Shamrock Tops UFC 48 Highlights, Mir Catches Sylvia for Heavyweight Crown
By Loretta Hunt
Sometimes you have to leave it to the veterans. Despite some fans concerns that the headliner for tonight’s UFC 48 might come up short in terms of zest and excitement, it was 40-year-old Lion’s Den legend Ken Shamrock that pulled out one of the more memorable performances tonight from the Mandalay Bay arena in Las Vegas on an otherwise average night of MMA action. Tackling an opening bell rush of strikes from fellow trailblazer Kimo, a crisper-looking Shamrock reversed his heavier opponent along the fence. The two clinched Greco-Roman style and traded knees as they see-sawed around the cage for dominance. And then with one resounding right knee, Kimo was down and apparently out, too stunned to launch any defense as Shamrock jumped in for the finish. Referee "Big" John McCarthy was right there to save Kimo any further punishment as he strained to gather his wits about him. The crowd embraced their ultimate hero warmly for his bravo performance and can look forward to the impending Shamrock-Ortiz rematch that the two fighters began to pitch tonight at the post-fight press conference.
If a little disappointed initially by the speedy outcome of Tim Sylvia and Frank Mir’s heavyweight title bout, the fans were quickly educated with multiple interviews and repeated footage to clarify exactly why referee Herb Dean jumped in just fifty seconds into round one to separate the two. Dean was probably the first to see that Mir’s armlock on Sylvia had injured the 6’8 fighter’s tangled appendage substantially enough for him to call the fight, and he paid for his quick decision with a hearty roar of boos that echoed through the arena. It was an awkward few moments as the sequence was contemplated. Sylvia did his best to hide any pain or discomfort he was most likely in, encouraging the crowd to continue their disdain for the stoppage. It put a bit of a damper on Mir’s victory, but the 25-year old took the confusion in stride. If their was still any doubt with Dean’s decision, the irrefutable proof came a bit later when UFC president Dana White provided Sylvia’s medical condition at the post-fight press conference: two fractures to the ulna bone that will most likely need surgery. Now 7-1 in the UFC, Mir was promoted to black belt status under longtime trainer Ricardo Pires following the fight.
Welterweight Frank Trigg made fairly quick work of submission specialist Dennis Hallman in their four minute scuffle this evening. The pair’s first clash over a year and a half ago had been an evenly-matched endeavor, until Hallman was caught with a controversial low blow and could not continue. Tonight’s results, however, left far less to question. Trigg was the dominator, landing a crisp punch to gain his opening for a quick takedown into Hallman’s guard. Hallman did manage to secure a leg for a lock, but Trigg countered with more punches as he wiggled his way out. Referee Mario Yamasaki did well in stopping the play when Hallman took five or six consecutive unanswered hits to the head. Trigg moves to the head of the class with this undisputable victory.
Although it looked like Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Renato "Charuto" Verissimo came the closest to finishing things with a tight triangle choke in the first round, it was Miletich Martial Art’s fighter Matt Hughes who walked away with the unanimous decision win tonight. On the comeback trail following his UFC 46 loss of the welterweight title to Verissimo’s student BJ Penn, Hughes’ takedowns through each round were sound, but Verissimo’s slick ground game always kept Hughes from gaining enough motion to dispatch his effective ground and pound game. Verissimo worked a high guard from his back with confidence and ease, minimizing Hughes’ punches substantially with numerous submission attempts, but the Illinois native demonstrated just why he reigned as champion for two and a half years by staying focused and landing his shots when he could. With submission attempts not a factor in judging "effective grappling," Verissimo did not do enough to outscore the Division one wrestler’s strikes and takedowns. Hughes gets the unanimous decision win.
To kick off the live broadcast, Evan Tanner came in with tight game plan to virtually nullify anything Phil Baroni had intended to throw his way. Tentative at first, Tanner did his absolute best just to stay out of the way of his dangerous opponent’s patented opening barrage of powerful strikes by backpedaling away. Eating a punch along the way, Tanner closed the distance and got his first of many takedowns for the evening. Pinning Baroni to the fence, Tanner lined up his target for some ground and pound punishment, but the New York Badass collected his strength and got to his feet. Tanner’s strategy was working though, as Baroni just couldn’t nail that one punch he needed to turn the tide. The two collided sporadically in the clinch with Tanner’s knees and Baroni’s punches vying for superiority, but the first round came to a close with the quiet Team Quest fighter clearly in the lead. In round two, Tanner took a "hit and run" tactic, landing a punch quickly and turning his back to get away, which Baroni would capitalize on later as he tagged him in retreat. But, Tanner was still landing far more than an uncharacteristically subdued Baroni could reciprocate. Realizing he was down going into round three, Baroni made his strongest case when he finally caught Tanner with a combo of punches and pinned him momentarily against the cage. Tanner sidestepped and jumped in again for the takedown, giving him the time he needed to recuperate.
In preliminary action, Long Islander Matt Serra continues to show critics that he is more than just a Brazilian jiu-jitsu pro. He wrestled and ground and pounded spunky opponent Ivan Menjivar all the way through to his three round decision victory, and although his punches didn’t seem to pack enough power to finish the job, Menjivar undoubtedly had his hands full. Serra improves his UFC record to 4-3.
Although it wasn’t the most action-packed affair, Idaho’s Lion’s Den rep Trevor Prangley’s victory over Curtis Stout was clear-cut and definitive in the end. Focusing more on his Muay Thai in the past, Missouri native Stout had obviously come to stand. Unfortunately for him, opponent Prangley, an alternate for the South African Olympic wrestling team, had other plans. Prangley scored the takedown easily and immediately went to work in Stout’s guard with body shots. Maneuvering to side control, the two were eventually re-stood after a lapse of activity.
Stout landed one punch as Prangley pounced forward again, but Stout sprawled to stay up, landing an illegal knee to Prangley’s head while he was technically considered downed (Prangley was on his knees at the time). Trying to capitalize in his only dominant moment, Stout threw another quick knee to Prangley’s chest as he fell back. Prangley recovered and went on to catch the less experienced Curtis with a modified hold he said he had picked up in his wrestling days.
In the opening bout, newcomer Jay Hieron was simply overwhelmed by his more experienced Canadian counterpart Georges St. Pierre. Although both came out aggressive with a trade of jabs and straights, it was the St. Pierre who clearly had the advantage standing, landing a solid right hook and left follow-up before wrestler Hieron dove in for the save. Hieron was unable to get his opponent down though, and still looked dazed as "Rush" fired off another right hook and a left-right combo to bring him down. Hieron might have eaten an elbow or fist too many with a slightly slow referee stoppage, it was clear that St. Pierre was the better man tonight. Coupled with his dominating victory over judo-infused Karo Parisyan back at UFC 46, the pleasant, professional St. Pierre looks to be a future star for the welterweight ranks.
UFC 48: Payback Results