**This is the 16th 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 sixteen UFC events.**
It's July of 1997 and the UFC has returned to the pay-per-view airwaves. UFC 14 is upon us and it marks the debut of the middleweight division! Actually, what was once called the lightweight division (fighters under 200 pounds) has simply been renamed the middleweight division. I'm not sure what the middleweight division is in the middle of since there are now only two weight classes in the UFC. Nonetheless, long live the middleweight division!
The UFC is sticking with the two tournament system, which frankly, I have been enjoying. There is still a bit of a gap between the largest and smallest fighters at heavyweight, but the division has still been competitive. The lightweight/middleweight division has allowed lighter fighters like Jerry Bohlander and Guy Mezger to gain measures of success in the UFC. Neither of those fighters will be participating in the inaugural middleweight tournament at this event, but we'll see the return of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu star (not named Royce Gracie) and the debut of another Olympic gold medal wrestler, Kevin Jackson.
The heavyweight division also has a couple of returning fighters from previous UFC events, though Randy Couture is notably absent from the event. We will see the debut of a heavyweight fighter and wrestler from Syracuse University who defeated Couture for the 1992 NCAA wrestling title at the 190 pound weight class. 1992 was a year of notable champions in the NCAA wrestling championships including Kevin Randleman, Kurt Angle, and the man making his debut tonight, Mark Kerr.
Along with the tournaments, Mark Coleman will defend his UFC Heavyweight Title against kickboxer Maurice Smith in what should be a very interesting contest. We've got some good fights ahead of us so lets get started.
UFC 14: Showdown - July 27, 1997
Ultimate Ultimate 1995
Ultimate Ultimate 1996
The UFC has returned to Alabama for this pay-per-view event. It seems increasingly true that the southern states in the U.S. are more friendly in regards to hosting these UFC events. It's great that the UFC was able to put on these shows despite serious political and public opposition, though I'm sure they would have liked to have expanded their boundaries beyond Georgia, Alabama, and...well that's about it right now.
As always, Bruce Beck and Jeff Blatnick are with us to walk us through tonight's proceedings. In discussing tonight's title fight, Beck claims that both Maurice Smith and Mark Coleman are undefeated in "freestyle competition". Now we know Coleman has had a pretty good run through the UFC, but what about Maurice Smith? I mentioned in the UFC 13 write-up that Maurice Smith was 4-7 in MMA with seven submission losses. Smith also has a handful of kickboxing losses, so I'm not sure in which formats Maurice Smith is undefeated. Perhaps just in the UFC, where he's built a solid 0-0 record thus far.
The middleweight tournament features the returning Joe Moreira with his amazing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu against Latvian boxer Yuri Vaulin, while gold medalist Kevin Jackson makes his debut against karate practitioner Todd Butler. Moreira and Jackson appear to be favorites in this bracket. Moreira had difficulty with Paul Varelans in his UFC debut, but he won't have to deal with such a size difference in this contest.
For the heavyweights, Moti Horenstein faces newcomer Mark Kerr and Brian Johnston returns to the UFC to take on another wrestler in Dan Bobish. Poor Moti Horenstein. He gets wrestled to death in his UFC debut against Mark Coleman, so now he gets to take on Coleman's Hammer House teammate and NCAA wrestling champion Mark Kerr? How unfortunate. Brian Johnston has been very competitive in previous UFC appearances and I'm interested to see how successful he'll be at this event
Similar to UFC 13, there is a single alternate fight for each weight class. For the heavyweights, Alex Hunter defeated Sam Fulton via TKO in an unaired fight. The middleweight alternate fight features Anthony Fryklund and Donnie Chappell, but we'll see that fight later in the evening.
Joe Rogan is backstage to tell us that the "adrenaline is thick" in the locker rooms. If I had to guess, I would say that Hammer House fighters Coleman and Kerr are doing the most to contribute toward this excessive adrenaline. Rogan goes on to tell us what we should be "pumped up" to see, which is basically everything on the event.
And now it's time for the first fight of the night pitting Yuri Vaulin and Joe Moreira. It's a huge styles clash in this fight given Vaulin's boxing and Moreira's Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Any words before the fight, Yuri?
"First of all...I will make lots of false attack. He will...all the time pay attention for his defense, not for the attack. Because I will show different hands starting to attack and it will be more busy to pay attention for defense his self-taught technique."
I don't think that English is Yuri Vaulin's primary language. I would try to transcribe Moreira's prefight interview but I think that would make my head hurt. Plus, I don't have an hour to get all of that right. The gist is that Moreira aims to use his BJJ to make his home country proud.
I know these are Bruce Buffer's early events, but the guy is cringe worthy here. He has no idea how to use his volume, sometimes legitimately and unnecessarily shouting into his microphone. Thank goodness he's refined his performance now because the yelling is barely tolerable when he doesn't know how to form a decent sounding sentence. I was excited to get rid of Rich Goins for this guy? I hope the UFC veers into an alternate reality where Howard Finkel or Joe Martinez becomes the announcer.
Lets get onto the fight. Right away, Vaulin is faking some strikes. Unfortunately for him, Moreira scores a quick takedown and moves to half guard. Vaulin is making weak attempts to strike Moreira, who advances his position to full mount. This is bad news for the Latvian boxer who is on his back and taking elbows. Moreira is facing a fighter who presumably has very little submission knowledge, so it wouldn't surprise me to see a submission attempt very soon.
During this fight, Bruce Beck mentions that UFC 14 is the first event requiring fighters to wear gloves. We've seen fighters like Tank Abbott utilize the gloves in the past, but now all fighters are required to wear these gloves. It's further clarified by Jeff Blatnick that hair-pulling, strikes to the groin, and kicking a downed opponent in the head are all illegal acts.
These are all big changes and I wonder why these weren't mentioned up front instead of a minute into the first fight. I guess it makes sense since the UFC is supposed to be no holds barred street fighting, but it can't really make that claim if they're restricting how fighters are able to attack their opponent. The UFC decides the best approach is to not go out of their way to discuss the changes for fear of offending the ignorant and blood-thirsty masses.
Back to the fight and Moreira isn't doing a ton from full mount. He's throwing some punches and elbows, but it doesn't look like there's a lot behind those strikes. Moreira has Vaulin's legs tied up, but it's not doing any good given the lack of offense from Moreira. Vaulin is trying to stay active from the bottom but he's really at a disadvantage. He can't get any leverage behind his strikes and he's doing little to hurt Moreira. The Brazilian responds with a flurry of punches followed by another period of inactivity.
We're at the five minute mark and Moreira has done the same thing for the entire fight: stay on top, do just enough to not get stood up, score with the judges. I wonder if Bobby Lashley learned from the Joe Moreira school of full mount? It's ridiculous that Moreira has yet to even attempt a submission, but he is winning the fight for sure.
Big John is intently staring at the action, but it's stunning that he's not stood these fighters up. I've never seen such an inactive full mount, and it may not seem like a good idea to stand up a fighter while he's in mount, but it seems absolutely necessary here. Nine minutes in and the crowd has begun the boring chants.
At 9:30, Big John finally restarts the fight. Vaulin decides to stick with his gameplan of throwing a lot of feints, a great idea after being held down for nearly ten minutes. Moreira again gets the takedown and pulls mount, bringing us back to where we were before the restart. The fight stays this way for the duration of the fight until we hit the 12 minute mark, which means the end of regulation. Big John asks Vaulin if he wants to continue in the fight and he confirms that he does. Both fighters seem absolutely gassed so we'll see how this three minute overtime goes.
Vaulin is sizing up Moreira and throws a single left to the body that misses. Surprise, surprise, Moreira gets another takedown. He spends some time in side control and yet again goes to full mount. The entire overtime is spent with Moreira squarely in control and doing very little while Vaulin struggles and defends what little offense Moreira uses. This fight sucked. Thanks a lot, Joe Moreira! That has to be one of the worst and most lopsided fights we've seen in the UFC.
Unsurprisingly, Joe Moreira has taken the unanimous decision victory and he will advance to the finals of the middleweight tournament. I really don't look forward to another fight like this, so I'm just hopeful Moreira is exhausted and will spend the finals taking a massive beating.
His opponent will be the winner of the next fight between Todd Butler and Kevin Jackson. This should be another grappler vs. striker fight, but Butler has some collegiate wrestling experience along with his karate and boxing skills. Unfortunately for Butler, his high school and college wrestling days are nothing compared to Jackson's gold medal wrestling skills. Jackson says he thinks he'll be surprised when he gets punched in the UFC for the first time. Hopefully he'll be able to withstand that and put on a good show.
Butler keeps a lower base to start this fight, presumably preparing himself for an impending takedown attempt from Jackson. Butler is moving in and out with quick punches, but Jackson grabs the clinch and backs Butler against the cage. Butler is defending Jackson's takedown attempts, but Jackson sweeps Butler's legs and gets the takedown.
Butler quickly turns his back and Jackson sinks in both hooks and takes control. Jackson looks interested in a choke, but he gives that up quickly and begins to throw some big right hands. Butler quickly taps out as his corner throws in the towel giving the Olympian his first win in the UFC. After he score the takedown, Jackson was firmly in control and promptly scored the victory.
Jackson gives a very humble post fight interview and seems like a pretty likeable guy. He'll be moving on to the finals against Joe Moreira and I'm sure that Joe won't have be able to take Jackson down like he did to Yuri Vaulin. Kevin Jackson is also the much fresher fighter and I think these finals will go his way.
I have to put up these AOL chat logs. I love this stuff. I really wish there was an AOL chat transcript database where I could find these old logs from the UFC events. If anyone has something like this, I implore you to send it my way. Also, the Fred Ettish Fetal Fighting website mentioned in the chat apparently still exists. I also wonder when the hell Marco Ruas will be "commming back" to the UFC.
Bruce Beck hypes up the Maurice Smith/Mark Coleman fight, claiming again that Smith is undefeated in the world of "reality combat." How on earth can he make this claim? Smith has more losses than wins in his MMA career, so maybe "reality combat" just means fights that take place outside of Japan? But then they show clips of Smith from Pancrase, including from fights where he lost! I am really at a loss with this one.
Beck then hypes the UFC's next event, UFC 15 in October 1997. Vitor Belfort will be in a heavyweight superfight in which he'll be competing for the chance to take on the UFC Heavyweight Champion. Randy Couture is also listed for the event, though opponents aren't named for either fighter.
And now it's time for the heavyweight tournament with Mark Kerr and Moti Horenstein squaring off in the first semifinal bout. Kerr is nicknamed "The Smaching Machine" and I'm anxious to see what he does to live up to that monicker. I'm assuming some heavy duty smashing, but we'll have to wait and see for sure. Horenstein says before the fight that he is relaxed and very prepared to fight Mark Kerr, but I wonder if he'll feel the same way during the fight itself. This is similar to the Butler/Jackson fight where one man is a karate practitioner and one is a wrestler and the wrestler took that fight.
Bruce Beck mistakenly calls Bruce Buffer "Michael", which is a fun mix-up. It also makes me yearn for Michael Buffer as a UFC announcer. I think that Buffer has a contract with HBO nowadays, but I'm not positive. Either way, I know that he's not in my life nearly as much as he should be. Not since the courts issues that dual physical and aural restraining order was issued years ago, forcing me to stay 500 yards away from the man himself and 200 yards away from any TV on which he is announcing. I PROMISE I WON'T HURT YOU, MICHAEL.
Enough of my problems, on with the fight. Before Horenstein is able to land any strikes, Kerr scores a quick double leg takedown and is in side control. Kerr lands some big knees to Horenstein's head, but shouldn't those be illegal? Kicks to the head of a downed opponent are illegal, but what about the knees? Perhaps they just banned soccer style kicks where a standing opponent strikes a downed opponent. Whatever the case is, the knees are allowed.
Horenstein rolls to avoid the knees and briefly gives up his back, but he adjusts closes to the cage fence while Kerr attacks and is Horenstein his back again. Kerr is once again in side control and is throwing some bunches to Horenstein's head and body. Kerr is controlling Horenstein's head with his left elbow while Horenstein is doing his best to hold Kerr down.
Kerr tries to move to mount, but ends up in half guard where he's throwing a flurry of punches. Horenstein again tries to hold Kerr down at the two minute mark but the wrestler is far too powerful and is able to posture up. Kerr is again throwing punches to Horenstein's head and these shots are going unanswered. Big John decides to stop this fight at 2:23 to prevent Horenstein from taking any additional damage. Mark Kerr has won this fight and he advances to the heavyweight finals.
The replay shows that Kerr's ground and pound was landing very cleanly, doing some serious damage to Horenstein. Kerr doesn't say anything notable in his post fight interview, but Joe Rogan reveals to us that Joe Moreira has to pull out of his fight in the middleweight finals. Very surprising considering that Moreira spent about 15 minutes laying on top of his opponent, but nonetheless, he is out. That means Kevin Jackson will face the winner of Anthony Fryklund vs. Donnie Chappell, a fight that will be shown later in the evening.
They show interviews with Maurice Smith and Mark Coleman in anticipation of their main event fight. Smith says he'll try to avoid the takedown and set Coleman up with jabs. According to Bruce Beck, Smith also said that Coleman hits like a girl. Coleman doesn't think Smith can knock him out and he definitely doesn't think Smith can handle his takedowns. I think the latter point seems to be very likely.
Now it's time for the second heavyweight semifinal contest between Dan Bobish and Brian Johnston. Bobish is an absolutely massive man at 6'1" and more than 300 pounds and he was a division 3 NCAA wrestling champion. We remember Brian Johnston as a very good kickboxer who put on some competitive fights, but who had been defeated by fighters like Ken Shamrock, Don Frye and Mark Coleman. Bobish has a nearly 100 pound weight advantage over Johnston, showing that weight classes haven't completely eliminated weight inequities. Johnston is the taller fighter at 6'4", but the weight difference is absolutely huge.
Johnston starts this fight swinging and Bobish quickly responds with punches of his own. Johnston seemed to be getting the best of the exchanges before he clinched with Bobish. Johnston tries to maneuver in the clinch, but Bobish breaks free and lands some big punches. Johnston clinches again, but now Bobish hits a takedown and has Johnston pressed against the fence.
Bobish uses his head to press Johnston's head against the cage, but he changes that up and shoves his left forearm into Johnston's throat while landing big punches with his right hand. Bobish is putting a lot of his weight on Johnston, who appears to be very uncomfortable. With the forearm across his throat and the torque put on his neck, Johnston is forced to tap out just over two minutes into the fight.
The heavyweight finals are now set with Dan Bobish vs. Mark Kerr in what should be a very fun fight. Bobish confirms after the fight that he feels good and should be able to move on to the finals. Jeff Blatnick can't contain his excitement for this final match. The large wrestler on commentary is excited about the prospect of watching two other large wrestlers do battle.
Joe Rogan is backstage with Joe Moreira and they discuss the circumstances regarding Moreira's departure from the tournament. He wanted to continue in the tournament, but Moreira's doctors forced him to pull out due to a "contraction in his head." Rogan clairifes with Moreira that it's actually concussion and not contraction and Moreira isn't sure how it happened.
I wonder if the doctors just confused Moreira being concussed with the fact that he seems like a slower individual. He seems to talk with a relaxed drawl that could possibly be confused with a potential head injury. If the doctor only spoke English, that just exacerbates the problem considering Moreira's poor grasp on the English language. I proposed this idea as a joke, but now I think I've convinced myself that this is what actually happened.
Joe Moreira also reveals that his pregnant wife was giving birth to the couple's child and he sends this message to his wife: "Congratulation sweetheart...I make this fight for you. I be back soon home. Bye." Aww.
Now it's time for the footage of Anthony Fryklund vs. Donnie Chappell from earlier in the evening. Chappell is an Alabama native and has a very wispy mustache. He looks like Timothy McVeigh's brother, though I think that could be true for a lot of men in their 20's during the 1990's. This is especially true of the American south.
Chappell expresses interest in being an aggressive striker and plans to do damage before his opponent is able to do so. Chappell is apparently allowed to wear a t-shirt in the cage as well. The only time you should be able to wear a t-shirt in the octagon is if it's one of those shirts with muscles on it and the referee is unable to determine whether or not it's a shirt or abdominal muscles.
Fryklund seems a little more well balanced, having both good submissions and strikes. He is not notably ugly or deformed, nor is he wearing a t-shirt. His look could probably pass for an MMA fighter in 2011. He even has this awful tattoo on his chest, much like the majority of fighters in the UFC today.
Referee Joe Hamilton, who has handled undercard duties for a number of UFC fights, gets the action going. Chappell, t-shirt and all, attempts a flying kick but is taken down by Fryklund who quickly moves from side control to full mount. Chappell is seriously struggling, trying his best to restrain Fryklund. Chappell even throws a few punches from the ground, but Fryklund lands some blows of us own before Chappell again grabs his opponent.
Chappell is actually being slightly more active with his punches from the bottom, even if they're not doing significant damage. Fryklund throws a few short headbutts and it looks like he's trying some kind of choke and Joe Hamilton stops the fight! I have a hard time seeing what exactly Fryklund did, but he may have used Chappell's t-shirt to assist in the choke. It doesn't look like a forearm choke, so I'm kind of at a loss on this one.
What's really notable is the extracurricular activity from Fryklund after the bout. Once Joe Hamilton stops the fight, Fryklund throws an uncontested and clearly cheap punch to Chappell's face and then steps on Chappell's chest when walking back to his corner. The crowd thoroughly boos Fryklund, who is cornered by Hamilton and then Big John McCarthy. Both referees clearly thing Fryklund's actions were dirty and intentional, which I feel is the correct assessment of the situation.
Chappell approaches Fryklund after the stoppage but is shooed away by the victor. Fryklund relishes the boos of the crowd as his hand is raised after the fight. He somehow sees fit to shake Chappell's hand and apologizes for his actions later on. Chappell replies to Fryklund's apology with "ain't no sorry", which I believe is a rejection of said apology. Fryklund acknowledges to Joe Rogan that he got carried away and says he won't do that again. He again says he's sorry and says that Chappell didn't deserve that treatment.
I THINK WE HAVE THE MAKINGS OF A UFC GRUDGE - it's just too bad Donnie Chappell sucks.
For the first time ever, Bruce Beck presents the UFC middleweight rankings. The top five fighters are listed as follows.
- Guy Mezger
- Jerry Bohlander
- Mark Schultz
- Enson Inoue
- Yoshiki Takahashi
Mezger and Bohlander won the first two middleweight (then lightweight) tournaments, so they make sense at the top. Beck notes that Schultz has retired from MMA, which should seemingly disqualify him from contention. Inoue and Takahashi are both 1-0 in the UFC but spend most of their time fighting in Japan. It's noted that both Inoue and Takahashi expect to be back in the UFC shortly. With the UFC basically in its infancy, the rankings are unsurprisingly fairly shallow.
So now, Anthony Fryklund will take on Kevin Jackson in the middleweight tournament finals. Fryklund's greeting from the audience is less than warm, which is very unsurprising. Kevin Jackson is clearly the crowd favorite in this fight given Fryklund's earlier transgressions, as if a U.S. Olympic gold medalist needs more fans.
Fryklund throws a light leg kick to begin the action, but is almost immediately taken down by Jackson. Fryklund attempts to free himself, but inadvertently gives up his back to Jackson just 12 seconds into the fight! Jackson is working hard to secure a rear naked choke as Fryklund tightens up to defend the submission attempt. Jackson softens his opponent up with some punches and then attempts the choke again. Jackson really sinks in the choke and Fryklund taps out in just 44 seconds!
Kevin Jackson had no problems with Fryklund in this fight and has won the UFC 14 middleweight tournament. The crowd chants "Jackson! Jackson!" after the fight result is announced and the Olympian has quickly become a fan favorite in the UFC. I'm sure he'll be shot toward the top of the promotion's middleweight rankings based on the strength of his victories here.
Jackson says that he'd like to fight Mezger, Bohlander, Moreira, or the Russian Igor Zinoviev in his next fights. Jackson's reflects statements previously made by Mark Coleman and Randy Couture when he says that American wrestlers will continue to be successful in the UFC.
Art Davie is becoming a bit of a creep, adding some personal anecdotes when awarding medals to tournament champions. Davies tells Jackson how much more impressive he looks in person than he thought he would, a statement I find to be very odd. It seems like this guy has always had a screw loose. Davie is now known for his ridiculous XARM promotion, which is basically extreme arm wrestling. How has Gary Goodridge not competed in this yet? Then again, it's possible that he has but nobody cares enough to notice.
Back to wrestlers in MMA, a video package is shown regarding the relationship between wrestling in MMA. Coleman, Jackson, and Mark Kerr all discuss how important wrestling has been in their respective successes in the UFC. Jeff Blatnick expounds upon that, saying that wrestling is perhaps the most applicable base a fighter can have in MMA.
Maurice Smith is shown shadow boxing backstage and Bruce Beck insists upon promoting this myth of Smith's undefeated record. "He doesn't know the word lose", lies Bruce Beck. Maurice Smith is thoroughly familiar with the art of losing, as he spent significant time mastering that in Rings and Pancrase.
It's now time for the heavyweight tournament finals with Mark Kerr facing Dan Bobish. Bobish is the significantly larger fight, but Kerr has more significant wrestling skills than Bobish does. We'll see if Bobish's 85 pound weight advantage is enough to overcome his skill deficiency.
Bruce Buffer oddly introduces a gentleman in the crowd from Kazakhstan whose name I couldn't understand. Buffer says that the UFC hopes to hold an event in Kazakhstan one day, a goal that has yet to be fulfilled. Kazakhstan certainly could have been home to one of these early UFC shows since pretty much nobody was willing to sanction these fights.
The camera work is stellar during the introductions, showing Dan Bobish as Mark Kerr is introduced and showing a wide shot of the octagon while Dan Bobish is introduced. The UFC in 1997 was certainly not a well oiled machine.
The fight starts with Kerr unleashing a big leg kick. Bobish shoves Kerr to the mat, but Kerr is quickly back to his feet and throws another leg kick. Kerr is moving along the cage while Bobish stalks his opponent. Kerr shoots in for a takedown and is successful after driving forward. Kerr ends up in side control with Bobish holding onto his head. Bobish briefly gives up his back in an attempt to escape, but turns onto his back after realizing that he could be in danger.
Both fighters take a moment to collect themselves before Kerr unleashes with some wild punches to his opponent's head. Bobish attempts to hold onto Kerr, but Kerr appears to lock in an arm triangle and shifts in order to tighten the hold. It doesn't take very long for Kerr to cinch the submission and score the submission victory! Mark Kerr has won the heavyweight tournament at UFC 14!
Upon further examination, it seems that the submission came from Kerr digging his chin into Bobish's left eye. The arm triangle was never solid and Kerr used a more unorthodox submission hold to win this fight. Bobish seems to be in significant pain from the hold, understandable since Mark Kerr just dug his chin into Bobish's eye.
Joe Rogan asks Kerr if he would fight Mark Coleman and Kerr is hesitant to commit to that fight since both men train together. Jeff Blatnick explains that we're seeing so many wrestlers in the UFC since, up until now, there have been few ways for wrestlers to capitalize on their success for financial gain. The UFC is the first outlet where wrestlers can come and display their skills for decent pay instead of having to become professional wrestlers.
After this fight, Bruce Beck thanks the viewers who are still watching the UFC. A number of cable and satellite providers have apparently pulled UFC programming on account of the continued political attacks on the promotion. 14 years later, the UFC is on the verge of purchasing their own television channel. It's pretty incredible how far the sport has come in such a short period of time.
The AOL chatroom is back and it's as great as ever. Some classic lines include "kill whitey", "JJackson ripped nazi", and "Time Warner is Dog DO DOO". Oh, the internet. America Online might be dead, but these people are still online and watching videos of girls eating poop. Disturbing, isn't it?
Now we get a look at the divisional rankings at heavyweight in the UFC.
- Mark Coleman (c)
- Don Frye
- Vitor Belfort
- Marco Ruas
- Maurice Smith
- Dan Severn
Beck speculates that Don Frye will be back in the octagon in January, but we've already said our farewells to the man. Marco Ruas has been out of the UFC for quite a while and won't return for another two years, but again, these rankings are pretty shallow and the UFC has to put somebody in the rankings.
And now it's time for our main event for the UFC Heavyweight Title with champion Mark Coleman against Maurice Smith. Smith is wearing a very 1990's appropriate shirt that reads "show me the money!" They finally show the video with Maurice Smith saying that Mark Coleman hits like a girl. He's basically trying to say that Coleman is powerful, but his technique is poor. I'm not sure I can disagree with that, but please don't tell 1997 Mark Coleman - I don't want him to kill me.
This is a fairly even match-up, though Mark Coleman is 25 pounds heavier and is much more muscular than his opponent. Coleman's power and wrestling will definitely be key, but sometimes it only takes a striker like Maurice Smith one shot to win a fight. Coleman gets a huge hand from the crowd and is the favorite in this fight, though there is a smattering of boos for the reigning champion.
The fight begins and before you know it, Coleman lands the takedown. He throws some headbutts and punches from the guard, but it doesn't look like the blows are doing a ton of damage. Smith is throwing some punches and elbows on the ground while Coleman seems to have slowed down a bit. Smith is maintaining a butterfly guard and is doing a pretty nice job defending Coleman's attacks, though Coleman is slowed down remarkably in just two minutes.
Coleman tries to pass guard, but Smith's defense is solid and he keeps Coleman in guard. Coleman takes a breather and is eventually able to move to half guard.. Smith is staying very busy and is working to make sure that Coleman doesn't advance positions. Coleman actually moves back and forth between guard and half guard. Coleman's face looks very red and he appears to be breathing heavily.
Coleman is eventually able to move to side control which prompts Maurice Smith to give up his back! Coleman is trying to put in a rear naked choke, but the choke isn't solid and Smith eventually moves to his back. Coleman is now in full mount and is resting his weight on Maurice Smith's upper body and head, but he's not doing a lot. Coleman postures up and begins to throw punches, but Smith does just enough to defend and withstands the flurry.
Smith tries to buck Coleman but gives up his back yet again. Coleman has a single hook in and tries to get his second hook in, but Smith is crouched down so tightly that Coleman can't maneuver his leg into position. Smith tries to roll through and reverse positions. It is a beneficial move for Smith as Coleman is moved back to half guard. Given Coleman's inactivity, this Alabama crowd has started chanting "Maurice!" Mark Coleman has to be exhausted, but Maurice Smith has also capably defended Coleman's offense and has not taken a ton of damage.
At the 9:00 mark, Coleman is able to move to full mount and now he's trying to lock in the arm triangle! Coleman tries to fasten the choke, but Smith is able to escape the hold and work back to his feet! This crowd has erupted with both men standing. Coleman goes for another takedown, but Smith defends the attempt and throws a big kick to Coleman's head!
Unfortunately for Maurice Smith, Coleman was downed when the kick was thrown, making it an illegal strike. Big John stops the action and gives Maurice Smith a warning. Three warnings would constitute a disqualification so Smith will need to be careful here. Coleman is favoring his head, but says he can continue in the fight.
Now that they're standing, it's very clear that Mark Coleman is low on energy. Smith lands a couple of leg kicks and attempts a head kick, but Coleman times the kick nicely and scores another takedown. Smith is throwing some elbows from the bottom and that prompts Coleman to move to side control. Blatnick speculates that Coleman may not have such an advantage on the judges' scorecards given his inactivity on the top. At the same time, Maurice Smith hasn't done much of anything and I'm not sure you could award him with the victory at this point.
Coleman seems interesting in locking in some kind of choke or arm triangle, but he's not able to secure any holds and is very quick to give up the attempts. With Coleman in side control, Smith is throwing knees to the head and body while his opponent is prone. Smith is very liberal with his elbows as Coleman moves back to full guard.
There's just one minute left in regulation and Coleman isn't doing much of anything. Smith has his right hand covering Coleman's mouth to try and obstruct his breathing. Given how winded Coleman is, this seems like a very wise move. Out of nowhere, Smith is able to sweep Coleman and reverse positions! Instead of taking Coleman's back, Smith stands and decides to spend the rest of regulation on his feet.
Smith throws a big body kick and Coleman follows up with a tired left hand. Coleman is barely with us as he eats a punch from Smith. When he's not being attacked, Coleman is keeled over with both of his hands on his knees. This man is absolutely tired. We have never seen Mark Coleman go this long in a fight and we may have found a serious deficiency in his game. Regulation has ended, but we have six minutes of overtime remaining. I don't know that Coleman will be able to survive that long at this point.
Frank Shamrock, who is apparently in Maurice Smith's corner, implores Smith to attack the exhausted Coleman. All I hear from Coleman's corner is the f-word.
The overtime opens and Smith is looking to take this fight. He is faking punches and throwing a number of leg kicks. Smith is trying to chop the champion's legs out from under him, an effective strategy with such a tired opponent. Smith is surprisingly tentative with his strikes, but he's doing all of the damage in overtime. Smith is starting to put together combinations and is mixing up his strikes effectively.
Coleman tries for a takedown, but there's nothing behind it and Smith just backs away. Coleman leans over in exhaustion and Smith capitalizes, putting together some nice punches and finishing the combo with a huge head kick! Jeff Blatnick speculates that this combo has shifted the fight in Smith's favor and that the judges could potentially score the fight for Smith at this point. I agree with this, since Smith has done more in three minutes than Coleman did in the first fifteen.
Smith is smiling and taunting Coleman as he knows he's in control of this fight. The first overtime ends and Smith is supremely confident in the direction of this fight. Smith has another three minutes to try and put away this fight with the crowd chanting his name.
Smith comes out in the second overtime with some more big leg kicks, but he barely misses a violent head kick. Smith is fairly passive given how tired Coleman is, though I'm sure the last thing he wants is to be taken down. Big John briefly stops the action to secure Maurice Smith's glove at Smith's urging. At one point, some lights actually go out above the cage. Big John tells the fighters to keep working, but Coleman backs off. Big John asks if Coleman will continue and he agrees.
There's just one minute remaining in the fight and Smith is putting a lot behind his strikes. He's landing clean leg kicks and punches, though he's not as aggressive as he should be. Coleman keeps working for takedowns, but he's so tired that he's just not having any success. The fight ends as lights continue to go out and both fighters embrace. This turned out to be a very exciting fight and I'm really interested to see how the judges score this.
Smith and his corner are confident that he has won this fight as Coleman is having some of his cuts attended to. We apparently have a unanimous decision - and Maurice Smith has won the UFC Heavyweight Title! Smith's ground defense was great, while he used his striking at the end of the fight to do some serious damage to his exhausted opponent. Smith fought a very smart fight and was definitely the better man here. Coleman may have spent a lot of time on top of Smith, but the judges correctly saw that Coleman did hardly any damage to his opponent in the fight.
Smith reveals in the post fight interview that he spent a lot of time training in wrestling prior to the fight. Smith gives a lot of credit to Mark Coleman for putting up a tough fight. Art Davie presents Smith with his title belt and reveals that he had been trying to secure Maurice Smith in the UFC since UFC 6.
This was an absolutely stunning fight, as Mark Coleman has been running through the competition in the UFC thus far. Maurice Smith has made a serious impact in his UFC debut, claiming the Heavyweight Title from a dominant wrestler. The rest of the event was very lackluster, but this was one of the more dramatic and exciting fights we've seen in the UFC.
Ranking Maurice Smith is a difficult proposition. Coleman already has UFC wins over Don Frye and Dan Severn, two top five fighters. I don't think I can immediately rank Maurice Smith ahead of Coleman, since I don't think he's the third best fighter in UFC history. The win over Coleman is supremely impressive, but I think Smith can fairly be ranked at number seven overall. Not quite as good as Gracie, Severn, Frye, Coleman, Taktarov, and Shamrock, but ranked just ahead of Vitor Belfort.
We know that Vitor Belfort will take on a yet to be named opponent in a title elimination fight at UFC 15, so Maurice Smith will have some tough competition right away. Randy Couture is another name that needs to be considered for a title shot, as he looked very good in winning the UFC 13 heavyweight tournament.
UFC 14 finished up strong with this great Heavyweight Title match and we have a lot to look forward to at UFC 15. It really seems like the UFC has really stepped up and brought in some serious talent and I'll be anxious to see what other talent joins the promotion in the near future. I'm sure the UFC is hoping to find another Maurice Smith or Mark Kerr to come in and challenge some of the top fighters.
UFC 14 also introduced some serious rule changes, something that we'll see more of at UFC 15. With cable and satellite companies apparently avoiding UFC pay-per-views, the UFC realizes that many changes need to be made for more mainstream acceptance. We'll have to see how these changes impact the promotion at UFC 15.
Greatest Fights of UFC 14
- Maurice Smith vs. Mark Coleman
- Dan Bobish vs. Brian Johnston
- Mark Kerr vs. Dan Bobish
- Mark Kerr vs. Moti Horenstein
- Kevin Jackson vs. Todd Butler
- Kevin Jackson vs. Anthony Fryklund
- Anthony Fryklund vs. Donnie Chappell
- Joe Moreira vs. Yuri Vaulin
Top Ten Fights Through UFC 14
- Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo - UFC 3
- Don Frye vs. Tank Abbott - UU96
- Maurice Smith vs. Mark Coleman - UFC 14
- 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
Greatest Fighters of UFC 14
- Maurice Smith (1-0)
- Kevin Jackson (2-0)
- Mark Kerr (2-0)
- Alex Hunter (1-0)
- Dan Bobish (1-1)
- Anthony Fryklund (1-1)
- Joe Moreira (1-0)
- Mark Coleman (0-1)
- Brian Johnston (0-1)
- Sam Fulton (0-1)
- Moti Horenstein (0-1)
- Todd Butler (0-1)
- Yuri Vaulin (0-1)
- Donnie Chappell (0-1)
Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 14
- Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
- Mark Coleman (6-1)
- Dan Severn (9-3)
- Ken Shamrock (6-2-2)
- Don Frye (9-1)
- Oleg Taktarov (6-2-1)
- Maurice Smith (1-0)
- Vitor Belfort (3-0)
- Marco Ruas (4-1)
- Guy Mezger (4-0)