Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) DVD Reviews

UFC 76: Knockout DVD Review

Doesn’t anybody know anything? Rule of Murphy Instalment #912: If you name an MMA show “Knockout”, you might as well bet your mortgage there won’t be a single, solitary KO in sight. Something I completely forgot to mention in the UFC 75 review was that, from here on in, all these releases are in widescreen (letterbox) format…

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Cert: 15

Length: 3 hrs 58 mins

Discs: 2

Doesn’t anybody know anything? Rule of Murphy Instalment #912: If you name an MMA show “Knockout”, you might as well bet your mortgage there won’t be a single, solitary KO in sight. Something I completely forgot to mention in the UFC 75 review was that, from here on in, all these releases are in widescreen (letterbox) format.

The UFC returned to California on 22 September 2007, and true to form the exasperating West Coast crowd at The Honda Center saw fit on this night to unmercifully barrack anything in the Octagon that looked like getting remotely technical. For these events, I propose that Fight DVD introduce a “mute the crowd” feature; that way I might see my thirtieth birthday with at least a patch of hair left.

The Fights

  • Chuck Liddell vs. Keith Jardine
  • Mauricio Rua vs. Forrest Griffin
  • Diego Sanchez vs. Jon Fitch
  • Kazuhiro Nakamura vs. Lyoto Machida
  • Tyson Griffin vs. Thiago Tavares
  • Anthony Johnson vs. Rich Clementi
  • Diego Saraiva vs. Jeremy Stephens
  • Scott Junk vs. Christian Wellisch
  • Michihiro Omigawa vs. Matt Wiman

The Extras:

  • UFC 76 Behind the scenes
  • UFC 76 Countdown show
  • UFC 76 Weigh In
  • Event Slideshow
  • UFC 76 Post Fight Press Conference

The dumbell nature of the assembled is personified in the opening preliminary in which TUF 5 veteran Matt Wiman saw off Michihiro Omigawa by unanimous decision in an intermittently stimulating and speculative tussle on the mat. A last minute replacement for… um…. someone, Hawaiian heavyweight bruiser Scott Junk bares an uncanny resemblance to a fella named Paul Speight who used to DJ on 80’s Night at my former local: Junk cooked himself up a serving of heat for not touching gloves at the onset of his match-up with AKA fighter Christian Wellisch. The bigger man (Junk) looked perfectly prudent while the fight remained upright, but from the moment “The Hungarian Nightmare” was able to prise him to the mat, the stand-in was totally out of his element, and was quickly and easily subdued with a heel hook. Elsewhere, longer term lightweight prospect Jeremy Stephens took the judges’ nod across three hit and miss rounds opposite Diego Saraiva, whilst the underrated Rich Clementi secured himself a rally of future dates by submitting another late addition to the card- the much larger Anthony Johnson- with a Rear Naked Choke in the second round: this freakshow like “Catchweight” bout was also notable by Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan’s seeming inability to refer to Johnson by any kind of abbreviated handle… the natural middleweight received the full four-syllable treatment each and every time he was referenced.

As usual, Tyson Griffin had the best fight on the card, his compadre in the accolades on this evening coming in the form of Thiago Tavares. The Xtreme Couture man took ascendancy in the early striking exchanges, complimenting a pair of successful combos with a heavy right, shooting to follow up and eventually being set back with a knee from the Thai Clinch, from where Tavares was able to secure position in half guard with a front sweep. Having shaded the opening period, the American looked to cement his position at the onset of the second, trying to land a knockout blow, and getting caught in the counter by a huge flying knee strike, ending up on his back and conceding a body triangle to take top position and pick off shots. From there, Tavares looked to sneak in an armbar, transitioning to an Oma Plata and finally settling for a sweep and working back upright, only to be immediately slammed back onto the mat. Finding some success in isolating Griffin’s limbs, Tavares again swept to mount and tried for a further Oma Plata to start the final round, conceding his back in the process, in an exchange that set the tone for the final minutes: Tavares sniffing around for the chance of a submission, with Griffin using his superior girth to re-establish position. The rising star of Griffin was afforded the unanimous nod, yet it has to be said that Tavares looked capable of stopping him on more than one occasion.

It would take a further Octagon outing before Lyoto Machida added an engrossing hook to his tactically flawless routine: the sure-fire future Light Heavyweight champion didn’t set the Pay Per View alight opposite PRIDE veteran Kazuhiro Nakamura, but he did cruise to an emphatic shutout: Nakamura pushed the pace in the opening round, but as is becoming a routine problem for opponents of Machida, simply couldn’t get anywhere near him for an kind of prolonged period, falling victim to calculated kicks and knee strikes from the constantly-circling South American. A deliberate second period was highlighted by an early transition into a Rear Naked Choke from side control by Machida, and an immediate scramble to secure an Oma Plata after Nakamura finally secured mount position via a front leg trip. The fight petered out in the final five minutes, as Machida stood off and picked off shots while Nakamura fished around for an opening that would never come. Machida would have to wait for Sokodjou to land before making a real statement of intent….

It took opposition in the form of Diego Sanchez for the Mixed Martial Arts fanbase on masse to acknowledge the credentials of he who nobody wants to fight- Jon Fitch. “Nightmare”, coming of an…. um…. nightmare defeat by Fitch’s teammate at AKA Josh Koscheck appeared the more energised of the two men in the opening exchanges, shooting at the legs of Fitch immediately, and testing the waters with a tepid combo before throwing a pair of knees from the clinch and working for the takedown. The Hispanic shaded the opening five minutes, but Fitch sprung into life a minute into the second round, securing a loose leg and working to take the back and sink in the first hook, but conceding top position in looking for the second and reverting to guard, thus nullifying anything Sanchez could offer from that position, forcing him to posture upwards. Fitch stood, and straight away slammed Sanchez back to ground, working an array of strikes from the top to fend of a triangle choke and drawing blood with a succession of hammerfists. With the spoils up for grabs going into the last round, Fitch was caught in a front guillotine when shooting for a takedown, but managed to squeeze free to sit in Sanchez’s butterfly guard, working continually strikes to press home the advantage of his position and ensure a kimura and further triangle attempt held no water in the judges’ eyes. The split decision verdict in favour of Fitch has seen him finally garner some deserved recognition as a top five welterweight. A decent technical outing, if not bursting at the brim with excitement.

SURELY this would be the event after which the word PRIDE was banned outright from the propaganda machine dictionary, as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua capped off the year of the MMA upset by crashing and burning in his UFC debut. Forrest Griffin had seemingly been relegated to enhancement boy in the wake of his defeat to Keith Jardine, yet the TUF 1 winner exploded back into contention with a truly corybantic display, establishing a happy medium across the opening two rounds between his trademark vulnerable all-guns-blazing style and the overly cautious approach that saw he and Hector Ramirez send audiences to sleep at UFC 72. With the balance of the scorecards uncertain going into the final round, Griffn landed a swift punch/leg kick combination, prompting Rua into shooting in with the Georgian pulling guard and eventually sweeping to take the back, working rabbit punches and pesky jabs to the chin. “Shogun” stuck the position out to roll into half guard, when Griffin suddenly surged with urgency, wrangling his leg free and passing to take the back of the now clearly exhausted Brazilian for the umpteenth time, sinking in a late Rear Naked Choke to end affairs with less than two minutes left. A prime example here in the finish of how the unorthodox Griffin’s dictating of the pace can work to his distinct advantage- a scuppering of the plans this may have been, but the big lug is just so damn likeable, you can’t help but be made up for him. Feel good moment of the night at a canter.

The main event is surreal- Chuck Liddell seemingly takes residence on Zog for it’s duration, as he appeared emphatically out to lunch from the second he emerged from the back. Intended fodder Keith Jardine, sensing his big moment, swung for the fences from the outset, settling into a rhythm and finding his range early on, proceeding to potently out-counterpunch the quintessential counterpuncher, and really exerted his authority at the onset of round two, working jabs and kicks to the midriff in setting up a heavy right to drop “The Iceman”, prompting Liddell into pushing to answer with strikes upon his ascent, and reverting to effective counterstriking. By the conclusion of the second, Liddell was so dishevelled and visibly perturbed by his own performance (or distinct lack of) that he wandered to the Abelquerque corner at the buzzer. The third and final instalment was ultimately lethargic stuff, but with Liddell constantly looking to come inside, Jardine repeatedly found much joy working low kicks and slipping in one-two combos. An engulfing “Um… what just happened?” vibe descended at the final buzzer which seeps eerily through the screen into your front room. Jardine was rewarded for a spot-on strategic display with a split decision (what kool-aid drinking fanboy scored that for Liddell, FFS??). Welcome to the Twilight Zone.

Whilst the efforts of Wiman, Stephens and Clementi in the preliminaries, as well as Griffin vs Tavares and the individual efforts of Jon Fitch and Forrest Griffin on the main show, kept UFC 76 out of the doldrums as a spectacle, the remainder of the show carried something of a languid undertone. While not a stinker by any stretch of the imagination, something intangible made this a bit of a chore to sit through. It’s been a funny week.

Points: 5 / 10

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