FanPost

UFC 18 - The Road to the Heavyweight Title

**This is the 22nd post in a lengthy series taken from my MMA blog.  Be sure to check Fight Rankings for more in this series, which includes cumulative fight and fighter rankings from the first twenty two UFC events.**

The UFC has returned from a Brazilian vacation and is back home in the United States for UFC 18. More specifically, the UFC has returned to its home in the American Southeast.  Little has changed in the homefront in 1999 as the UFC is still a long ways from public acceptance.

Still, that hasn’t stopped the UFC from putting on some good shows as of late.  UFC 18 looks to be no exception and is as star studded a card we’ve seen in some time.  As expected, Bas Rutten will be making his UFC debut against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka but that’s far from all.  Pat Miletich will be defending his UFC Lightweight (170 lbs.) Championship against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner Jorge Patino.

I usually wait to discuss the full card, but this one is too good to wait any longer.  We’ll see three battles between a series of UFC veterans: Mikey Burnett vs. Townsend Saunders, Tito Ortiz vs. Jerry Bohlander, and a great heavyweight bout between Pedro Rizzo and Mark Coleman.  This is a great lineup that is complimented even further by the debut of the late, great Evan Tanner.

The UFC looks to start 1999 with a bang before that dreaded Y2K virus hits.  Then what will happen?  Without power, the UFC won’t be capable of putting on big shows and the fighters will resort to putting on backyard fights.  What a sad, sad reality that would be.  Oh well, I guess we’ll have to get to UFC 18 and enjoy our wired society while it’s still in tact.

UFC 18: The Road to the Heavyweight Title – January 8, 1999

Previous Editions

As the name of the event would indicate, the UFC is working to crown a new Heavyweight Champion and they’ll continue the journey here tonight in Louisiana.  Coleman vs. Rizzo and Rutten vs. Kohsaka should go a long way to determining who will be claiming that title.  Mike Goldberg and Jeff Blatnick are both back as the broadcasters of this event and I’m happy about half of that.  I’ll let you guess which half.

Jeff Blatnick starts by hyping up the UFC’s commitment to staying on the air in 1999 amidst all of the turmoil we’ve seen between the UFC and cable providers.  Blatnick encourages fans to draft letters to cable companies but to send them to the UFC first, where one winner will be chosen to attend the UFC Heavywight Title bout at UFC 20.  Blatnick gives many thanks to the fans who have stuck with the UFC.  It’s very interesting to hear Jeff Blatnick discuss the UFC’s initiatives to push forward and stay televised knowing he’s both the color commentator and the commissioner of the UFC.

Now from the looks of this, the winners from these two bouts will square off for the Heavyweight Title.  Or maybe the question mark indicates a completely undetermined future in which some of these fighters may or may not be competing for the title.  Or maybe they’ll be competing in a big heavyweight battle royal!  Oooh, I want that one!

Of course, the big deal is Bas Rutten making his UFC debut after an extremely successful run in Pancrase.  Says Mike Goldberg, “How much hype can be behind the entrance into the octagon for the first ever time for Bas Rutten?”  How much hype can be behind the enrance into the octagon for the first ever time for Bas Rutten, indeed.

We get a brief clip of an interview with Bas where he says that Kohsaka is a dangerous grappler and will present some serious challenges.  I can’t tell if he really feels that way or if Bas is being modest, though I don’t know if modesty is a trait of a man who calls himself El Guapo.

Pat Miletich defends his Lightweight Title against a man who is said to be very explosive in Jorge Patino.  He’ll have to be extra explosive when fighting a guy whose fighting style resembles that of a net.  Mikey Burnett looks to get back into title contention when he takes on Townsend Saunders, who lost in his UFC debut against Miletich.

In discussing Jerry Bohlander, Goldie reveals that Bohlander was Vitor Belfort’s original opponent in Brazil before being injured.  I guess that means Wanderlei Silva wasn’t supposed to be fighting at that event – funny how these things happen.  Still, we’ll see Bohlander make his return against California product Tito Oritz.

Oh sweet Jesus, would you look at that?  Mr. Wrestling Observer himself Dave Meltzer is a ringside judge tonight.  Goldie tells us that Meltzer is a respected wrestling journalist, which is true, but he fails to note that Meltzer writes about professional wrestling and not amateur wrestling.  Blatnick must not have a problem with that since he’s the man in charge here.  Meltzer has certainly become a great source for MMA these days, though that may not have been quite the story 12 years ago.

Before we begin our first pay-per-view contest, it’s time for a preliminary bout between lightweights Laverne Clark and Frank Caracci.  I actually found this preliminary fight in a pack of downloadable prelims for the early UFC events.  I’m not sure where this come from and I guess it’s possibly shown on the main card, but I’ll just go ahead and start with this.

Caracci is very white and he’s wearing a gi.  It looks like he could be Fred Ettish’s brother, though he doesn’t have a moustache and is markedly less terrified.  Laverne Clark is a product of Miletich Fighting Systems and Pat is actually in Laverne’s corner.  Good on Pat for cornering one of his men even with a title defense scheduled for later in the evening.  Clark stands more than five inches taller than his opponent and will enjoy a nice reach advantage.

Bruce Buffer is back announcing and he does a great job for the first fight.  He’s really toned things down, sticks to the facts, doesn’t try to stuck the crowd’s collective dick, and puts on a solid performance.  I don’t even have anything bad to say about that!  Caracci gets a great hand from the crowd as he’s from the state of Louisiana.

The size difference is very noticeable as the fight begins.  Caracci seems interested in striking but tries for a takedown on Clark, who easily defends the attempt.  Caracci keeps pushing forward and Clark is able to avoid being taken down.  He actually scores some nice strikes as Caracci is on his knees and he’s able to move into Caracci’s guard.

Clark has busted Caracci open with his punches, which have looked very strong thus far.  Clark has Caracci’s left arm pinned under his own head and Clark lands a number of unanswered punches and elbows before losing control during a failed attempt to pass guard.  Clark isn’t throwing a ton, but he’s pushing forward and being active enough to keep from being restarted.

Clark postures up from guard and lands some punches from guard as Caracci is pinned against the fence.  Clark stands over his opponent which prompts Caracci to attempt a knee bar, but it’s a poor try and Clark is landing some really big shots.  As he lands a number of heavy shots, referee Tony Moulinex pauses the action to fix an issue on one of Clark’s gloves.

The fight is restarted past the five minute mark with both fighters on their feet.  I’d complain about the restart not being on the ground, but I feel like the referee can’t prevent Caracci from inevitably being injured in this bout.  Caracci somehow thinks it’s a good idea to try a takedown after the restart, but Clark avoids and lands some really heavy punches.  Caracci is pretty much just writhing and trying to survive and Clark is easily able to move into side control and then full mount.

I’m really impressed with Laverne Clark thus far.  He’s not facing much of a fighter, but his punches have all looked very heavy and he’s been dominant throughout this contest.  Clark is just muscling his opponent around, backing Caracci against the cage and landing some more big punches, prompting Caracci to submit due to strikes.  Laverne Clark has easily won this contest on the strength of heavy hands and the weakness of a completely inept opponent.

I feel like Frank Caracci is one of the worst fighters we’ve seen in the UFC for a long time.  It’s good that he’s on the preliminary card since there’s nothing he can offer that would titillate the viewing audience.  Clark just pulverized Caracci.  Badly.  After the fight, Mike Goldberg praises Caracci’s stamina because he’s a fucking nitwit.  Yeah, way to take an ass kicking.  Great job.

Now it’s time for the first main card contest, a middleweight bout between Darrell Gholar and Evan Tanner.  Oh, young Evan Tanner.  This kid came into the UFC with some absolutely incredible credentials.  He was 16-1 in MMA competing largely in Pancrase.  He holds wins over Heath Herring, Paul Buentello, Justin McCully, and Ikuhisa Minowa and has submission victories in 12 out of 16 victories.  Tanner is the reigning USWF Champion, which should not be confused with the USWA Heavyweight Wrestling Title that Jerry Lawler won about a billion times.

Darrel Gholar is a wrestler – what, you need more than that?

Bruce Buffer opens the card off with a “We are live!” but then stumbles through an excessively long introduction.  Bruce, come on!  Things were so promising in the prelim bout, what happened to you in the last 30 minutes?  I guess he really turns it on when things go live, but he really does better in a more subdued way.  Why doesn’t he take some cues from…I don’t know, his half-brother Michael?  You’d think the guy would maybe try to announce in a more calm, deliberate way instead of yelling into the microphone like he’s Oprah giving out prizes to a big group of middle-aged women.

Ugh, whatever.  The fight is on!  Tanner opens the fight with a big leg kick.  Gholar tries to push forward with punches, but Tanner is on his toes and avoids contact.  When Gholar does manage to sneak in a punch, it looks pretty weak.  Tanner throws another leg kick, but Gholar catches it and takes Tanner to the mat!  Gholar is in Tanner’s full guard and Tanner seems fairly relaxed from the bottom.

Gholar’s corner sounds like a bunch of fucking geniuses since we have one guy saying, “Pick him up and slam him like in training!”  Fucking what?  Yeah, great idea.  Pick a guy up from his guard and slam him down.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that move utilized to perfection.  What on earth would that accomplish?

Just as his corner shouts that out, Tanner sinks in a triangle with control of Gholar’s left arm.  Gholar then utilizes the slam, but Tanner is unphased and works to sink this triangle in deeper.  Gholar manages to adjust and get his head out and ends up in side control.  Tanner almost immediately throws up his legs to try for an armbar.  Blatnick notes how clueless Gholar seems on the ground.  It’s true that while Gholar is maintaining control, he’s not doing a good job of staying out of danger.

Tanner never manages to sink in the armbar, but he works to improve his position and moves Gholar into his full guard.  Darrel Gholar’s cornerman is the most obnoxious fucking person on earth.  This guy is awful.  The fight is in Gholar’s corner so all we hear is this asshole yelling, “DARREL HIT HIM IN THE FACE.  HIT HIM IN THE EYE.  PUT YOUR HEAD IN HIS FACE.  STAND UP AND PASS THE GUARD.  DARREL WATCH FOR THE CHOKE.  KNEE HIM IN THE HEAD.  LET’S GO KEEP PUNCHING HIM IN THE FACE AND PASS HIS GUARD.  DON’T BRING THOSE PUNCHES TOO WIDE HE’LL DO THE TRIANGLE AGAIN.  PUNCH HIM IN THE EYE.”

I swear to God, he says all of these things in a 1-2 minute span where Darrel spends the entire time on top of Tanner.  That has to be the most terrible advice I’ve ever heard from a corner.  Seriously, I think it’s the worst.  When judging corner advice, this is the gold standard of awfulness.  I thought Bisping on the Ultimate Fighter was bad, but yeesh.  Of course, as we all know, the best corner advice ever is “GO GET SOME DONALD CE-RRON-AY.”

As Gholar tries to move into side control, Tanner turns over on all fours as Gholar’s cornerman is beside himself screaming for knees.  Instead, Gholar allows Tanner to get back to his feet and pin him against the cage.  Tanner lands a couple of knees to the stomach before the fighters break.  Tanner is now throwing some heavy leg kicks and is really opening up his striking!  Gholar is clinching out of desperation, but Tanner is landing some big knees in the clinch against the cage!

Tanner is really letting loose now, landing some big elbows along with the knees!  Big John McCarthy is looking on closely as Tanner is unleashing on his opponent!  After the clinch is broken, Tanner is landing some damaging leg kicks!  Gholar seems exhausted and is just stumbling around the cage as he gets beaten down!  Gholar gives up his back, while standing no less, and is submitted by Evan Tanner!  What a spectacular comeback!  This crowd is absolutely loving this and some am I!  That was a really great win after spending a lot of the fight on his back.

Darrel Gholar was fairly clueless in there.  He worked hard to put himself in good positions, but did nothing when in those positions.  Evan fought pretty effectively off of his back and took advantage when he ended up back on his feet.  Goldie interviews Tanner after the fight and says he prepared to fight off of his back and he’s hopeful that he’ll be back in the UFC again.

The next contest is a lightweight fight between Mikey Burnett and Townsend Saunders.  Burnett has established himself as a very powerful lightweight who puts on exciting fights and is so pale that he’s almost clear.  Saunders is a decorated wrestler with an Olympic silver medal, but he lost a tight decision to Pat Miletich in his UFC debut.  Burnett says in his post fight interview that his strategy is to “take it to him.”  This man is a winner.

We’re accustomed to Burnett being the smaller fighter since he’s built like a little tank at 5’6″ and 170 pounds, but Sanders stands one inch shorter than that at 5’5″.  We get to see Ken Shamrock in Burnett’s corner, the first time we’ve see Shamrock in a little while.  At the time, Ken Shamrock is the reigning WWE (then WWF) Intercontinental Champion and was making quite the living fake fighting.

The fight opens and it looks like Burnett has some kind of tassels coming down from his trunks.  Upon further examination, it just appears to be some kind of Native American garb.  Saunders opens up the fight with leg kicks and Burnett tries to respond with punches of his own.  Saunders seems pretty comfortable with his kicks and I’m sure he’s just setting up his takedowns.  Still, Burnett is the more adept striker and is working to put together some combos.

About two minutes in, Mikey Burnett drops Saunders with a three punch combo!  Saunders is working to get back to his feet but Burnett is relentlessly pushing forward with punches.  Saunders is out of it and tries to gather his wits, but Burnett keeps pushing.  Saunders tries for a takedown but Burnett backs off and lets Saunders get back to his feet.  Saunders seems to have regained his composure at this point, but Burnett continues to pick his spots and throw combos.

Saunders is still working to take Burnett down since he clearly wants nothing to do with Burnett’s striking.  Saunders is still throwing leg kicks and punches to set up his takedowns, only he’s having no success bringing Burnett down.  Saunders is on the defensive while standing with Burnett pushing forward.  He lands a few strikes and ends up backing Saunders against the cage.  Burnett actually grabs the cage but is admonished by referee Tony Moulinex who is enforcing one of the newest rules in the UFC.

As Burnett throws knees, we get some weird little cathedral window view of Ken Shamrock giving advice.  Burnett follows Shamrock’s instructions and nicely attacks Saunders’ legs before they break the clinch and move back to the center of the cage.  The action has really slowed at this point with Saunders not doing much of anything right now.  Burnett is still throwing some combos, but Saunders’ strategy at this point is too avoid.  Burnett’s combos look decent and he lands a few knees.  Saunders is really absorbing punishment here.

When Burnett throws his punches, Saunders is just ducking down at this point and Burnett considers sinking in a choke twice.  Burnett releases the first time, but puts in a little extra effort the second time but can’t finish the hold.  With just two minutes left in regulation, Saunders finally lets his hands go a bit but he doesn’t consistently string anything together.  It makes sense since he’s clearly the inferior striker.  An interesting point that Blatnick brings up is that the UFC finally instituted a rule to ban grabbing of the trunks, which is long overdue.

There’s just one minute left in regulation and Saunders is doing absolutely nothing right now.  He basically seems to have given up as all he’s doing is backing away when Saunders throws punches.  The buzzer sounds at 12 minutes and regulation is done and Saunders has three minutes to do something.

And actually, he starts off overtime very aggressive.  He rushes in with a nice takedown attempt, but Burnett maintains great balance and avoids the attempt but Saunders throws a few punches on the break.  Saunders seems to realize that he has work to do to win this fight, but I don’t know that he can do anything worth while in three minutes.  He clinches Burnett against the fence and lands some body shots, but Burnett reverses positions and begins to throw knees.

Shamrock yells out for Burnett to throw some knees to the head and the Lion’s Den product obliges his coach.  Burnett has done a good job following Shamrock’s instructions during this contest, but I don’t know how much that matters.  Saunders hasn’t looked very good in this bout and Burnett has been in control.  Overtime ends with this Louisiana crowd chanting “bullshit”, apparently mad that somebody didn’t die.  Saunders looks visibly disappointed after this contest as Burnett seems to have clearly won this fight.

And the judges unanimously agree that Mikey Burnett has won this fight.  The crowd sounds less than enthusiastic about the decision, but it wasn’t too bad of a fight.  Mikey Burnett stayed busy and tried to get some action going, but Saunders was strangely content to just bounce around the cage for the better part of 15 minutes.

Burnett is disappointed after the fight that he didn’t score the knockout.  He’s pleased that he avoided the takedown, but he figured he would be able to stay off of his back.  He felt his training was strong for this contest, both with wrestlers in Oklahoma and with Ken Shamrock.  Burnett then calls out Pat Miletich and says he wants a shot at the title.

Interestingly enough, Burnett notes that he and Ken Shamrock will not only be in Jerry Bohlander’s corner, but also Mark Coleman’s corner later this evening.  Coleman has apparently been working with the Lion’s Den in anticipation of this contest.  I haven’t heard anything about Coleman’s Hammer House, though I imagine it was dissolved after a massive illegal pharmaceuticals bust.

Before the next contest, Vitor Belfort is out to talk with Goldie and Blatnick.  Vitor comes out and drops a bombshell, saying he wants to fight Frank Shamrock for the UFC Middleweight Title!  Belfort actually says he spoke with Bob Meyrowitz and that Shamrock doesn’t want to fight Belfort on a proposed March date, but Belfort says he still wants the fight.  He explains that if Shamrock declines this public challenge, then Belfort will fight the winner of Ortiz vs. Bohlander in March and the winner of that fight will get a title shot.

Belfort clarifies that he doesn’t feel like Shamrock is ducking him, but at the same time, he feels like he was more deserving of a title fight than John Lober.  They show the video of Belfort vs. Wanderlei from Ultimate Brazil to support Belfort’s request for a title shot.  Belfort says he trained more to box during that fight, but his fast hands are a gift from God.

I would love to see either of these scenarios play out, but you know what they say about best laid plans.  Vitor Belfort will not fight Frank Shamrock, he won’t fight Tito Ortiz or Jerry Bohlander, and he won’t fight for the UFC again until 2002.  Vitor Belfort will compete in a few months for an up and coming Japanese MMA promotion where he’ll take on the best they have to offer.  I won’t get into the specifics right now, but I am very, very excited to write about this fight.

Speaking of the middleweights, it’s time for the bout between Jerry Bohlander and Tito Ortiz in what should be a fun contest.  Ortiz, who has been christened “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy”, will be back in the UFC after a tight loss against Guy Metzger.  Bohlander feels that Tito is very one dimensional and says that there’s nothing Tito can do that he can’t counter.  At 6’2″. Ortiz is three inches taller than the 5’11″ Bohlander.  Tito doesn’t only look taller than Bohlander to start the fight, but he looks bigger all around.

Tito starts quick with a nice right hand and takes Bohlander down with a really slick body lock.  Tito is in guard with Bohlander pinned against the fence and Bohlander is working to roll out of the position, but Tito maintains a solid base.  Ortiz begins with the ground and pound throwing some nice punches and elbows.  Big John warns Tito to improve his position and continues with the strikes as Bohlander tries to escape.

Tito tries to sink in a guillotine, but both men are back on their feet.  Tito is now throwing some serious punches with Bohlander against the cage and scores another takedown.  This time he moves into side control, but Bohlander uses the cage to adjust and move Tito into his guard.  Blatnick notes that Tito does look massive for a 200 pounder and suspects he cut at least ten pounds to make weight.

Tito is putting a lot behind his punches and you can hear it on impact.  His ground striking has been good, but Big John feels like he hasn’t been throwing enough and stands the fighters up.  Both fighters seem hesitant to strike and Bohlander opens up with a leg kick, but Tito catches it and throws some heavy punches before Bohlander backs off.  Tito is definitely landing more and starts to put together some combos as Bohlander staggers back toward the cage.

Tito moves into the clinch with Bohlander and takes him down once more.  He takes north/south position and throws some big knees with a tight grasp on Bohlander’s head.  Shamrock is calling for Bohlander to throw knees from the bottom, but Ortiz is firmly in control at this point.  He starts to throw a bit more but Bohalder escapes.  The fighters struggle and Ortiz shoots in, eventually moving back into Bohlander’s guard.

Bohlander has spent a lot of this fight on his back and though Ortiz hasn’t been constantly busy, he’s done enough to do damage and score on the judges’ scorecards.  Ten minutes into the fight, Big John stands the fighters up once again.  You can really see the difference in striking as Bohlander’s punches are more wild while Tito is calm and throwing controlled shots.

Bohlander rushes in, but again, Tito scores a takedown and is in half guard.  I think that’s the fourth or fifth takedown from Ortiz compared to none from Bohlander.  Ortiz finished the regulation period throwing weak punches while laying on Bohlander.  The fighters head back to their corners and Bohlander appears to have a pretty nasty cut on his forehead.

Bohlander is aggressive to start overtime and tries to pin Tito against the fence, but Ortiz is clearly the much stronger fighter.  Bohlander is doing his best to gain control, but he’s being rag-dolled by Tito and is taken down to the mat once again.  Bohlander is throwing weak punches from the bottom while Ortiz seems perfectly happy to maintain top control.  About half way through the overtime, Tito starts throwing some elbows and punches while controlling Bohlander’s right arm.

Big John stops the fight with just 30 seconds remaining to look at a cut around Bohlander’s eye.  Ortiz is covered in blood, but it is all Bohlander’s.  Big John and the doctors think the cut is bad given how close it is to the eye.  It’s decided that the fight will be stopped and Tito will be declared the winner which is definitely the smart move.  Tito had this fight in hand and there was no need to risk a potential injury in 30 second of action.  The decision surely would have been his had this gone to the judges’ scorecards.

Goldie interviews Tito after the fight and is not bashful.  He says he caught Bohlander’s ass “on fire” and Tito says he wants to fight for the title next.  Tito actually makes a really good point about the criticisms of the UFC saying that people are only scared of it because it’s a new thing and that people are already used to boxing.  He feels like boxing is much more violent since it’s 12 rounds of punching people in the head versus UFC fights that can be as short as a few minutes.

What might get Tito into some trouble is the gesture pictured above, where he shot his fingers like pistols toward the Lion’s Den after the victory.  Something tells me there may be an unhappy party or two out of the Lion’s Den, but that’s just an educated guess.

Goldberg tells us that the UFC will be back with UFC 19 in March in an effort to show nine UFC events in 1999.  Boy, nine events…the UFC flew through nine events in just five months this year.  John Perretti, the UFC’s match-maker, says that a Belfort vs. Frank Shamrock fight all depends on Frank and his willingness to fight.  I’m surprised he’s turned down that fight at the moment with such success at middleweight so far.  Goldie basically sucks Perretti off on live TV, telling him how good of a job he’s doing.  Jesus Christ, is Mike Goldberg such a pompous kiss ass.  I’d love to shove him down an elevator shaft.

This should be a great contest between black Mark Coleman and Pedro Rizzo.  Wait, what?  Goldie thankfully clarifies that the picture is actually of “Laverne Turner”.  Oh, great clarification.  Laverne Turner, what the fuck.  Goldie is such a twit.

I love hearing Mark Coleman talk because he basically slurs everything he says.  When he says “Rizzo”, he actually pronounces it with the traditional R and not the Portuguese R, which is unsurprising and fairly funny.  Mark Coleman gets a nice hand and will certainly be the recipient of a number of “USA!” chants tonight.  Can’t wait!

The fight starts slowly but Coleman scores a takedown in the first minute.  I think John Perretti is doing commentary on this first fight and he sounds like Regis Philbin.  It’s fucking obnoxious.  Coleman has managed to back Rizzo against the cage, but Rizzo manages to position himself away from the cage using his feet against the fence.  Coleman is doing very little right here save for a punch or two.  I get the feeling that we’ll see a stand up very soon.  Coleman’s punches sound hard, but he’s landing very few of them.

Now Coleman has worked to pin Rizzo against the cage once more and is trying his best to keep Rizzo pinned, but Pedro is doing a nice job maneuvering away from the fence using his feet.  John Perretti inquires about a hold that Coleman is using and Blatnick reveals it’s the half nelson to which Perretti replies, “You guys have all these great names for things!”  Seriously John Perretti?  You make matches for an MMA organization and don’t know what a fucking half nelson is?

Big John continues to urge Coleman to improve his position, but he’s doing very little.  Rizzo is nicely obstructing Coleman’s punches by sticking his hands up and moving around as much as he can and we end up with a stand up at the five minute mark.  Coleman is exhausted and that’s a surprise to nobody.

Coleman starts throwing lunging punches at the opening of the restart, but that doesn’t last very long.  Now Rizzo is opening up a little bit with leg kicks and some big counter punches!  Coleman’s throwing big shots, but only one or two at a time and very infrequently.  Rizzo has Coleman backed against the fence, but doesn’t do anything with the advantageous position for fear of offense from Coleman.  “The Hammer” is unsuccessful with a shot and the men are back on their feet.

Rizzo throws a leg kick with Coleman against the cage, but Coleman nicely grabs the kick and takes Rizzo to the mat.  Coleman is in the closed guard of Rizzo and starts with the elbows, but again, he’s way too tired to string anything together and there are six minutes left in this fight.

Coleman is doing so little from the top, though it’s in part due to Rizzo being able to hold onto Coleman’s arms and keeping him from throwing much.    Coleman is working to put something together but Big John restarts the action with one minute left in regulation.  Ken Shamrock is imploring Coleman to take Rizzo down, which is really the only way he’ll be able to survive being so tired.

Rizzo seems fairly hesitant to engage and is working to time Coleman’s shots.  Rizzo sprawls on Coleman’s first takedown attempt with 35 seconds left in regulation.  Rizzo throws a nice leg kick but doesn’t do much of anything for the remaining 20 seconds of the round.  Regulation ends and Coleman spend much of the first 12 minutes in control, but did very little damage.

In overtime, Coleman starts off with a strong low kick of his own.  Rizzo throws a nice left hand/right low kick combo.  Coleman tries for a takedown, but Rizzo again sprawls and nicely avoids the takedown.  Rizzo responds with a 1-2 combo and then Coleman throws another leg kick of his own.  Rizzo is doing very little in this overtime against a very tired opponent.  With about 30 seconds left, Rizzo scores a leg kick and then a couple of punches, but nothing else.  The overtime ends and I’m surprised by Rizzo’s approach.  I think he could have done some serious damage like Pete Williams did against Coleman and I don’t know that he did enough to win.

Bruce Buffer reads the judges scorecards and announces we have a split decision.  I’ll give you Bruce Buffer’s exact words in announcing the third and decisive decision.  “And doctor…excuse me, referee…judge Dave Meltzer calls it for the winner on his way to the Heavyweight Championship…Pedro Rizzo!!”  I’m somewhat surprised by the decision, but I’m certainly not too upset.  Coleman tried to lay and pray his way to victory and I guess Rizzo’s defense and sparing striking was enough for the win.  John Perretti disagrees, but John Perretti is also a clown so who really cares?

After the fight, Blatnick throws to “Mike Goldman” for the interview with Pedro Rizzo.  I hope this is a conscious effort from Blatnick to throw Goldberg off his game because he’s a dope.  Rizzo said it was a tough fight and worried about his conditioning a bit, but felt he trained hard enough to survive the fight.  Rizzo gives a lot of credit to the great Marco Ruas for preparing him for tonight’s fight.

Rizzo looked very impressive in his debut against Tank Abbott, but this contest with Mark Coleman left a lot to be desired.  He survived a grueling fight against a tough opponent, but he didn’t do very much to impress.  Still, Rizzo is 2-0 in the UFC with wins over big time veterans.  He’ll certainly be a prime candidate for a shot at the UFC Heavyweight Title.

It’s time for the Lightweight Title match between first ever champion Pat Miletich and Jorge Patino.  Pat Miletich looks very strung out in the above picture and is kinda scare.  Jorge Patino is nicknamed “Macaco”, which apparently means monkey.  I think I know who I want to win this fight.  (The guy nicknamed “Monkey”)  Miletich holds a two inch height advantage in this fight, though I don’t know how much of a difference this will make.

The fight opens with Patino circling around Miletich, who has taken a central position in the cage.  Patino shoots in for a takedown of his own, but Miletich defends and moves to the center of the cage with Patino in the clinch.  Patino tries for a trip, but misses and falls to his back.  Miletich enters Patino’s guard but surprisingly stands up without incident.  Interesting…

Patino takes some time before shooting in for another takedown, but ends up dragging Miletich into his guard.  Again, Miletich stands back up and clearly shows he’s interested in fighting on his feet.  However, Miletich isn’t doing very much while standing.  He moves in with some punches and backs Patino against the fence, but doesn’t do anything with that position.  Patino tries for an axe kick, but Miletich avoids the potentially dangerous move.  Miletich charges in with a single right hook and backs off.

After five minutes of this fight, I would like to take a nap.

You can see that Patino is trying to work in some interesting high kicks, but Miletich seems to have no problem avoiding these strikes.  Miletich seems to be frustrated with his opponent’s inactivity, but Miletich isn’t doing a whole lot himself.  The fighters briefly exchange before entering the clinch against the fence.  Patino reaches for a leg but can’t score the takedown and is tossed aside by Miletich.  Miletich starts to get a bit more active with his strikes and Patino responds in kind, but this gives Miletich the opening to lock Patino in a front headlock against the fence.

Patino is not pleased in that spot and tries to push forward to gain control, but Miletich releases the headlock.  Just after the eight minute mark, Miletich lands a glancing head kick and backs Patino against the fence, eventually taking Patino’s back.  The Brazilian hits a nice roll through and tries to lock in a leg submission, but Miletich scurries and escapes the position!  That was a close call, but we’re back on the feet.  Patino is getting a little more aggressive with leg kicks, but the action still leaves a lot to be desired as we’re at the ten minute mark of the fight.

Nothing is happening really.  Big John warns both fighters to engage and Patino responds by grabbing Miletich and dropping into guard.  Miletich is throwing body shots from guard and again escapes that position, thinking better of trying to grapple with Patino.  Miletich now rushes in with Patino backed against the cage, but Patino scores a nice takedown and ends up in side control with 90 seconds left in regulation.

Patino attempts to move into full mount, but Miletich does a nice job making adjustments and moving Patino into his guard.  Patino now stands up and backs off, but then rushes forward with a running, jumping stomp on Miletich’s head!! What an incredible move!!

Oh, except it’s illegal.  Kind of an important detail.  Big John issues a foul to Patino as the round ends.  Though there isn’t any exact criteria regarding how to apply a foul, Jeff Blatnick further clarifies the tool by saying judges can use it at their discretion and should be considered when making a decision.  With a fight as close (boring) as this, the foul could make a serious impact.

Time for the first three minute overtime and Miletich lunges forward with some strikes.  He ends up in the sprawl position over Patino and backs away at the one minute mark.  Patino continues to make attempts to bring Miletich down to the ground, but Miletich is not interested in that.  Patino is trying to close the distance with Miletich, who is landing a bit more with his longer arms and legs.  No strikes of incident, but he’s still landing more.  The very crappy first overtime is over.  We still have three minutes left.

Patino starts to swing a bit during the opening of the second overtime, but Miletich ducks the punches and takes Patino down to the mat.  Patino opens up his guard to seemingly allow Miletich to escape.  Miletich stands up, only to move in with a surprising punch!  Very smart move by Miletich to catch Patino with a surprising shot.  After a little while longer in guard, Miletich gets back to his feet only for Patino to not only bring him back into guard, but he tries for a guillotine!  He holds onto Miletich’s neck for the remainder of the round as this fight ends.

An important question is who won this fight?  My answer is I don’t give a shit, but all three judges feel like Pat Miletich won this contest.  I can’t argue with them, especially given the foul to Patino, but that certainly wasn’t the performance of a champion.  That may have been a win, but that wasn’t truly a victory.  I guess you take what you can get.

That fight really was bad.  It wasn’t technically awful or particularly unpleasant, but it just makes me feel bad.  Like…as bad as you can feel while being indifferent, which is even worse than just watching a bad fight.  These are two talented guys who put on an absolutely miserable fight and now…I don’t know?  I don’t care enough about this fight to have a real opinion, I just know I didn’t like what I just saw.

Thank God for this last fight because if there’s anything to snap me out of a Pat Miletich funk, it’s Bas Rutten.  In the main event, we’ll see Bas Rutten take on Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in what should be an extremely important heavyweight bout.  Finally, Bas fucking Rutten in the UFC!!

This is a man you should be afraid of.  I’m terrified of Bas Rutten even though he’s a very nice guy and is tons of fun.  This guy could destroy me whether or not he was paid to do so.  Here, he’s getting money to beat a man down and I would really hate to be Kohsaka at this point.  After such a distinguished career in Pancrase, the man is finally in the UFC.

Bas Rutten’s last loss: in March of 1995 to Ken Shamrock.  Fighters he defeated during this time period: Maurice Smith, Minoru Suzuki, Guy Mezger, and Masakatsu Funaki.  He might be a smaller heavyweight at 211 pounds, but Kohsaka is not much bigger at 228 pounds.  Bas also holds a two inch height advantage over Kohsaka.  Bas gets a great hand from the audience prior to this fight.

Bas starts quickly throwing a deflected head kick.  Kohsaka rushes in for a takedown but eats a couple of punches.  Bas defends the takedown and Kohsaka stands back up, only to get punched even more.  Kohsaka relentlessly pushes forward and Bas can’t stop the takedown, but Kohsaka only manages to get to Bas’ guard.  Kohsaka is throwing some punches with Bas pinned against the cage and the Dutchman tries to answer back with punches of his own.  Kohsaka advances to side mount and starts to throw some big punches and elbows, but Bas bursts out and moves to his feet.

Bas throws a kick, but Kohsaka catches the kick and scores another takedown.  He’s in Rutten’s closed guard and lands a number of good punches.  Bas tries to control Kohsaka’s right arm, but Kohsaka frees himself and continues throwing some nice punches.  Rutten is quite active on his back, but there’s a lot of power behind Kohsaka’s punches.  TK advances to side mount once again and throws some elbows to Bas’ left thigh.  Kohsaka throws punches to the body, the head, and the thigh and is scoring some points right now.

Bas now grabs hold of Kohsaka’s head and is eating some punches to the body, but Big John decides to stand the fighters back up.  I disagree with the restart.  Big John insists that Kohsaka needed to advance positions, but I thought that his striking was effective enough to let them continue fighting.  We’re at 5:43 in the fight.

Bas is stalking toward Kohsaka and throws an inside leg kick that seems to bother Kohsaka.  He lunges and misses with a punch as Kohsaka dances away from Rutten.  He dives in for a punch but Kohsaka ducks and lands a very nice double leg takedown!  Kohsaka quickly assumes half guard before Bas adjusts and moves Kohsaka into his guard.  K0hsaka is much more inactive in guard this time around, though he’s still landing and appears to have busted Bas open a bit, but TK is apparently cut as well.

At the nine minute mark, Kohsaka starts to throw a bit more while Bas is doing his best to answer back.  Big John again stands the fighters up and oddly helps Bas up to his feet.  Seriously, Big John grabs Bas’ arm and hoists him back to his feet.  That’s…strange.

After the restart, Kohsaka is circling before Bas lands a powerful inside leg kick just past the ten minute mark.  Kohsaka is stomping and shaking his leg to indicate that he’s in great pain.  Bas thinks he struck Kohsaka in the groin and reaches out his hand to apologize, which is accepted by Kohsaka.

Bas is starting to unleash with his kicks and he’ll need to after spending much of regulation on his back.  Kohsaka shoots near the eleven minute mark but Rutten sprawls and keeps the fight standing.  He’s whipping kicks at Kohsaka both high and low, notably missing with a very scary looking high kick.  Kohsaka throws a kick of his own and Bas doesn’t even flinch.  Bas moves in with some punches and lands a nice right hand as regulation ends.  I think that Kohsaka is ahead at this point, but Rutten is starting to get a lot more comfortable.  Can he do enough in the next three minutes to win?

Big John opens the overtime by yelling, “Don’t leave it to a judge!”  Jesus, even in 1999 were they spouting that bullshit line.  Bas opens the round with some nice punches and then throws a couple of huge shots followed by a high kick!  Bas throws some low kicks and TK seems a little antsy at this point.  Bas lands some punches with his opponent backed against the cage, but Kohsaka responds with a knee!  Bas gives Kohsaka a look as if to say, “Alright mother fucker, you wanna play that game with El Guapo?  I guess I gotta fuck you up!”

Kohsaka moves in to size up Rutten but eats a body kick.  Bas pushes forward with a huge 1-2 combo and is really making an effort to win this fight in overtime.  He has TK backed against the cage and throws some punches before landing some knees.  Bas is landing some big shots and Kohsaka drops to the mat as Big John stops this fight!!!  Kohsaka was taking a lot of punishment for the last 15 seconds and Bas managed to drop a very tough fighter for the TKO victory with just 45 seconds left.  Bas and Kohsaka embrace and Bas is mobbed in the cage by his corner.

Once Bas got warmed up, he was unstoppable.  With Kohsaka backed against the cage, Bas landed some amazing punches that all got through cleanly.  Bas seemed to consider kicking Kohsaka once he was down, but wisely avoided the move.  Once Bas is announced the winner, he and Kohsaka share a nice laugh and Bas honors his opponent with a nice hand.

After the fight, Bas says he got the advantage in overtime knowing Kohsaka was too tired to shoot.  He was conscious of the time in the cage and really let loose when his corner notified him there was one minute remaining in the fight.  Goldie confirms that Bas will be fighting Pedro Rizzo next.  Bas acknowledges that he’ll be fighting a friend, but is positive that he’ll be winning the UFC Heavyweight Title.

While I’m a massive Bas Rutten fan and may come through like a bit of a homer, Kohsaka was really great in this fight.  He might have gotten a bit tired, but dished out an ass-kicking just as good as he got.  TK is a very tough dude and I’m hopeful we’ll see him in the UFC some more.

This is why you have to love Bas Rutten.  He took a little permanent marker and scribbled a soul patch on the UFC logo before laying down next to it for the sake of comparison.  Bas is a huge goof who likes to kick ass and disliking him means you have no soul.  I really mean that.  If you’re reading this and you don’t like Bas Rutten, set yourself on fire.  You can disagree with him and think he’s a little out of touch nowadays, but to dislike him is a fucking miserable act tantamount to treason.

So UFC 18 is done and we’ll end up seeing UFC 19 in just a couple of months.  I really liked this card and was so happy to see Bas make his debut in the UFC.  It was nice seeing Rizzo and Ortiz in action as well.  Goldie says they’re hopeful that Frank Shamrock will be fighting at UFC 19, but it’s far from a sure thing.  We know that Belfort has moved on to greener pastures at this point.

The UFC is really in a groove right now, putting on some really good fights despite the consistent issues with limited exposure.  They’re working toward the crowning of a new Heavyweight Champion and Rizzo vs. Rutten seems like a potential title fight.  Guys like Tito Ortiz and Mikey Burnett are really emerging as more fan friendly fighters given their particularly powerful and violent offenses.

I’m anxious to see the shape that UFC 19 will take with all of these changes and I really expect the promotion to keep the momentum going.  Whether we see more UFC veterans or newcomers going forward should also be an interesting development, but there will always be talent out there ready to come into the UFC to compete.

Greatest Fights of UFC 18

  1. Bas Rutten vs. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka
  2. Evan Tanner vs. Darrel Gholar
  3. Mikey Burnett vs. Townsend Saunders
  4. Tito Ortiz vs. Jerry Bohlander
  5. Pedro Rizzo vs. Mark Coleman
  6. Laverne Clark vs. Frank Caracci
  7. Pat Miletich vs. Jorge Patino

Top Ten Fights Through UFC 18

  1. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo – UFC 3
  2. Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort – UFC 15
  3. Don Frye vs. Tank Abbott – UU96
  4. Maurice Smith vs. Mark Coleman – UFC 14
  5. Dan Henderson vs. Carlos NewtonUFC 17
  6. Mikey Burnett vs. Eugenio Tadeu – UFC 16
  7. Royce Gracie vs. Dan SevernUFC 4
  8. Frank Shamrock vs. Jeremy HornUFC 17
  9. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
  10. Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott – UFC 6

Greatest Fighters of UFC 18

  1. Bas Rutten (1-0)
  2. Evan Tanner (1-0)
  3. Tito Ortiz (1-0)
  4. Mikey Burnett (1-0)
  5. Laverne Clark (1-0)
  6. Pedro Rizzo (1-0)
  7. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (0-1)
  8. Pat Miletich (1-0)
  9. Mark Coleman (0-1)
  10. Darrel Gholar (0-1)
  11. Jerry Bohlander (0-1)
  12. Townsend Saunders (0-1)
  13. Jorge Patino (0-1)
  14. Frank Caracci (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 18

  1. Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
  2. Mark Coleman (6-3)
  3. Dan Severn (9-3)
  4. Ken Shamrock (6-2-2)
  5. Don Frye (9-1)
  6. Randy Couture (4-0)
  7. Oleg Taktarov (6-2-1)
  8. Vitor Belfort (5-1)
  9. Frank Shamrock (4-0)
  10. Pedro Rizzo (2-0)

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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