Off the Hook - By Joe Reilly

UFC 45: Revolution Review

Hello again readers and welcome to the roundup of UFC 45: Revolution. So, did the first UFC event broadcasted on PPV in Europe in over a year live up to expectation or did it flop completely? In the following recap all will be revealed, as I will cover each part of the show with an honest review complete with results and the highs and lows of the event. Do read on for the complete rundown of the show, but I do warn you, as this recap contains spoilers.

10th Anniversary show Recap

Hello again readers and welcome to the roundup of UFC 45: Revolution. So, did the first UFC event broadcasted on PPV in Europe in over a year live up to expectation or did it flop completely? In the following recap all will be revealed, as I will cover each part of the show with an honest review complete with results and the highs and lows of the event. Do read on for the complete rundown of the show, but I do warn you, as this recap contains spoilers.

The opening

Besides the actual action involved in every UFC show, one thing I love about every show is their openings and this one continued on their tradition of great openings. The two main feature bouts on this card were Tank Abbott’s fight with Cabbage and of course the main event for the UFC Welterweight Championship between defending champion Matt Hughes and contender Frank Trigg.

The only thing slightly different about this opening was that they hyped up the Tank/Cabbage fight as much as the actual main event. The intro showed both respective fighters of each clash talking smack about their opponent. This helped add more heat to both fights. This led to the usual music score intro where clips of all the main fighters on the card were shown briefly giving newcomers some idea of what to expect in form of action. Overall, a solid opening to the show and we were ready to get underway and see some live action.

Preliminary Bouts

The following fights were the prelim bouts. Therefore these bouts were not on the main card shown on PPV.

Yves Edwards vs. Nick Agallar
The reason this bout was on the prelims rather than the main card is most likely because American Top Team lightweight fighter Din Thomas was originally supposed to take on Yves Edwards, but leading up to the event Thomas injured his arm in training and unfortunately had to pull out of the fight allowing Nick Agallar to step in on short notice to take on one of the Lightweight division’s seasoned fighter’s in Yves Edwards.

This whole situation no doubt must have bummed Din Thomas, but it also must have upset Yves Edwards. Having to adjust your game plan on the last minute for another fighter is bad enough, but many feel that because Edwards would not be taking on a fighter as highly ranked as Din Thomas, that a win over Agallar would not be as significant to earn Edwards a long awaited chance at the vacant UFC Lightweight Championship.

Anyway, on to the bout itself. Both men hung in there right into the second round until a rather frustrated Edwards landed a lunging left sending Agallar to the canvas. Edwards quickly capitalised and pounced on Agallar quickly proceeding with a flurry of punches on the ground to win impressively by TKO over Nick Agallar. 

So, what’s next for the impressive Yves Edwards after another convincing win over what seemed a lower quality opponent? Well, the rumour is that it won’t be a UFC Lightweight title shot, but he may have to fight fast rising Hermes Franca (Din Thomas’ team mate), who most recently beat Cal Uno by a brutal KO at UFC 44. Either way, a fight against Franca or the number one contender BJ Penn promises to be an exciting bout nonetheless.

Keith Rockel vs. Chris Legouri
Two of the darker horses on the card, who happened to be relatively unknown to most fans, but both wanted to prove they had what it took to make an impression on the Middleweight Division of the UFC. It seems that Zuffa (UFC owners) wanted to add both these fighters to the card, as they were both local East Coast fighters with something to prove, which would hopefully evoke local interest.

On to what went down in the actual fight. Both men went to the ground early and this is where the bout stayed. Rockel attained top position on the ground and continued to work from there and eventually finished Legouri with a solid guillotine choke in the first round. So, what’s next for Rockel? I’m not exactly sure, but maybe he could take on one of the many fighters that are still trying to re-establish themselves within the division like Phil Baroni or David Loiseau.

Ricco Rodriguez vs. Pedro Rizzo
It’s well known by many fans that if you are a fighter that has won many times on the big show, that you really hate getting put in the preliminary bouts. Both fighters coming into this fight were in that predicament, as both these guys have been in the middle of the UFC Heavyweight title picture at some stage. While Rizzo has never won the title, Rodriguez has, but lost the strap last February (UFC 41) to Tim Sylvia after being caught with a hard right followed by a crushing beat down of strikes to lose by TKO.

Rodriguez even lost his comeback fight representing the UFC in PRIDE back in August after he was a victim of a poor judge’s decision in my opinion against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. On the flip side Rizzo, has been inconsistent also. Despite having big victories over Tra Telligman twice, Josh Barnett, Andrei Arlovski and others, Rizzo has had losses against fighters such as Vladimir Matyushenko, Gan McGee, Kevin Randleman and Randy Couture on two different occasions.

Rizzo has also been accused of being a boring fighter, as he prefers to counter strike rather than engage with strikes. Rizzo can be a really exciting fighter when his opponent is an aggressive striker, but otherwise he prefers to sit back and let his opponent come at him.     

The main reason both these guys were in their predicament was because they had been inconsistent and they also had only one fight left on their contract, so both fighters not only had to win, but they needed to impress also. Unfortunately, neither fighter impressed to much of an extent. Rodriguez spent most of the fight trying to secure a takedown, while Rizzo kept avoiding the takedown attempts by constantly sprawling well. The only time the fight was on the ground, Rizzo was in Rodriguez’s guard, but Rodriguez failed to take advantage and go for a solid submission attempt. Therefore, for the majority of the fight Rizzo kept at bay scoring hard right kicks to the thigh of Rodriguez, which hurt Rodriguez and made it even harder for him to shoot for the takedown.

Therefore, Rizzo won the decision with the leg kicks making the difference between both fighters. So, what’s next for both these fighters? I’m not sure yet, but it certainly does not look good for Rodriguez suffering his third consecutive loss in his career. Also, Rizzo failed to impress as far as exciting striking goes, so he may opt to try his luck in Japan, as both K-1 and PRIDE have kept their eye on Pedro Rizzo, but only time will tell.

Main Bouts

The following bouts were the fights on the main card that were shown live on PPV.

Robbie Lawler vs. Chris Lytle
The opening fight of the main card was the returning Robbie Lawler taking on the experienced Chris Lytle. This was Robbie Lawler’s first fight back from a hip injury he sustained back in April (UFC 42) in a fight against Pete Spratt. Both fighters wanted to stand in that fight and Lawler injured his hip when swinging his knee to strike Spratt.

Lawler then had to pull out of the fight, as he orally submitted by claiming he couldn’t continue giving the impressive Spratt the victory. Now, Lawler was back from a successful hip surgery and rehabilitation period ready to put his mark back on the Welterweight Division. He would have his work cut out for him against Chris Lytle, a very experienced MMA fighter who also had some pro boxing experience.

So, it was the case of a slugger against a more precise boxer. So, on to the actual fight. Both men came out intending to stand with one another. Lawler came out winning the first round, as he successfully scored a nice slam on Lytle and managed to land some hard strikes from Lytle’s guard on the ground. However, Lytle came back strong in the second round winning that round by landing slightly more strikes.

So, it was the third round that would be the deciding factor of the fight. In this round both fighters engaged more looking to pull off the win, as Lawler scored a nice knockdown during an exchange both fighters had on their feet. However, Lawler didn’t follow Lytle to the ground. At the end of the round, both fighters had a brief scuffle on the ground with Lytle trying to sneak a submission, but with Lawler escaping and finishing strong with some hard punches on the ground.

So, the fight went to the scorecards and Robbie Lawler pulled out the unanimous decision by one round according to all three judges. Overall, Lawler just edged it and we saw a very different strategy from Lawler, as he continued to pace himself throughout the fight and often backed away when both fighters were on their feet. Lawler mainly connected with his heavy hands when Lytle chased after him and engaged only to be met by hard counter strikes.

So, what’s next for ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler? I’m sure many fans would love to see a rematch between Lawler and Pete Spratt, who has the distinction of being the only fighter to hold a win over Lawler. That could be a money making fight for Zuffa, but it’s strongly rumoured that Pete Spratt will be fighting Karo Parisyan at UFC 46 in January, as Parisyan made an impressive debut in the UFC Welterweight Division by cleverly submitting Dave Strasser at UFC 44 back in September by an excellent Kimura takedown submission.

Evan Tanner vs. Phil Baroni
This fight promised to be an interesting one to say the least. On one hand you had Evan Tanner fighting for the very first time at 185 lbs, as he dropped down to Middleweight from Light Heavyweight after losing his last fight at 205 lbs to Rich Franklin at UFC 42 back in April by an impressive KO. Tanner was always a (light) Light Heavyweight, but now he would be a (heavy) Middleweight against Phil Baroni.

On the other hand Baroni was also coming off a loss to Matt Lindland and he was also coming back from pectoral surgery from a pectoral injury he picked up in training after his fight with Lindland. So, which fighter could make their comeback? Would Baroni re-establish himself as a top Middleweight or would Tanner make an impressive start in the Middleweight Division.

According to Baroni, Tanner’s jaw would be in the sixth row when he was done with him, while Tanner refused to have any press talks until after the fight. When it came to fight time both fighters went at it. Baroni started off as strong as he usually does by coming out with his barrage of punches and he successfully managed to cut Tanner above his left eye, but after a questionable blood stoppage by the referee, Tanner got fixed up by the cut man.

When the fight resumed, Tanner was going all out for the take down and when he successfully achieved it, he made short work of passing Baroni’s guard on the ground and Tanner teed off on Baroni from full mount, but here’s where the controversy lies. As Tanner continued to land strikes from full mount position, the referee Larry Landless asked Baroni if he wanted out, but Baroni thought he asked him if he was able to continue.

Baroni inevitably answered yes meaning he was okay, but the ref lunged at Tanner and broke it up to give Tanner the win by TKO. Baroni was furious with the decision and had to be held back, as he tried to swing for the ref. Baroni later apologised for his actions and his future with the UFC may be in jeopardy due to his outburst. In truth the whole incident was a product of miscommunication between the referee and Baroni.

So, what is in store for both Evan Tanner and Phil Baroni? No matter who you were routing for in this fight I think you can’t help feel sorry for Baroni, but also admire the dominance of Tanner. Tanner will no doubt be getting offers from Zuffa to fight again in the Middleweight division, but who will he be offered to fight?

Zuffa may want to organise a rematch between both fighters, but with Baroni’s future in the UFC in doubt, Zuffa may choose to have Tanner take on Kazushi Sakuraba, who will be representing PRIDE in an upcoming UFC event. Again, as with all speculated future bouts, only time will tell if that fight happens.

Wesley ‘Cabbage’ Correira vs. David ‘Tank’ Abbott
This next fight was the only heavyweight bout on the main card. This fight promised to be a slugfest with Cabbage being the fighter who had a reputation for having an iron chin and Tank having the reputation of a fighter who could still slug, but the evolution of MMA had passed him by, as his last two fights he’d lost by Submission early in the first round. The general consensus in the MMA world leading up to this fight was that compared to your typical MMA fighter Tank had no ground skills to survive with any decent grappler in the UFC.

However, here was a fight that would give Tank no excuses, as he was preparing to fight a man that was prepared to stand with him and not take the fight to the ground. So, the fight got underway and it started with both guys trading with each other. Soon, enough, both men entered the clinch, but Cabbage had no interests in taking the fight to the ground so he continued to catch Tank with solid strikes to the body and head inside the clinch.

Eventually, Cabbage opened up a cut on Tank’s forehead, which forced a doctor’s stoppage to examine the cut. Tank said he wanted to continue, but couldn’t see out of his eye properly with the blood, so the doctor and referee stopped the fight giving Cabbage the victory in the first round. In fact it was more interesting what happened after the fight rather than during it. Cabbage did his routine dance celebration and Tank’s corner threw water at Cabbage.

This provoked Cabbage to flip off Tank and his corner and shout “F*** you” at the corner. The corner men of both fighters had to hold each fighter back, which overall displayed disrespectful conduct from both competitors not helping the stigmas of the past that hindered the sport from gaining mainstream acceptance.

So, what’s next for both these fighters? First of all Tank is most likely done in the UFC after losing all three fights of his contract in the first round. Although he said he’d like a rematch in an interview later on in the evening, it seemed nothing more than one last plea from an out of shape and left behind fighter.

So, what’s in store for Cabbage? Well, he’s always said he wants a rematch against Tim Sylvia, but this is unlikely to happen soon, as Tim Sylvia is banned from competing until most likely the March show, as Steroids were found in his system. Also, it is strongly rumoured that Sylvia will take on Frank Mir in his return fight or possibly Wes Sims, but is more likely that Mir will step up to fight Sylvia first as he has won his last two fights in the UFC, while Sims lost his UFC debut against Frank Mir by disqualification.

I suppose you could always have Sims fight Cabbage, but I personally don’t think Sims deserves another shot that quick again in the UFC after his stupid misconduct of illegally stomping Frank Mir, but on the other hand Sylvia should have also been banned longer than he is being banned.

Falaniko Vitale vs. Matt Lindland
This next fight was the swing match of the card, as it was the rematch of a very controversial prelim bout of UFC 43 back in June of this year. Technically that fight messed up the Middleweight Division more than it was before. Originally before their first bout, the UFC Middleweight Championship was vacant due to Murilo Bustamante vacating his championship after contract disputes with Zuffa.

At the time of the first bout they couldn’t really have both these guys fight for the belt because even though Lindland was the number one contender to the vacant throne, Vitale hadn’t yet proven himself in the UFC. Lindland was coming off his big second victory over Phil Baroni, which should have been contested for the already vacant title since those guys were technically the top two fighters in the division at the time now that Bustamante wasn’t around to defend his title.

However, technicalities prevented that fight from being a title fight due to Bustamante having up to a full year to defend his championship, which would never happen. Anyway, Lindland beat Baroni for the second time and was facing Vitale in a normal bout. The bout ended in controversy however, as Lindland attempted a back suplex on Vitale, but hit the canvas hard and knocked himself out to the astonishment of everyone giving Vitale the win.

Since the loss Lindland was determined to fight Vitale again claiming that the victory was a fluke and that he was ready to regain his status as the number one contender in the Middleweight Division. The rematch between the two started up next and they started off standing up with one another trading strikes, but while Vitale attempted a mistimed kick, he lost his balance and Lindland rushed him and scored a takedown.

Lindland controlled the first round by keeping the fight on the ground and scoring with several strikes. In round two, both men had some stand up exchanges until Lindland caught Vitale off guard with a nice left punch. Lindland entered the clinch immediately tried to take Vitale down, but Vitale successfully defended the takedown leaving Lindland mainly holding Vitale up against the fence for the remainder of the second round.

The third round began with Lindland falling down on a failed kick attempt. Vitale jumped right into Lindland’s guard. Vitale tried his best, but could not fully pass Lindland’s guard, as half guard was the best he could manage. Lindland eventually reversed Vitale and continued an all out assault on Vitale’s face until the referee stopped the fight giving Lindland an impressive victory by TKO.

So, where does that leave both competitors now? Well, Lindland proved on this occasion that he was the better fighter and has definitely put himself back on the podium as the fighter most deserving of a shot at the vacant Middleweight belt. On the other hand Vitale lost, but put up a decent fight by holding on until the third round, but without further development on his wrestling skills and his all round game in general he will not be a serious threat to the top contenders of this division.

So, who will face Lindland next is the million-dollar question. I think Zuffa finally has to sort out this division properly to find a new champion. Here’s my take on it, UFC seem to have no current plans for an official tournament for this division. So, how about having two middleweight bouts at UFC 46. It is rumoured that Jorge Rivera will be taking on Lee Murray, which is very likely that that fight may end in a KO by either fighter. Also, with PRIDE sending Kazushi Sakuraba to the UFC to represent them, Sakuraba will likely prefer to fight at Middleweight, so why not have Evan Tanner face Sakuraba.

The winner of each fight could compete and eventually fight Lindland for the vacant title. You may think to yourself, hold on this thing could take forever, well they could do the first two fights at UFC 46 in January and have the winners fight at UFC 47 in March with Lindland fighting the winner sometime after. Also, you could have Lindland in one of those Middleweight bouts in place of one of the fighters, but that is up to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and not me, so until then I can just sit here and hope Zuffa make some type of genuine effort to fix the division and finally have a proper champion.

UFC Welterweight Championship
Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg

Finally, we get to the main event of the evening. Matt Hughes against Frank Trigg. A lot of smack talk by both fighters going into this one. Most of the smack talk surrounding this fight was mainly both fighters claiming that they were the better wrestler and so fourth, but that wouldn’t be the issue when both these guys were to fight, it would be who was the better all round fighter.

On to the fight itself. Trigg came right out and managed to take Hughes down surprising some people. However, Hughes used his guard well and got back to his feet. Hughes then followed up by scooping Trigg up and slamming him down to the mat. From then on, both fighters displayed a battle of quality wrestling in MMA until Trigg exposed his back and Matt Hughes took his back. As Trigg tried to stand out of it, Hughes secured both hooks while Trigg was standing and sunk in a standing rear naked choke forcing Trigg to tap out as Hughes took him down to the mat.

That was Matt Hughes’ fifth title defence. In all of Hughes’ other defences he showed how he was the strongest man in the Welterweight Division by slamming and finishing his opponents with his crushing ground and pound attack. This time round he displayed his versatility with capitalising on the rear naked choke displaying his highly improved Jiu Jitsu skills and showing once again that he was not only a well rounded Mixed Martial Artist, but the pound for pound greatest fighter on the planet.

So, who is next for Matt Hughes? I mean, can anybody beat this guy in his current form? Hayato Sakurai said he could and Hughes really punished him, Carlos Newton claimed he could, but Hughes was just too strong for him beating him on two different occasions, Gil Castillo couldn’t withstand his punishment, Sean Sherk went the distance with him, but Hughes was the more dominant fighter and now Hughes easily dispatched Trigg.            

There is one man who’s beaten Hughes twice though, as everyone likes to remind Hughes and that is Dennis Hallman. Hallman won both times by submission early in Hughes’ career. Hughes claims that the first time he lost he was simply a straight wrestler, so Hallman had an advantage over him, but he claims the second time he lost he was careless making too many mistakes and it has made him learn to be a better fighter. So, you may ask why isn’t Hallman getting a shot at Hughes. Well, the thing is Hallman isn’t winning enough on the smaller shows these days to make it to the UFC and many feel that if he does make it to the UFC again that he’ll have to get by some of the other top guys in the division first, some of whom Hughes himself has already beaten. There is also another possibility.

Karo Parisyan and Pete Spratt are rumoured to be fighting at UFC 46 in January. Both these men really impressed on their last outings in the Octagon, as Parisyan submitted Dave Strasser at UFC 44 with his fine Judo skills, while Spratt out struck an on form Robbie Lawler who had to bow out of that contest due to the already mentioned hip injury during the fight. Maybe the winner of this rumoured fight might be rewarded with a shot at Hughes’ title.

Highs and Lows

This show in my view was a good show, but not at the level of previous shows such as UFC 43 and 44. It certainly had its highs and lows. On one hand, there was some even matched contests like Lawler and Lytle. Yves Edwards again won impressively in the UFC showing that he’s definitely in the top five lightweight fighters in MMA and just needs to be tested by getting the chance to compete with the rest of that top five.

Also, Evan Tanner was able to reproduce his teammate Randy Couture’s feat of moving down a weight class and appear even more dominant. Matt Lindland impressively restored his reputation for being the fighter most deserving of a shot at the vacant UFC Middleweight Championship.

Matt Hughes demonstrated great versatility by winning by submission and continuing his run as the most dominant UFC champion there is, no respect to UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture who’s not far behind at all, as Couture is easily the most dominant fighter at 205 lbs in the world at the moment.

Now, I’ll address the low points. Both Pedro Rizzo and Ricco
Rodriguez fought a rather lacklustre fight with little action and the result may be that we might not see either fighter again in the UFC Heavyweight Division or at least not for a while anyway.

An unfortunate end to the Tanner/Baroni fight, which could have been handled better by both the referee and Baroni. Also, we got a Cabbage/Tank fight that many felt ended prematurely, but to that I say Tank was bleeding and if blood goes into your eye you can not continue, it’s that simple. I did find it unfortunate that both fighters handled themselves the way they did after the fight though.

Some people also complained before the show that the Rizzo/Rodriguez fight wasn’t on the main card myself included, but their performance told us why it didn’t deserve to be.

Overall, I enjoyed the show, it could have been better, but it could have been a hell of a lot worse, so my verdict is thumbs up. I do hope that Setanta Sport continue their coverage of UFC and show the next event at least, which will be headlined by Randy Couture and Vitor Belfort in a rematch, but this time the match is for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. I have no doubt that UFC 46 will be a better show and of higher quality like UFC 44 was. For those of you that took the time to read this recap of UFC 45: Revolution, thank you and don’t forget to check out my next ‘Off The Hook’ column that will be up on the site any day now.

Until next time, continue to support MMA.


Joe Reilly