Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) DVD Reviews

UFC 77: Hostile Territory DVD Review

Can there be any shadow of a doubt that, pound for pound, Anderson Silva is the most accomplished Mixed Martial Artist alive? Zuffa even carted the famous Octagon over to fallen Middleweight kingpin Rich Franklin’s hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio on October 20th 2007, perhaps in the hope that the partisan crowd would restore a degree of parity for the man who used to dominate the field at 185lbs…

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Cert: 15

Length: 2hrs 55mins

Can there be any shadow of a doubt that, pound for pound, Anderson Silva is the most accomplished Mixed Martial Artist alive?

Zuffa even carted the famous Octagon over to fallen Middleweight kingpin Rich Franklin’s hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio on October 20th 2007, perhaps in the hope that the partisan crowd would restore a degree of parity for the man who used to dominate the field at 185lbs. They even saw fit to relegate “Ace’s” two rebound victims to the dark portion of the show, where they (Jason McDonald and Yushin Okami) clashed for the unofficial number three spot in their weight class, possibly in an attempt to disguise what a one pony show their median division had become. Or maybe I just talking bolognaise, and Dana ‘n Joe hadn’t yet rubber stamped their tickets aboard “The Spider’s” runaway gravy train.

The Fights

  • UFC Middleweight Championship
    Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin
  • Brandon Vera vs. Tim Sylvia
  • Jorge Gurgel vs. Alvin Robinson
  • Eric Schafer vs. Stephan Bonnar
  • Kalib Starnes vs. Alan Belcher
  • Yushin Okami vs. Jason MacDonald
  • Ryan Jensen vs. Demian Maia
  • Josh Burkman vs. Forrest Petz
  • Matt Grice vs. Jason Black

DVD Extras:

  • Exciting fights not seen on pay per view
  • Bonus behind the scenes featurette
  • DVD motion menu with new fight card section

The preliminary card in the mid-south was, as it transpired, a marginally more invigorating affair than the pay per view broadcast of “Hostile Territory”. In addition to the aforementioned Middleweight affair, Matt Grice and the formidably sideburned Jason Black twisted and scarpered to an invigorating three round split decision that kept afloat the Lightweight Division’s aspirations for the crown of Most Consistently Fantastic Thing In The Entire World in 2007, with a dose of shenanigans thrown into the mix for good measure, as some Athletic Commission flunky totted up the final scores incorrectly, with Bruce Buffer announcing a draw (to the chagrin of Grice, who Joe Rogan swiftly revealed did in fact win the decision). BJJ master Demian Maia looked like one to keep tabs on at Middleweight, passing his UFC initiation with flying colours by way of a first round submission victory over Ryan Jensen. One time Welterweight prospect Josh Burkman surely fell further out of contention, by contrast, with an unconvincing decision win over Forrest Petz: a final round onslaught tipped the scales in an otherwise finely balanced encounter for the somewhat lethargic “People’s Warrior”.

The pay per view opener saw the triumphant return of the “Marvin Eastman gash” (TM) to the eight sides of chicken wire, as the improving Alan Belcher opened up Canuck Kalib Starnes. A judicious first round went in ultimate favour of “The Talent”, who inflicted the early damage with wild punches, and highlighted the swing portion of the round with an ambitious flying knee to break up a lengthy clinch, taking enough of the starch out of Starnes that his one big opportunity to score- with a laborious shot for a takedown- failed to yield results. The cut was checked between rounds, and despite the best efforts of Jacob Duran, the doctor stepped in for a second gander less than a minute into the second period, electing to call the stoppage- a decision given extra spice by a subsequent… ahem… difference of opinion between Starnes and someone in his corner.

Stephan Bonnar surely does have a guardian angel: back off suspension from a failed drug test, and afforded an immediate main card berth opposite a thoroughly beatable opponent in Eric Schafer. I guess the uber-dramatic first Griffin fight and the presumed bearing it had on The Ultimate Fighter’s continued success carries with it considerable good grace. “Red” Schafer nicked the opening round from the chosen “American Psycho”, pulling guard and transitioning to take Bonnar’s back, from where he might have finished were it not for a loose second hook. The second kicked off with the ginger wrestler immediately displaying his intention to get the fight to the mat, where he experienced all of his first round joy, but pulling guard for a second time in order to do so proved his ultimate undoing, as Bonnar right away began reigning straight blows followed by hammerfists which Schafer clearly had no answer for. Reasonable fare, but ultimately, it’s hard to see either man making any kind of noise at the crowded top end of the 205lb division.

You know you’re at a Rich Franklin-headlined show when Jorge Gurgel gets his mug on the undercard- like fellow TUF 2 contender Josh Burkman, Gurgel’s prospects of making a dent in his weight class all but evaporated on this night, as he conceded a first round lead to drop an otherwise trenchant decision to Alvin Robinson. Gurgel meandered between half guard and side control in a truly tedious opening five minutes. Luckily, Robinson elected to start working, landing a 1-2 combination to start the second period, working an opening to take the Brazilian down and scramble for an armbar, ending up on his back and immediately sweeping to regain position, inflicting significant damage with some tidy ground and pound. The final round played out like a clouded Xerox copy of it’s predecessor, with Gurgel seemingly so preoccupied with looking for openings from his back that he forgot to defend Robinson’s onslaught from the top. Once again, a prudent if not exactly earth-shattering (or significant in the scheme of things) encounter.

A combination of ring rust following a year-long lay off, a broken hand incurred during the fight and an always strategically sound (to the point of being universally despised for it) top flight opponent saw the undefeated streak of Brandon Vera- the fresh face of the UFC Heavyweight division- fizzle out in the semi main event. The first round unfolded in typical Tim Sylvia fashion, as the big man stalked, utilising his distinct reach advantage to control the distance and press “The Truth” into the mesh to clinch. It has to be noted here that the Ohio throng turned on this fight almost immediately, before the fighters had chance to really set their respective stalls out- are you sure we’re not in California? The second saw Vera utilise his superior speed to creep inside and land a couple of grazing blows en route to more clinching against the fence, with my descent into slumber being halted with a takedown from somewhere, and knees to the body of the fetaled “Maine-iac”. With the scorecards probably even on the balance of the paltry “action” Sylvia landed the cleaner shots in the standing creeping death of the decider to take the unanimous decision. Awful spectacle, this.

To make up for that horror show, your hero (and mine) Anderson Silva did the only decent thing and stuck it to the pre-emptive hometown crowd by totally obliterating Rich Franklin. Their first fight was a rapid-fire shockwave of a crown-heist; the rematch proved to be a much more cerebral, deliberate disassembling of the American. Franklin’s overhaul in strategy served him moderately well in the opening minutes, as he immediately looked to strike to fend off the previously decisive Thai Clinch of the Brazilian, but predictably wasn’t able to hold out, and succumbed to a hefty right on the button, with the five minute buzzer coming to his rescue. Happy to be involved in a second round, Franklin set off with gusto, testing the water with combos which the fresh Silva danced around and between before letting the trademark knees fly, and sending his gallant second in command down and out. Suave, polished, and awe-inspiring…. that’s Anderson Silva, folks.

One testing affair (Sylvia vs Vera) and a further pair of intermediate decisions eliminate any chance UFC 77 had of hitting the top scores, despite a masterclass from the Middleweight Champ and the entertaining battle of Grice and Black. While Belcher and Bonnar were good enough to serve the undercard with finishes, neither scraps nor stoppages were particularly noteworthy, hence it’s an overall thumbs in the middle for “Hostile Territory”.

Points: 6 / 10

Stew Boyd

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