Length: 262 mins
UFC 29 - Defence of the Belts
- Tito Ortiz vs. Yuki Kondo
- Chris Lytle vs. Ben Earwood
- Pat Miletich vs. Keneichi Yamamoto
- Yoji Anjo vs. Matt Lindland
- Fabiano Iha vs. Daiju Takase
- Evan Tanner vs. Lance Gibson Sr.
- Matt Hughes vs. Dennis Hallman
- Jeff Monson vs. Chuck Liddell
Out with the old and in with the new...FightDVD bringeth the last SEG-stewarded event & the Zuffa bow in one fell swoop. UFC 29 constitutes a malicious swerve: headlined by championship defences from incumbents Pat Milletich & Tito Ortiz, the creatively titled "Defence Of The Belts" (ooh, that razor-sharp yankee wit!) would be the only UFC card to emanate from the land of the rising sun not to bear the moniker "Ultimate Japan"... given the prior two such events, the dawning realisation minutes in caused my very blood to curdle. Nonetheless, they must've been doing something right, and SEG had by this point abandoned the poxy flea-pit gym they'd been running, and on 16.12.2000, touched down at the Differ Ariake, subsequent site of many a PRIDE Bushido classic. There are some things about the Japanese I simply don't want to understand. This particular evening of MMA would prove the finest UFC foray into the east; that's not exactly saying a lot, but still...
You know all those cringe worthy, pork pie at a Bar Mitzvah out-of-place, backstage WWF interviewers in the eighties an nineties (Sean Mooney, Craig DeGeorge etc)? Well, how come I've never noticed how comfortable as an internally studded codpiece the UFC's roving-reporter James Werme was? Zuffa weren't long in getting rid of this guy.
205lb Jeff Monson amazingly doesn't look like he's about to burst and shower the Octagon with water. The only fight on the card between two of what can be considered relevant names in 2007 was the only real dud of this outing: Chuck Liddell displayed the first instances of the stellar sprawl & takedown defence that would assist him to an unparallelled number of Octagon victories, en route to a three-round shut-out of "The Snowman". Forced to contest the vast majority of the bout from his feet, Monson showed precisely diddly-squat in terms of trading with "The Iceman", leaving Tokyo with nowt to show but severe welting on the outside of his left leg, courtesy of a succession of leg kicks in the initial ten minutes. This was hardly vintage Chuck either, as the future kingpin of the division never looked like threatening to win within the distance, yet the judges' decision was an academic one.
An interesting bit of clippage prefaces the second fight of the night: Matt Hughes MMA debut, for the Extreme Challenge group, opposite Dennis Hallman is shown in it's seventeen second entirety. Emanating from what resembled the function room at your local Labour club, Hallman guillotined & submitted the MFS Elite man in no time at all. Their second meeting, within infinitely more salubrious confines, would prove almost equally as swift, with "Superman" surviving a trademark Hughes slam to apply an armbar for the sub-30 second tap. The slo-mo replays pay suitable homage to Hallman's phenomenal composure & opportunism mid-air, as he demonstrated great flexibility to transition, on descent, to a position from which he was able to win the fight. This is a historical rarity, no doubt.
Both of these events lend themselves to the joyous coming-out that was the first return to prominence of everyone's favourite amiable yet questionably-balanced MMA enigma, Evan Tanner, an event which I fervently hope will repeat itself sometime in 2007. If you find yourself without a goofy appreciation for all things Evan, chances are I don't care for you as a person. Pre-Quest Tanner made single-round mincemeat out of Lance Gibson Senior, front-sweeping into full guard, persistently working to pass before maintaining position at the third attempt, leading to a drawn-out finishing sequence of elbows to the face & punches to the body whilst pressed against the mesh (a visual somewhat akin to his future Middleweight title winning flurry against Dave Terrell at UFC 51).
Fabiano Iha blew by Daiju Takase in shy of three minutes.... the run of decisive finishes on this card is heart-warming, in contrast with other offerings of the time.
The legacy of the UWFi was further tarnished as cult favourite Matt Lindland made his UFC bow, mere months removed from his Olympic silver medal winning haul, making short work of Yoji Anjo once acquiring full mount. With Liddell, Hughes, Tanner & "The Law" all making significant early forays, this event truly has the retrospective vibe of the "lost-UFC" era transitioning into the Ultimate Fighting Championship we know today.
Oh, joygasm: Kenichi Yamamoto. The horror that was the UFC-J tournament came flooding back to mind upon the emergence of the bleach blond nippon. To my utter elation, the main perpetrator behind my last coma was to be thunderstruck in all areas by Lightweight champ Pat Miletich. Lasting out the initial five minutes, Yamamoto got a touch overzealous in the second, closing the distance which enabled the cerebral Miletich to pick off a punch combo & apply a guillotine to retain the strap. Unless I'm mistaken (yay for being too lazy to research), this was the original Croatian Sensation's last successful defence.
For some reason, the prelim fight from UFC 28 is sandwiched into the broadcast at this point, with an implausibly youthful looking Chris Lytle coming up short in his Octagon bow opposite MFS no-name Ben Earwood, in a tedious two-rounder. I don't think I'll ever re-adapt to the ten minute preliminary concept.
In keeping with the swift & dominant theme of the evening, Tito Ortiz manoeuvred to position himself as marquee player for the upcoming new regime with a vehement single-round Middleweight title defence against Yuki Kondo, recovering quickly from an early flying knee to take control & slam into guard. Kondo worked back to a vertical base, only to fall prey to a front facelock, which Ortiz utilised to take affairs back to mat, from whence he transitioned to a neck crank to end the fight.
Brief synopsis for the last blast from Semaphore: full of figurative squashes, but entertaining nevertheless.
UFC 30 - Battle on the Boardwalk
- Tito Ortiz vs. Evan Tanner
- Caol Uno vs. Jens Pulver
- Fabiano Iha vs. Phil Johns
- Josh Barnett vs. Pedro Rizzo
- Elvis Sinosic vs. Jeremy Horn
- Bobby Hoffman vs. Mark D. Robinson
The domestic science of the Fertitas took off at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City on 23.02.2001, as UFC 30: Battle On The Boardwalk (already, the subtitles had taken a turn for the better) immediately felt refreshed with small touches, like the new logo & graphics package, and the besuited three-man announce team of Mike Goldberg, Jeff Blatnick & Frank Shamrock. Obviously, the Shamrock-Zuffa relationship was not long for this world; not sure why Blatnick was rapidly bumped, initially for Jeff Osborne & ultimately for Joe Rogan, but I'll hazard a guess at perceptible Jim Ross syndrome.
The new reign didn't get off to the most auspicious start, as bulbous South African Mark David Robinson, subbing for our very own Ian Freeman, and Miletich fighter Bobby Hoffman spent four minutes boring the tits right off my chest until the latter unleashed an enormous right from the clinch for the instant KO. Next!
Proceedings picked up in the following clash, as debuting jobber to the stars Elvis
Sinosic pulled off a significant upset by toppling Jeremy Horn via submission, pulling guard as Horn looked for the takedown, manoeuvring his legs into a triangle position & fully extending the left arm in under a minute. An impressive display of expedience from a likeable & underrated fighter.
Young Josh Barnett certainly rocked the love-handles. Fight #3 is a certifiable phenomenon, in that it was an engaging affair, and it featured Pedro Rizzo. Round one was pure stand-up, the highlight coming as Rizzo scored with a precise left, with Barnett grinning & nodding, as if to say "nice shot". The Pankration man boldly continued to press the action into the second round, with wilfulness finally catching him up as "The Rock" stunned "The Babyfaced Assassin" with a sharp counter-right to the temple, the effects of which created an opening for the KO blow to the chin. This was tremendous.
In the calm before the storm, Fabiano Iha blitzed an opponent for the second UFC in a row, armbaring Phil Johns for the tapout.
Five studious rounds saw Jens Pulver triumph in what would be the only UFC Bantamweight championship match ever to take place (the weight classes would be re-vamped after this show, and this particular division re-christened "Lightweight"). "Little Evil" exerted his superior standing game by working to engage throughout, all the time nullifying opponent Caol Uno's strategy of taking the fight to the mat by demonstrating excellent sprawl, particularly in the early round, and picking off sporadic, significant leg-kicks. To this end, Uno, behind on the scorecards, was compelled to press for an opening in the final period, enabling the confident-upright Pulver to patiently employ a counter-punching strategy to end the fight in the ascendancy, and pick up a unanimous decision. Not one for the blood-lust bunch, but an absorbing morsel for those with an eye for the tactical game.
Fervent pre & post fight crowd reactions were the order of the day as Tito Ortiz rubber-stamped his position as UFC top gun, exploding all over Evan Tanner en route to retaining the Middleweight championship. Tanner pressed to open, but was overpowered in the clinch, with Oriz hitting a knee/right elbow combo prior to scooping the Texan up & slamming him to the mat with such ferocity that Tanner was instantly spark out. Zuffa couldn't have prayed for a more impactful parting shot for their first go at this MMA-lark: this was visceral dynamite.
A pair of easily digestible delicacies coupled with a strong historical significance makes this set an easy recommendation. UFC 29 is solid from top to bottom, and the opener of "Battle On The Boardwalk" is the only downer of a foretelling kick-off to the UFC's rise to prominence under Dana & Co.
Points: 8.5 / 10