Hey! It's been a while since I've posted a disc review. Here's the deal: I got 85% of the way through this final disc and... just gave up. Having watched 7 discs of this in a relatively short period of time, I hit total and utter burnout with watching MMA. So I took a break and figured I'd get back to it in a few days, which turned into weeks. So let's finish this sucker up, because as I'm writing this, I really only have the last 3 matches to watch.
12. TUF 2 Finale: Nick Diaz vs. Diego Sanchez: A 170 lbs. division version of the usual 155 lbs. division crazy grappling-reversal-slugfest kinda fights. Quite fun. Diego wins a unanimous decision.
11. UFC 86: Forrest Griffin vs. Quinton Jackson: This is for Jackson's light-heavyweight title. Announcers talk in the first round about how Forrest has to fight a smart fight and he does, but he also gets knocked down by Jackson. Exciting, pretty even first round. Round 2 is all Forrest, as he chops Jackson to the mat with a leg kick, and spends the rest of the round beating on him on the ground and going for submissions. "Total domination" says Rogan. Yup. Round 3 another pretty even round that's all standing. Fourth round sees Forrest gets slammed by Rampage as the former has the latter in a triangle choke, and a lot of standing and trading. Round 5 - standing and banging for five full minutes. Tremendous fight that I never get tired of watching. Forrest wins the decision and the title, and it's very satisfying to see one of the culmination of a long title chase that started with the Ultimate Fighter TV show. Also notable in this fight: Dave Meltzer is cage-side right over Forrest's left shoulder between rounds.
10. UFC 76: Forrest Griffin vs. Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua: This is the match that really proved Forrest was definitely a top-rank fighter as he submits Shogun near the end of the third round of a very competitive fight. Forrest was happier after winning this fight than he was after winning the title, I think. Very good match.
9. UFC 70: Mirko Cro Cop vs. Gabriel Gonzaga: Having this fight ranked #9 in the greatest fights in UFC history is something of a crime, but it's definitely one of the best knockouts you'll ever see as Gonzaga just obliterates Cro Cop with a high kick to the head (irony!) and KOs him. The peak of Gonzaga's career as a fighter, and the beginning of the end for Cro Cop.
8. Ultimate Fight Night 6: Karo Parisyan vs. Diego Sanchez: This was the 2006 fight of the year in the Wrestling Observer awards and it's one of those ridiculously crazy fights that's almost impossible to review. Just non-stop action for 3 rounds. And UFC is kind enough to show a slow-motion replay of Sanchez kneeing Karo in the face and knocking a tooth out - see, that's the kind of attention to detail we like to see from the production truck. Sanchez wins the decision.
7. UFC 77: Rich Franklin vs. Anderson Silva: This is their second fight for Anderson's middleweight title. Their first fight is, well, immediately after this one. A lot of the commentary in Round 1 notes how much better Franklin is doing compared to the first fight. But Franklin takes some heavy shots and crumples just as the first round ends. A shaken Franklin only survives another 2 minutes in Round 2. Silva defends his title. Very good fight.
6. UFC 64: Rich Franklin vs. Anderson Silva: The first fight is, well, a lot like the second, only shorter. Franklin comes into the fight looking like he's already been in one, with a nasty black eye. Silva just overwhelms Franklin with the muay thai clinch and knees to the body and head, and captures the middleweight title. It's remarkable to think that Silva has been champion since October 2006. Good fight. Not the sixth best in UFC history, but I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this front. Notable in the post-fight: look for Tim Sylvia standing behind Rich in the octagon wearing his UFC heavyweight title belt. Apparently, Tim wore it pretty much everywhere.
5. UFC 81: Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir: For a fight that only lasted 90 seconds, I could probably type 20 minutes worth of commentary on this. Suffice to say: Brock's UFC debut, the beginning of Mir's comeback, and the match that ended up setting off one of the biggest grudge feuds in all of UFC history. Mike Goldberg throws a bone to the WWE crowd watching the fight by asking rhetorically whether Brock will be "the next big thing" in MMA. HA!
Lesnar goes for a successful takedown before Goldberg can complete the sentence, "How long will it take Lesnar to go for the takedown?" Lesnar starts wailing on Mir and referee Steve Mazzagatti stops the action to warn Lesnar about striking to the back of the head and then deducts a point! Ridiculous. But, wait, it only gets better for Mazzagatti in this fight. The stoppage gives a dazed Mir a chance to recover, but when the action re-starts, Mir rocks Lesnar with a punch, and starts beating the pulp out of him on the ground. And then ... Lesnar makes a rookie mistake leaving a leg open, Mir knee bars him and Brock taps out.
And then he taps out again. Apparently, Mazzagatti was watching something else.
So, yeah, Brock really got jobbed on this one, but in the end, it worked out for the best as the rematch for the undisputed UFC heavyweight championship ended up doing 1.6 million buys on PPV and made both men filthy rich.
This may be the most exciting 90 second match in UFC history, and it's probably the most famous.
4. UFC 58: B.J. Penn vs. Georges St. Pierre: UFC shows the pre-fight video for this one, which sets up the following story: BJ beat Hughes for the welterweight title, but Hughes now has the title and BJ considers himself the true champion with Matt holding a pretend title (BJ signed with K1 after winning the welterweight title, so he was stripped of the belt and Hughes beat GSP for the vacant title). Penn is upset that he's not fighting Hughes for the undisputed title. Meanwhile GSP is mad that he's not fighting Hughes again, and is stuck fighting a returning BJ Penn. So, we've set up a match between two guys who would rather be fighting Matt Hughes than each other.
BJ schools GSP in Round 1, to the shock of, well, pretty much everyone, I think. The round ends with GSP a bloody mess. Round 2, GSP comes back and evens it out. And GSP wins Round 3 as well. Just before the decision is read, note BJ's corner - one of his corner men is carrying BJ's welterweight title belt, even though BJ isn't recognized as the welterweight champ at this point. Mind games? GSP eeks out the split decision, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28. One of the closest fights of GSP's career.
3. UFC 52: Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg: I saw this fight live on PPV and it ruled then. As does the pre-fight promo, which centres on the fact that in their first fight, Hughes choked out Trigg, with Hughes' asserting that rear-naked choke defence is "day one" stuff in MMA training. (And on Matt's assertion that Trigg is bipolar.) You get the feeling these two guys REALLY don't like each other.
So, because UFC sometimes gets better storylines by accident than WWE does on purpose ... Trigg groin-shots Hughes in Round 1, and takes his back and puts him in the rear-naked choke. It looks like it's gonna be payback for Trigg but Hughes breaks free, picks Trigg up, runs him across the Octagon and slams him into the mat hard. Mike Goldberg sums up everyone's feeling at this point by exclaiming, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?" Hughes takes Trigg's back and, yup, chokes him out AGAIN. Just a tremendously awesome finish to a fantastic fight that had a great storyline that paid off in spades. Gigantic thumbs up.
2. UFC 79: Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva: OK, I remembered not liking this fight a whole lot when it first aired, but it's much better than I remember it. I don't think I'd say it's the second best fight in the history of UFC, but it's an entertaining and energetic slugfest. Chuck wins a pretty easy decision. In many ways, one of the most impressive fights of Chuck's career as he actually busted out the moveset (to use a professional wrestling term) and utilized his wrestling a bit, rather than his usual one-dimensional "go for the knockout punch" approach.
1. The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale: Stephan Bonnar vs. Forrest Griffin: Yeah, this fight is totally awesome and you should go watch it right now. The right fight at the right time for UFC and it's a lot of fun. Griffin wins, although it really didn't matter who won. With this fight, everyone won. In many ways, the highlight of the entire thing is Bruce Buffer doing the "YES, YES!" motion with his hands when Bonnar is also offered a six-figure contract. One of the absolute peaks of UFC.