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Length: 5hrs, 6mins
The promotion’s first foray into mainland Europe in June 2009 featured a stacked card that on paper promised much and for the most part delivered. The show drew an enthusiastic 12,854 to the Lanxess arena and had created somewhat of a local buzz mostly on the back of the last minute addition to the card of Mirko Cro Cop.
- John Hathaway vs. Rick Story
- Denis Stojnić vs. Stefan Struve
- Paul Kelly vs. Rolando Delgado
- Paul Taylor vs. Peter Sobotta
- Dennis Siver vs. Dale Hartt
- Terry Etim vs. Justin Buchholz
- Marcus Davis vs. Dan Hardy
- Spencer Fisher vs. Caol Uno
- Mike Swick vs. Ben Saunders
- Mirko Filipović vs. Mostapha Al-turk
- Cain Velasquez vs. Cheick Kongo
- Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva
In retrospect the show was significant for the important wins for Dan Hardy and Cain Velasquez. While in no way was either performance as stunning as one would like, both came out of the show with an impressive victory over a game opponent.
Hardy would open the show with his much anticipated and well hyped battle with the very wound up journeyman Marcus Davis. A weakness, that GSP will surely look to capitalise on in their forthcoming title match, that being the limited wrestling skills of Hardy was immediately exposed as Davis controlled him on the ground for the majority of the first round. However Hardy looked consistently threatening when standing and the story of the fight would be the damage he was able to inflict when the two stood toe to toe. It was enough to clinch him a hard fought split decision.
A close, almost entirely wrestling based, decision victory for Spencer Fisher over Japanese veteran Caol Uno did little to hold the attention of the crowd and failed to elicit a positive reaction despite it being an enjoyable takedown/reversal based affair.
The tempo of the show appeared to take another hit after an uneventful first round between Mike Swick and Ben Saunders. However Swick’s quick hands would turn things around late in the second scoring him an impressive TKO victory.
This takes us to the biggest talking point coming out of the show, Mirko Cro Cop. The fall out between himself and Dana White was well documented at the time; alas he did indeed fight again for the UFC and will most likely finish up his lucrative contract despite a string of lukewarm performances and disappointing results in recent years. However on this night the win was his, albeit in controversial fashion. The eye poke of doom spelled the end for Mostapha Al-turk before he received several punches to put him down that he shouldn’t really have taken given his obvious pain from the aforementioned finger. It was hard not to feel sorry for Al-turk but given Cro Cop’s clearly superior striking perhaps the finish was inevitable.
Cain Velasquez provided more questions than answers with his dominating decision over Cheick Kongo. Granted he controlled the fight, took Kongo down at will and largely dominated him with his vastly superior wrestling and consistent ground and pound. However on several occasions he was seriously rocked by Kongo and showed that he has some big holes in his striking defence game. To his credit Cain was able to power through Cheick’s accurate striking and routinely finished his takedowns despite sustaining damage from the strikes. It was more than enough to clinch him the decision but certainly raised questions of just how dominant he can be in the heavyweight division, especially against someone his equal at wrestling.
A very entertaining main event between Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva sent the crowd home happy and cemented Silva’s status as someone who can continue to have main event level fights based largely on his heart and charisma as opposed to his skill. Silva is still a very dangerous fighter on the feet as evidenced by him rattling Franklin late in the second. Franklin displayed a technically superior stand up and at times was picking Silva apart. However Silva was game to the end and a last second flurry of back elbows could have given him the nod in many fans eyes. Alas the victory was afforded to Franklin and a well deserved best fight bonus to the men who, thanks to their thoroughly entertaining back and forth battle, put the final stamp on UFC 99 being a card well worth checking out.
Highlights from the under card included an absolute bloodbath between Denis Stojnić and Stefan Struve as well as a gripping comeback victory for European prelim favourite Terry Etim over Justin Buchholz. The DVD set also features the ever dependable countdowns and behind the scenes extras.
If you want to chart the rise of current top contenders such as Hardy and Velasquez and see a very competitive and entirely enjoyable main event then this show comes highly recommended.
Points: 7 / 10