UFC 31 Locked and Loaded Summaries
By Aaron Crecy
Tony DeSouza vs. Steve Berger
DeSouza wins by unanimous decision
DeSouza kept the fight on the ground in each round with a series of double leg takedowns. He was the aggressor for most of the fight and was able to withstand several submission attempts. Berger tried heel hooks, ankle locks and arm bars, but DeSouza fought them off and was awarded the decision.
B.J. Penn vs. Joey Gilbert
Penn wins by referee stoppage due to punches at 5:00 of Round 1
Penn overmatched Gilbert in every phase of the fight, landing good shots, executing a strong double leg takedown and easily passing the guard. After taking Gilbert’s back near the end of round one, Penn showered a flurry of punches to his opponent’s unprotected head before the fight was mercifully halted at the bell. Exhibiting tenacity and an array of skills, Penn proved himself worthy of another invitation to the Octagon.
Matt Lindland vs. Ricardo Almeida
Lindland wins by disqualification (three fouls-illegal kicks to face when Lindland was on knee and Almeida was in the guard) at 4:40 0f Round 3.
Almeida spent most of the fight in his guard, thanks to Lindland’s superb takedown skills. But the fight had its share of fireworks, as both fighters landed occasional combinations. Almeida also scored with some solid kicks and knees but could not avoid Lindland’s bodylocks. The Olympic wrestler brought the fans to their feet midway through round two when he threw Almeida in a stunning suplay. Leading on all three judges’ cards, Lindland was well on his way to a unanimous decision when Almeida was disqualified for his third foul-in each of the three rounds, Almeida delivered kicks to the face from the guard position while his opponent was on a knee. These kicks were specifically mentioned in Thursday’s rules meeting, and Almeida even asked for clarification at that time.
Pete Williams vs. Semmy Schilt
Schilt wins TKO at 1:28 of Round 2
After a disappointing first round that saw the 6’10" Schilt simply holding the wrists of his undersized opponent while in the guard, the giant fighter from Holland annihilated Williams with a devastating barrage of kicks and strikes. Williams went down from a kick to the side, and then was felled again after attempting a takedown. Schilt stayed on his feet and forced Williams to stand up and exchange with him once again, ending the fight moments later with several lefts to the head and some vicious kicks for good measure.
Matt Serra vs. Shonie Carter
Carter wins by TKO at 4:51 of Round 3
Serra stormed out of the gate and proceeded to attempt a seemingly endless sequence of submissions. However, Carter was somehow able to escape them all. The domination continued in the standup, as Serra connected with several strong kicks, knees and punches. At the end of round one, Carter missed with a spinning low kick but knocked Serra down with a well-placed forearm as his torso followed through. In round two, Serra seemed to tire and Carter began to strike with increased fervor. Though Carter won round two on all three cards, Serra continued to attempt submission after submission. The third round brought more of the same as Carter tried to keep the fight standing and Serra made every effort to take it to the mat. But with little fuel left in the tank, Serra was largely unable to penetrate Carter’s invigorated defense. With just 15 seconds remaining in the bout, Carter dropped Serra with a spinning elbow to the head, missing the kick and landing the forearm on the follow-through just as he did earlier in the fight. Serra was rendered unconscious and the fight was called with just nine seconds left on the clock.
Chuck Liddell vs. Kevin Randleman
Liddell wins by KO at 1:18 of Round 1
Though Randleman gave every impression that he would take a step toward repairing his fractured reputation with a furious assault on Liddell from the bell, he instead chose to circle the ring in the first minute of the fight. Then, after a brief clinch and a failed takedown attempt, Randleman found himself on the receiving end of a well-timed left hook. The former UFC champion stumbled backward and fell to the mat with his hands at his sides, clearly dazed. Liddell pursued, landing several more punches before referee John McCarthy could step in to stop the carnage. When his head cleared several moments later, Randleman flew into a rage and pushed McCarthy several times, obviously distraught by what he felt was an early stoppage. However, replays supported McCarthy, as Randleman was in no position to protect himself from Liddell’s attack.
Pat Miletich vs. Carlos Newton (World Welterweight Title Bout)
Newton wins by submission (choke) at 2:57 of Round 3
What began as a textbook display of mixed martial arts fighting by one of the UFC’s winningest fighters ended with a dramatic conclusion that saw the Middleweight Championship change hands for the first time in several years. Miletich fought effectively, controlling the fight with hard left-right combinations and well-placed kicks. Primarily fighting from their feet, Miletich and Newton maintained a torrid pace. The game Newton pressed the attack, dropping into double leg takedowns when in trouble. In the decisive third round, Miletich stepped up the pace and seemed to hurt Newton with several strikes and kicks. In an effort to quell Miletich’s momentum, Newton managed a single leg takedown while defending a kick. Several moments later, Miletich attempted to escape Newton’s mount and return to his feet. However, Newton scrambled and ended up behind Miletich, who tried to turn and face his opponent but failed to backstep through. Thus, Newton applied a simple naked choke from the side, an extremely tight headlock the caused Miletich to tap. While some may say that it was a fluke, Newton displayed enormous grit and determination, along with his usual variety of unorthodox techniques.
Randy Couture vs. Pedro Rizzo (World Heavyweight Title Bout)
Couture wins by unanimous decision
What was billed as a war between two of the world’s toughest heavyweights proved to be that and more. Couture nearly ended the fight in round one by perfectly executing his gameplan, which was to strike from the clinch position and then take Rizzo to the mat and land more strikes from the mount. Doing just that, Couture pinned Rizzo against the fence and hurt the Brazilian with a shower of ill-tempered forearms and punches. Bloodied but unbowed, Rizzo lasted the round by the narrowest of margins. In round two, just as the crowd expected Couture to apply the finishing brush strokes to his fistic masterpiece, Rizzo turned the tables with an unrelenting onslaught of kicks to the left leg. Visibly wearied and bleeding profusely from a broken nose, Couture seemed ready to topple at any moment.
Though unable to take Rizzo down due to a surprisingly effective sprawl and forced to remain on his feet, Couture somehow survived the round. The third round was difficult to call, as both fighters seemed to have punched themselves out. However, Couture was able to score a takedown and remained in the mount for the latter half of the round. A rejuvenated Couture opened round four with an array of uppercuts and knees from the clinch, convincingly dominating the first two minutes. After several unsuccessful takedown attempts, Couture finally took Rizzo to the mat near the end of the round, landing occasional punches and forearms. The tension-filled fifth round left the crowd nearly as spent as the fighters. On their feet throughout, Rizzo desperately threw his dangerous right while Couture wisely circled away. Though Couture was dropping his hands, Rizzo was unable to connect effectively. Similarly, Couture was unsuccessful on several takedown efforts. While Rizzo seemed to think he had earned the victory, Couture was rightfully awarded a unanimous decision.