FanPost

UFC 16 - Battle in the Bayou

**This is the 19th 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 nineteen UFC events.**

The UFC is back in America with UFC 16 after their first ever event in Japan.  UFC Ultimate Japan was a very strange event, since we saw the same fight happen twice in a single elimination tournament and Frank Shamrock debuted by submitting Kevin Jackson in under 30 seconds.  There were certainly some more unusual circumstances at this event, while UFC 16 should be fairly interesting as well.

The middleweight division will finally be in between two different weight classes as the UFC will debut the lightweight division, which features fighters at 170 pounds or less.  This weight class is of course better known as the welterweight division today, but it will feature the smallest fighters in the UFC to date.  We’ll see a four man lightweight tournament featuring fighters all making their UFC debuts.

Along with that, Frank Shamrock will be putting his Middleweight Title on the line and we’ll see the return of Kimo Leopoldo in the UFC.  Middleweight contenders Jerry Bohlander and Kevin Jackson will also be competing in a Superfight that should make for an interesting battle.  We’ll see all of this and slightly more at UFC 16!

UFC 16 – March 13, 1998

Previous Editions

Oh God, the generic blues music during the opening video is only made more ridiculous by the visuals of a girl walking around in a thong during Mardi Gras and cooks cracking open oysters.  Of course, the ever-grating voice of Mike Goldberg isn’t helping matters much.  Goldberg says the UFC is back in Japan after a “highly successful global venture”, though I think the only accurate word in that phrase is “global.”

Goldberg and Jeff Blatnick are hyping up the main event between Frank Shamrock and Russian fighter Igor Zinoviev, who has yet to lose in a career that has consisted of Pancrase and Vale Tudo fights.  Goldberg hypes Zinoviev’s military background and says that Shamrock will have to “push it to the limit” to score the win.  Frank Shamrock is shown backstage pushing his digestive limits by eating an apple.  Apples are considered a negative calorie food so you know his insides are working overtime!

Kimo’s opponent is announced as Japanese fighter Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, who has made a name for himself in the RINGS promotion and holds a victory over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Maurice Smith.  In discussing the fight between Kevin Jackson and Jerry Bohlander, Goldberg says that Jerry Bohlander is the leader of the Lion’s Den despite having mentioned Frank Shamrock by name in the same sentence.  Hmmm.

The lightweight tournament bracket is shown and we’ll see Mikey Burnett take on Eugenio Tadeu and Townsend Saunders will fight a familiar name in Pat Miletich.  Burnett is a Lion’s Den product taking on Eugenio Tadeu, a man who once fought Renzo Gracie until rioters brought the fight to a screeching halt.  Saunders won a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Summer Olympics, while Miletich is a former wrestler who has spent time fighting in smaller Midwestern MMA promotions.

Mike Goldberg says that we’ll be hearing from Tank Abbott and Mark Coleman tonight, which should make things a little bit more interesting.  Goldberg throws it to Joe Rogan, who verbally fellates the quality of this card.  He gives new matchmaker John Peretti the credit for adding a new weight class and putting this event together.

Prior to the main card, there were two alternate bouts for the lightweight tournament.  Laverne Clark defeated Josh Stewart by TKO, while Chris Brennan submitted Courtney Turner.  Neither fight lasted more than 90 seconds, but hopefully we won’t need to see either alternate here tonight.

The first match of the night will pit Mikey Burnett against Eugenio Tadeu.  Burnett looks pretty muscular for a 170 pound fighter with Goldberg and Blatnick talking about Burnett’s power-lifting background.  It looks to me like he might be spending a little too much time training with Coleman and Mark Kerr at the Hammer House instead of the Lion’s Den.  Goldberg claims that Tadeu is a Brazilian legend with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills and very good striking.  Tadue is a much leaner fighter at 5’8″ and 160 pounds, while Burnett is a very compact 5’6″ and 170 pounds.

Bruce Buffer has returned to yell at us just like in previous UFC events.  He’s definitely turned down the volume a little bit and has somewhat simplified his introductions, though he mistakenly says that John McCarthy will be the referee when it’s actually Joe Hamilton.

It should be noted as the fight begins that Mikey Burnett might be the palest fighter in the UFC to date.  He’s bald, but appears to be ginger based on his red sideburns and beard.  So is Mikey Burnett the first ginger in UFC history?  I really haven’t paid attention to this, but one thing that’s for sure is that Burnett is a white, white man.

To the fight where Tadeu scores a quick takedown that Burnett easily escapes.  The fighter trade strikes a bit after Burnett’s escape and Burnett is landing some pretty big punches.  Blatnick notes that it’s amazing how fast these guys are compared to the “big guys”, a stark contrast from the weight classes today.

The fighters continue to slug it out and Burnett is landing the better punches, though Tadeu is landing punches of his own.  Burnett locks in a guillotine and Tadeu appears to be in trouble.  Burnett backs his opponent against the cage and looks interested in a mounted guillotine, but Tadeu frees himself with Burnett ending up in full guard.

The pace of the fight has really slowed with Burnett on top of Tadeu.  Burnett attempts to transition to half guard, but Tadeu defends the attempt successfully.  Burnett is landing some nice body shots from guard, while Tadeu is doing very, very little except defending.  Burnett’s at least staying busy with some punches, though they don’t appear to be doing a ton of damage.  He’s still winning points on the referees’ scorecards.

Burnett is actually consistently throwing combinations, but about eight minutes in, referee Joe Hamilton restarts the fight.  After the restart, it’s clear that Tadeu is interested in fighting out of the clinch with Burnett.  Unfortunately for Tadeu, Burnett clearly is the harder hitter and connects with some big knees to the body and violent uppercuts.

After breaking the clinch, Burnett makes his best effort to knock Tadeu’s head off his shoulders!  Burnett is unloading with some huge punches that has Tadeu reeling!  Tadeu is trying to clinch Burnett tightly against the cage to avoid these blows and Burnett attempts another guillotine, but that is quickly broken.  Burnett reverse positions and back Tadeu against the cage, landing some big knees to the body.

Burnett breaks the clinch and lands some more big punches with the fighters moving to the center of the octagon.  Burnett keeps throwing devastating uppercuts and straight punches that damage Tadeu badly until Joe Hamilton steps in to stop the fight!  Tadeu hadn’t been knocked to the ground, but he took some massive damage and certainly appeared to be wobbled.  I like this stoppage, if only because I haven’t heard anything about Tadeu suffering from cronic traumatic encephalopathy nowadays.

That was a really destructive display from UFC newcomer Mikey Burnett.  Tadeu took some big shots and even dished out some punishment of his own, but Burnett is built like a 170 pound tank.  Burnett looks to be wiped out after this war, but he’ll hopefully be able to recover in time for the lightweight tournament finals.  Tadeu does not look right as he stumbles away from the octagon with some assistance.  This was an awesome opening bout to UFC 16.

And almost right away, Mike Goldberg tells us that Burnett is injured and cannot continue in the tournament.  Chris Brennan will be the alternate taking the place of Burnett, which is highly disappointed.  Burnett’s opening performance was such a thrill and I would have loved to see him compete in another fight.

The second lightweight semifinal bout features Pat Miletich and Townsend Saunders.  I have to say that the thin-faced goatee look isn’t very flattering on Mr. Miletich, who apparently asked the UFC to lie about his age and say he was 29 and not 30.  Townsend is a strong wrestler, but we’ve seen some mixed results from wrestlers in the UFC thus far.  Despite both fighters weighing the maximum of 170 pounds, Miletich holds a five inch height advantage at 5’10″ versus Saunders’ 5’5″.

The fight starts uneventfully, with Miletich going for an early clinch and both fighters trading knees.  Both fighters are hesitant to trade punches and the moment Miletich lands some clean shots, Townsend quickly moves in for the takedown and is Miletich’s guard.  Miletich manages to stick in a butterfly hook and attempts to shove Saunders out of guard, but Saunders scurries back after a brief struggle.

Saunders has Miletich backed against the cage and is throwing some punches, but Miletich explodes out from underneath Saunders and gets back to his feet!  He attempts to roll through and grab a hold of Saunders’ leg, but is unsuccessful and Saunders ends up back in guard.  Miletich actually attempts an arm triangle from underneath Saunders, but he can’t secure the hold and escapes.

As Saunders stands over Miletich from guard, Miletich gets in two butterfly hooks.  Saunders leaves his arm open and Miletich quickly works for an armbar, but Saunders is able to free himself and he moves for a heel hook of his own.  Miletich defends the hold and Saunders is once again in close guard.  It’s clear that Miletich is much more comfortable on the ground as he’s doing more work from the bottom to secure a submission and he’s been successful in keeping Saunders at bay.  Saunders hasn’t done much more than posture up over Miletich.

Saunders tries for another heel hook but gives it up quickly again.  Saunders seems interested in advancing positions, but Miletich just won’t let that happen.  Miletich brings both of his legs up to butterfly guard with Saunders in a standing position, and out of nowhere, Miletich grabs both of Saunders’ ankles, sweeps him to the mat, and moves into half guard!  What an amazing reversal!

Miletich quickly moves to full mount and has quickly taken control of this fight.  Miletich is keeping his weight on Saunders and punching him in the head before attempting a key lock.  As Miletich tries for the hold, Saunders reverse positions and moves into Miletich’s guard again.  Saunders is starting to throw more punches from this position with just two minutes left in regulation.

Throughout all of this, Joe Hamilton is basically encouraging both fighters to keep working while adding in some unnecessarily compliments like “outstanding effort” and “good effort, good job”.  I’m not sure if it’s required from a referee to be so positive and complimentary, it just seems extremely odd.

The regulation period ends with Saunders pressing Miletich against the cage and landing an occasional strike while Hamilton is incessantly nice, telling both fighters that they’re putting forth a “supreme effort”.  Saunders spent the bulk of that period on top of Miletich, but he didn’t do a whole lot.  Miletich was more impressive in minimal bursts, so I’m not really sure how this fight is being scored thus far.  The overtime will go a long way to determine the winner here.

Miletich begins the overtime with a leg kick, prompting Saunders to immediately clinch with his opponent.  The fighters trade knees from the clinch and Miletich backs Saunders against the fence.  Miletich actually grabs onto the fence, resulting in admonishment from referee Joe Hamilton in the form of praise.  Upon further reflection, there was no admonishment and Hamilton is just doling out praise like it’s going out of style.

Miletich is starting to score points right now with Saunders backed against the cage, but I’m not sure it will be enough right now.  Miletich lands a big knee to the body and punches Saunders in the face with just a minute left in this fight.  Miletich tries another leg kick and is immediately taken down by Saunders, who spends the last 20 seconds of the fight throwing punches to his downed opponent before time expires.

This is a pretty tough fight to score, as it feels like Miletich was busier even though Saunders enjoyed more dominant positions in this fight.  I really think it could go either way, but Saunders’ late flurry could be enough to seal the deal.

Bruce Buffer reveals the first scorecard for Pat Miletich, the second for Townsend Saunders, and the third scorecard goes to the winner by split decision – Pat Miletich!  The crowd boos this decision heartily, but I certainly think this was close enough where either fighter could have won.  If Saunders was just a little more active and consistent from the top, I think he would have come out as the winner.

It’s now time for the middleweight Superfight between Kevin Jackson and Jerry Bohlander.  So far we’ve had two good fights tonight and this third contest should be another competitive bout.  Bohlander has looked very good in the UFC to date, while you can never diminish the credentials of an Olympic gold medalist.  Jackson’s last loss to Frank Shamrock may have been quick, but I don’t think we’ll see that again here tonight.

For whatever reason, the crowd decides to boo Kevin Jackson.  I’m not sure how you can justify booing a fucking American hero, but leave it to the fine folks in Louisiana to find a way.  We’ll now see Big John for the first time tonight and I’m thrilled to no longer have to hear Joe Hamilton’s motivational officiating.

Both fighters open up with some tentative strikes, exchanging jabs that largely miss and low kicks.  Jackson counters a punch from Bohlander by rushing in with punches of his own and taking Bohlander down against the fence.  Jackson moves into guard while Bohlander tries for an armbar on multiple occasions.  At one point, Bohlander looks close to securing the hold but Jackson roles out and ends up on the bottom of the sprawl position.

Jackson easily reverses that and takes the top of the sprawl position.  He begins to throw some dangerous looking 12 to 6 elbows that are aimed at Bohlander’s spine, which Bohlander doesn’t seem to like.  He adjusts and is then able to escape positions, both men now going to their feet.

Somehow, we’re already four minutes into this unusually fast moving fight.  Maybe the vicodin I just took is impacting my perception of time.  Maybe I need to do more of these write-ups under the influence of vicodin.  Before I know it, I’ll have missed four days of work writing nothing but UFC and PRIDE event recaps that are somehow filled with gibberish and screen captures from the Land Before Time movies.  I think this idea is out.

Bohlander somehow sees fit to shoot on an Olympic wrestler and the result is predictable: Jackson sprawls and is able to briefly take his opponent’s back, but a struggle ends with Jackson in half guard.  Jackson postures up and lands some big punches and Bohlander is working hard to defend.  He’s clutching Jackson’s head, neck, and arms in an effort to keep from being punched in the face.  Jackson is fairly inactive and is unable to advance positions since Bohlander has his right leg grapevined.  Big John stands both fighters up after warnings to stay active.

I would like to take this time to note that Jeff Blatnick and Mike Goldberg are perhaps the least funny announce team in this history of MMA.  Seriously, going between the UFC and PRIDE events is so difficult because Quadros and Bas are riotously funny at times while Blatnick and Goldberg inspire me to do my taxes.  Seriously, they’re adding absolutely nothing to this broadcast.  I guess it was pretty similar with Beck and Blatnick, but those two men at least had a rapport where they wouldn’t make me want to die.  Goldberg is still a very young commentator, though it does pain me to know that he doesn’t improve much beyond this point.

After the restart, Bohlander tries to punch Jackson, who responds by catching his opponent by the head and arm and throwing him with a great hip toss.  Jackson maintains the headlock to the mat and is working to secure Bohlander’s arm to throw some unanswered strikes.  Bohlander is trying very hard to bridge out of this position, but Jackson is effectively holding his opponent down.  Jackson looks interested in moving to full mount, but Bohlander defends the advance and Jackson goes to full guard.

Bohlander has threatened Jackson from guard consistently with this fight, as he’s been working for the arm bar consistently.  I bet that he saw some vulnerabilities in the brief fight Jackson had with Frank Shamrock and he’s working to capitalize on those.  Jackson avoids the arm bar here and is working to smother Bohlander while moving between full guard and half guard.

At just over ten minutes, Jackson moves back into full guard and Bohlander immediately catches Jackson’s right arm and sinks in the arm bar!  Kevin Jackson refuses to tap out and Big John is forced to stop the fight!  Jackson immediately protests the stoppage, but it was clear from the position of the hold and Jackson’s thrashing that Bohlander had the potential to do some serious damage with that submission.

This was fairly similar to the Miletich/Saunders fight, since both fights featured wrestlers in control for the duration of the bouts while more well-rounded fighters worked to pull off submissions from the bottom.  Lucky for Bohlander, he was able to secure the arm bar and scored the big victory over Kevin Jackson.

We quickly move on to the lightweight tournament finals between Pat Miletich and alternate Chris Brennan.  These men actually have fought twice before in 1997, the first fight going to a draw and Miletich winning the second fight by decision.  Goldberg brings up the fact that Miletich owns his own MMA store in Iowa, which I’m guessing is a precursor to the soon to be famous Miletich Fighting Systems camp.  Either that, or Mike Goldberg calls training camps “stores” – either option is possible.

Pat Miletich looks strange at 170 pounds.  I know he competed at welterweight (then known as lightweight) for the duration of his career, but Miletich’s face makes it look like his body should be at 210 or 220 pounds.  Miletich has a big frame and his face looks oddly thin.  Am I the only one who feels this way?  I don’t like looking at Pat Miletich in general, but his fighting appearance was slightly terrifying.  Maybe I’m just weak (or, again, it could be the vicodin).

Both fighters work to find their range in the opening minute of the fight, Miletich trying all sorts of punches and kicks.  Brennan catches a low kick and quickly takes Miletich down, advancing to half guard with relative ease.  Unfortunately for Brennan, he does absolutely nothing when he gets to that position and Miletich explodes out from the position.  As quick as Miletich is up, Brennan catches him in a guillotine and brings him to the mat but Miletich escapes and is now in full guard.

Miletich and Brennan are both busier from this position, throwing strikes at one another though nothing seems to damaging.  Miletich mostly seems content to hold this position and score points right now, though Brennan is keeping busy with punches from the bottom.  This match has gone quickly as well since we’re just over five minutes in.

I’m surprised why Big John has yet to stand these fighters up since the only offense has been largely ineffective punches.  We’re now at the 7:30 mark with little changing: Miletich on top throwing unremarkable combinations and Brennan taking punishment while trying to be mindful of the cage location.

Miletich stands and is able to transition into half guard, though he looked like he wanted side control.  Out of nowhere, Chris Brennan taps out and Miletich has won the inaugural lightweight tournament.  Upon further examination, it looks like Miletich was choking Brennan by digging his left shoulder into Brennan’s throat while his head was pressed against the cage.

One thing I’ve noticed about this event is the lack of excitement surrounding these victories tonight.  That is, we haven’t had any post fight interviews or any kind of pre-fight videos for any of these fighters.  The UFC has really pared down on these things, which explains why I haven’t had as much to make fun of.

Of course, right as I say that I get to see a braces-free Frank Shamrock talk about his impending fight with Igor Zinoviev.  He says that even though he and Zinoviev have been friends, he’ll have no problem kicking his butt tonight.  Even in 1998, Frank was still a huge goof.  To be honest, it’s kind of endearing except for the fact that he’s a noted bully and all-around jerk.

We also get to see a preview of UFC 17, where Vitor Belfort and Tank Abbott will both be returning to the octagon.  Along with those items, Mark Coleman will challenge for Randy Couture’s UFC Heavyweight Title.  Unfortunately for us, only one of those three announcements will end up coming true.  We’ll have to wait and see how the UFC intends to disappoint us at their next event.

Time for the heavyweight superfight between Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and Kimo Leopoldo.  Kohsaka has apparently been training with Maurice Smith prior to this fight to improve his striking, as he’s more of a submission artist.  Smith predicts a TKO win for Kohsaka prior to the fight, but it might be tough to do that against Kimo.

I should note that the Wikipedia entry for UFC 16 says that Kimo “did not carry the cross into the ring this time like he did at UFC 3.”  Yes, that is absolutely true and completely worth noting on Wikipedia.  We all know Wikipedia as an internet wasteland originally intended as a space for peer-edited mastery.

And my God, Tank Abbott is here!  This will be Goldie’s first exposure to Tank and I’m interested to see whether or not Goldie wets himself.  Tank has grown his hair out and appears to be far less intimidating and his demeanor seems to have softened a bit.  He says he’s been impressed by the lighter weight fighters throughout the evening and…fails to say anything really offensive.  Christ, what have they done to Tank Abbott!?  He better say something awful during this fight.  Does Tank hate Japanese people?  Because he could possibly say something racist.

Speaking of racist, the Louisiana crowd begins to boo Kohsaka the moment he’s announced as hailing from Japan.  Kimo gets significantly more cheers since he’s actually from America and has a cross tattooed on his back.  Yes, Kimo has darker skin, but I think the people of Louisiana still resented the Japanese for the attacks on Pearl Harbor, even in the year 1998.  In this case, it’s probably the audience cheering for the person who is least different from everyone else – you know, typical bigotry.  What’s the over/under on when the “U.S.A.” chants begin?  I say two minutes.

Kimo rushes in quickly with a big left hand and Kohsaka goes for a double leg takedown.  Kimo sprawls and Kohsaka looks like he’s going for an armbar, but Kimo avoids it and is standing over his downed opponent.  Kimo throws a big punch and looks to pass guard, settling on half guard.  Kimo almost immediately drops for a heel hook and it looks like this could be it!

What’s remarkable thus far is one, Tank is providing some pretty good insight on the fight action, and two, we’re only thirty seconds into the fight.  Tons of action so far in this one!

Kimo torques on the heel hook for about thirty seconds and Kohsaka defends the hold nicely.  Kohsaka and Kimo both stand after the submission attempt and Kimo takes Kohsaka back down to the mat.  Kimo is in the half guard and looks interested in passing again, but he’s occasionally throwing punches.  Kohsaka has Kimo’s right leg grapevined and is throwing some soft punches from the bottom.  Tank is pretty surprised that Kohsaka was able to escape the earlier heel hook as it was locked in pretty tightly.

Given how quickly Kimo came out of the box, it’s surprising to see how little he’s doing from the half guard just three minutes into the fight.  Kimo appears to have added some weight so he might be having some trouble carrying around his 250 pounds.  As Kimo adjusts positions, Kohsaka unsuccessfully tries for a leg lock of his own and forces Kimo to stay in half guard.  Kohsaka repeats this again maybe a minute later and this time, Kimo escapes back to his feet and Kohsaka follows.

Kimo throws another quick punch and he stuffs a weak takedown attempt from Kohsaka.  Kimo is back in side control once more.  He postures up and lands a very big right hand, but he seems too tired to follow that up with anything else.

The announcers bring up the fact that Kimo has his own website, which is listed as www.kimomama.com.  Tank says he doesn’t expect to have an official web presence since he doesn’t have time to play with computers, though he does acknowledge that there are a number of Tank Abbott fan sites.

Kimo brings Kohsaka closer to the cage fence and is then able to move into full mount, which could be trouble for Kohsaka.  The only problem is that Kimo isn’t doing anything.  He’s either laying on Kohsaka or posturing up, only to have Kohsaka try to buck him off.  Kimo is throwing some short punches that don’t do much damage.  Amazingly, Kohsaka is able to grab one of Kimo’s legs and is able to escape from the mounted position while going for a heel hook.  Kohsaka gives the hold up with little hesitation as he seems perfectly content to stand back up with Kimo at this point.

As Kimo throws a left hook, Kohsaka throws a counter left that appears to stagger the Hawaiian!  The contact really fires up Kohsaka who has to feel like he’s gaining control of this bout over a tired opponent.  Kohsaka is moving in and out with quick low kicks and punches, only to have Kimo shove him away when Kohsaka gets near.  Kimo is extremely flat-footed while Kohsaka is bouncing around, throwing combinations and landingwith some heavy punches!

There are two minutes left in regulation and Tank suspects that Kimo is catching his breath, but he better hurry and catch a second win as Kohsaka is throwing a number of unanswered shots.  Kimo is throwing single punches of his own, but there’s not a lot behind the punches.  Kohsaka is working hard at the leg kicks and Kimo isn’t doing anything to check the kicks at this point.  Kohsaka is landing serious combinations and Kimo is just trying to keep up!  Tank is cheering on both fighters as he just wants to see a good fight.

Kimo wants no part of Kohsaka as he continues to shove his opponent away when he moves in to strike.  Kimo’s left eye appears to be in bad shape and Kohsaka looks ready to move in for the kill just as time expires.  Kohsaka really turned up the action toward the end of the regulation period and he has to be ahead on the scorecards.  Kimo is tired and battered and I don’t know that he’ll be able to survive this three minute overtime.

Kimo immediately shoots in for a takedown at the start of overtime, but Kohsaka sprawls and catches Kimo with a huge knee!  Kimo shoots again, only to have Kohsaka sprawl and land yet another knee!!  Kimo pushes for a third takedown and is finally successful, quickly moving into mounted position.  Kimo is really working to take this overtime and steal the fight.  Kimo drops back for an armbar in a last ditch effort to win, but Kohsaka avoids the hold and moves into Kimo’s guard.

Kimo is really sucking in air as Kohsaka is throwing punches, staying very busy on top.  Kohsaka seems to favor a body/head combination and he’s landing the majority of his shots right now.  Kohsaka knows there is short time remaining and finishes this fight aggressively, landing a number of big punches as time expires.  That was a great showing from Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and the crowd is giving a nice hand to these fighters.  If not for Kimo gassing out so quickly, he would have had a very good chance to win this fight.  Kohsaka took advantage of Kimo’s exhaustion and I think he’s the clear winner.

Bruce Buffer announces the unanimous decision in favor of Tsuyoshi Kohsaka and the crowd is definitely in agreement with this.  I’m really proud that there wasn’t a single “U.S.A.” chant and the crowd is decent enough to cheer for a fighter who put on a great show.  Kohsaka seems to have made a fan of Tank Abbott, who exclaims “Kohsaka me more!”  Blatnik and Goldberg speculated that the winner of this fight could take on Tank at UFC 17, but we’ll have to wait and see if that comes to fruition.

It’s now time for the main event between UFC Middleweight Champion Frank Shamrock and Igor Zinoviev.  This card has been nothing short of stellar so far and this main event should be a fantastic way to finish.  Zinoviev is a Russian military veteran with sambo and judo experience and could be a very good challenge to Frank Shamrock.  However, Shamrock has proven to be perhaps the best MMA fighter in the world during his time with Pancrase and his very quick win over Kevin Jackson.

Maurice Smith accompanies Shamrock to the cage and is hoping to see a second teammate score a win tonight.  The dominance of the Lion’s Den can’t be questioned and we’re seeing that tonight.  Kohsaka and Bohlander were successful earlier and Frank Shamrock will look to cap the night off by retaining his Middleweight Title.

So at Ultimate Japan, I speculated that Kevin Jackson vs. Frank Shamrock would be a very lengthy fight with lots of ups and downs, but Frank Shamrock opted to submit Jackson in just 16 seconds.  I’ll now say that I expect this to be a competitive, lengthy fight between two tough guys who will look to take home the title belt.

Big John calls for the fight to start and we’re under way.  Shamrock opens up with some leg kicks, prompting Zinoviev to rush in with some punches.  Shamrock quickly ducks the punches and hoists Zinoviev up, slamming him down to the mat with incredible force.

…Well fuck me, this fight is over!!  Shamrock’s takedown was so powerful that Zinoviev appeared to lose consciousness the moment his head and neck hit the mat!  In just twenty two seconds, Frank Shamrock has retained his UFC Middleweight Title!  Even more incredibly, Shamrock became the first ever Middleweight Champion and successfully defended his title in under 40 seconds against two world class competitors.  This man is frightening!

The crowd is absolutely insane after that win and Shamrock briefly enjoys the attention before going to check on his opponent.  Zinoviev has yet to move since the completion of this fight, though he appears to have opened his eyes and is talking to the ringside physicians.  The replays show Zinoviev immediately stiffening up once he hit the mat and I suspect that the Russian has been seriously concussed.  Zinoviev also appears to be clutching his left shoulder which is a bad sign.

Bob Meyrowitz, the SEG Sports CEO, congratulates Frank Shamrock after the fight and says this will be the start of a long relationship.  As Meyrowitz says those words, I can almost see an asterisk above his head with the words “until Dana White takes over and buries your legacy, LOL.”  I think they’ll actually enter that text comic book style should the UFC ever get around to release this event on DVD.  Either that, or Frank Shamrock will be cut out altogether and Chuck Liddell will be superimposed over any images of Shamrock.

Frank Shamrock thanks his chiropractor in his post fight interview, along with his “big brother” Maurice Smith.  Hmm, could that possibly be a dig at Ken Shamrock?  Yes, it certainly is.  Of course it is, why even ask?  Frank also thanks his girlfriend or wife – I’m not sure since he introduces her as “my sweetheart here.”  The little lady responds with a couple of obnoxious wails that resemble an emergency siren.  Yuck.

Shamrock also says  that Zinoviev is a tough fighter and will be back in the octagon one day, but that isn’t exactly true.  You see, Frank slammed Zinoviev so hard that he destroyed the Russian’s collarbone and he will never be able to fight again.  I’m sure that wasn’t Frank’s intention here, but he’s effectively ended the career of a promising Russian fighter.  UFC 16 has ended in perhaps the most devastating fashion possible.

So the UFC is still relegated by the American public as a niche sport and is far from publicly accepted.  The only places in the U.S. that they can fight are the south, since athletic commissions are either lenient or basically nonexistent.  However, the cards have been quietly getting a whole lot better.  We’re now five years from the UFC debut and the sport of MMA has grown in a number of significant ways.  Rules are now enforced in the cage, there are loose weight classes, and there are more experienced fighters in these fights.

In the short term, this means that we just saw a really great UFC 16 card and can expect some more great fights in the future.  Long term, it’s good to have some consistent and sustainable rules in place to allow for more significant and real growth as the UFC seeks to become a legitimate athletic endeavor on the level of the NFL or NBA.

Given the recent UFC network television deal with Fox, I’m especially happy to have just watched this card.  This was the first UFC event that actually felt like a modern MMA event, though the promotion and the sport has a long way to come from 1998.   Even though it’s still early in the UFC, this brand of MMA feels miles away from the freak shows we saw with guys like Emmanuel Yarborough and Thomas Ramirez.

UFC 16 was a fun show and a good sign of things to come for America’s largest MMA promotion.  I’m anxious to see what’s in store for us at UFC 17, especially with talent in the fold such as Frank Shamrock, Pat Miletich, and Mikey Burnett.  The growth of the UFC has been something fun to see and I feel like we turned a corner with this event.

Greatest Fights of UFC 16

  1. Mikey Burnett vs. Eugenio Tadeu
  2. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka vs. Kimo Leopoldo
  3. Jerry Bohlander vs. Kevin Jackson
  4. Frank Shamrock vs. Igor Zinoviev
  5. Pat Miletich vs. Townsend Saunders
  6. Pat Miletich vs. Chris Brennan

Top Ten Fights Through UFC 16

  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. Mikey Burnett vs. Eugenio Tadeu – UFC 16
  6. Royce Gracie vs. Dan SevernUFC 4
  7. Royce Gracie vs. Keith Hackney – UFC 4
  8. Oleg Taktarov vs. Tank Abbott – UFC 6
  9. Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock – UFC 1
  10. Ken Shamrock vs. Dan Severn – UFC 6

Greatest Fighters of UFC 16

  1. Frank Shamrock (1-0)
  2. Mikey Burnett (1-0)
  3. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (1-0)
  4. Jerry Bohlander (1-0)
  5. Pat Miletich (2-0)
  6. Laverne Clark (1-0)
  7. Chris Brennan (1-1)
  8. Townsend Saunders (0-1)
  9. Kimo Leopoldo (0-1)
  10. Eugenio Tadeu (0-1)
  11. Kevin Jackson (0-1)
  12. Josh Stewart (0-1)
  13. Courtney Turner (0-1)
  14. Igor Zinoviev (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 16

  1. Royce Gracie (11-1-1)
  2. Mark Coleman (6-1)
  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. Maurice Smith (2-1)
  9. Vitor Belfort (4-1)
  10. Mark Kerr (4-0)

\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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