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Saturday, Aug 26, 2006

Ufc 62: The Song Remains The Same

UFC 62: The Song Remains the Same
Liddell stops Sobral and Griffin takes unanimous decision over Bonnar in main event rematches.
By Dustin Lee DePue

Las Vegas, August 26 — It was deja vu for MMA fans Saturday night as the two rematches highlighting the UFC 62 card; Light-Heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell versus Renato "Babalu" Sobral and TUF season one finalists Forrest Griffin versus Stephan Bonnar, ended in similar fashion to the original fights.

Going into the fight, everyone knew what Chuck Liddell was going to do. He would punch and punch until Sobral slept peacefully on the canvas. It was Sobral, however, who landed the first important punch of the fight. After a few test jabs by both fighters, Sobral threw a big overhand shot that connected and hurt Liddell. Sobral immediately pressed the attack following Liddell around the octagon throwing wild punches in an attempt to end the fight early. Sobral was on him like a wild dog trying to smother Liddell’s counterattack with punches that became increasingly sloppy. Still, Sobral looked to be outgunning Liddell, that is, until Liddell started to backpedal and throw counter shots. Sobral, perhaps too focused on the idea of a quick win, walked right into a beautiful counter left hook followed by an even bigger uppercut that put him on the mat. Liddell immediately pounced, hovering over Sobral and raining down bombs as Sobral tried desperately to defend. It started to look as though Sobral would survive despite taking some heavy shots, but a giant right hand landed flush on Sobral’s chin, followed by three more big right hands that forced referee John McCarthy to step in at 1:35 of round one.
In the co-main event TUF season 1 finalists Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar tried to recreate the magic of their first epic battle. No six figure contracts were on the line this time around but both fighters had plenty to fight for as both were coming off of losses.

As the fight started Griffin looked extremely calm and composed. Griffin held the center of the ring, stalking Stephan Bonnar, who looked tight and awkward. Griffin worked jabs and low kicks as he moved in closer and closer to Bonnar, who’s timing was off. Bonnar did land a few nice counter shots as Griffin came in as well as a spinning back kick but Griffin’s aggressiveness and ring generalship had Bonnar on the defensive for most of the round. As the bell sounded for the end of the round it was clear that Griffin was on his game and Bonnar was going to have to adjust. The few counter shots he had landed lent hope that he might be able to come out with a big second round like in their first fight.

The second round started with the fighters trading low kicks. Griffin continued to stalk Bonnar, landing crisp straight punches, however, as in their first fight, Bonnar started to find his rhythm. He got the better of Griffin on a few of their many exchanges and opened a cut on Griffin’s cheek. Gaining confidence, Bonnar did some stalking of his own. Still, Griffin was largely beating Bonnar to the punch with his faster, straighter punches. After the round ended Eddie Bravo had the bout scored 10-9 for both rounds in favor of Griffin.

It looked like Bonnar was going to have to finish Griffin in the third if he wanted to win. As such, Bonnar turned up the heat a notch, landing a nice overhand right and spinning back kick to set the pace for a busy round 3. Griffin answered as he had the whole fight, with jabs and right straights. His aggression surpassed that of Bonnar and once again Bonnar was backing up. As the round was closing, Griffin cut loose and started throwing wildly, landing a big right hook and an overhand left that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Bonnar backed and countered, sneaking punches through Griffins looping hooks. Griffin, still pressing forward, ate a nice counter from Bonnar and clinched as the bell rang.

Griffin was clearly the more improved fighter. He beat Bonnar to the punch the majority of the time and really worked the octagon like a pro, allowing him to control the pace of the standup and keep pressure on Bonnar. Bonnar was game but not as aggressive and not as sharp. He had his moments but couldn’t keep his performance consistent. The judges each scored the bout 30-27 awarding Forrest Griffin the unanimous decision.

Nick Diaz shook his losing streak finishing opponent Josh Neer with a wicked Kimura. Diaz stayed very busy throughout the fight, piling on points with lengthy combinations and knees from the clinch. Neer, for the most part, just stood and took it. Perhaps playing possum, Neer would cover and wait out Diaz’s punches before finally exploding with powerful hooks. While Neer threw harder, crisper looking punches, he didn’t throw nearly enough of them, and few landed. In the second round, those crisp looking hooks grew wild and desperate as Neer began to tire. Diaz’s best punches followed as he started to throw with more power, landing with straight rights and a big hook that was his best punch of the fight. In the third round, Neer went for a standing guillotine. Diaz pushed off the cage and took Neer down, landing in top position where he worked ground and pound to open Neer up for the fight ending Kimura at 1:43 of the third round.

The opening fight of the PPV featured Hermes Franca against Jamie Varner. Fans no doubt were happy to see Franca on the televised portion of the PPV for the first time in years. The fight opened with Varner catching Franca’s knee from the clinch and slamming him to the mat. On the ground, Franca used his superior jiu-jitsu to defend against Varner’s big punches and nearly secure several submissions including an omoplata. As the fight wore on, it was clear that Varner was the physically stronger of the two. He was able to take Franca down often and build points working ground and pound. Franca, for his part, was able to avoid any significant damage, but with points piling up against him, he needed to do something big.

After two similar rounds of Varner putting on the pressure, Hermes opened the third round by pressing the attack. Varner attempted to take Hermes down but was met with a big knee to the face that rocked him. As Franca pushed to finish, Varner literally ran away from him, prompting Big John McCarthy to step in and call a controversial time out to deduct a point from Varner. While the deduction was justified — and perhaps the fight should have just been called right there — taking a timeout to deduct the point seemed counterproductive to the punishment since it gave Varner valuable time to recover. When the fight resumed, Varner was able to get a takedown and even get Franca’s back. After a series of reversals, Varner was back on top, only to fall victim to an omoplata that Franca transitioned into a straight armbar that finished the fight and appeared to break Varner’s arm. In his interview, Franca, who revealed that it was his birthday, said that the timeout didn’t bother him or affect the fight in any way. The birthday boy wins via armbar at 3:31 of round 3
Cheick Kongo defeated the "Hungarian Nightmare" Christian Wellisch in a battle of Heavyweights in the second televised fight of the night. The 6’4" 230-pound Kongo looked surprisingly agile for a man his size, walking around Wellisch’s body to avoid an armbar early in the first round. Standing, Kongo punished Wellisch with knees to the head and body and awkward but powerful punches that had Wellisch going for a second takedown. A big knee on the chin put knocked Wellisch’s head back and put him down. The ref jumped in before Kongo could deliver any more damage, giving him the TKO victory. Kongo looked strong but will need time to smooth out his game. With slim pickings for the big boys in the UFC, look to see Kongo again in future events.

In the preliminary action shown after the main event, Eric Schafer looked impressive on the ground putting Canadian Rob Macdonald to sleep with an arm triangle choke at 2:26 of round one. Wilson Gouveia took down Wes Combs and easily moved from side control to the mount where Combs gave up his back and succumbed to Gouveia’s rear naked choke at 3:23 of round 1.

UFC 62 Full Results:

  • Chuck Liddell def Renato Sobral – TKO (Ref stoppage – strikes) 1:35 R1
  • Forrest Griffin def Stephan Bonnar – Unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Nick Diaz def Josh Neer – Submission (Kimura) 1:42 R3
  • Cheick Kongo def Christian Wellisch – KO (Knee) 2:51 R1
  • Hermes Franca def James Varner – Submission (Armbar) 3:31 R3
  • Yushin Okami def Alan Belcher – Unanimous decision
  • David Heath def Cory Walmsley – Submission (Rear-naked choke) 2:32 R1
  • Wilson Gouveia def Wes Combs – Submission (Rear-naked choke) 3:23 R1
  • Eric Schafer def Rob MacDonald – Submission (Arm-triangle choke) 2:26 R1

Weight Classes and International Fighters
Develop Branding at AFC 18

By Keith Mills

August 26, Boca Raton, FL — AFC just keeps getting better. Since the beginning, AFC has stood out not only as the most significant MMA event in the South but for the lighter weight classes and a higher than their competition level of international talent. This show, held at the Florida University Gymnasium, pushed that perception further with a total of six out of twenty-two fighters hailing Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Cuba, Ukraine, and France with Victor Pimenta from Brazil and Luis Palomino from Peru being the most impressive. Also making this card stand out was the fact five of the eleven fights took place at lighter weights than UFC holds including a main event with AFC Featherweight Champion Mike Brown in a non-title fight moving up in weight to 149.5 pounds. At the same time as these differences with the pack, AFC continues to conform in other ways, such as this show being the second to take place in a cage. Longtime AFC fans now have only one area in which to complain; the 2-round duration that produces draws such as the one on this card.

AFC 18: Igor Almaida with a knee to the nose of Lee Yakota - Photo by Keith Mills
Almaida with a knee to the nose of Yakota

From a team perspective this show was a feather in the cap of hometown heroes American Top Team. ATT fighters on this card went 4-0 with Mike Bruno, Sam McCoy, Victor Pimenta, and Mike Brown all picking up wins but if you throw in UFC and Pride on the same weekend it is even more amazing ATT went undefeated for as long as they have. The rest of the fighters on this card came from a variety of teams, showing there are fighters rising to the challenge but no organized rivals to ATT in Florida at least at this time.

AFC 18: Mike Brown sinks in a guillotine on Dustin Nease - Photo by Keith Mills
Brown sinks in a guillotine on Nease

Individuals not affiliated with ATT are standing out however. Luis Palomino made quite a splash on AFC 17 and reinforced with this performance that was no fluke as he knocked Mike Soltz down twice before getting the TKO in 0:25. Igor Almaida from Boston was the one making the biggest impression in his victory over Lee Yakota where Igor showed devastating striking and smooth ground work en route to an armbar victory. Overall this was a strong card and a big step forward for ATT.

AFC 18: Luis Palomino with the first of two knockdowns on Mike Soltz within 25 seconds - Photo by Keith Mills
Palomino with the first of two knockdowns on Soltz

AFC 18: Kurt Pellegrino celebrates his victory over Jesse Chilton - Photo by Keith Mills
Pellegrino celebrates his victory

Look for a full report in an upcoming issue of Full Contact Fighter.

Here are the full results:

  • Sam McCoy def. Chauncey Minor by majority decision
  • Rolando Delgado drew David Love
  • Victor Pimenta def. Vadim Kultichnsky 0:27 R1 by armbar
  • Eben Oroz def. John Trent by unanimous decision
  • Heander Rodriguez def. Shane Weinischke by unanimous decision
  • Mike Bruno def. Matt Weiver 0:39 R1 by TKO
  • Igor Almaida def. Lee Yakota 2:47 R1 by armbar
  • Luis Palomino def. Mike Soltz 0:25 R1 by TKO
  • Kurt Pellegrino def. Jesse Chilton 3:35 R1 by guillotine choke
  • Jason Guida def. Anthony Rea by unanimous decision
  • Mike Brown def. Dustin Nease 0:50 R1 by guillotine choke

posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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