UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008

UFC 92 is one of the biggest cards I've seen in recent memory, if not the biggest. The three fights I will go over could each easily anchor any card as the main event, and there were no disappointments, but plenty of upsets. This was the sort of event that really confuses me when I hear people are still fans of boxing, because the UFC is so much more exciting than boxing. Where UFC has really excelled and boxing has decisively slowed down is the fact that there are MMA fighters that are becoming household names, while the average person couldn't name two or three boxers.

Quinton Jackson vs Wanderlei Silva

This fight is in the Light Heavyweight Division, and is the third fight overall between Quinton Jackson and Wanderlei Silva. The first two fights between them went to Silva, with both of those fights were in Pride fighting (the main MMA competitor to UFC). These fighters really don't like each other, but it is easy to not like Jackson - he loves running his mouth, and he is extremely flashy. Before the fight began, you could see that Jackson looks much smaller than in prior fights, and Silva is just a mean looking motherfucker. Silva comes into the fight as the favorite, especially since he won the last two times they faced each other.

1st Round

The fighters did not tap gloves to start the fight, which is usually typical sportsmanship at the beginning of a fight. It started extremely cautiously from both men, with only some signs of fighting half-way into the round from Silva's leg kicks and one big knee. They didn't even exchange punches, even though it was all a stand up fight.

Silva goes in for a soft right punch, that Jackson easily ducked under, and countered with a BIG left cross. This exchange was out of absolutely nowhere, and that left cross knocks Silva out cold. Jackson went in for a few more punches when Silva was on the ground, but those were pointless - Silva was fully knocked out after that left cross. Jackson wins by knockout at 3:21 in the first round.

Conclusion

This was a strange fight, to be sure. Really not much of anything happened prior to the knockout. You could have sneezed and missed it because it came out of nowhere. Silva was clearly surprised, and Jackson was probably surprised it ended the way it did. My guess is that if that same left cross landed later in the fight, Silva would have been able to take it because he would have been warmed up.

Frank Mir vs Antonio Nogueira

This fight is for the Interim Heavyweight Championship, and the winner of this fights Brock Lesnar for the Heavyweight title. Frank Mir and Antonio Nogueira have a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu, but Mir has a much better stand up game, and Nogueira would have the edge on the ground. You may remember Mir from years back when he was at the top of his game, prior to a devastating motorcycle accident, that many said he would not recover from. During his return to form, Mir actually beat Lesnar, but that was when Lesnar was very inexperienced in the UFC, so a re-match would be killer. That being said, there's still a big, dominating fighter standing in the way of that re-match, with Nogueira being the heavy favorite to win. Nogueira is probably the ugliest fighter in MMA today, with the kind of face that even possibly a mother couldn't love.

1st Round

The round starts with lots of kicks from Mir, and he landed a couple big right punches to the head of Nogueira. Mir is controlling the fight early, and keeps pushing the action with punching combinations that lead to uppercut after uppercut. Mir knocks down Nogueira with a big straight left, but he did not follow it up on the ground because he wasn't ready to knock out Nogueira and probably felt he would lose momentum.

Nogueira is surprisingly not doing shit this round; he's basically a punching bag for Mir. As the first round closes, Mir knocks Nogueira down again; Nogueira took brutal punishment this round, and he's lucky to get out of it.

2nd Round

Not a lot going on to start the first half of the round; Nogueira kept back tracking when Mir would try to come in. Mir lands a straight left that rocked Nogueira back, which Mir followed up with a devastating left hook that knocks Nogueira down for the third time, and wins Mir the fight. With 1:54 in the second round, Mir wins by technical knock out.

Conclusion

This was all Mir from the get-go, and in 38 MMA career fights, is the first time Nogueira losses by knock out. As Nogueira stood back up after the fight was called, he stumbled around like he didn't know where he was; Nogueira got fucking rocked. Mir is now the new Interim Heavyweight Champion, and awaits his re-match with Lesnar to see who will hold the heavyweight title.

I really like Mir as a fighter, and as a person. He studies his opponents thoroughly before facing off, and is essentially a historian of MMA fighting. Some people don't like him because he looks like a pretty boy, but it's not his fault that he's so dominating that even a dominating fighter like Nogueira could do no damage to him. After his win, Mir showed Nogueira tons of respect, and even added these humbling words:

I've never been more afraid in my life as I was when I walked into the ring tonight

Rashad Evans vs Forrest Griffin

This fight is for the Light Heavyweight Championship, and is considered the main event for UFC 92. Forrest Griffin is the winner from the first season of the Ultimate Fighter show, while Rashad Evans won the second season. A couple interesting things about Evans MMA / UFC career: he has never been defeated in MMA and he's never attempted a submission in UFC. Evans is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, but he has turned into a stand up fighter, who likes to ground and pound if it gets to the floor. Griffin is the every man fighter, that most UFC fans like because he is a no nonsense, scrapping fighter. Griffin is a freestyle fighter, with heavy striking (particularly kicking due his long reach), and great submission technique.

1st Round

Early on they are trading nice leg kicks, with not much going on in the punching game. Griffin was able to land lots of leg kicks, although none of his high kicks landed. Evans is very quick with his combinations - going in fast, and coming out fast - with great foot work as usual. The first round saw no clinches or take downs, as both fighters were sizing each other up with an all out stand up fight. Griffin took this round, but only marginally; his biggest strike was a hard kick to the ribs which Evans really felt. This round was easily the most exciting round of the evening so far.

2nd Round

Evans starts off with some nice left jabs, but that Griffin started to push the issue. Griffin started this round much more aggressively, and after a couple successful combinations, it looked like he could smell blood. After this big rush from Griffin, Evans blows him a kiss and grabs his dick - exactly why very few people like this cocky, flashy asshole.

Griffin keeps working on the inside and outside of Evan's left knee with powerful kicks; even more so than the first round, Griffin is landing kicks left and right, to the legs, mid-section and head of Evans. Evans not doing much of anything this round, until he gets a big right hand in. Evans changes his strategy a bit by leading his attacks with kicks rather than just all punching.

Griffin ends the round with a really nice combination that concludes with a small superman punch to the face of Evans. Griffin really took advantage of his reach advantage with leg kicks, and clearly pushed all the action in this round. While Griffin only marginally won the first round, he decisively won the second round.

3rd round

Griffin once again starts aggressively with nice combinations. At this point in the fight, it has basically been a kickboxing fight, with the clear edge going to Griffin. A minute into the round, Evans has his first big opening with a ton of punches taking Griffin to the ground. While Griffin is on his back, Evans lands several hammerfists, which looked like it was going to be the end, but nice work from Griffin to get out of it and get into a full guard. At this point, Evans sees that he is not going to finish it off yet, so he eases up until he can get a better position.

Still on the ground, on a closed guard from Griffin, Evans lands some really powerful right elbows, which allows him to get onto his knees for more leverage. Now with even more control, Evans starts making it rain punches, with a vicious of ground-and-pounding. Evans seals the fight with a huge straight right to the chin of Griffin, which allows Evans to get on his feet and starts pounding away at a flailing Griffin. After several lefts directly to the head of Griffin, the fight is called. Evans wins by technical knock out at 2:46 in the third round.

Conclusion

This was a big shift of momentum, as the fight was definitely going to Griffin until Evans landed his big punches to get Griffin to the ground in the third round. When Evans started teeing off his hammerfists, it was the beginning of the end. Evans is now the new Light Heavyweight Champion.

Griffin, very humbly thanked all the fans for coming out to watch the fight, and said he simply got his ass kicked by the better fighter in Evans. Even in defeat, I liked Griffin more than Evans.