Friday, Dec 31, 2021
UFC 31 Controversy
UFC 31 Controversy
- MMA Detective
Lytes Out Podcast
When speaking to fighters that have since retired, a difficult subject to discuss are the times that they may have fallen on the wrong side of a referee/ Athletic Commission error; what makes the topic even harder to explore is when the error costs the person an opportunity to call themselves a World Champion.
In this article we will discuss the often forgotten controversy surrounding the third round in the Pedro Rizzo – Randy Couture UFC 31 title fight
May 4, 2001 is a date that still draws a tear to Pedro Rizzo’s eye
After dominant finishes over Dan Severn and Josh Barnett, stand up specialist Pedro Rizzo found himself in a world title fight against Randy Couture; a man that beat Kevin Randleman… Rizzo’s only loss.
The bout between Randy Couture and Pedro Rizzo had written itself; it was a classic match up featuring the dominant wrestling of Randy Couture against the sprawl and brawl of the Marco Ruas prodigy, Pedro Rizzo.
Many armchair experts such as myself felt that after watching Couture’s impressive performance over Kevin Randleman, combined with Randleman’s wrestling dominance over Rizzo, that a blueprint to victory had already been drawn up for the current champion.
What took place at the Trump Taj Mahal that night would have reaching consequences that would go far beyond just having someone’s hand raised.
When the fight started the combatants knew each of the other fighter’s strategies, Couture needed a take down and in order to win,Rizzo had to keep the bout on his feet and away from the fence.
Halfway through the first round Couture pushed Rizzo against the cage and got the take down that he had been aggressively pursuing.
While in top position, Randy Couture was landing a flurry of punches at will; if one would refer to Randy’s pace as “frenzied” it would be an understatement.
With Big John McCarthy hovering over the two shouting at a badly bloodied Pedro Rizzo to improve his position, the time in the 1st round had run out.
Battered, Pedro Rizzo made his way back to his corner and was met by a very animated Marco Ruas who was screaming at Pedro in Portuguese; Most people at this point would have felt defeated and beaten; But, not the man who grew up in the favelas of Brazil known as the King of the Streets.
When I asked Pedro, what Ruas was yelling at him; Rizzo explained “he (Couture) is tired, he has nothing left. All you have to do is follow the game plan and you are the champion!.”
To open the second round a visibly tired Couture circled into a stiff body kick levied by Rizzo; it was followed with Pedro landing heavy punches and monster kicks one of which crushed the nose of an already fading Randy Couture.
In round 3 a physically debilitated and visibly fatigued Couture left his corner to face a newly confident Pedro Rizzo; mid round, Big John McCarthy called for a break in the action in order that the doctor would be able to examine the nose of the exhausted champion.
When the cage door opened in order to allow the medical examiner in, Couture was met by his cornerman Dan Henderson that had a towel and water in hand; when the doctor was able to examine Couture; rather than face him, the champion bent over and was met with Henderson crouching underneath him, encouraging him to take deep breaths. Moments later the doctor finally got a chance to tend to the wounded Couture and it was quickly determined that Randy could continue.
Prior to the extended break we had a fighter that was barely hanging on afterward we were greeted by a guy that landed a take down and was able to control Rizzo for the remainder of the round… From a judges perspective, this round must have left the conflicted
Rounds 4 was not very eventful from either fighter, but with Couture landing a take down it certainly secured the round in his favor.
Round 5 was slow paced but in the final 15 seconds Rizzo landed a leg kick that had Couture reeling, while Rizzo was attempting to finish the champion.
At the end of the fight it was a tale of two corners; on one side you had Marco Ruas telling Rizzo that he was the world champion and on the other, Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson were telling Randy that he had a good performance and that there was nothing to be ashamed of.
When it was time for Bruce Buffer to announce the result; it was Randy Couture that had his hand raised… It seemed that even he was surprised to hear his own name being said.
When examining the score cards, round 3 was the issue where all of the judges gave it to Couture…
When Talking to Pedro about the third round and the importance that the extended break that Randy had received, he didn’t budge on how it may have impacted the fight; he emotionally stated that he doesn’t normally talk about the fight anymore. Rizzo also confided that the outcome of that bout made him seek therapy due to the fact that the outcome of that fight has haunted him due to the fact that his hand was not raised that night.
Although currently retired from fighting Pedro Rizzo continues to give back to the community by running the non for profit gym Usina de Campeoes (Power Plant of Champion) that is run on donations that give poor children the opportunity to train for free.
To listen to the full unedited interview, please check out the Lytes Out Podcast and enjoy listening to MMA history featuring the great Pedro Rizzo.
To listen to the entire interview with Pedro Rizzo go to the following links
posted by Geovanny @ 2:29 am