Off the Hook - By Joe Reilly

OTH: My UFC 47 afterthoughts

Here is my rather lengthy account of UFC 47 event week including the experience of meeting the fighters, watching some of them train, joining leading MMA journalist Ryan Bennett on MMA Weekly Radio, the goings on at the weigh-ins, the event itself and the post fight press conference. Read on for all the details…

Off the Hook…

Hey everyone, I’m Joe Reilly and welcome to ‘Off The Hook’. I had planned to get this article up sooner, but I had no laptop with me on the trip and therefore had to resort to using Internet kiosk stations in Las Vegas for news updates. Hopefully, the next time I make it over for an event I will have a laptop with me to cover the event more accurately and efficiently.

Here is my rather lengthy account of UFC 47 event week including the experience of meeting the fighters, watching some of them train, joining leading MMA journalist Ryan Bennett on MMA Weekly Radio, the goings on at the weigh-ins, the event itself and the post fight press conference. Read on for all the details.

Wednesday 31st of March

On the Wednesday of event week I took a stroll down to the Mandalay Bay Resort to check out the layout of the resort, so I’d be prepared for the weigh-ins on the Thursday and the event itself on the Friday. On the actual Wednesday though I was fortunate enough to bump into two guys who trained out in Oregon with Team Quest, their names were Greg and Adam.

It turned out that both guys were waiting for Jorge Rivera and Mike Brown. I was looking for the media centre of the arena, but Jorge, Mike, Greg and Adam were going to do some sparring in one of the training rooms backstage. They invited me along saying that I could ask around for the media centre once there. All these guys turned out to be very friendly and approachable.

Once we got to the training room, I talked with all four guys for a bit and then excused myself briefly to visit the media centre across the hall. On arrival, I ran into Jack Taylor, who deals with the media and he also helped me out several times by email during the press credentials application process. I introduced myself and Jack welcomed me in a very positive manner. He was enthusiastic about me making my way all the way from Ireland to cover the event.

While I’m writing about this I must thank all the people who worked in the media room from the UFC, particularly Jack Taylor and Beth Rosenberg, as I would go on to spend most of my time covering the event in this area where everyone was in good spirits and all of us media people were treated very well. After my initial meeting with the staff in the media room, I went back to the training room. On arrival, I discovered Chris Lytle had also arrived on the scene with his boxing coach. So I hung out there for a while watching the fighters work on their striking skills particularly.

As it turned out, everyone there at that time was really interested to learn a few helpful things from Chris Lytle’s boxing coach. Chris Lytle, Jorge Rivera and Mike Brown rotated it a bit taking turns to work out with Chris Lytle’s boxing coach. This gave me several opportunities to talk to everyone collectively and on an individual basis. Chris Lytle was very laid back it seemed and I talked to him briefly about his preparation for his fight with Tiki.

I asked Chris how everything was going balancing his job as a fire fighter and training for this fight. He said it was going well, but that you had to understand that he was a family man with four kids and that takes up much of his time, but despite his busy lifestyle, he spoke fondly about all of these areas of his life. Overall I found Chris very open to talk to and very funny to have a joke with.

I also talked with Jorge Rivera, who was looking forward to see Mike Brown (his training partner) fight Genki Sudo. Jorge thought Mike’s chances were good and he was hopeful of Mike pulling out a victory over Genki Sudo. Jorge also said that there was a possibility of himself fighting Mark Weir in England soon. Jorge seemed really intrigued by the prospect of not only facing Weir, but also the prospect of fighting in front of the UK fans, as he admired their support of MMA, particularly of the UK promotions such as Cagewarriors and Ultimate Combat among others.

Jorge also commented on how different the fence is in Cagewarriors in comparison to the fence in the UFC, saying that he’d heard of it being a lot harder in Cagewarriors. I had to agree with Jorge there, as it certainly appeared that way when I watched DVD’s of Cagewarriors. When I talked with Mike Brown, he appeared to be on a natural buzz at the whole prospect of being in the UFC.

Mike happily confirmed this by saying how excited he was to be there and showcase his skills. I had only seen one of Mike’s fights up until this point and that was his pro MMA debut against Hermes Franca in Hook –N- Shoot. In that fight, Hermes sunk a triangle choke in early in the fight and won by submission. When I admitted to Mike that was the only fight of his that I’d seen, he humbly commended Franca’s skills and claimed he was too relaxed in Franca’s guard, which Franca showed was a big mistake. I could see that situation from Mike’s perspective, as Mike has a reputation for being Team Elite’s most technical guy on the ground.

During my first visit to the Mandalay, I also caught brief glimpses of the arena itself and I also was introduced to Tim Sylvia and Randy Couture out in the hallway. Both men were extremely down to earth and cool to talk to. I informed Randy about Straight Blast Gym Ireland, the club I trained with, and he expressed interest in a possible seminar over in Ireland and we agreed to meet again to exchange some contact details to look into that a bit further down the road.

For the rest of the day, I hung out with Greg and Adam and they introduced me to their equally friendly wives over lunch and we even caught a magic show in the Tropicana, which was very entertaining. I really appreciated their company, as they were really good people and it was good to be around people that had been to Vegas before, as they were more familiar with the city. Later on that evening, I met up with Stephen and Dan, who were friends from Ireland, who had just flew in to also catch the upcoming UFC.

Thursday 1st of April

The following morning I checked out of my hotel and went to meet Stephen and Dan, as I would be staying with them for the remainder of my trip. I met the lads before 8.30am. Immediately, we went off towards the Mandalay Bay. We made it to the media area before 9.00am, as Ryan Bennett would be hosting his Internet radio show there live, which he had invited me to, as well as many other MMA writers and fans.

When we got there, I introduced myself to Ryan, who seemed happy to have us joining him for the show. Ryan soon got the show underway. Throughout the Thursday and Friday of event week, Frank Trigg co-hosted the show with Ryan. On the Thursday Tim Sylvia, Chris Lytle, Yves Edwards, Wes Sims and BJ Penn were among the guests on MMA Weekly Radio. Throughout the day, we all listened to all these great fighters and what they had to say about the approaching event and the weigh-ins in particular. At the beginning of the show Ryan asked me my take on the Tito Ortiz/Chuck Liddell fight.

I acknowledged Tito’s wrestling ability, but I said that his wrestling ability is nowhere near the wrestling ability of Randy Couture and neither was Chuck Liddell’s for that matter. The point I was making was that I couldn’t see Tito taking down Chuck at will like Randy did. Also, because the fight would start on the feet and it would be Tito who has to bring the fight to the ground, he would have face Chuck’s striking skills in the process, which in my mind were to great for Tito.

Ryan then asked me what the general consensus of the Irish fans was for that fight. I said that I could only speak for the guys I train with back home and I said that we were all split on predictions much like the rest of the MMA community. Later on that day, after talking with many fighters and getting as many pictures with them as I could manage, then after an all you can eat buffet lunch, Stephen, Dan and myself decided to head back to the arena to get our seats early for the weigh-ins.

When we got back to the box office area in front of the arena, it was swarming with fans. Everyone was hanging around waiting for the doors to open. While in the box office area, we bumped into Jeff Cain and Chris Bonnie. Jeff Cain writes summaries for MMA Weekly Radio and he comes from Kentucky, but most importantly he’s Chuck Liddell’s no. 1 fan, and before you say anything, he won a competition that said so giving him real good octagon side tickets were he could cheer on the Iceman.

Chris Bonnie, on the other hand, is a fellow MMA Weekly Radio listener like myself and he also hails from Dublin, Ireland. I had known him through the Internet, primarily though MMA Weekly’s live fighter chat and this was the first time I met him in person. To add to his opposite characteristics off Jeff Cain, Chris Bonnie considers himself a huge Tito Ortiz fan and was also hopeful of the Huntington Beach Bad Boy getting the victory in the octagon.

We talked for a bit, but Stephen, Dan and myself had to run and catch our seats. A few minutes later, we found our way to our seats. I sat in the press section, while Stephen and Dan sat in the general section. While sitting down waiting for the weigh-ins to happen, I found out that two lads sitting beside me where from Wales, they were representing the SFUK website, which has a website and forums for many European fans in particular. I am one of the many fans that are a member of their forums.

On the other side of me, I met Cecil Peoples, who is a long time MMA referee and MMA judge. Cecil would go on to be one of the judges of the Yves Edwards/Hermes Franca war at UFC 47. Cecil was a very funny guy and easy to talk to. While we all waited for the weigh-ins to commence, I took the time to introduce myself to both Eddie Bravo and Mike Goldberg. I felt I had to commend Eddie on his numerous achievements in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and likewise tell Mike how big of a fan I was of his commentary.

From then on, I mostly talked and joked with Cecil Peoples. We talked about many things including MMA in general, the unenviable job of an MMA judge and about fighters we liked to watch in particular. During this particular time, we also found out from another member of the press that Tim Sylvia would not be eligible to compete at UFC 47 due to lingering Anabolic agents in his system. Up until then, I had heard Tim Sylvia was awaiting the pending results of his latest test from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Immediately, Cecil and myself grilled the source of the statement with several questions, we were hoping that it was an April fool’s joke. The source assured us it wasn’t and moments later we were handed an official UFC press release that confirmed our fears. Soon after the weigh-ins commenced, where Bruce Buffer informed everyone including the public about Tim Sylvia’s ineligibility. It was then officially confirmed that Wesley ‘Cabbage’ Correira would replace Tim Sylvia to face Andrei Arlovski in a now three round non-title fight, while Wes Sims would step in on a day’s notice to face Mike Kyle.

Before I go on, I would like to say how much respect I have for Cabbage, Arlovski, Sims and Kyle for helping the UFC to amend the immediate damage brought to the card by the development of Sylvia’s ineligibility. The UFC did all they good on a last minute basis to keep this card together and you have to commend the mentioned fighters for their compliance and bravery in a situation where they weren’t contractually obliged to comply.

As the weigh-ins progressed, we found out that everyone had weighed inside their designated weight classes and officially, now, we could say “UFC 47, tomorrow night in the Mandalay Bay, It’s On!”

After the weigh-ins, I decided to make my way back to the box office area of the arena to meet Stephen and Dan. On the way, I took the time to say hello to Joe Rogan, as I’m a big fan of his commentary and also to wish Mike Kyle luck as I encountered Mike and his entourage in the hallways backstage. Finally, I made it out to the box office area and Stephen, Dan and myself decided to call it a day and head off and enjoy Las Vegas for the rest of the day and get ready for another early day on Friday.

Friday 2nd of April

The next morning I awoke perhaps too early, about 6am. Perhaps, it was a combination of getting used to a nine hour time difference and the great anticipation I had for the day ahead. I figured I may as well get a head start to the day, so I got ready and went downstairs to get a coffee and a bagel with cream cheese. I then went back up to the hotel room, ate and waited for the lads to get ready. By about 8.20am, we were out of the hotel room and as bad luck would have it, we waited for ages for the elevator, as there was no stairs down to the lobby.

Then when we finally got a free elevator, it took even longer for the elevator to get down to the lobby. We then hurried to catch the free tram to the Mandalay Bay and arrived some time shortly after 9am. Unfortunately, Stephen and Dan couldn’t get into the media area on this day despite being there the day before, but they insisted I should go in anyway, and after many apologies I went in.

When I got to the media room, Ryan had already got the show underway. Ryan immediately shouted over to me “Hey Mark, Joe Reilly’s here, he’s covering the event for his site and he came all the way over from Ireland. Joe, we have Mark Weir here all the way from England, that’s right beside you.”

I came over to the table shook hands with Mark Weir and sat down to join the show. Also on the show this day were Wes Sims, Gil Castillo, Kevin Randleman and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. After Ryan was finished interviewing Mark Weir, I took the time to get a hold of Mark and properly introduce myself and we arranged to do an interview for the site, which is on the International Scene news page.

Mark came back about half an hour later and we did a lengthy interview. I also managed to get a brief interview with Wes Sims, which is also on the news page. Both guys were fun to interview and good to talk to. Also, later on in the show, Joe Silva came on the show and gave a rundown of different job related things that he did on a daily basis. Frank Trigg then asked him about his take on a ranking system in MMA to make things more organised in the sport as a whole.

Joe Silva took on board his comments and explained that they will put guys on the show that legitimately deserve to be there, guys who they can also afford to bring in and whoever the fans want most. Immediately I asked Joe why wasn’t Jeremy Horn brought back yet? I also added that Horn is legitimately cleaning up at 185 lbs and fans are calling out for the UFC to bring him in.

Joe acknowledged my points, but said we’d have to ask Dana White that question, which evoked a common “Oh well” reaction from everyone. Gil Castillo was also on the show. Gil talked about the misfortunes of his losses to both Matt Hughes and Renato ‘Charuto’ Verissimo. Gil said it was lousy how the cut he endured over one of his eyes in his fight with Matt Hughes prevented him from continuing, as he didn’t want a rematch, he simply wanted to continue. He also commented on how his fight with Charuto was closer than everybody thought, it was just that he looked the worse for wear between the two.

When asked about his training partner Nick Diaz about Nick’s upcoming fight with Robbie Lawler at UFC 47, Gil explained that Nick was ready. He also said that the odds were a bit unfair in Robbie Lawler’s favour for the fight. It was also speculated that Nick Diaz looked a bit nervous at the weigh-ins under the spotlight coming into the event, but Gil said that Nick Diaz is different from any other fighter he knows. He said that Nick always seems really relaxed and withdrawn from the situation in the build up to a big fight, but once he gets in the octagon, he’s all pumped up for the fight at hand.

When asked about Nick’s best way of winning the fight, Gil said that Lawler’s best way of winning the fight was a quick KO in the first round, so they felt if Diaz could feel him out in the first round and be careful, the fight was his from the second round on. The camp as a whole didn’t seem to be concerned with Lawler’s ground skills, as if they hit the ground it was Diaz’s world.

Kevin Randleman was also on the show and explained how he thought Wes Sims might surprise everyone and upset Mike Kyle. He thought Sims best chance was to go for the finish in the first round, which everybody seemed to agree with. Kevin Randleman also commented on his teammate Mark Coleman and his chances against Fedor Emelianenko in the opening round of the PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix at the end of April. Randleman reminded all the doubters that Coleman won the first Heavyweight Grand Prix a few years back when nobody thought he would.

After Ryan and Frank wrapped up the show, I talked with everyone for a while and got a few pictures taken with Ryan Bennett, Frank Trigg & Kevin Randleman. We all then parted ways and I went off to meet up with Stephen and Dan and we went back to the hotel to get ready for the event. We got back to box office area of the arena around 3.30pm or so. Again the area was filled with people all nice and early for the show. The doors to the public were due to open by 4.30pm. I hung around and talked with the lads for a bit.

Then I told them to enjoy the show and I headed off towards the media area in the arena. Right way I went out to my Octagon side seat to check out the view and become familiar with the seating area. Man, I couldn’t ask for a better view, Zuffa had been very good to me, which I am very grateful and thank God for. After acquainting myself with my seat. I headed up to the merchandise area were you can pick up some UFC clothing. I bought a few things and headed back down to the media area.

This would have been shortly after 4pm and the room was filled with media people, UFC press people, trainers and fighters alike. I had coffee and cookies with several other press people and all of whom I talked with were really friendly people and good to talk MMA with. After much discussion, Mick Hammond of MMA Weekly pointed out that Randy Couture had come into the room.

With no hesitation I walked over to Randy. We shook hands. I asked him if I could get his email address to get in touch with him about a possible seminar down the road in Ireland. He wrote down his contact details and we talked for a couple of minutes and got a picture taken. Soon after, about 4.50pm, I realised that the arena would be starting to get more filled up.

I then went down to my seat and got my notepad, pen and event info sheets ready. While I sat and waited for the show to start, I talked with Ryan Bennett briefly who was sitting a few seats away. I then talked to Loretta Hunt of Full Contact Fighter, who was a couple of seats away. I had met Loretta during the days before and I liked her articles in Full Contact Fighter, therefore I had asked her to autograph my latest copy of Full Contact Fighter earlier that day, which surprised her, but I said that her work was in the magazine and she should take credit for it. She signed it and I would recommend Full Contact Fighter to all the readers, as it would be my personal favourite MMA publication of choice with plenty of news, info and detailed articles by Loretta and other talented writers.

Sometime between 5.15pm and 5.30pm the show started. This was my first event and the minute Bruce Buffer began announcing the show, I had Goosebumps and began to realise how surreal the situation was being that close to the action.

Genki Sudo vs. Mike Brown (Lightweight Bout)

This was the first fight of the evening, one of two preliminary bouts. Brown entered the octagon first with Sudo not far behind with one of his original and wacky entrances. When the fight started, Brown engaged with Sudo right away not giving Sudo a chance to perform any of his unorthodox practices. After some clinch exchanges at the fence the fight hit the ground.

It was pretty much all Brown in Sudo’s guard. Sudo went for constant submission attempts. Sudo nearly got a triangle choke and when Brown escaped, Sudo quickly transitioned to Omoplata attempt, which Brown also wrestled his way out of. Brown then retaliated with hard punches to the body and face of Sudo. Then, when Brown left one arm in and one arm out of Sudo’s tricky guard, Sudo locked on a triangle choke. Brown resisted for a bit with some stiff punches to the face of Sudo, but Sudo remained calm and transitioned to an armbar forcing Brown to tap giving Sudo the submission victory by Triangle Armbar in Round 1.

Jonathan Wiezorek vs. Wade Shipp (Heavyweight Bout)

On to the second fight of the night and final prelim bout. At the start of the fight Wiezorek charged ahead at Shipp with his head down and ate a big knee, which was hard to watch. The knee of Shipp right away cut Wiezorek. For the next few minutes Wiezorek tried to weather a very heavy storm of strikes from Shipp. Eventually, Wiezorek got Shipp to the ground and easily passed his guard to get full mount where Shipp gave up his back real quickly where Wiezorek got his hooks in and just rained down strikes to the sides of Shipp’s head forcing the referee to stop the fight.

Both fighters looked clearly gassed and Wiezorek appeared to be a fairly one-dimensional wrestler with Shipp appearing to be a fairly one-dimensional striker with a weak sprawl. In the end Wiezorek won by TKO due to strikes in Round 1.

Due to both prelims ending in the first round. There was a couple of lengthy intermissions, but to Zuffa’s credit, they did a good job of keeping the fans entertained by playing a prelim bout from UFC 46 on the big screen. The fight that was shown was a Lightweight bout in Hermes Franca vs. Josh Thomson. Up until then I had never got a chance to see the fight, as it wasn’t shown on the live PPV broadcast of UFC 46 back in January. I was aware that the fight was really close and ended in controversy. I decided to score the fight according to UFC scoring criterion.

Thomson clearly won the first round with some heavy strikes and a solid takedown, but I didn’t think he did enough to warrant a 10 – 8 round, as Franca had also scored a takedown and had a submission attempt to his credit so I scored it 10 – 9 in Thomson’s favour. In the second round both fighters were out of their shells. Franca had a takedown, a guard pass to an advantaged position, two solid submission attempts and a few successful strikes on the ground.

On the other hand, Thomson connected with some strikes early in the round on the feet, Thomson also had one good submission attempt and a few more successful ground strikes. It was Franca’s round in my opinion and I gave that round to Franca by 10 – 9. This set up an interesting third round with my score being 19 – 19 overall. In the third round Franca started off strong, he landed three separate heavy barrages of punches throughout the whole round and nearly knocked out Josh Thomson in one of their striking exchanges. When Franca knocked Thomson down, he continued his attack, but referee Larry Landless went to intervene, as it appeared he would stop the fight, but before he made the decision to intervene, he pulled away at the last moment. It appeared to me that this threw off Franca, which allowed Thomson to recover.

Throughout the whole round Thomson had a good submission attempt, landed some hard strikes and got a takedown to his credit, but for me Franca had done enough to merit a 10 – 9 round, which meant by my final score that Franca had won the bout by 29 – 28 in a very close war, but as it turned out Thomson was awarded the unanimous decision by 29 – 28. While I recognised that it was a real close fight I thought Franca was a bit hard done by with the decision and the error on Larry Landless’ part.

Also, during the intermission, I noticed Din Thomas behind me in another ringside area. I went over to Din Thomas, as I had seen him fought many times in the UFC before, but I had never met him. Din was sporting an American Top Team shirt clearly there to support his teammate Hermes Franca, who would fight Yves Edwards later on in the evening. Din came across as a friendly guy and was looking forward to watching Hermes fight Yves. Din also said that he looked forward to fighting in the UFC in future if possible.

Soon after I went back to my seat and excitedly awaited the main PPV bouts. The typical UFC intro with some smack talk between the main event fighters played and it was followed by the usual clips of all the fighters on the card in action, which was accompanied by ‘Face the pain’ by Stemm. Personally, I love the UFC intros to each PPV and this one was no different and it got me more excited going into the first bout of the PPV.

Wes Sims vs. Mike Kyle (Heavyweight Bout)

Going into this fight I thought it would be a crazy opening round, as Sims took the fight on a day’s notice and had already acknowledged that he may gas at some point in the second or third round, so he knew he had to go for the finish right away. On the other hand you had Mike Kyle making his UFC debut and who had a reputation for knocking out people really early in the first round. Well, the opening round did turn out to be a crazy one, but still very unpredictable.

After both fighters found range, they both entered into a clinch exchange. Wes Sims appeared to get the better of the clinch exchange and sunk in a deep front choke. Wes Sims then transitioned to Guillotine choke quickly and pressed Kyle up against the fence to increase his leverage. Then, Sims fell back to guard on the ground, but after being on his back for just a second Kyle slipped out of the choke.

Both fighters remained in this position for a few minutes with Sims holding Kyle down in his guard with a tight triangle body lock. With this Sims was able to prevent Kyle from rising up to come down with any significant ground strikes. While on the ground Sims tried several arm triangle chokes from his back. Then after a good bit of inactivity referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy stood both fighters up.

Once on the feet Wes Sims turned his back to Mike Kyle and went to walk over to his corner thinking that McCarthy had stopped the fight. McCarthy had not stopped the fight at all, he had simply brought the action back to the feet. When Kyle saw that Sims had his back turned, he sprinted across the ring and swung with a wild haymaker. Sims saw the punch from the corner of his eye and ducked it, but Kyle followed up with more hard punches. Kyle then got Sims in a Muay Thai clinch and started landing knees to the face of Sims, while Sims appeared to be waving towards the ref or his corner trying to tell them something.

After the clinch broke up Kyle unloaded on Sims with heavy strikes and knocked him out. Initially, it looked like Kyle had mounted one hell of a comeback, but soon it emerged that Sims had bite marks on his chest and Sims was claiming that Sims bit him. It all became clear why Sims had his back turned and why he repeatedly waved at the ref and his corner. From my perspective, I had wondered how Sims had messed up the early guillotine choke, as he appeared to have it fully locked in.

Joe Rogan asked Kyle about the alleged biting incident during the post fight interview, as there was clear bite marks on Sims’ chest. Kyle denied it and claimed that the marks came from his gum shield being pressed into Sims’ chest when Sims was choking him. Either way, Sims got the victory to a very mixed reaction from the crowd.

In all honesty I can’t say for sure what exactly happened and I hope the Nevada State Athletic Commission thoroughly investigate the incident. From my take though, the marks on Sims’ chest looked more like a feint bite mark rather than a result of a gum shield being pressed into his chest. Also, is it a coincidence that this alleged bite took place when Sims had a submission locked in perfect? Who knows, but I can’t see how Sims would have let go of the submission by sloppiness judging by how tight he had it.

Well, even all things considered, I still didn’t see Kyle bite Sims’ chest, so it would be unfair for me to say for sure exactly what happened, all I or anyone can do is sit tight until the Commission has more to say on the matter. As of now, the result is a win to Mike Kyle by KO by strikes in Round 1.

Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz (Welterweight Bout)

On paper I thought this card was fantastic. I was looking forward to every single bout with a few bouts in particular I was really looking forward to that could steal the show. This was one of those bouts that I thought might steal the show. Going into the fight many people commented on how generous the odds were in favour of Robbie Lawler. I shared that opinion also when I saw the initial odds in the Mandalay Bay. In the last couple of days building up to the show, the odds came down a bit, as it appeared many were taking advantage of the high odds by putting bets on Nick Diaz.

If you read my predictions article on the site, you will know that I was leaning towards a submission victory for Nick Diaz, as I believed once Diaz got into the fight and avoided an early KO from Lawler, he could clinch up with Lawler and take him to the ground. I thought 15 minutes was a long time to stand toe to toe and thought it was a matter of time before it hit the ground and when it would hit the ground, I thought Diaz had a big edge over Lawler.

From the beginning of the fight both fighters briefly tested the water and felt out the range, but Diaz seemed okay with standing up with Lawler. This surprised Lawler. Initially, Diaz tried to press the action on the feet, but Lawler stayed on the back foot playing the counter game. The fight went on like this for a few brief moments, but after Diaz committed to striking exchanges and Lawler backed up preventing any actual shots connecting, Diaz started talking smack to Lawler and taunting him to engage.

It had become clear in the opening moments that Diaz intended to not only stand with Lawler, but he wanted to really press and engage exchanges between the two. Diaz went on to use the combination of pressing Lawler with quick boxing combinations and taunting Lawler constantly. Diaz also kept purposely dropping his hands, raising them in the air and throwing some more traditional martial art style kicks, such as spin kicks and unconventional front kicks.

It had become clear that Diaz wanted to pull out all the stops to make Lawler come at him, so he could either catch Lawler with a counter takedown or some solid strikes. I remember watching the fight with intense fear and excitement all rolled into one, as I admired Diaz’s courage, but still questioned it. My attitude quickly changed when Diaz clearly rocked Lawler with quick combinations. Lawler even got semi-rocked beforehand too from my perspective, but from the actual shots that rocked Lawler fully in the first round is what changed my outlook on the fight.

As the round entered it’s dying minutes, Lawler had clearly become angry by Diaz’s success and control of the exchanges and came back with a flurry of counter strikes finished off with a huge jumping knee that caught Diaz right on the button. Diaz was then rocked, but recovered very quickly. In the last ten seconds both fighters engaged in an intense striking exchange with Diaz landing just before the buzzer and with Lawler landing with a late combination just after the buzzer. Diaz pointed this out to the referee as both fighters walked back to their respective corners.

Soon enough, the second round got underway and the crowd was really into the bout. Straight away both fighters engaged in heavy striking exchanges. Then, about a minute and a half into the second round both fighters were nailing each other with hard lefts and rights and taking each others punches until Nick Diaz caught Robbie Lawler flush on the chin with a super accurate right hook. Lawler instantly fell face forward to the mat and the crowd went nuts.

Diaz immediately tried to come down with more strikes, but the referee intervened, as Lawler tried to get back to his feet and then went stumbling back to the mat clearly still out of it. After the fight Joe Rogan interviewed Nick Diaz in the middle of the Octagon. Joe looked as shocked as everyone else in the arena and asked Diaz for his take on the fight. Diaz claimed he was working really hard on his boxing skills. He also said that he was working on his stand up a lot more with his brother who was taller than him, so he didn’t find it hard connecting on Lawler, who was an inch shorter than him.

Diaz also claimed that he wanted Lawler to come at him and take him down to the ground, so he could tap him out, but Lawler wanted to stand up with him, so that’s what happens. In the end it was Nick Diaz by KO by a punch in Round 2.

Andrei Arlovski vs. Wesley ‘Cabbage’ Correira (Heavyweight Bout)

This fight on paper from most people’s take was a guaranteed striking war and once the fight started that’s what we were treated to. From the word go both fighters seemed comfortable to stand. For the entire fight, Arlovski used his speed to quickly engage with hard combinations and then back out to avoid being caught up against the fence, as Cabbage was constantly pressing forward seemingly stalking Arlovski.

Cabbage has a reputation for having the hardest chin in the Heavyweight Division. So, initially it looked like Arlovski was going to unleash his stiff inside leg kicks to chop Cabbage down. Arlovski didn’t make the mistake of telegraphing his strikes though, as he mixed up his kicks, punches, knees and elbows real well. The only time Cabbage actually landed any strikes was when Arlovski would pounce back out after peppering Cabbage with hard combinations.

However, the strikes that Cabbage seemed to be landing didn’t look as effective as his punches had done in previous victories. From Cabbage’s previous fights, he’s had great success with landing his strikes when his opponent is backed up against the fence either inside a clinch or from range. Arlovski used is speed to avoid these predicaments. The fight went like this for the entire first round. Then, in the second round, when Arlovski closed in using his angles, he started to land even harder strikes and even longer combinations.

Then, just over a minute into the second round, Arlovski must have connected with over ten, eleven or more strikes in a huge flurry and Cabbage backed out. When Cabbage started to press forward once again, Arlovski caught Cabbage with a wicked boxing combination, which appeared to catch Cabbage off balance and Cabbage looked to be defending himself as soon as he hit the mat, but referee Mario Yamasaki intervened and stopped the fight, but in fairness to Arlovski, Cabbage wasn’t complaining about the decision after the fight, as both competitors embraced each other in good sportsmanship. Arlovski used his superior speed to create several angles to out strike Cabbage, which led to Arlovski winning by KO by punches in Round 2.

Yves Edwards vs. Hermes Franca (Lightweight Bout)

This next fight on paper was another fight capable of stealing the show in my opinion, as both fighters are two of the most seasoned and exciting fighters in the division. Straight away both fighters wanted to impose their respective game. Yves Edwards was looking to stand up and strike while Hermes Franca was looking to take the fight to the ground. Overall in the first round, Hermes Franca scored some good strikes on the feet and he also got two solid takedowns.

On the other hand, Yves Edwards slightly got the better of the striking exchanges. When on the ground both men stayed busy, but Edwards was able to strike his way out to get back to his feet. Initially, I scored the round 10 – 10 even, but after watching the tape, I went with 10 –9 in favour of Edwards, but just barely.

In the second round, Franca was more persistent to get the fight to the ground and he achieved this several times in the round by scoring several takedowns. While on the ground, Franca went for constant submission attempts, but Edwards kept manoeuvring out of them. Edwards also performed a nice reversal ending up in Franca’s guard. Edwards landed some strikes on the ground, but it was definitely a 10 – 9 round in favour of Franca from where I was sitting and I still scored it the same when watching the tape.

The third round was the most action packed and closest of all rounds in the fight. This round had a great mix of solid stand up action with some excellent displays of grappling on the ground. Overall in the third round, Franca had a few takedowns and was constantly going for submission attempts and on the feet Franca scored with some strikes always looking to swing wild with his big right hand.

On the other side of the coin, Edwards looked a little better on his feet landing some good combinations. Edwards also had to defend several submission attempts and when he did he also punched his way out of them, so he was constantly scoring while escaping submission attempts. From Octagon side, I scored that round a close 10 – 9 in favour of Franca, but after watching it again I scored it 10 – 10.

My overall initial scoring of the fight was 30 – 28 in favour of Franca, but watching it again on tape I scored it 29 – 29. From the judge’s perspective, they reached a split decision. Judge 1: 29 – 28 Edwards, Judge 2: 29 – 28 Franca, Judge 3: 29 – 28 Edwards. Looking back on the fight, Edwards finished off the third round strong raining down strikes on Franca, which might have been the deciding factor for the two judges that scored the fight in favour of Edwards. Overall, it was a superb fight that had great groundwork and striking from both competitors. Yves Edwards won by Split Decision.

Chris Lytle vs. Tiki Ghosn (Welterweight Bout)

Out of all the fights of the night this fight was the one fight for me that went pretty much the way I thought it would. In the first round, it was mostly stand up with both fighters trading hard strikes. Tiki was really trying to work the kicks specifically, while Lytle pressed forward with heavy hands more so, but both men mixed it up well. Both fighters landed a similar amount of strikes, but Lytle really pressed the action and landed several solid punches. Also, Lytle secured a takedown when he caught one of Tiki’s kicks, but Tiki scrambled back to his feet instantly. All things considered, Lytle got a 10 – 9 round in my book.

In the second round, for over a minute and a half, the fight went the same way, until Lytle again caught one of Tiki’s kicks and brought him to the ground. Lytle kept him on the ground this time though and easily passed Tiki’s guard. Once Lytle passed, Tiki gave up his back on a silver platter, where Lytle initially looked to get his hooks in, but passed on the chance as he already manage to secure a schoolyard headlock reminiscent of Carlos Newton vs. Pat Miletich a while back. In the end Chris Lytle won convincingly by Submission via straight Headlock Choke in Round 2.

Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell (Light Heavyweight Bout)

Without a doubt, the most anticipated fight of the night and the main event. A fight that most hardcore MMA fans in particular have been waiting for, for over two years. The history of this bout has been well documented, a real grudge match, that the UFC were trying to use to make UFC 47 surpass UFC 40 in every way.

From where I was sitting, Chuck Liddell came out to real good ovation, but there was definitely boos mixed in, but primarily cheers. When Tito Ortiz came out, initially it was mostly boos that could be heard, but the Tito fans got their momentum together and got the cheers mixed in. For me, Tito wasn’t doing himself any favours by coming out to Puffy’s ‘Bad Boy For Life’, as anybody with a bit of half decent music taste would have booed just at hearing the song itself.

After all the mixed reactions of boos and cheers for both fighters to get it on, the fight got under way. Straight off the bat, both fighters started to circle each other as they slowly approached the centre of the Octagon. Tito looked cautious about coming into striking range, while Chuck looked equally cautious coming into range with the prospect of Tito’s shot on the back of his mind no doubt.

For the best part of the first round both fighters stood up trading “feeling out” strikes. On two different occasions, Tito looked to shoot, but balked before really committing to the first one. Tito smiled right after he changed his mind. The second time Tito tried to clinch up with Chuck, Chuck easily shrugged him off towards the fence and backed out.

In the final ten seconds of the first round, Chuck went in looking to finally test Tito’s chin. Chuck connected with two hard punches and right away through a high right kick, which Tito partially blocked, but not fully. Referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy jumped in right at the buzzer, which I couldn’t even hear at the time due to the electric atmosphere inside the arena. As McCarthy separated both fighters, Tito yelled and jumped up and down in frustration clearly angered by Liddell’s aggressiveness.

In the second round both fighters resumed the striking exchange and it seemed even again until Chuck caught Tito with a hard right over the eye, which made Tito back up, but he had no where to go and Chuck came after him knowing that he was hurt and unloaded with a flurry of hard lefts and rights, which easily got by the weakened guard of Tito Ortiz. Tito ate countless strikes full force from Liddell and his knees buckled dropping him down in a heap against the fence where McCarthy stopped the fight.

After the fight and the doctor’s attended to cleaning Tito’s vicious cut up, Tito jumped up off the mat and screamed in frustration, but right away walked over to Chuck and the two fighters embraced showing great respect and sportsmanship. When Joe Rogan interviewed Chuck, Chuck said that he was surprised that Tito stood up with him and gave him big props for doing so. When Tito was interviewed, he said he felt he had to prove something by standing up with Chuck, but he called Chuck the toughest guy in the Light Heavyweight Division. In the end, Chuck Liddell was victorious by KO by punches in Round 2.

Overall the show was full of great match ups. We got to see plenty of knockouts, a couple of submissions, a TKO and a fantastic tactical war that went to a very close split decision. The only one valid critique one could make of the show is that their was no Championship bout, but other than that the show oozed perfection and great thumbs up to the fighters, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and Zuffa as a whole. Definitely my favourite event yet.

After the show itself, I attended the post fight press conference. There was a buzz in the air. I spoke to a few of the fighters and most people were in high spirits. UFC President Dana White opened the press conference. White mentioned how happy he was with how the overall show turned out. He briefly referred to the setbacks they had right before the weigh-ins regarding the Tim Sylvia situation.

White then went on to commend Wes Sims, Mike Kyle, Wesley ‘Cabbage’ Correira and Andrei Arlovski for their willingness to fight despite the last minute changes to the event. White said that despite the whole ordeal, everything worked out well and he was very happy with the event and referred to the electricity the crowd brought to the event.

Then White talked about Genki Sudo and his fantastic submission victory over Mike Brown. Genki Sudo appeared really happy and displayed his ever-improving English by saying, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life”. After the room applauded, White moved on to Jonathan Wiezorek. He commended Wiezorek on his heart to turn things around and come back impressively.

Wiezorek spoke briefly, but the main point he made was that many people accused him of having a glass jaw, but he thought he proved them wrong by the amount of strikes he took from Wade Shipp during the fight and he just generally was happy winning his debut bout in the Octagon maintaining his undefeated record. White then congratulated Mike Kyle on his victory over Wes Sims.

Mike Kyle said it was great to be in the UFC and it was nice to win by the knock out. White then talked about Nick Diaz’s very impressive KO over Robbie Lawler. Dana acknowledged that Diaz had the skills to win, but he never expected Diaz to win in the fashion he did. Nick Diaz then took the time to say that he’d been working on his boxing skills a lot and felt confident in standing with Robbie Lawler. Diaz also apologised for acting cocky during the fight, as it was just part of his game plan to make Robbie Lawler come at him. Besides that, Diaz just thanked everyone, who helped him train and everyone who came to see him fight.

After that, White moved on to Andrei Arlovski and said how impressed he was at how well Arlovski fought and how great his achievement was of knocking out Cabbage. White also said it would be very interesting to see what happened in Arlovski’s next fight. Arlovski himself thanked Dana White and the UFC and acknowledged Cabbage’s toughness. He also said that he looked forward to fighting Tim Sylvia next.

After that, White complimented both Yves Edwards and Hermes Franca for their efforts in what was a very well matched fight. Yves Edwards thanked everyone for coming to the show and took the time to acknowledge the skill level of Hermes Franca. He also commented on how it was a really close fight. Edwards felt he just won the first round, while Franca clearly won the second and he guessed that the third round was there for whoever decided to take it and he felt he just about took it.

After that, White moved on to the Chris Lytle vs. Tiki Ghosn bout. Dana White first said that Lytle showed he had great skills in his last bout with Robbie Lawler back at UFC 45 and on this night he really showed that he deserved to be back in by submitting a very tough Tiki. White also made the mistake of saying it was Lytle’s second bout in the UFC, while it was his third and I noticed how Lytle was listening in appreciation to White’s praise of him and then raised an eyelid at White’s mistake.

Lytle went on to thank his training partners and family and how he felt he could stand with Tiki without any problems, but knew that Tiki was far more dangerous on his feet than on the ground, so he opted to take the fight to the ground. Lytle also thanked the UFC for another shot and was over the moon at his first victory in the UFC. Lytle added that anytime the UFC needs him on another card again to just give him a call.

Next, White talked about the exciting main event bout between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell. He commended Ortiz on his willingness to stand up and strike with the Iceman. An unhappy Tito Ortiz decked out in a Fisherman’s hat and sunglasses (to cover the cuts and bruises on his face) then came up on the podium. Tito Ortiz started off by saying that he was a very stubborn individual, as he felt he had to stand up with Chuck Liddell despite being told by various people not to.

Tito commented on how he took some shots from the Iceman early and thought, “That was nothing”. Then later in the fight he took a harder punch, which made him think, “All right, that wasn’t so bad”, but then he got hit with one hard punch that felt like it hit the back of his skull and from then on Liddell just came at him with a huge flurry. Tito then congratulated Chuck Liddell on his win and acknowledged his toughness.

Before Tito finished, he said he wanted to fight as soon as next June and the main man he had in his sights was Lee Murray, who he really wanted to shut up. Dana White then went on to call Chuck Liddell up and congratulated him on his victory. Chuck Liddell thanked Tito Ortiz and Zuffa for making the fight happen. Chuck also gave Tito credit for standing up with him and said Tito standing up with him was a gift. Chuck said he was looking forward to fighting again.

After that, Dana White asked all the press if they had any questions. Loretta Hunt of Full Contact Fighter asked what they would do about the alleged biting incident in the Wes Sims/Mike Kyle bout. Dana White said the Nevada State Athletic Commission would investigate the matter further. Mike Kyle then reiterated that he did not bite Wes Sims. Then, in the middle of the press conference, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez stood up all decked out in a formal suit.

Ricco Rodriguez called Mike Kyle out by saying, “Hey, why don’t you come over here and try and bite me on the chest?” Mike Kyle responded by saying, “You had your chance” to which Ricco replied, “I’ll take you down and ground and pound your ass”. Mike Kyle then said he’d knock Ricco out. Ricco then said, “You’re not 6’8”. Ricco then called on Dana White to make the bout happen, as Dana tried to diffuse the situation.

Finally, Dana White closed the press conference by reminding everyone about UFC 48 in June. Dana reminded us that Ken Shamrock and Kimo would battle it out in a rematch, while Evan Tanner would also rematch Phil Baroni. White also said we would see Matt Hughes try and get back to his winning ways against BJ Penn’s Jiu Jitsu teacher, Renato ‘Charuto’ Verissimo. White also added that Lee Murray would be featured on the card. Tito Ortiz then cut in by saying “I’ll fight him on that show” to which White said, “Maybe in August, we’ve already finalised the card”. Dana White then wrapped up the press conference.

That is the full roundup of my UFC 47 experience. Overall, it was a great week. It was great to meet all the fighters and get to know some of them. It was also good to see some of them train. The whole experience of talking with Ryan Bennett on his MMA Weekly Radio show was really fun. Also, the weigh-ins were great to be a part of. The event topped it all off with an eventful press conference. Overall, best trip I’ve ever had by far and I would strongly urge anyone who hasn’t been to a live UFC event to attend one, as there is nothing like it.

When I used to follow pro wrestling I often thought of what it would be like to attend Wrestlemania and unfortunately I never did, but I seriously doubt anything else could compare to this, it was the greatest event I’ve ever seen, never mind attended. With all that said, I bid you all a farewell. Keep your eye out for some of my pictures of the event, as I have to fix my scanner in the next day or so to scan them on the PC.

Until next time, support MMA,


Joe Reilly