength of the other fighter.
RAMIFICATIONS: Kongo moves a step away from a heavyweight title match, something he would have made a case for if he won convincingly considering the weak overall division. As it is, he needs to work on takedown defense, while Marrero has to working on finishing while on the mat.
-They showed Liddell in the crowd, then Kevin James from "King of Kings."
-Goldberg talked about the record-breaking ratings for Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock. They went to clips of various UFC veterans talking about Shamrock's career.
3 -- JON FITCH (6-0, 170) vs. KUNIYOSHI HIRONAKA (30, 5-10) -- Welterweight 170 Lb. Division
FIRST ROUND: Fitch took Hirnaka down at 1:00, but ended up in a triangle choke. Hironaka held on, but Fitch survived. By 3:00 Fitch finally escaped and ended up in the guard, throwing punches and elbows against the fence. Fitch then worked his way to Hironaka's back with 30 seconds left in the round. Hironaka didn't look panicked, but he had to survive the closing seconds defending against punches and a potential choke. Tough call for who won the round, given Hironaka's triangle choke and Fitch's flurry in the final minute.
SECOND ROUND: Fitch opened strong with a couple punches and a great left roundhouse kick followed by a strong slam takedown. He then tried to punish Hironaka against the fence on the mat. The ref stood them at 2:45. Fitch dominated the stand-up again including another nice roundkick to the head, then he took Hironaka down. At 4:00 Hironaka went for another triangle choke from his back. Fitch avoided it and threw more punches and elbows to end (and win) the round.
THIRD ROUND: Fitch hit two nice roundhouse kicks to the ribs, then a series of punches. Hironaka showed he can take punches and even threw a solid return punch of his own. Hironaka hit a reverse sidekick, but it didn't seem to land hard. Fitch then took him down. The ref stood them up to check on Fitch's heavy bleeing from the nose, which was coming out like a fawcet. The doc immediately said he was fine to fight. The ref put them back where they left off on hte mat with 3:40 left in the round. Fitch continued to punish Hironaka with a barrage of punches and elbows, but Hironaka seemed to be in good condition other than welts on his face. The ref stood them again at 3:45. Fitch took Hironaka down again after another brief stand-up exchange. The ref stood them again even though Fitch was hardly resting. They stood and exchanged swings in the final seconds. As soon as the horn sounded, they hugged in mid-ring. Round and fight clearly to Fitch.
FINISH: Fitch via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-27, 30-27)
STAR RATING (**+): Every time they stood, Hironaka showed great energy and fighting spirit, not to mention a solid jaw, although Fitch isn't a dominant striker. So despite being dominated on the ground, Hironaka didn't look or fight like a complete pushover by any means.
RAMIFICATIONS: Hironaka would be a fun fighter to watch again against a slight stepdown in competiton. Fitch moves up, but wasn't decisive enough with the win to blow anyone away.
-Jason Giambi was show sitting in the crowd. He smiled, but looked uncomfortable with some booing from the fans.
-A video aired on Ken Shamrock. Goldberg and Couture talked about Shamrock for another minute or so. Couture said it was the right time for Shamrock to retire, as he thinks he had been passed by and "he certainly wasn't going to get any quicker." I think there would have been money in a legend fight between Shamrock and Royce Gracie.
-They went to a promo for "Saw 3." UFC has to be careful not to turn a show that people pay for into anything resembling an unwelcome infomercial for movies that have nothing to do with MMA. Goldberg then interviewed Tobin Bell, star of "Saw 3." He hadn't seen UFC before, and depending on what he watched on the undercard, this wasn't the most glowing example of UFC at its best. He said he saw the movie, then added, "From what I've seen, it's probably the best of the three Saw films." So did he see it or not?
4 -- SHAWN SHERK (33, 5-6) . KENNY FLORIAN (30- 5-10, reach advantage) -- 155 Lb. Lightweight Title Match (Vacant)
FIRST ROUND: Florian wants to be the first fighter from The Ultimate Fighter series to win a UFC belt. Florian dressed in a traditional Thai outfit (I think) and came out to very calming music, then meditated briefly before entering the Octagon. Shark caught Florian with a quick punch and then powered him quickly to the mat. Sherk looked quick and powerful in those opening seconds. Couture said this is the right weight class for Florian, who fought up a weight division on The Ultimate Fighter. Sherk has moved down a weight division also as a result of UFC bringing back this division. Florian slipped on a guillotine at 2:15 from the mat. Sherk slipped out relatively easily and threw lefts while in the guard. Florian spun out and ended up on top. Sherk, though, moved right back on top of Florian. Sherk gets the round.
SECOND ROUND: Florian scored with a back roundhouse kick. Shark charged and took Florian down again. Florian threw some elbows from underneath and drew blood on Shark. That's Florian's game, and Sherk expressed concern about a blood stoppage in his pre-match interview. The ref stopped the fight to check on the cut at 1:15. The doctor okayed the continuation. At 3:00 Florian leveraged himself on top which drew a rise out of the crowd. They ended up standing at 3:30. Shark went for a double leg takedown. Florian fought it for a while against the fence and didn't go down. The round ended as they set up for another stand-up exchange. The crowd applauded the action. Close round, with an edge to Sherk. Florian seemed to end stronger and fresher, though.
THIRD ROUND: Sherk kept bleeding heavily from the cut high on his right temple. Sherk took Florian down quickly. Florian was covered in Sherk's blood as he absorbed a series of punches and elbows from underneath. Florian gave up his back at 3:30 and rolled, but ended up on his back. Sherk kept scoring with strikes while on top. The ref stood them up at 4:15. Good final half minute of stand-up with a roundhouse kick by Florian to Sherk's ribs, and a late roundhouse to his head. He went for a big overhead roundhouse, but missed Sherk. Round still goes to Sherk easily who just pounded away methodically from the top most of the round.
FOURTH ROUND: Florian ran out of a takedown attempt by Sherk in the opening seconds. He couldn't scramble out of a second takedown attempt at 0:45. At 3:00 the crowd chanted "Kenny, Kenny," but it didn't stop Sherk from dominating Florian on the mat. Goldberg pointed out that Sherk is well known among more tenured MMA fans, but Florian well known to their newer fans. Florian's best strategy at this point, with blood and sweat making them both slippery, was to try to stop Sherk from doing anything to get a stand up. That finally happened at 4:30 when Sherk stopped throwing blows for just a few seconds. Florian scored with another strong back roundhouse kick to the ribs. They stared at each other breathing hard as the final seconds ticked of. Couture said they both looked like they were in "Saw 3." Both looked tired, which worked to Florian's advantage as he needs a desperation KO or submission to win, and that wouldn't happen to a fresh Sherk. A tired Sherk, maybe. Florian's corner told him he had to KO or submit him, and Sherk's corner said "He's going for broke."
FIFTH ROUND: Florian hit two more back roundhouse kicks, but Sherk took him down right away in response. Sherk didn't rest, knowing if he did for even five seconds the ref would stand them up. Florian went for an armbarr, but the sweat and blood made that nearly impossible. At 1:20 the ref stood them up. Stand ups happen so much more offten now than years ago in UFC. Constant offense is required. Florian ekpt scoring with roundhouse kicks, then Sherk shot in. Florian went for a guillotine and squeezed. Sherk didn't fight it at first, but he didn't have the leverage to end it. Sherk then pulled out after about 30 seconds. Florian stood up, but Sherk just lifed and slammed him. Florian tried at first held onto the fence, but as soon as he did, Sherk slammed him hard. That could have knocked him out a la Matt Hughes-Carlos Newton. Florian, with 45 seconds left, again tried to escape. He applied another guillotine, but didn't have the grip he needed. It ended with Sherk on top. The director annoyingly cut away to a crowd shot of the star of "American Pie" just as the fighters were standing up after five rounds and likely about to shake hands or hug. How fighters react right after a fight is not something to cut away from for a crowd shot, even a "movie star."
Couture interviewed Sherk afterward, saying he wasn't surprised he won since he trained seven months for the fight, but gave credit to Florian for putting up a great fight. He said everybody but him understimated Florian.
FINISH: Sherk via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 50-45) to win the vacant Lightweight Title.
STAR RATING (***-): Good fight, best of the night easily. The rounds seemed like carbon copies of each other, so it was a little numbing in that respect to watch, but enough blood and brutality to keep it interesting overall. Florian showed great fighting spirit from underneath, and his standup roundhouse kicks to the body were impressive. Sherk deserved to win, though, no doubt.
RAMIFICATIONS: Florian showed he was underestimated, but Sherk deserved to win. Florian will get another title shot some day, but it's going to take some wins on the undercard and signs of improvement in certain areas. It's hard to imagine that a rematch between these two would go any differently anytime soon.
5 -- RICH FRANKLIN (32, 6-1) vs. ANDERSON SILVA (31, 6-2) -- Middleweight Title match
FIRST ROUND: Anderson came out first and looked calm, confident, and collected. By contrast, Franklin walked to the ring, with a shiner under his right eye, like he was on his way to the back after getting KO'd in a sudden, decisive knockout. He looked intimidated and leery. Once he got to the ring, he perked up a bit, but hardly looked relaxed or confident. He actually looked like Troy Aikman often did on the sidelines for the Dallas Cowboys after suffering a concussion, just dazed and confused, not a dominant 22-1 fighter. Silva gave Franklin the stare of death from across the ring during the ring intros. They were tentative with their initial stand-up, testing each other's reach and speed and timing. Silva just grabbed Franklin behind the neck with a Mua Thai clinch and held him and Franklin had no answer. Silva gave him a series of body shots with knees and punches. It was bizarre because Franklin just couldn't get out of it and yet Silva seemed completely calm and steady with a deliberate, methodical offense. Silva then destroyed Franklin's nose with a knee - absolutely obliterated it - and Franklin just staggered backward and at that point the fight was over. Silva threw a roundhouse kick that hit Franklin hard with his shin. Franklin went down with a subsequent knee to the side of the head and the ref called the fight. Silva balled as he returned to his corner and celebrated his win. Franklin sat on a chair in the ring and reacted when he saw on the big screen a close-up of his badly misalligned nose, obviously broken from the knee.
Couture interviewed Silva, who through a translator said that he is overjoyed and he feels UFC is his home. He said he will do whatever he can to help the sport. He said he was thinking of his family back home and how hard he worked for them to win this title. Couture interviewed Franklin who said wins and losses come, but he'll go home, heal up, train, and work his way up through the rankings again. He said he wasn't expecting Silva to be so strong in the clinch. In fact, he said he thought that would be his sweet spot, but it wasn't.
FINISH: Silva via TKO at 3:59 to capture the UFC Middleweight Title.
STAR RATING (***-): Incredible showing by Anderson. The magnitude of the fight and the adrenaline rush of watching such a dominant win moves this into the three-star area. I really thought Franklin looked defeated on his way to the ring. Not that it meant anything, as I think Franklin was destined to lose no matter how he looked or felt coming in. I suspect if it comes out that something in Franklin's personal life took him out of his training or off his game, or if he had a more serious injury than what was known, then this weak showing may be more easily explained.
RAMIFICATIONS: UFC will make a lot of money on Silva's title defenses if he gets a string of wins against opponents with strong credentials. Matt Hughes challenging Silva would be a huge PPV draw. Franklin's impressive-until-now UFC run means he's going to be a force to watch on the mid-card as he tries to earn another title shot with a string of two or three impressive victories over other contenders. Silva's victory celebration and emotional reaction was great television.
A -- JUSTIN JAMES (29, 5-10) vs. CLAY GUIDA (25, 5-7) - Prelim Fight Lightweight Division
FIRST ROUND: Clay didn't want to strike, and took James down early. Clay scored with a straight down punch to James's face right on target. A minute later James slipped on an armbar for a near submission. Couture said Clay was practically a contortionist. Clay amazingly escaped as the round came to a close. It can't help Clay fight that he has more hair in his face than Steve Nash. Round to Guida barely, if only because the impressive submission escape offset the submission attempt by James from a point perspective and even psychologically for the fighters.
SECOND ROUND: Clay got James down again early. He had to avoid some upkick attempts by James. Clay was relentless with his offense, including a double hammer to James's chest, which was unorthodox. After a barrage of rapid-fire punches, James turned onto his stomach. Clay then applied a sleeper and got the quick tapout.
FINISH: Clay Guida via tapout at 4:42 of round two.
STAR RATING (**+): Nice fight, if not repetitive with Clay Guida on top the vast majority just relentlessly attacking James before scoring a nice submission.
RAMIFICATIONS: Clay Guida has the type of look and charisma that UFC loves since he stands out from the shaved head/short haired serious fighters that populate this sport. He's got a style where you know it's unlikely to be boring. He probably earned a main card fight on a future PPV or TV special. James looked good enough to get another look on a prelim card.
-Goldberg and Couture wrapped up the show.
OVERALL: Silva's performance was historical in its dominance, and that cliche was just amazing to watch as it incapacitated Franklin. I'm curious if word gets out about whether Franklin had mental or physical issues headed into the fight. The last prelim fight was enjoyable, but otherwise it's not a show you'd play for friends to convince them UFC is the most exciting sport in the world. Not even close.
FINAL THOUGHT: Not that they needed to, but I was surprised they didn't do more to promote the actual personalities in the two main events of November's PPV. I think Dana White thinks the UFC fans know these four and there's no need to bog down a live show with a ton of hype, but they made more time for a paid promo spot for "Saw 3" than they did promoting their next PPV, which only had a few mentions during and between fights, but no video features or interviews.
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