**This is the 15th 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 fifteen UFC events.**
UFC 12 was certainly not the promotion's finest hour. I previously spent some time discussing the political issues accompanying the event, but it should also be noted that the event itself was not particularly good. At this point, it's the third worst UFC pay-per-view to date - a fine accomplishment for a company that has already put on its fair share of crappy events.
But now we move on to UFC 13, which is now the fifteenth UFC event and the second of 1997. We last saw a couple of fresh faces win UFC tournaments, with veteran Jerry Bohlander emerging to become the first Lightweight Tournament Champion and Brazilian Vitor Belfort showing amazing boxing to win the heavyweight tournament. Bohlander won't be back at UFC 13 to defend his tournament crown, while the UFC has capitalized on Belfort's exciting debut and has pitted him against Tank Abbott in a Superfight. Call it a hunch, but I think Tank and Vitor are going to punch each other really hard.
We will see some very interesting new names here tonight. The heavyweight tournament will feature a former professional wrestler along with a three time U.S. Olympic alternate for wrestling. The lightweight tournament will see the returns of Christophe Leininger, who had a very fun and competitive fight with Ken Shamrock at UFC 3, and the undefeated Guy Mezger. A veteran fighter for Shooto will be making his UFC debut, while a well known member of Tank Abbott's camp will make his UFC debut in an alternate fight.
With one exciting Superfight and some interesting tournament names, UFC 13 should be a pretty fun event. Then again, I've been disappointed by previous events I thought would be exciting. It's a fine line between watchable MMA card and total shit sandwich, but I'm hopeful that UFC 13 will be a fine event.
UFC 13: The Ultimate Force - May 30, 1997
Ultimate Ultimate 1995
Ultimate Ultimate 1996
In the pre-event video, I've learned from Bruce Beck that this event will apparently feature ULTIMATE FORCE. It's an exciting prospect for certain. Belfort vs. Abbott will clearly feature ultimate amounts of force. This event is taking place in Augusta, Georgia, which is where UFC 11 took place. Actually, this is the fifth UFC event in a row to take place in the American south. I guess we know that when normal society won't accept you, the American south will take you in with open arms. A very sweet and very terrifying proposition, I must say.
We're greeted to Bruce Buffer, the ring announcer for the night, counting down to the crowd so they know the exact right moment to begin cheering. Not exactly a success in timing, my greeting to UFC 13 now feels anticlimactic. I will blame Rich Goins for this, as his spirit will forever cast a pall over the announcing duties in the UFC. I'm just grateful that Bruce Buffer has such resolve to work through this.
Jeff Blatnick joins Bruce Beck to reprise his role as color commentator. Blatnick seems slightly off from the start tonight, stumbling over words and incorrectly conjugating verbs. I hope that Jeff Blatnick is drunk because that would make this event quite a bit of fun. I would love to see Jeff Blatnick drunkenly and forlornly slur about his past Olympic glories and a time when his hair was glorious. "You don't even know, Bruce Beck. I beat Tomas Johansson and Refik Memisevic and they gave me a fucking medal."
In the lightweight tournament, Guy Mezger and Christophe Leininger will compete in their UFC returns, while newcomers Royce Alger and Enson Inoue will square off. Inoue is 6-2 in his MMA career to this point, spending most of his time competing for Shooto and finishing four of those six fights with strikes. Alger is a two time NCAA Division 1 wrestling champion out of the University of Iowa who has yet to compete in MMA. Blatnick is clearly excited about Alger's debut, saying that he's the fighter everyone should be watching here. I really like how this bracket looks with four competitive and proven fighters.
All four of the fighters in the heavyweight bracket are UFC newcomers, a sure sign that most of the UFC's established fighters have moved on to greener pastures (notably Shamrock and Frye becoming professional wrestlers). Steven Graham will fight Dmitri Stepanov in the first semifinal fight. Jeff Blatnick does a nice job hyping this fight by saying we know absolutely nothing about either fighter.
The second bout is between Randy Couture and Tony Halme. Blatnick drunkenly calls Finnish professional wrestler Tony Halme "Hamamel", but he's obviously excited for the UFC debut of three time NCAA wrestling All-American, two time NCAA wrestling runner-up, and three time U.S. Olympic alternate Randy Couture. I, like Jeff Blatnick, enjoy seeing wrestlers in MMA, but I perhaps lack his brand of sweaty exuberance.
At this point, we're all very familiar with Randy Couture, but I'd like to spend some time talking about Tony Halme. Halme actually spend some time professionally boxing and competing for professional wrestling flagship the World Wrestling Federation. Halme, a very large man at 6'3" and around 300 pounds, spent some time wrestling under his own name in Japan before coming to the WWF as Ludvig Borga.
As Borga, Halme was positioned as a top heel to oppose All-American Lex Luger. Halme's promos are absolutely hilarious, as he discusses in broken English that Americans are filthy polluters and corrupt people, going so far as to call Luger a "garbage driver." He famously ended the winning streak of the Native American Tatanka, a pretty big accomplishment in 1993.
Beyond his career in MMA and wrestling, Halme was somehow elected to Finnish parliament, where he inadvertently and seriously called then Finnish President Tarja Halonen, a heterosexual woman, a lesbian. He later apologized, but the awesome damage had been done. Halme's life degenerated in the late-aughts and he killed himself in January 2010. The end of Halme's life may have been disappointing, but it goes without saying that the man led a very interesting life. At UFC 13, we'll see the only chapter in Halme's MMA career.
There are also two alternate fights tonight. In the lightweight tournament, Wes Albritton will take on newcomer and junior college wrestling champion Tito Ortiz. This fight will actually be broadcast later in the evening, so I'll wait until then to provide the details. There is a heavyweight tournament alternate fight between Jack Nilson and Saeed Hosseini, which doesn't air during the event. Fortunately, I've located video footage of the fight to review! Watch along with me, won't you?
I'm not sure where this raw footage came from, I'm guessing it had to be broadcast somewhere. You can hear Bruce Beck working to restore the correct level in his headphones, which is not as fun (obscene) as it could have been. What is fun is the prefight interview from Saeed Hosseini, which goes like this:
"Because...I just know that I'm going to face humans. It's not a predator animal or whatever...you know what I mean? It's not a...something predator I go against, it's a human. Bone and skin, no matter how big it is. I believe this fight is 30% physical...70% mental."
If this fight is indeed 70% mental, then I'm very worried for Hosseini's safety in this one. Jack Nilson will be making his second UFC appearance after having lost to Tai Bowden in a preliminary fight from Ultimate Ultimate 1996. It seems like this will be a striking match, since Nilson is a kickboxer and Hosseini practices taekwondo. Both men also have judo skills, so this seems like a pretty even match.
Bruce Buffer is still having issues pronouncing words, announcing Saeed Hosseini as "HASEEEEEEENEEEEEEE". His voice also breaks when announcing Jack Nilson's nickname, "The Ripper". Nilson gets a great hand, as he fights out of Augusta. Oddly enough, Big John McCarthy isn't the referee for this fight. Joe Hamilton, who is apparently officiating at his eighth UFC event, is the referee. I'm assuming he typically handles the preliminary events on account of not having seen him prior to this.
This fight is underway and both fighters look awesome. Hosseini is wearing a gi top with red sweatpants, while Nilson is wearing the smallest American flag trunks you could imagine. It's so bad that you can see Nilson's jock strap sticking out from the bottom of his trunks.
Hosseini throws a leg kick, but Nilson rushes in for a takedown. Hosseini attempts a guillotine choke and spends some time working for the submission, but Nilson shoves his opponent away. Nilson throws some punches and moves into the clinch, but it looks like Hosseini tries to pull Nilson into his guard.
Nilson actually ends up in half guard and qucikly moves to full mount with Hosseini holding onto his head. Nilson postures up begins throwing some big punches, prompting Hosseini to give up his back. Nilson thinks about a choke, but throws a number of unanswered elbows to Hosseini's head while holding onto his ponytail. The crowd is eating this up, chanting along with each elbow that Nilson throws. Referee Joe Hamilton doesn't wait very long before calling a stop to this fight, a decision that Saeed Hosseini is very displeased with.
The Iranian jumps up and protests the stoppage in a very animated fashion. Big John is quick to enter the cage in an attempt to subdue the loser of the fight. Big John explains that he told Hosseini in the fighters meeting that if you're on your stomach and not defending yourself, the fight will be stopped. Hosseini complains that "you should give me a minute, it was just ten seconds", but the argument somehow doesn't succeed. Jack Nilson is the winner and he will fill-in as an alternate in the heavyweight tournament if needed.
In the post fight interview, Joe Rogan asks Nilson what he thought about Hosseini's ponytail, to which Nilson replies "I appreciate it." Hey, why not? If it's something that you can use, then there's no reason to hold off. We've seen Jerry Bohlander grab the cage and Keith Hackney pulverize Joe Son's testicles, so Nilson using Hosseini's ponytail for leverage is nothing new.
With the YouTube portion of this event complete, it's back to the live footage. The first tournament fight of the night is Christophe Leininger vs. Guy Mezger in the lightweight tournament. Leininger, a judo practitioner, will look to utilizes his throws and submissions to avenge a loss in his only UFC fight.
Mezger has been training at the Lion's Den with the man who defeated Leininger, Ken Shamrock, and he's accompanied to the cage by fellow Lion's Den competitors Frank Shamrock and Tra Telligman. Bruce Beck says Mezger is newly committed to MMA having shorn his "trademark" ponytail. We know that Mezger will work for submissions of his own given his affiliation with Shamrock.
Hey look, Courtney Love is in attendance and has an opinion on Ken Shamrock's defection to the World Wrestling Federation. Actually, that's probably not Courtney Love - just some other junkie with a poor opinion of professional wrestling. At least we still have a number of the Lion's Den fighters like Mezger and Telligman competing on these shows.
These men are pretty evenly matched physically, Mezger with a one inch height advantage and Leininger being ten pounds heavier. Bruce Buffer gives us a very early "we are live!" which is something I wouldn't have expected to hear for another few years. He also throws out an "it's time!", but he makes the mistake of going too long with the opening announcement. He asks the crowd if they're ready for the "ULTIMATE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIIIIIIIIP" and is greeted with mostly indifference. It didn't take long for this crowd to tire of Buffer's loudness.
It should be noted that in his time away from the UFC, Guy Mezger has gone 9-4-2 for the Pancrase promotion with wins over Yuki Kondo, Semmy Schilt, and Minoru Suzuki. Leininger has also gone 3-0 since his last UFC appearance, winning the Best in the Southwest MMA tournament in January 1997. The Augusta crowd is absolutely beside itself before this fight with wild cheering. You know that a crowd is amped up when both fighters get hearty cheers. In Augusta, that's also a good way of knowing that both fighters are white.
Big John is back refereeing this fight and he gets things going. Mezger grabs a hold of the collar on Leininger's gi and that obviously makes Leininger uncomfortable. Mezger is throwing some pretty clean punches that go largely unanswered. Mezger is completely controlling his opponent by holding onto the gi while Leininger misses with wild punches. Leininger responds by grabbing hold of the front of Mezger's trunks, coming dangerously close to exposing "Li'l Guy". This is perhaps the strangest clinch in MMA history, Leininger holding the trunks and Mezger holding the gi.
Leininger decides that it's a good idea to pull Mezger into guard, but Mezger ends up in side control which appears to be a precarious position for Leininger. Mezger lands a couple of strikes, but Guy backs off and has Leininger get back to his feet. Mezger throws some leg kicks before moving into a more orthodox clinch. He's still using the gi for leverage, and Leininger again goes for the trunks. Out of nowhere, Leininger lands a nice sweep and goes for an armbar, but Mezger quickly pops out and goes back to the clinch.
Mezger has his opponent against the cage and is throwing an occasional headbutt. Once again, Mezger hits a great rolling sweep and ends up in full mount! Unfortunately for Leininger, Guy Mezger is much stronger and reversed Leininger onto his back. From full guard, Mezger manages to back his opponent against the cage and begins throwing some more headbutts and punches. Mezger is largely inactive from the top, but every now and again, he'll throw a couple of shots. Leininger isn't doing anything to try and escape or do damage, so there's really no need for Mezger to be urgent.
Big John uses this as an opportunity to restart the fight at the eight minute mark. Leininger attempts some strikes of his own, but Mezger answers back with a head kick. Leininger slaps himself in the face, almost inviting Mezger to try it again. Guy throws a big kick to the body that appears to do some damage. Leininger seems really disoriented and has been completely outclassed by Guy Mezger ten minutes into the fight.
For whatever reason, Leininger continues to think that grabbing Mezger's trunks is an effective strategy. He once again pulls Mezger into guard, yet another position where Mezger has looked infinitely better than Leininger. Leininger's efforts to control Guy are ineffective and Mezger postures up to land some punches. He backs out of the guard and again forces Leininger back to his feet. The horn sounds and the twelve minute regulation period is complete. Leininger looks exhausted and I don't think Mezger will have many issues with this final three minute overtime.
Mezger starts the overtime throwing punches in combinations and mixing in leg kicks. Leininger is only able to respond with single punches that don't do a lot of damage. When the men are back in clinch, Leininger ramps up his aggressiveness and throws some more strikes, but Mezger turns up the volume himself and is successful with his own punches.
Mezger grabs a front facelock and violently drags Leininger to the mat. Leininger moves from his knees to his back, pulling Mezger into the guard yet again. Mezger has his forearm against Leininger's face and throat and is a little more active with his punches and elbows. Leininger is just holding on for dear life while Mezger lands knees to his head as the overtime period expires.
All three judges score this fight in favor of Guy Mezger, who will now move on to the finals of the lightweight tournament. No surprise with that decision - Guy Mezger was in control of the fight. In his postfight interview with Joe Rogan, Mezger says that there was nothing Leininger could do to hurt him. Mezger also says he'll need a new pair of trunks for his match in the finals.
It's now time for the second semifinal bout in the lightweight tournament featuring Enson Inoue against Royce Alger. Bruce Beck tells us that Dan Gable has spent time coaching Royce Alger and that the wrestling legend thinks very highly of Alger. Inoue is interested in trying to knock Alger out, either on the mat or on his feet. With his Shooto success, it wouldn't be surprising to see a well-rounded fighter like Inoue have great success here in the UFC. Royce Alger is actually training with reigning UFC Heavyweight Champion Mark Coleman, a good choice for any wrestler getting into MMA.
Royce Alger gets a very nice hand from the crowd, likely due to Mark Coleman's urging and Inoue's ethnicity. The fight begins with Alger attempting a very quick takedown, but Inoue sprawls and ends up in a crucifix position. Alger shrugs Inoue off and tries throwing some punches, but an armbar attempt from Inoue forces Alger to back off.
Alger rushes back into side control, but Inoue is holding on to Alger tightly. Alger tries to separate with little success. Alger moves into guard and postures up, throwing punches and throttling Inoue with his outreached arms. Inoue's corner implores their fighter to break Alger's arm. At the 1:30 mark of the fight, Inoue obliges and cinches in a nasty armbar. Alger tries to escape, but it's to no avail and Alger taps out. There was no escape for the wrestler and the experienced MMA fighter scored a nice win to move to the lightweight tournament finals.
In his postfight interview, Inoue said he feels good but needs to go lay down on account of all of the adrenaline going through his system. He definitely seems to be tired as he's sucking in air, surprising since the fight lasted all of 90 seconds.
One of my favorite early UFC features has returned: antiquated internet screenshots from 1997. My goodness, this takes me back. I spent too much time in my youth in these AOL chat rooms talking about who knows what. It was probably just a lot of acronyms and banality, just like how I use the internet today. LOL
In anticipation of tonight's Superfight main event, a Tank Abbott highlight video is shown prior to the first heavyweight tournament bout between Dmitri Stepanov and Steven Graham. Beck throws out this gem in discussing this upcoming fight: "with the unknowns, you just don't know what to expect". Brilliant.
Prior to the fight, Stepanov says that he admires Russian fighters such as Oleg Taktarov and Igor Zinoviev. Stepanov is a Muay Thai fighter with sambo experience and could definitely be a threat in this tournament. Graham is a former college football player who claims to have good striking and takedowns, though Blatnick is dubious about Graham's ground abilities. Graham actually enters the cage in a sweatshirt that says "3-D", meaning that he's a three dimensional fighter. Why should I question this man and his sweatshirt?
Graham is the much bigger man in this fight with an 80+ pound weight advantage, though the Belarusian Stepanov is two inches taller. Graham is a very thick man at 6'1" and 290 pounds, though frankly, it doesn't sound like he's a very talented guy. His background is in something called "extension fighting", and despite a win in Vale Tudo, Graham looks to be more brawn than actual talent.
Bruce Buffer has some more trouble, announcing the city of Minsk as "Minks". Jeff Blatnick amusingly and audibly questions the mistake over his microphone. I'm really terrified to see how Bruce pronounces "Halme".
Graham bolts out of his corner with a kick to start the fight. Stepanov attempts a kick, but Graham catches it and slams his opponent to the man. Graham is on top in half guard with Stepanov holding onto his head. Graham transitions to side control and is working on Stepanov's right arm. It looks like he's locking in an Americana and Stepanov is trying to defend. Graham is way too strong for Stepanov, who is forced to submit. I'm surprised with how impressive Graham looked in this brief showing and I look forward to seeing him in the finals.
Graham says in his post fight interview that his plan was to do the opposite of what Stepanov did. So I guess the single kick Stepanov threw was the impetus for Graham to score the takedown and the submission win. He says he'll be fine for the heavyweight tournament finals.
The second heavyweight semifinal is between Randy Couture and Tony Halme. Couture says he doesn't feel like he has an weaknesses that can be exploited and says he'll be looking for takedowns against Halme. Couture apparently boxed during his time in the U.S. Army during the 1980's, something I actually wasn't aware of.
Halme says that he'll either rip Couture's arms or legs out of socket, or perhaps he'll tear Couture's head off. Halme looks muscular, but he honestly looks pretty bloated. During his time in wrestling, Borga looked very muscular. He looks quite different from that now having added significant mass and looking unhealthily large. At 6'4" and 300 pounds, Halme has a three inch height advantage and a 75 pound weight advantage.
Bruce Buffer seems to get Halme's name right, which should apparently be pronounced as "Ha-la-me". I'm very proud of Bruce for this one.
Halme starts the fight by charging his opponent, but before he can even throw a punch, Couture lands a quick takedown and moves to side control. Halme has his massive left arm wrapped around Couture's head in an attempt to control the wrestler. Couture postures up and throws a punch while Halme rolls over to his stomach. Couture quickly takes Halme's back and sinks in a rear naked choke, forcing Halme to submit! That was an amazingly fast win and a very impressive showing by Randy Couture, especially given how big his opponent was.
Following this fight, a highlight video called "Boys from Brazil" is shown which highlights the accomplishments of Royce Gracie, Marco Ruas, and Vitor Belfort. The UFC seems hell bent on finding the next Royce Gracie and they're not exactly keeping that a secret. They tried that with Ruas and now they're trying it with Belfort. Vitor is a great fighter, but it's not exactly fair to compare the young man to one of the greatest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners of all time. Thankfully, Belfort gets his own highlight video featuring his awesome showing at UFC 12.
There has apparently been a change in the lightweight finals, as Enson Inoue has been forced out due to an eye injury. Inoue's vision has somehow been impacted and he won't be able to continue in the tournament. The winner of the earlier lightweight alternate fight between the smiley wrestler Tito Ortiz and Wes Albritton, who appears to be pouting, will move on to face Guy Mezger.
We may remember the bulbous headed Tito Ortiz from cornering Tank Abbott in previous fights. About Ortiz, Albritton says "he's a collegiate wrestler and he wrestles in college, so I expect him to want to put me on the ground." Wes Albritton: master strategist. Ortiz looks very intense as he makes his way to the cage. He talks about how he and Abbott really clicked during training, a frightening prospect for numerous reasons. I think any person who clicks with Tank Abbott on a personal level has some kind of serious mental defect, which we already know Tito Ortiz to have.
Ortiz starts the fight with a quick clinch and takes Albritton down quickly. Ortiz is throwing some heavy punches and manages to move to full mount very quickly. Tito is landing some huge left hands and now he starts with the elbows to Albritton's face. About thirty seconds in, Albritton's corner throws in the towel to stop this fight. Ortiz has taken a quick TKO victory and looked quite impressive in doing so. Of course, it doesn't help that Albritton is a pale sack of jelly with a wispy orange mustache.
As you can see above, Tito Ortiz turned his opponent's head into a pasty speed bag before Albritton's corner decided that they had to protect their fighter's skull. Ortiz says after the fight that he was too strong for Albritton and that he didn't stand a chance. This all means the lightweight finals tonight will feature Guy Mezger and Tito Ortiz. Jeff Blatnick suspects that Mezger might be at a disadvantage having fought for 15 minutes earlier in the night, while Tito Ortiz's fight lasted just more than 30 seconds.
Frank Shamrock spends time prior to the fight coaching up Guy Mezger. They show a pretaped video of Tito from earlier in the night saying that Leininger vs. Mezger will end up being a "girl fight", strong words from a guy who had never fought in the UFC prior to tonight. Ortiz holds a one inch height advantage over Mezger while both men are right around 200 pounds.
The fight begins with Ortiz as the aggressor, throwing some heavier punches at Mezger. Guy decides to attempt a takedown which is easily defended by Tito. Oritz is throwing punches to Mezger's body and head. It looks like Ortiz is working for a choke, but he shifts to an inside cradle. At this point, Bruce Beck and Tito Ortiz's corner both think that Mezger tapped out. It's pretty unclear, but I don't think it was a tap. Tito was throwing some pretty big knees while working the cradle, but I don't know that it was enough to submit Mezger.
In fact, the knees did enough damage to open up a cut on Mezger's head, prompting Big John McCarthy to stop the fight. Leon Tabbs examines the two cuts, which appear to be on Mezger's scalp. Ortiz's corner complains about Mezger's tap, but Big John says Mezger was just trying to block the knees. The fight will continue despite the cuts.
The fight is restarted on the feet, though I'm sure Tito would love to have that cradle position back. Both men come out trading punches, Mezger landing some clean shots to the body. Ortiz shoots in for a takedown of his own, but Mezger grabs a hold of Ortiz's neck and locks in a guillotine! It appears to be right and Ortiz is trying to power out of it. It's to no avail and Ortiz is forced to tap out!
Guy Mezger has won the lightweight tournament! Guy Mezger is clearly elated and he tries to shake hands with his opponent, but Tito is not at all interested in paying respect to the winner. Ortiz is extremely pissed off with the result of the fight as well he should be. He was careless with his takedown attempt and ended up paying for it. Though short, this certainly was a strange fight given the stoppage, the alleged tap, and then Mezger's comeback after the restart. Of course, if this happened today, the fighters would have been restarted with Ortiz in control and who knows how the fight would go from there.
Mezger pays a lot of credit to Tito for being a tough opponent before being awarded his medal for winning the tournament. Comissioner Art Davies verbally fellates Mezger rather uncomfortably before presenting the medal. It's almost like an overzealous father giving an award to his son, very strange. Then again, I have a fucked up relationship with my dad so any father/son relationship is a weird one to me.
The first two lightweight tournament winners are out of the Lion's Den, so I doubt we'll see Mezger go up against Jerry Bohlander. Tito Ortiz seems like a good candidate to either rematch with Mezger or go up against Bohlander, so we'll have to see if that takes place in the future.
Bruce Beck announces that the undefeated Mark Coleman will return to the UFC to defend his Heavyweight Title against Maurice Smith at UFC 14. Smith is a world champion kickboxer who has spent time in Pancrase, but he has a less than stellar MMA record of 4-7. Then again, his seven losses are to Minoru Suzuki, Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten (twice), Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Kiyosha Tamura, and Akira Maeda, six of the best Pancrase and RINGS has to offer. Smith also lost each of those seven fights by submission, perhaps showing that he might be slightly behind with his submission defense.
Mark Coleman sounds very confident in his chances to win against Maurice Smith. Regarding the fight, Coleman says, "I'm gonna take him to the ground and I'm gonna pound the shit out of him." He also says that ground and pound is his "goddamn game" and that he's going to "fucking do something for the freestyle wrestlers".
Joe Rogan's face says it all. Nicely said, Mark.
Jeff Blatnick tells us that Mark Coleman has started his own gym, the Hammer House, and we can expect to see some of his teammates like Mark Kerr and Kevin Randleman in the future. Beck and Blatnick once again hype the Abbott/Belfort fight with Beck saying that this fight "the man who's always running from the law against the man who wants to enforce it". Beck and Blatnick are in rare form tonight, but sadly, I'm not sure that Jeff Blatnick is drunk. Beyond his opening jitters, he's been just fine this evening.
But right now, it's time for the heavyweight tournament finals between Steven Graham and Randy Couture. Both men pulled off quick and surprising submissions in their semifinal fights. I don't think Graham's size will be much of an advantage on account of Couture having handled the very large Tony Halme with no real problems.
I think Bruce Buffer confuses fans by announcing that Graham vs. Couture will be the "final event" when he merely means that this will be the finals of the heavyweight tournament. Given how natural Buffer is at this job now, it's jarring to see him struggle mightily during these early UFC events.
This fight begins and once again, Couture lands an early takedown. Couture moves quickly to side control and is throwing some punches. Graham gives up his back, much like Halme did earlier, but Couture takes his back against the cage fence and doesn't have much of a shot for another rear naked choke.
As Couture is landing punches and working a crossface, Graham rolls forward in an attempt to shake his opponent off. Unfortunately for him, Couture doesn't budge and he now has a single hook in. Graham tries to slip out, so Couture lets go of Graham's back and moves back to side control. Graham is working to escape, but Couture nicely maintains position and transitions to north/south position.
From north/south, Couture lands some big knees. He moves back to side control and postures up to throw some punches. Graham has his hands up in an attempt to defend Couture, but Randy has controlled the first 100 seconds of this fight. Couture sinks in a half nelson to keep Graham from maneuvering to a more advantageous position. Graham gives up his back yet again and Couture grabs a front facelock.
Couture starts to throw some huge knees to Graham's head and spins to take Graham's back yet again. Big John is intently watching the action and has seemed close to stopping this fight on a couple of occasions. Couture is throwing some headbutts from behind and now he sinks in both hooks and flattens Graham out. Couture postures a big and begins to throw undefended punches and Big John has seen enough! Randy Couture has taken a TKO victory and is the UFC 13 heavyweight tournament champion!
Randy Couture was utterly dominant in these two fights tonight, using his great speed and awesome wrestling to beat two much larger opponents. Couture's game seems to be more finesse oriented compared to Mark Coleman's more powerful brand of wrestling. It's no surprises that these elite wrestlers have had such success, though Royce Alger's earlier loss was certainly disappointing.
Big John seems to have had a habit of editorializing a bit in his early days as a referee. He's always quick to throw out kudos or congratulations to fighters. To Couture, McCarthy could be heard saying, "good job...some outstanding base, baby." I have to say, Big John makes me a little bit uncomfortable. Couture seems to take the complement in stride, though it's possible he didn't hear it.
After the fight, Randy Couture throws out a surprising thank you to Jesus. I can't recall having ever heard Randy get so religious, but it's possible that a nine year old Jon Jones got in his ear before the fight and reminded him to give all applicable props to Christ. Couture says that he aims to represent wrestling in the UFC, sentiments expressed earlier and far less eloquently by Mark Coleman. When awarding the heavyweight tournament medal, Art Davies reveals that Couture was a late addition. Given Couture's performance, it's safe to say that short notice wasn't much of an issue.
And now it's time for the heavyweight Superfight between Tank Abbott and Vitor Belfort. Tank says prior to the fight that he has a blanket policy of not respecting others on account of not wanting to give them that kind of power over him. Tank is a strangely philosophical ogre, but he's up against a dangerous opponent in Belfort. Vitor is apt in his observation that Tank is a dangerous fighter because he's got nothing to lose. I don't see how losing a fight really impacts Tank, since he'll just come back in a few months to try and kick ass once again.
Vitor appears to be a little larger this time and is announced at 215 pounds. He's still very lean and muscular, but a bit of added weight could do nothing but help Belfort. Abbott, meanwhile, looks as rotund as ever.
The crowd is extremely pumped as this fight begins. Tank is the first to throw punches, but Belfort responds by clinching with Abbott and charging against the cage. Abbott is taken down by Belfort who throws a couple of quick punches, but Abbot powers out and trips Belfort to the mat. Tank allows Vitor back to his feet, wisely choosing against a ground war with Belfort.
Belfort lands a quick left, but Abbott quickly decides to tie up with his opponent. Tank and Vitor trade body shots and Belfort breaks the clinch and unleashes with some heavy punches! Tank weakly attempts a takedown and Belfort pounces, taking Tank's back. Belfort is throwing some powerful lefts and Tank isn't doing anything to defend. Less than a minute into the fight, Big John stops it! Vitor Belfort has won the Superfight!
After the fight, Tank Abbott actually seeks out Vitor to offer his congratulations, a rare sight and a departure from Tank's oafish ways. As Big John raises Vitor's hand, you can hear Bruce Buffer trying to announce the decision over a dead microphone. Thankfully for Bruce, the issue is resolved fairly promptly.
When asked by Joe Rogan what his strategy for the fight was, Vitor replies "beat the crap" out of Tank, a surprisingly brash statement from the young man. Vitor gets a little carried away giving credit to his trainers while proclaiming, "THEY ARE MY TRAINERS! THEY ARE MY FRIENDS! WE WON!" Vitor says he he doesn't care who he fights next, he just wants to make money and grow with this sport. Something tells me that he'll be able to do just that in the UFC.
Belfort's win caps off a very fun UFC 13 event in which we saw three new champions crowned: Belfort, Randy Couture, and Guy Mezger. Interestingly enough, not a single fighter from this event will return to UFC 14 in an attempt to defend their titles. In fact, no fighter from UFC 13 will appear on the card for UFC 14. We know that Mark Coleman will be defending his Heavyweight Title at this event, but the rest of the card is up in the air at this point.
Hopefully the UFC will be able to capitalize on a strong performance and put on yet another good show at UFC 14.
Greatest Fights of UFC 13
- Guy Mezger vs. Tito Ortiz
- Vitor Belfort vs. Tank Abbott
- Enson Inoue vs. Royce Alger
- Randy Couture vs. Steven Graham
- Guy Mezger vs. Christophe Leininger
- Jack Nilson vs. Saeed Hosseini
- Randy Couture vs. Tony Halme
- Steven Graham vs. Dmitri Stepanov
- Tito Ortiz vs. Wes Albritton
Top Ten Fights Through UFC 13
- Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo - UFC 3
- Don Frye vs. Tank Abbott - UU96
- Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn - UFC 4
- Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney - UFC 4
- Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott - UFC 6
- Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock - UFC 1
- Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn - UFC 6
- Marco Ruas vs. Paul Varelans - UFC 7
- Don Frye vs. Brian Johnston - UFC 10
- Ken Shamrock vs. Christophe Leininger - UFC 3
Greatest Fighters of UFC 13
- Randy Couture (2-0)
- Vitor Belfort (1-0)
- Guy Mezger (2-0)
- Enson Inoue (1-0)
- Jack Nilson (1-0)
- Tito Ortiz (1-1)
- Steven Graham (1-1)
- Tank Abbott (0-1)
- Royce Alger (0-1)
- Christophe Leininger (0-1)
- Saeed Hosseini (0-1)
- Dmitri Stepanov (0-1)
- Tony Halme (0-1)
- Wes Albritton (0-1)
Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 13
- Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
- Mark Coleman (6-0)
- Dan Severn (9-3)
- Ken Shamrock (6-2-2)
- Don Frye (9-1)
- Oleg Taktarov (6-2-1)
- Vitor Belfort (3-0)
- Marco Ruas (4-1)
- Guy Mezger (4-0)
- Jerry Bohlander (4-1)