Before I get into this review, I noted at the start of my Disc 4 review that they had stopped making sure to note who the referees were, and that UFC was blurring out the Affliction logo on fighters' T-shirts. Well, the ref thing was an anomaly as they were back to making sure to ID refs on Disc 5. And the Affliction logo thing is hysterical because last week, I got an email from the UFC Store telling me that they're now selling Affliction T-shirts.
Anyway, on to Disc 7:
24. UFC 1: Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock: And all the way back to the first UFC we go for the semi-final match between the two men who would, more or less, define MMA in North America. This is a short, energetic affair that sees both guys tussle and struggle on the mat, but Gracie's technique and skill quickly overwhelms Shamrock's desire. Ken gets caught in a choke and taps - five times, clearly - and the ref somehow misses it, Gracie lets go, there's momentary confusion and eventually the referee decides that the match is over and Gracie is announced as the winner. Historic more than good.
23. UFC 65: Matt Hughes vs. Georges St. Pierre: At some point I should go back and check, but I'm starting to think that every GSP fight since he started in UFC is a part of this set. That's not a complaint, mind you. This is GSP's second title shot against Hughes, and this time, there are no mistakes, as GSP shows how much he has improved by dominating Hughes and winning the belt with ground-and-pound. Georges gets all excited when Dana straps the belt around his waist.
22. TUF 6 Finale: Clay Guida vs. Roger Huerta: Clay Guida's fights are always exciting, the lightweight division is almost always exciting and Roger Huerta can be exciting, so, no surprise, this fight was great - a combination of stand-and-bang along with that fast-paced grappling and submission attempt trading. Near the end of the second round, Guida just rocks Huerta with a knee to the face, and Roger gets saved by the buzzer at the end of the round. Amazingly, Huerta charges out in the third round and quickly submits Guida, which is not at all what you'd expect given how Round 2 ended. Fantastic fight.
21. UFC 43: Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell: This fight was set up by light-heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz's refusal to defend against Chuck, so the UFC put this one together for the interim belt - although none of that is explained on the DVD, it's just Randy vs. Chuck for the title with neither guy acknowledged as champ going in. The idea was that Chuck would beat the 39-year-old Randy for the title and then unite it against Tito. Of course, Randy won by TKO ground-and-pound in Round 3, but it all worked out well in the long run for UFC. An excellent fight that reminded me again that Randy is just a machine.
20. UFC 79: Matt Hughes vs. Georges St. Pierre: This is their third fight. Quick back story: Hughes was supposed to get the title shot against Matt Serra. About a month before the fight, Serra pulled out due to a bad back injury, and GSP willingly stepped in to take the fight. If I remember correctly, Hughes wanted it for the interim title - I guess thinking he was going to win and then have a unification match with Serra. Well, GSP just killed him here and won the interim belt.
19. UFC 82: Dan Henderson vs. Anderson Silva: This was to "unify" the Pride 185 lbs. title with Silva's middleweight belt, although this "unification" match had even less prestige to it than Henderson's bout with Rampage. Dan does pretty good in Round 1, but gets caught in Round 2 and, well, kinda just gives up and gets choked out. It was weird. I think I could have defended that choke better. Sorry, Anderson Silva fans, but this fight is ranked waaaa-aaay too high. It was OK, nothing more.
18. UFC 47: Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz: No titles on the line here, it's just a straight-up grudge match. The first round is a lot of circling and stalling, but the rabid crowd reaction actually makes it interesting. In the second round, Chuck comes out guns a-blazing and hits Tito with machine-gun fire punches and Tito crumples to the mat. This fight might have been the high point of Chuck's career, in some ways.
17. UFC 68: Randy Couture vs. Tim Sylvia: Warning - this is not a very good fight by all standard measures of what makes a good or great fight. But it`s ranked this high because of the fantastic storyline behind it, which was Randy coming out of retirement in an attempt to regain the heavyweight title for an unprecedented third time against the monster Sylvia, where pretty much no one gave Randy a chance to do so. Plus, when you watched it live (as I did on PPV) there was the fear that at any moment, Sylvia would hit Randy with the knock-out punch and kill him. But Randy, once again, did the impossible and gutted out an incredibly impressive and one-sided five-round decision victory to reclaim the heavyweight title. This is one of those, "You had to be there" fights - live and in the moment.
16. UFC 58: Spencer Fisher vs. Sam Stout: Fun 155 lbs. division slugfest. Not much more to say. Stout wins the split decision.
15. UFC 85: Thiago Alves vs. Matt Hughes: I've never seen this fight before! This is a "catchweight" bout, which I believe is UFC's polite way of saying "Alves didn't make weight and Hughes took the fight anyway." Alves officially weighed in at 174 lbs, but looks 30 lbs heavier than Hughes in the octagon. It's scary. The paleness of Hughes' skin has burned its image in my laptop monitor. First round confirms what I've said before in reviewing these fights: If the crowd is booing the lack of action, it probably shouldn't count as one of UFC's 100 Greatest Fights. Hughes does a pretty good job in Round 1 of controlling Alves with his wrestling - and when he doesn't, he gets beat up pretty bad ... which leads to Round 2, and the bigger, stronger Alves just creams Hughes with a big knee and knocks him loopy. The size and strength difference was just too much for Hughes. That, and Alves was 10 years younger. I love Matt Hughes, but he's no Randy Couture. Kinda ridiculous that this fight is ranked 15th. It was fine, but absolutely nothing special.
14. UFC 34: Matt Hughes vs. Carlos Newton: OK, this is the fight that I thought we had earlier in the set. This is the second craziest finish ever in UFC history: Newton gets Hughes in a triangle choke with his legs. Hughes picks Newton up and power bombs him HARD, knocking him out. And just like that, Hughes wins the welterweight belt. Other notable bits: UFC inexplicably leaves in a between-round interview with some boxer, Zeb Judah, who had a title fight upcoming. Totally bizarre, as this guy ends up getting more promo time than about 90% of the actual, you know, UFC FIGHTERS! on the disc set. Really fun fight.
13. TUF 9 Finale: Clay Guida vs. Diego Sanchez: I'm tempted to say, "Yet another 155 lbs slugfest that's really fun" but that wouldn't do justice to Diego hitting Guida with, like, a million punches in the first 10 seconds of the fight, blasting Guida with a head kick, and back suplexing him ... all in Round 1! Round 2 was slower paced, with Guida taking control on the ground. Third round was pretty even. Diego wins the split decision.
Whew! One disc left. It's getting more difficult to find the time to watch these, but I think I can pull out another three-and-a-half hours in the next week or so.