Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) DVD Reviews

UFC 25 & 26 Double DVD Review

As the semaphore tenure presiding over the Ultimate Fighting Championship drew ever closer to conclusion, the group carted the Octagon across the Pacific one last time, for UFC 25 Ultimate Japan 3…

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Cert: 15

Length: 355 mins

UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3

  • Tito Ortiz vs. Wanderlei Silva
  • Yoji Anjo vs. Murilo Bustamante
  • Sanae Kikuta vs. Eugene Jackson
  • Satoshi Honma vs. Ron Waterman
  • Ikuhisa Minowa vs. Joe Slick
  • Koji Oishi vs. Laverne Clark

As the semaphore tenure presiding over the Ultimate Fighting Championship drew ever closer to conclusion, the group carted the Octagon across the Pacific one last time, for UFC 25 Ultimate Japan 3. Awwwww. Last one sucked the gargantuan fat one.

I’ve reached the conclusion that Zuffa elected to re-release all these old events to slyly proclaim “Look at how much better we do this stuff”. This event is a shining example of just that, and for no reason that occurs after any time John McCarthy bellows his trademark “Let’s get it on”. A number of times throughout the course of the show, then-matchmaker John Peretti pops up backstage to offer up his pearls on what’s coming up; the modern day matchmaker is a gent named Joe Silva- if your curious as to why he never appears in such segments, watch this release. Apparently Koiji Oishi, opponent for Laverne Clark in the opening bout, was third in line after Caol Uno & Daiju Takase pulled out, and Peretti is on a visible downer about it (Clark is some kind of boxing demi-god, this isn’t the fight they wanted, yadda yadda)…. ergo once Oishi strolls to the Octagon looking like a stiff wind would blow him over, it makes Clark look a right mug when he needs a judges’ decision to get his hand raised. No bugger else has a prayer of bailing them out: prior research on the plethora of native debutants is non-existent, to the point where the “Tale Of The Tape” graphics give the age of several of the Japanese as “???” In this scenario, even if the “right” man wins, it’s counter productive- if you’ve portrayed the opposition as a nobody, then who has he just beaten?

The main event is similarly afflicted: the video build-up package details the in-octagon story of Wanderlei Silva- a decision win that followed a sub one minute KO loss to leave his record at 1-1- and is overdubbed with a voice explaining that many feel Silva’s Middleweight title shot this very eve has been prematurely awarded. Ye Gods. To say in 2007 that Wanderlei Silva headlined an MMA pay per view over Eugene Jackson would invoke a response along the lines of “well, duh” from just about anyone who knows what the initials stand for, but bust this- Jackson competed in an earlier bout on the card, at Middleweight, with those pre-fight highlights providing a stark recitation of his perfect 2-0 UFC record, both wins coming via knockout. “The Axe Murderer” is yet to establish the name/aura/what-have-you that he holds to this day, hence the championship fight is rendered utter BS in the eyes of the sports fan, who sees a man yet to have his hand raised inside the distance within the context he finds himself in, as he with the perfect record competes on the undercard. Not that Mike Goldberg is any use in this department as he, to my recollection, never once refers to the main event as any kind of “championship” contest throughout the entire broadcast, instead making citation of a match for “the Middleweight belt,” thereby objectifying that which symbolises the accolade, rendering it little more than a prop. When the Pro ‘Rasslin was en vogue in Blighty at the onset of the 90’s, the “cool” crowd in my school struggled with the supposition of a pinnacle, and as their interest waned while the newest fad moistened it’s suction grips, the few of us who remained enamoured were occasionally afforded nostalgia enquiries no more complex than “’has ‘hitman still got the belt?”

Of course, the above perceptions enforced upon the viewer were easily avoidable: let me assume that Koji Oishi is the UFC’s weapon of choice against Laverne Clark; don’t tell me he’s a third string substitute who wouldn’t have otherwise been considered, for the simple fact that I don’t need to know. Furthermore, don’t dictate that some in the know are questioning the championship credentials of the man in your sodding championship fight, and the notion that he doesn’t deserve to be there won’t come close to crossing my mind. What was that old Paul Heyman nugget about accentuating positives & hiding negatives again? The likes of the aforementioned, coupled with the drab, clunky production, the fact that Pat Milletich’s upcoming Lightweight title defence is constantly built as “Milletich defends!” without mention of an opponent made, as well as several more culpable instances, just goes to show that once the “no holds barred, human cockfighting….” marketing card was stripped away by necessity, SEG hadn’t the first clue how to present the UFC as any kind of meaningful competitive entity. For my money, had the Fertita brothers not splashed the cash, the Ultimate Fighting Championship would have long since been laid to rest…..

…. phew. Enough of the Dickens, Ultimate Japan 3 had a few fights on the agenda to boot, none of which were particularly faith-affirming. The touched upon Clark-Oishi opener sprung into life after five minutes, an exciting second round being sandwiched between a nondescript first & third, the initial being spent with Oishi nullifying Clark’s upright advantage via an extended clinch against the fence. The fight pitting Joe Slick against Ikuhisa Minowa was notable for two instances: a histrionic roundhouse kick from Minowa that drew blood a-gushing & forced the stoppage, and that Slick’s newly groomed shaven head/goatee combination made him a ringer for Jay Briscoe.

Ron Waterman pinned Satoshi Honma to the canvas for three separate five minute spells, without showcasing any inherent ability to actually polish affairs off, in as convincing an argument you’ll ever see for the stand-up-for-inactivity rule that we see today. Sanane Kikuta upset Eugene Jackson, rolling niftily into an armbar from a guillotine position for the tapout, in an otherwise instantly forgettable offering, whilst future 185lb top hand Murilo Bustamante put on a strictly-BJJ exhibition in his Octagon bow, en route to submitting Yoji Anjo at a canter, by way of a neck crank, in the second round.

In modern day parlance, Tito Ortiz vs Wanderlei Silva would be Charlie Big Potato. As previously documented, back at the turn of the Millenia, the Chute Boxe man was more of a prospect than attraction, most expected Ortiz to superabound, and this he did across twenty five minutes, albeit in less than spectacular style, controlling the tempo in four of the five rounds from both mount & guard. Were this bout a relic of the last fortnight, one might consider it a disappointing tussle; given perspective, ’tis a mere lopsided, meticulously paced mat battle, with the result that was thoroughly expected. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’s” ascension to the top of the division which would prove synonymous with him until 2003 at least lends Ultimate Japan 3 some historical significance.

UFC 26: Ultimate Field Of Dreams

  • Kevin Randleman vs. Pedro Rizzo
  • David Dodd vs. Tyrone Roberts
  • Pat Miletich vs. John Alessio
  • Alex Andrade vs. Amaury Bitetti
  • Matt Hughes vs. Marcelo Aguiar
  • Jens Pulver vs. Joao Roque

I remain blissfully unaware whether those who purchased the PPV of UFC 26, subtitled as it was, hoping to see Kevin Costner harshly bludgeoned by Kevin Randleman, actively pursued a refund. I offer my assurances that there are people stupid enough to think stuff like that. The event, emanating from Cedar Rapids, Iowa in September 2000, surely instigated a few such requests from some less-amiable fight fans, but not for any such reasons….

The opening “bantamweight” contest was far from a Jens Pulver fight, discounting the fact that it tangibly featured Jens Pulver. “Little Evil” & opponent Jaoa Roque were well & truly bitten by the stand-up fighter/ground fighter bug, awkwardly lumbering through three tentative rounds, each unwilling to ingress the other’s domain, which meant that the fight never got out of first gear. The MFS man’s decision victory was a just one.

On the subject of Iowa’s most prolific facility, Marcelo Aguiar was quarry to some vintage Matt Hughes in the second offering, falling prey to the trademark big slam, & a series of elbows from the mount opening a cut on his forehead, resulting in a first round doctor stoppage.

Lesser-name Lions Den graduate Alex Andrade & Amaury Bitetti were well on course to deliver the finest fight of the card, and indeed this two-disc set, on the back of the fetching display of stand-up potency that was round one. Alas, with the aforementioned period marred by a point deduction from Andrade for a low-blow, as well as several warnings- for employing kicks- to the be-shoe’d Shamrock fighter. This interesting outing subsequently had it’s balls cut off at the onset of the second, as Andrade came out & almost immediately aimed a kick at Bitetti’s head, prompting John McCarthy to call a disqualification stoppage. You’d think that after numerous admonishings, Andrade would’ve cut his losses & taken the shoes off at the end of the round, if he was so intent on kicking. Dumbass.

Pat Milletich’s first lightweight title defence in twelve months was one of his more salutary. His afterthought challenger John Alessio elected to scupper the one-man homecoming party plans, displaying excellent ground defence across the initial five minutes, allowing Milletich sparse offence from within the guard. For some reason, it took them nearly six years to bring Alessio back after this one, eventually calling upon he to play job guy to the Diego Sanchez juggernaut. Invoking the spirit of his student Matt Hughes, Pat scored a slam-style takedown early in the second, passed into mount, creating an opening for an armbar via a flurry of punches, from which he retained the strap by tapout.

Should you intend to give UFC 26 the once-over (even after reading thus far, perverse soul that you are), I implore you: stop the tape/disc/what-have-you…. here! Tyrone Roberts vs David Dodd is plodding & sloooow. Actually, make that sloooooooooow. They’d go on to do precisely nowt in top-line MMA afterwards anyway, so there is no reason to subject yourself to such a display. Kevin Randleman’s first heavyweight title defence, opposite Pedro Rizzo, is (in true Rizzo fashion) a horror show of a five round circle-fest, achieving the impossible feat of being a more tedious trial than “The Monster’s” title triumph over Pete Williams. My notes amount to a blank page, and can thereby be summarised as a worthy epitaph.

UFC 25 is all but a washout- there’s something about the whole “Ultimate Japan” model that makes them a chore to sit through. Save for Milletich-Alessio, the fist round of Andrade-Bitetti, and Matt Hughes’ performance, UFC 26 is a total dud. Come oooonnn…..when do we get back to the good stuff?

Points: 2 / 10

Stew Boyd

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