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Combative Commentary - UFC 81 Review

Posted by Blake Murphy on February 6, 2008

This article has been submitted by MMA expert Kyle “Blake gave me the sickest nickname, The Anti Virus” Norton.

UFC 81 - Breaking Point had a ton of potential to be a horrible card. Lesnar could have come out and laid on Mir for 3 rounds, Sylvia could have tip-toed around the ring for 5 rounds like he usually does, and Marquardt-Horn could have turned out to be the snooze-fest/stalemate that so often occurs when two elite level grapplers meet in the Octagon. All signs pointed to boring but that’s the beauty of MMA: it’s completely unpredictable. Only one match went to a decision and that was the barnburner between Tyson Griffin and Gleison Tibau. There were so many submissions that this event could have been called UFC 81 – Guillotine Choke (Nogueira, Almeida and Horn all won by Guillotine). Overall, this weekend’s fights were exciting, unpredictable and just plain fun to watch.

Sylvia vs. Nogueira
In the main event, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira became the first man to win both a Pride and UFC Championship belt and boy, did he earn it. After almost being knocked out early by the box-legged wonder, “Minotauro,” clearly still rocked, battled through the first round. With the clock winding down, Nogueira scored a single-leg trip-takedown and easily moved to side-control just as the round expired. This was a sign that if Big Nog could get the fight to the floor, it could be over quickly. Sylvia continued to push the pace through much of the second round as it looked like “Minotauro” had a great deal of trouble dealing with the “Maineiac’s” reach. Rodrigo used his jab well, however, and appeared to gain confidence as the round progressed.

Early in the third, Nogueira attempted an identical single-leg takedown, which was partially stuffed by the 6’-8” Militech fighter. Nogueira pulled half-guard, scored an extremely technical Electric Chair sweep (as Eddie Bravo would be yelling from ring-side) and again passed the amateur-looking guard of Sylvia. As the “Maineiac” rolled to his knees to try to stand up, Nogueira secured a lightning fast, fight ending guillotine choke thereby making history as the first person to win a Pride and UFC belt. This fight really proves two things; Nogueira has had some sort of surgery to replace his jaw with a cement bear trap and Sylvia’s ground game is as weak as everyone suspected.

Lesnar vs. Mir
In the co-main event, ex-professional wrestler Brock Lesnar came storming out of the gates, taking down Frank Mir within seconds of the first round. He was laying some heavy leather as Mir worked from half-guard for a sweep. Referee Steve Mazzagatti stood the fight up because Lesnar was punching to the back of the head and deducted a point from the phallus-tattoed freak show. The fighters again exchanged on the feet and for reasons unbeknownst, Mir was using leg kicks, which Lesnar was trying to snatch up at every opportunity. Lesnar was able to grab one of Mir’s kicks and connect with a right hand, sending Mir to the canvas. It looked like the fight could be over as Lesnar made it rain with fists like Pacman in a strip club.

Mir covered well and snatched an arm, nearly locking in a fight ending arm bar. Lesnar used his ground expertise to escape the lock by flailing and flopping to his back (that was sarcasm for those not-so-grappling-savvy readers). After a short scramble, Mir continued to work from his back for submissions. Lesnar rose to his feet to continue his ground and pound onslaught, but was seemingly unaware that leg locks existed. Mir quickly wrapped up a leg and finished the fight with a relatively sloppy knee-bar. Irony of the night: Lensar being caught with a relatively easy to escape knee-bar with Erik Paulson, the encyclopaedia of leg locks, in his corner.

(Blake’s Note: Irony of the night actually belongs to the face that Lesnar lost his UFC debut to the same move Kurt Angle beat him with at Summerslam in 2003 for the WWE Title)

Marquardt vs. Horn
In the under-card, Nate Marquardt dominated Jeremy Horn on the feet and on the ground. “The Great” landed some good shots in the first round and dropped “Gumby” with a great elbow from the clinch.

Horn survived the round but didn’t have much more luck in the second as he was caught in a standing guillotine early after a scramble on the ground.

Almeida vs. Yundt
Ricardo Almeida faced his very late replacement opponent, Rob Yundt, after Alan Belcher was diagnosed with a severe case of bronchitis. After a short exchange on the feet Almeida score a textbook double-leg takedown and passed Yundt’s guard quickly.

Yundt tried to scramble to his feet, giving “Cachorrao” the opportunity to lock in yet another guillotine. Yundt picked up Almeida, trying to slam his way out of the choke but Almeida simply used the momentum to flip the pair over and tighten the submission.

Grifin vs. Tibau
In the only televised match to go to a decision, Tyson Griffin and Gleison Tibau scrapped it out for three rounds on their feet and on the mat.

Griffin was more accurate and did more damage on the feet, while Tibau was able to score takedowns at will and got the advantage on the ground. The Xtreme Couture product, Griffin, was handed a controversial unanimous decision. UFC match-maker, Joe Silva, assured Tibau that he won the fight and that he would be brought back to fight another day.

In non-televised action, Rob Emerson won a controversial split-decision over Keita Nakamura and Marvin “the Beastman” Eastman won a unanimous decision over Blake’s favorite, Terry Martin. Tim Boetsch took out David Heath and Chris Lytle defeated Kyle Bradley, both by strikes in the first.

A Look Ahead
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s win would set up a huge show down with the ‘other’ heavyweight champion, Randy “The Natural” Couture. However, this fight is unlikely to happen due to Couture’s stated intent to vacate the title and wait for a match-up with Fedor Emilianenko. It seems crazy to me that Couture would forego a fight on his contract, sit on the sidelines for 8 months, and pass up a fight with the number 2 heavyweight in the world.

Frank Mir didn’t look unstoppable against Brock Lesnar but he looked like he was in shape for the first time since 2004 and showed a lot of heart, which he has been criticized for lacking in the past. Mir may have turned the corner and gained a lot of exposure from his fight with Lesnar. With another big test or two, he could be in line for a title shot sooner then people think.

Nate Marquardt’s win over Jeremy Horn doesn’t really get him anywhere. Horn doesn’t have a lot of notoriety with the UFC fans and Marquardt will still have to face one or two tough tests before he gets another title shot. The one thing that could work in Nate’s favour is the lack of depth in the middleweight division. Thales Leites could be a contender soon; Okami could get a title shot if he gets a few more wins without running into Rich Franklin; Martin Kampmann showed a lot of promise before his long lay off; and it would be a long shot to see an inter-promotion match between Silva and Paulo Filho. There are no clear-cut contenders other than Rich “Ace” Franklin and he has already lost to Silva twice.

Tyson Griffin has squeaked out a couple of decisions, but his record would indicate that he is making a strong bid for a title shot. The lightweight division is stacked with talent so he may have to get in line but the young wrestler shouldn’t be in a huge rush, being only 23 years old. There are a ton of great match-ups in the division and another big win or two will make Griffin a lock for a shot at BJ Penn or Sean Sherk.

Ricardo Almeida made short work of Rob Yundt but Yundt had never fought outside of Alaska before, which should give some indication of his level of previous opposition. Almeida is a promising addition to the middleweight division and could make some real noise. A rematch with Nate Marquardt could be in the works but whether or not people still remember their controversial fight 5 years ago is another thing.

This article has been submitted by MMA expert Kyle “Blake gave me the sickest nickname, The Anti Virus” Norton.

One Response to “Combative Commentary - UFC 81 Review”

  1. Blake Murphy Says:

    …and Blake wins two free drinks because of Lesnar!!! and $6.40 on!

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