Love him or hate him, Phil Baroni was a star in his own right. And as The New York Badass calls it a career after nearly two decades of competition, it would be a fitting tribute to look back on one of his most notable performances.
Baroni didn’t have a stellar career that would warrant mainstream superstardom. He was never the face of any organization and he never held a world title. But one thing you can’t deny is that he always came to deliver, especially during his heyday. Case in point: his UFC 37 bout against the late Amar Suloev in May 2002.
Baroni was coming off a decision loss to Matt Lindland six months prior, and he was out for blood. You could see that when he lunged in for an attack as soon as Big John McCarthy signaled the start of the action.
Despite the aggression in his approach, Baroni was still picking his shots and looking for that opening. 90 seconds into the fight, he eats a flying knee from Suloev. A high kick and a few punches later, Baroni falls to the mat, then eats an illegal knee strike.
Now, if you haven’t been watching the sport long enough, you know that a fighter’s instinctual reaction would be to stop, sit back and let the referee step in. Some, you may argue, may even milk it a little bit. Baroni, as you’ll see, continued to push through and pounce, only to be rudely interrupted by Big John.
Baroni was once again placed in a compromising position when he landed on bottom mount after a slick Uchi Mata counter from Suloev. But he gets out of an armbar attempt, passes to side control, pushes the action towards the fence, and pounds away.
After tenderizing Suloev’s face with seven hard punches, McCarthy finally stepped in to stop the action.
Whether or not you were aboard the Phil Baroni train, you’ll see why this fight had won many fans over.