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Friday, Jun 06, 2003

Ufc 43 A Monster Meltdown:couture Becomes 3-time Champion, Belfort Is Back

Out-striking the striker
UFC 43 A Monster Meltdown:
Couture Becomes 3-Time Champion, Belfort Is Back

By Loretta Hunt

Liddell post-fight

In a triumphant return to Las Vegas tonight, UFC 43: Meltdown tore through the Thomas & Mack Arena with a hurricane of excitement. 9,464 hungry fans turned out to be wowed, amazed, and most importantly entertained. Mission accomplished. 43 provided a healthy mix of action-packed fights, complete with battles of skill, tests of will, and surprise endings to boot. At the top of the list, underdog Randy Couture’s decimation of striking king Chuck Liddell for the UFC Light-Heavyweight Interim belt, a rousing performance by returning Vitor Belfort, and a boxing slugfest compliments of Tra Telligman and Pedro Rizzo.

Here’s the breakdown:

In a main event to end all others (until the next show of course), Randy Couture proved that no one is ever out of the game if the will is there to win. Turning 40 years old in a week and a half, Couture made UFC history again tonight, earning the third title of his already illustrious career. From the start, Couture looked poised and on the attack of opponent Chuck
Liddell, the number one contender for the light-heavyweight title for almost the last two years and one of the best strikers to grace the entire sport. Former Olympic-level wrestler Couture got the takedown early on, and as expected, the always-slippery Liddell escaped almost immediately to his feet. But for every kick or punch the Iceman fired off, Couture had an
answer, landing jabs and crosses that hit their mark. Couture took some damage closing in for his clinches, but made it worth his while with some penetrating knees. The result? An evenly-matched, gripping first round. Round two saw Couture pick up even more steam, as he continued to land punches and performed a beautiful trip that truly jarred the Iceman. Unable to get up as quickly as he had in the previous round, Liddell was starting to show damage and fatigue. Couture shot it out of the park in the third, taking Liddell down with a raw viciousness to gain mount and the TKO referee stoppage. Liddell will be back, but tonight was simply not his night. Couture takes home the belt at 2:47 in round three. Tito Ortiz, where are you?

Kimo choking Tank
Kimo choking Tank

In the co-main event, UFC heavyweight veterans Kimo and David "Tank" Abbott returned to the arena that brought them both infamy. Abbott was coming off a disappointing showing at UFC 41 after alomst five years out of the Octagon. Kimo had not fought with the event since UFC 16 and had turned in an unimpressive performance in his last MMA fight over a year ago. It was a battle based more on nostalgia than anything else, but it sure appealed to the crowd present nonetheless. At the bell, Kimo immediately shot in for the takedown but Tank’s wrestling background served him well as he defended with the sprawl. A scramble for position brought both men to the ground with Kimo gaining half mount. The determined Hawaiian worked to mount and then to side choke. Abbott held tough for about thirty seconds, but a tapout came before Kimo could put his trapped opponent to sleep. Tank’s UFC comeback has been an incredibly bumpy one and maybe it’s time to call this
little experiment a day. To Kimo’s credit, he was the better man tonight, but if he is to continue a run in the current heavyweight class, he’s going to have to brush up, for Abbott is not a fair representation of what is out there waiting for him. Kimo improves his UFC record to 2-3.

For the swing match tonight, Texan Yves Edwards had a much harder time trying to finish unknown opponent Eddie Ruiz than most would have thought. In fact, the tough-as-nails Ruiz rode out the storm for a decision loss after three rounds, with Edwards throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him. It looked like it was over early for Ruiz in the first round, when
Edward’s overwhelming experience and skill landed him in the mount. Ruiz gave his back for the rear naked choke easily, but surprisingly, the teammate of Tank Abbott defended it well. Into the second, Edwards was landing kicks and knees that would have floored most other lightweight opponents, but Ruiz again held on, working his wrestling when he landed yet again in Edward’s rear naked choke attempt. By the third round, it was becoming obvious that Ruiz was one tough SOB when he escaped a tight triangle choke, but both fighters kept the action going and, more importantly, the audience entertained to the bell. Edwards get the unanimous decision (30-27 all).

Although their fight tonight ended in a draw, Ian "The Machine" Freeman and Vernon "Tiger" White should have much to be proud of. In a fast-paced three round odyssey, both men showed what the pros can really do if given the
chance. White showed an especially aggressive round one, complete with takedowns and strikes (diving) into Freeman’s guard. Freeman later answered with a throw of his own and worked his elbows and strikes from above as well. Round two, both men enjoyed positional dominance by taking each other’s backs and attempting submissions, but it was clear neither one was
willing to give up the win. If anything was going to get them, it would be the fatigue of keeping up such a furious pace. With a bold spinning back fist to start out round three, White showed unwavering confidence and eventually got the mount. From the mount, they went to a showdown of the heelhook attempts, and from there it was back to their feet to finish out
the round strong. The crowd loved it all, as they should. Freeman and White share the split draw (30-27, 29-28, 29-29).

In a fight that every diligent MMA fan had hoped and prayed for, the Vitor Belfort of lore made his return to the Octagon tonight. In his match-up with first-time UFC entry Marvin "The Beastman" Eastman, Belfort came out calm, cool, and collected– while opponent Eastman seemed, quite simply, "jacked." Former Muay Thai champion Eastman threw off a few high kicks, losing his balance at one point to bounce right into his opponent’s body, but Belfort did not bite. Instead, he waited for Eastman to shoot in for the takedown and firmly secured his arms around his lunging opponent’s neck. Delivering two knees that sent Eastman to the ground and against the fence, the Brazilian finished the bout with a slew of hard-hitting strikes from the guard. The Phenom is back. Belfort by TKO via referee stoppage 1:10 into round one.

From strange to bizarre, the heavyweight stand-off between local favorite Frank Mir and Wes "the Project" Sims proved another perplexing fight in the end. Sims inexperience shown through right off the bat, as he ignored the cordial glove tapping and came charging in at his opponent. Mir scored an easy double-leg takedown on his 6’10" adversary. From there, Mir went right to the arm bar, but Sim’s brute strength kept him alive. Transitioning to side control and then the mount, Mir began to tee off, but the tapout wizard wanted to finish with his weapon of choice. From side choke to armbar again, it looked like Mir finally had the resilient giant, but Sims responded by lifting Mir and slamming him off his limb–clutching the fence as he intensely stomped down on Mir on his neck and face. An outright intentional foul, Sims was immediately separated from his downed opponent and handed the disqualification. Sims true calling may be pro wrestling.
Mir gets the win via disqualification.

The match-up between Matt Lindland- Faliniko Vitale, the second offering of the evening, will go down as one of those oddities of the sport, one of those fights that is referenced for its utter unlikability. Both middleweights came out early on with some wild punches that didn’t land, but Vitale did get in close enough with one set to warrant Lindland go in for
the takedown. Vitale stabilized himself nicely along the fence and both men literally wrestled for position along the Octagon-side. Lindland eventually got hold of the Hawaiian’s upper body and went for a throw, with Vitale fighting all the way. Unfortunately, Lindland landed on his head, instantly knocking himself out. Vitale acquired mount and fired off a shot, but the Olympic wrestler was long gone. Vitale upsets in the first with a KO win.

Rizzo vs. Telligman
Rizzo vs. Telligman

From his first punch, a clean right jab, it was clear that Tra Telligman’s last year and a half as a professional boxer were going to work for him tonight. Round one hosted some of the most technical stand-up action the sport has yet to offer, but what made things even more appetizing was the fact that opponent Pedro Rizzo, who had lost 4 of his last 5 fights, was
giving out just as much as he was taking. Telligman’s striking combos enabled the feisty Lion’s Den fighter to put the Brazilian in the trouble early on with a knockdown was against the fence, but Rizzo clinched like his life depended on it and the fight moved on. Telligman’s demise came in round two with a looping left hook that sent him off balance and against the fence. Rizzo was there to capitalize, but "Trauma" got to his feet, turning the tables enough with some shots for The Rock to go in for the takedown. In Telligman’s guard Rizzo worked his elbows and strikes, but his real
intention was tire his opponent out. Satisfied with his handiwork, Rizzo disengaged and Telligman got to his feet. Rizzo landed some low kicks and some connecting punches, while Tellgiman kept firing back some great punches as well. A truly exciting fight, it finally ended when a large cut down the bridge of Telligman’s nose brought on the doctor’s stoppage. Rizzo is awarded the TKO via doctor’s stoppage 4:25 in round two.

UFC 43: Meltdown Results:

  • Pedro Rizzo def. Tra Telligman- 4:25 Rd 2 TKO (Doctor’s stoppage)
  • Faliniko Vitale def. Matt Lindland- 1:56 Rd1 KO (due to Lindland’s head impacting mat)
  • Frank Mir def. Wes Sims- 2:56 Rd 1 Disqualification by intentional foul (Sims stomped downed opponent in neck and face)
  • Vernon White drew Ian Freeman- Split draw
  • Vitor Belfort def. Marvin Eastman- 1:10 Rd 1 TKO (Referee stoppage)
  • Yves Edwards def. Eddie Ruiz- Unanimous decision (30-27 all)
  • Kimo def. David "Tank" Abbott- 1:59 Rd 1 Tapout to side choke
  • Randy Couture def. Chuck Liddell- 2:47 Rd 3 TKO (Referee stoppage)

posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 8:00 pm
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