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UFC 57: Liddell vs. Couture III Preview
Posted by Damien Willingby on Feb 3, 2006, 16:17

This is a pivotal card for the UFC. Obviously, it features their most popular match-up in Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture. This is needed to draw a lot of people into buying the show. However this fight is probably the last one between these two, and I don’t see it really changing the face of the UFC much. Perhaps more importantly, this card has the potential to build a lot of new stars for the future, as well as bringing back some old ones. There are a number of showcase fights involving the heavyweight and light-heavyweight divisions. These divisions are notorious for not being too deep, and these fights can help change that. It features the return of a champion from injury in Frank Mir, hoping to reclaim past glory in what is easily the toughest fight of his career. He is fighting someone that can easily spoil his return party as well as make a name for himself in Marcio Cruz. In addition, Joe Riggs and Nick Diaz battle it out in what is rumoured to be a “loser leaves town” fight in the welterweight division. When I first heard about the announcement for this card, I wasn’t really excited. However, in the process of doing this preview, as well as doing the TSM radio show (Cheap plug), I’ve realized just how important it may be. Oh yeah, the majority of the fights look to be pretty damn good too. So in my first try at this whole event preview thing, I just decided to do an analysis of each of the fighters involved as well as of the match-up itself. Sometimes, there wasn’t much to talk about so I avoided it and just put up a little blurb, odds are those are fights that don’t really warrant much discussion. But anyway, let’s dive in and see what this show has to offer hmm?

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Heavyweight Fight: Jeff “The Snowman” Monson vs. Brandon Lee Hinkle

Name Jeff Monson

Nick Name The Snowman

Record 19 - 5 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 1 (T)KOs (5.26%)
12 Submissions (63.16%)
5 Decisions (26.32%)
1 Other (5.26%)

Losses 1 (T)KOs (20.00%)
2 Submissions (40.00%)
2 Decisions (40.00%)
Association American Top Team

Height 6'0 (183cm) Weight 215lbs (98kg)

Birth Date 01/18/71

City Olympia

State Washington

Name Branden Lee Hinkle Record

12 - 6 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw) ( 1 NC )

Wins 8 (T)KOs (66.67%)
3 Submissions (25.00%)
1 Decisions (8.33%)
Losses 5 Submissions (83.33%)
1 Decisions (16.67%)
Height 6'2 (188cm) Weight 235lbs (107kg)

City Weirton

State West Viriginia

Fighter Analysis:

Remember when I said majority of the fights? This is probably going to end up in the minority. Most fans who know of these two guys are looking at this fight as an unofficial “bathroom break”. One of the reasons being that they don’t think Hinkle is a very good fighter period. Common opinion is that the only reason he’s still around is that he beat up on human punching bag Sean Gannon, someone who the internet fans felt didn’t deserve to be there in the first place. However, the main reason as to why most are looking at this fight to be really terrible would probably be Jeff Monson, who I’ve heard has been doing all that is possible to replace digital sheep as the new Serta spokesman. While the latter seems like nothing positive can come out of it, the fact that Hinkle sucks has an upside. This fight could be a one-sided squash, and that’s always fun to see.

Fight Analysis:
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Hinkle’s a product of the Hammer House, a guy with decent wrestling and not much else. He is facing a guy with similar if not better wrestling ability that is very established in the submission-grappling scene as well. Add to this that he has some pro boxing experience, and the “Snowman” easily has a definitive skill advantage. By all accounts, he should crush him. Monson is boring when forced to face off against guys on a level playing field, guys that can stalemate him. Since he can finish off Hinkle so easily in a number of ways, I don’t see this fight being boring. I see it being a squash where Monson might actually elicit some pops from the crowd. Monson has been on a tear finishing off guys much like Hinkle in his past few fights, so I don’t see why that will change just because he’s on the big stage. I don’t see this going past the second round, Monson will probably submit or T(KO) him. However that’s not the gutsy call I’m going to make with this fight. Instead, I’m going to go out on a limb here and make perhaps the boldest prediction anyone can make about UFC 57, and that is that this fight will not be boring. There I said it. We’ll see if that comes back to haunt me.

Winner: Monson by Submission Round Two

Light-heavyweight Fight: Keith Jardine vs. Mike Whitehead

Name Keith Jardine

Record 9 - 1 - 1 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 5 (T)KOs (55.56%)
2 Submissions (22.22%)
2 Decisions (22.22%)
Losses 1 (T)KOs (100.00%)
Association Jackson's Submission Fighting

Height 6'2 (188cm) Weight 205lbs (93kg)

City Albuquerque

State New Mexico

Name Mike Whitehead

Record 9 - 4 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 2 (T)KOs (22.22%)
5 Submissions (55.56%)
2 Decisions (22.22%)
Losses 3 (T)KOs (75.00%)
1 Decisions (25.00%)
Association Militech Fighting Systems

Height 6'1 (185cm) Weight 205lbs (93kg)

City Salt Lake City

State Utah

Fighter Analysis:

Battle of two tough guys from TUF Two (HA! Get it?). Whitehead lost some serious credibility as a fighter with his performance on the show, however I heard he was ‘sick’ so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here. He is a decent wrestler, but his submission game is lacking, and his hands are not very good, which is surprising since his frame and body type scream ‘heavy hands’. Jardine has a very good ground game to go with decent hands. This doesn’t sound like the greatest fighter on paper, and that’s probably because it isn’t. The only reason I see this being set up is because both these guys are seen as ratings draws due to the show, but I don’t believe that. I don’t think anyone really wants to see this fight because they recall how poor most of the heavyweight bouts on the show were. But it’s here, and as a light-heavyweight bout at that.

Fight Analysis:

Keith Jardine was always a small heavyweight, so I can understand why he’d make the drop, but Whitehead? The guy was a big heavyweight, so why would he drop to a division where guys are generally more skilled and he won’t really have that weight advantage? It doesn’t make sense to me, and considering that I heard he was weighing about 250-260 lbs about six weeks before the fight, I seriously doubt his chances to effectively fight at this weight. Jardine seems to be the better rounded of the two, and when I think about the weight cutting taking its toll on Whitehead’s body, I just see him getting grounded and pounded for a decision or a late stoppage.

Winner: Jardine By TKO in Round Three

Welterweight Fight: Joe Riggs vs. Nick Diaz

Name Joe Riggs

Nick Name Diesel

Record 23 - 7 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw) ( 1 NC )

Wins 12 (T)KOs (52.17%)
10 Submissions (43.48%)
1 Decisions (4.35%)
Losses 2 (T)KOs (28.57%)
4 Submissions (57.14%)
1 Decisions (14.29%)
Association (Not really sticking to any one camp, but they’re all under Team Extreme)

Height 6'0 (183cm) Weight 170lbs (77kg)

Birth Date 9/23/1982

City Phoenix

State Arizona

Name Nick Diaz

Record 11 - 4 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 6 (T)KOs (54.55%)
4 Submissions (36.36%)
1 Decisions (9.09%)
Losses 1 (T)KOs (25.00%)
3 Decisions (75.00%)
Association Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

Height 6'0 (183cm) Weight 170lbs (77kg)

Style Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Birth Date 8-2-1983

City Stockton

State California

Fighter Analysis:

Nick Diaz was seen as the future. He caught the attention of many at UFC 47 with both his knockout of Robbie Lawler and the taunting beforehand. He was a pinpoint accurate striker who knew how to place his bombs, and had a very slick guard to go along with it. In other words, he was a hellish match-up for pretty much anyone, as he felt comfortable in any aspect of the fight. After he easily dispatched of Drew Fickett at UFC 51, it was believed that he would be a credible title challenger yet.

Enter Diego “Dirty” Sanchez.

If his interviews are any indication, Diaz seemed pretty jealous of the newfound fame and fortune that Diego was enjoying. However, as bad of a match-up Diaz is for most, Diego was that much worse for him. The result was a decision victory for Diego, and when you lose to a guy whose training regimen consists of grabbing electricity out of the air during a thunderstorm for power, your stock will probably fall as well.

Joe Riggs has the reputation of being mentally weak, and it showed in his last fight against Matt Hughes at UFC 56. Utterly dejected after not being able to make 170 lb weight limit (which is ridiculous in itself, since he’s gone from LHW, to MW, to WW in a short time), his mind seemed to be out of the fight and as a result lost quite quickly to Hughes via kimura. Like most, I personally feel whether he was at the top of his game or not he still would have lost the fight, but that’s the problem with Joe Riggs. For every fight, win or lose, he has excuses.

Fight Analysis:

Joe Riggs has better takedown skills of the two, and will use them. He constantly whines about no one wanting to stand up with him and fight on the feet, but he fails to realize that he is routinely the one that takes the fight to the ground. I think the minute he takes some shots from Diaz he will want to take this to the ground, since while Riggs has more power Diaz is easily the better striker and is mentally tough with a strong chin to withstand what Riggs throws at him. From there many things can happen. Riggs can avoid submissions and get a cut stoppage, since he does have nasty elbows in the guard. However, I see Diaz avoiding that, mainly because he did a good job avoiding the bombs Diego and Fickett threw at him, and I don’t see Joe Riggs succeeding where the other two failed. This leads me to believe that Nick will catch him in a submission, because Riggs doesn’t have the submission defence of Diego Sanchez. Look out for Joe to get a post match interview even though he lost and complain that no one wants to stand with him. Most are looking at this as a “loser leaves town” match, like in pro wrestling. If that means Joe Riggs leaves and cuts even more weight to fight Takanori Gomi for his Lightweight title that’s fine by me. In all honesty, I’m hoping he puts up as much of a fight as he is capable of because this has lots of potential. If he does, this could be a war and fight of the night.

Winner: Nick Diaz by submission, Round Three

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Heavyweight Fight: Paul Buentello vs. Gilbert Aldana

Name Paul Buentello

Nick Name The Headhunter

Record 19 - 8 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 12 (T)KOs (63.16%)
7 Submissions (36.84%)
Losses 2 (T)KOs (25.00%)
5 Submissions (62.50%)
1 Decisions (12.50%)
Association American Kickboxing Academy

Height 6'2 (188cm) Weight 245lbs (111kg)

Birth Date 1-16-1974

City Amarillo

State Texas

(Best pic I could find, he's the one delivering the damage)

Name Gilbert Aldana

Nick Name El Peligro

Record 5 - 0 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 5 (T)KOs (100.00%)
Association Brausa Academy

Height 6'1 (185cm) Weight 250lbs (113kg)

City Chandler

State Arizona

Fighter Analysis:

After Paul Buentello showed the infamous ‘knockout sprawl’ in his loss to Arlovski, I guess the UFC is content on letting him do what he does best, rather than take him as a serious challenger; open the show against one-dimensional brawlers in a gassed-out affair to get the live crowd hyped up. That’s exactly what should happen here, as Aldana is a very aggressive fighter who is always pushing the pace.

Fight Analysis:

From the two fights I’ve seen of Aldana he’s all right hand, and while Buentello is not Andre Arlovski in terms of his striking, he is still a very capable stand-up fighter with a wide array of skills. I see him surviving the opening onslaught then picking apart a gassed out Aldana with some stick and move tactics, before he finishes him off with a big haymaker, maybe that right uppercut he’s so famous for. Should be an action packed one round fight, which is exactly what Dana wants to open the show I guess.

Winner: Buentello by First Round KO

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Heavyweight Fight: Justin Eilers vs. Brandon Vera

Name Justin Eilers

Record 9 - 4 - 1 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 7 (T)KOs (77.78%)
2 Submissions (22.22%)
Losses 2 (T)KOs (50.00%)
2 Decisions (50.00%)
Height 6'1 (185cm) Weight 235lbs (107kg)

City Boise

State Idaho

Name Brandon Vera

Nick Name The Truth

Record 5 - 0 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 4 (T)KOs (80.00%)
1 Decisions (20.00%)
Association City Boxing

Height 6'2 (188cm) Weight 225lbs (102kg)

City San Diego

State California

Brandon Vera has a ton of hype surrounding him, and for good reason. Expected to inject some life into a stale heavyweight division and be a serious contender for Andrei Arlovski’s title, he is as well-rounded a fighter as you will see. Wrestling skills honed at the Olympic Training Center to compliment his BJJ Brown belt, he is also a decent striker. The knock on Vera’s stand-up ability is that while he has good technique and some nice kicks, his hands leave a little to be desired. Something else he’s good at is bringing attention to himself, judging by the fact that he also called out Chuck Liddell after his first victory in the octagon. He’s smart though, and knows he’s not ready for that fight yet. In interviews, he’s stated that the only reason he said that was to be accountable to people, almost like he’s forced himself into having to work hard to make it a reality.

Justin Eilers is a brawler who does a good Ric Flair impression, as in he’s good at flopping on his face. But as the old expression goes, he’s got a ‘puncher’s chance’. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if Vera takes it to the ground quickly and finishes him off. There’s not much to say with this fight really, the UFC is hoping for Vera to prove himself to be the real deal by quickly taking care of Eilers, and I don’t see “The Truth” disappointing.

Winner: Brandon Vera by submission Round One

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Light-heavyweight Fight: Alessio Sakara vs. Elvis Sinosic

Name Alessio Sakara

Nick Name Legionarius

Record 7 - 3 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw) ( 1 NC )

Wins 4 (T)KOs (57.14%)
1 Submissions (14.29%)
2 Decisions (28.57%)
Losses 1 Submissions (33.33%)
2 Decisions (66.67%)
Association Brazil Dojo

Height 6'1 (185cm) Weight 205lbs (93kg)

Birth Date 9/2/1981

City Rome

Country Italy

Name Elvis Sinosic

Nick Name The King of Rock n Rumble

Record 6 - 8 - 2 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 3 (T)KOs (50.00%)
3 Submissions (50.00%)
Losses 3 (T)KOs (37.50%)
2 Submissions (25.00%)
3 Decisions (37.50%)
Height 6'3 (190cm) Weight 199lbs (90kg)

Birth Date 2/13/71

City Sydney

Country Australia

Not much to say here either. Elvis, despite the fact that he’s not very good on the feet, likes to stand and bang or pull guard rather than go for a takedown. Alessio Sakara is a former pro boxer who pounded the hell out of Ron Faircloth on the ground before getting hit in the groin, causing a no-contest. Needless to say, I think this is going to be brutal, and I don’t know how a guy with a recent record as poor as Sinosic’s got asked back to the UFC. The only thing I can think of is that they see the star potential of a dangerous striker like Sakara and this is a showcase bout. I’ve never seen a guy come out of a no contest with as much hype as Alessio, but depending on how brutally he KO’s Sinosic, his bandwagon isn’t going anywhere.

Winner: Sakara by Round One Knockout

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Heavyweight Fight: Frank Mir vs. Marcio ‘Pa De Pano’ Cruz

Name Frank Mir Record 8 - 1 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 1 (T)KOs (12.50%)
5 Submissions (62.50%)
1 Decisions (12.50%)
1 Other (12.50%)

Losses 1 (T)KOs (100.00%)
Association Las Vegas Combat Club

Height 6'1 (185cm) Weight 240lbs (109kg)

Birth Date 1980

City Las Vegas

State Nevada

Name Marcio Cruz

Nick Name Pe de Pano

Record 1 - 0 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 1 Submissions (100.00%)

Association Gracie Barra Combat Team

Height 6'4 (193cm) Weight 232lbs (105kg)

City Rio de Janeiro

Country Brazil

Fighter Analysis:

Frank Mir was an example of a TUF fighter before there was a TUF show. When he first came to the UFC, it wasn’t short of good challengers like it is today. A prime Ricco Rodriguez, Josh Barnett, Randy Couture, Pedro Rizzo; these are a few of the big names that were floating around by the time he got in there. He never faced any of them. Instead, he fought guys that really didn’t have any business being in the octagon at that point, like Roberto Traven, Tank Abbott and Wes Sims (twice!) So when many saw him face his second real test in Tim Sylvia (his first was against Ian Freeman, the English fighter who, even though outweighed by a good twenty pounds, still managed to beat the hell out of Mir. To be fair, Freeman fought the fight of his life knowing his father was dying of cancer), it was assumed that he was just being thrown to the wolves. Most thought that Sylvia’s reach and power combined with his solid takedown defence would spell a first round knockout of Mir. If you told someone it wouldn’t last past the first minute. So when it didn’t, that didn’t surprise anyone.

What did shock the hell out of everyone was that Mir was the guy with his hand raised after those 50 seconds were over. He literally went from chump to champ, putting Sylvia on the shelf for eight months with a broken arm. Zuffa had just what they wanted; a young pretty-boy champ who was well spoken and even from Las Vegas, where most of the UFC events are held. The UFC heavyweight division had a lot more interesting fights as well, as many wanted to see Andrei Arlovski get a crack at the title. I personally believe that Sylvia provided Mir’s worst match-up, and although he made some mistakes in his game plan for the fight, it was still impressive for Mir to end it the way he did. With that win under his belt there weren’t many guys in the UFC that would have a chance to take him out.

Leave it to a motorcycle to get the job done then. Yes, Frank Mir had a really bad motorcycle accident after colliding with another vehicle that threw him off the bike and caused him to break his femur. Through the months of rehab he was still viewed as the world champ, but when he didn’t defend his title for a year and a half he was stripped and it was a mere formality to make Andrei Arlovski the official UFC Heavyweight champion rather than just the interim champ. This is Frank’s first fight back, and many are unsure of what kind of fighter he will be returning from that long layoff. That’s the biggest question coming into this fight, and in my opinion what the fight hinges on really.

Marcio “Pa De Pano” Cruz has a very poor reputation among fans of the submission-grappling scene. After having heard stories of him roughing up a newer BJJ Practitioner in what was supposed to be a grappling exhibition, not to mention bending the rules when it came to fighting guys in his own weight class, it’s hard to respect the man’s attitude. However, I can’t deny his BJJ pedigree. He has multiple world titles and was ADCC champion in the +99Kg category in 2003. To his credit he seems to have taken the MMA game seriously as he has been training with Renato Sobral. Still, it’s hard to just step in right away when you’re facing a guy with as much experience as Mir.

Fight Analysis:

As I said earlier, the big question mark is whether or not Mir is rusty and whether or not the guy has healed properly from his injury. His camp says that he’s in better shape than he was before, but that seems like the sort of thing that trainers say. Pa De Pano is a bad match-up for Mir regardless of injury, if you take into account that he’s better than Frank at what Frank likes most, and that’s the ground game. However, MMA jiu jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are two different things obviously, as Mir showed through tapping out another black belt in MMA in Traven. Still, Mir would be wise to not test the waters against a guy like this and take the path of least resistance. Mir’s a good enough wrestler to where I think he can avoid playing the ground game with Pa De Pano, but he’s already got proven ground skills so if it went there he could survive and even do some damage. I also think he’s a solid enough striker that he can dominate on the feet against a relative MMA noob like Cruz. Randy Couture said that while he still had to work on some things, Frank Mir looked and acted fine when they worked out together. The layoff/injury makes this a toss up, but I’m going with my guy instinct and assuming he’ll be all right. I really want him to do well too, since it would be nice to have a heavyweight title fight that people actually look forward to in him fighting Arlovski.

Winner: Frank Mir via T(KO) in Round Two.

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Light-heavyweight Fight: Renato Sobral vs. Mike Van Arsdale

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Name Renato Sobral

Nick Name Babalu

Record 26 - 5 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 2 (T)KOs (7.69%)
13 Submissions (50.00%)
11 Decisions (42.31%)
Losses 1 (T)KOs (20.00%)
1 Submissions (20.00%)
3 Decisions (60.00%)
Association Gracie Barra Combat Team

Height 6'1 (185cm) Weight 205lbs (93kg)

City Rio De Janeiro

Country Brazil

Name Mike Van Arsdale

Record 8 - 2 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 1 (T)KOs (12.50%)
6 Submissions (75.00%)
1 Decisions (12.50%)
Losses 1 (T)KOs (50.00%)
1 Submissions (50.00%)
Height 6'2 (188cm) Weight 205lbs (93kg)

Birth Date 6-20-1965

City San Jose

State California


Fighter Analysis:

Mike Van Arsdale is an explosive wrestler that was arguably getting the better of Randy Couture during their fight in the opening round, the same Randy Couture that’s hailed as the best wrestler at 205 lbs in MMA. He is very strong, quick, and aggressive. While he has moved around to different training camps now in specific preparation for this fight, he has lots of experience and has spent a lot of time in what I believe to be the best camp in the United States save for maybe the Militech Fighting Systems, and that is the American Kickboxing Academy. He’s shown submission skills that are better than most other elite wrestlers in MMA along with an unorthodox striking game that has been known to confuse opponents. He is a bad style match-up for pretty much anyone in the division.

I am still taking Babalu.

Renato Sobral is a man on a mission. He is a fighter in every sense of the word. You’d be hard pressed to find fighters as well rounded as he is. A Brazilian wrestling champion, he also has proven MMA submission skills, as he’s tapped out some pretty good guys, like Travis Wiuff and Chael Sonnen (although he is undersized). He’s also tapped out a guy that many feel is the best light-heavyweight fighter in the world, in Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. That was on a night where he fought for over forty-five minutes against three tough fighters, in the IFC Global Domination tournament, getting a trophy and a face that looked like putty for his troubles. Combined with his crisp muay thai and mental toughness, many feel that it’s a formality for him to take this fight and meet the winner of the main event for the title later on in the year. That seems presumptuous, especially given how dangerous a contender Van Arsdale is.

Fight Analysis:

While I feel Babalu will win, there’s no doubt in my mind that this will be a war. Van Arsdale is extremely aggressive and will take the fight to Babalu early, who will have no problems fighting back. The problem with Mike Van Arsdale is that he has a questionable gas tank, getting tired after about two rounds or so. It’s understandable considering his age, but don’t expect Babalu to offer him any sympathy. Rumour has it though that MVA has been working on his conditioning a lot, and is in much better shape than when he fought Randy at UFC 54. If true, he might be able to grind out a decision. However, that’s all unfounded at this point, so I’m sticking with Babalu, who is a cardio machine in his own right, to win this fight and get a title shot.

Winner: Renato Sobral by Submission, Round Two

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Light-heavyweight championship fight: Randy Couture vs. Chuck Liddell©

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Name Randy Couture

Nick Name The Natural

Record 14 - 7 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 6 (T)KOs (42.86%)
2 Submissions (14.29%)
6 Decisions (42.86%)
Losses 3 (T)KOs (42.86%)
4 Submissions (57.14%)
Association None (Trains with different guys, rather than a specific team)

Height 6'1 (185cm) Weight 205lbs (93kg)

Birth Date 6-22-1963

City Corvallis

State Oregon


Name Chuck Liddell

Nick Name Iceman

Record 17 - 3 - 0 (Win - Loss - Draw)

Wins 10 (T)KOs (58.82%)
1 Submissions (5.88%)
6 Decisions (35.29%)
Losses 3 (T)KOs (100.00%)
Association Pitfight Team

Height 6'2 (188cm)

Weight 204lbs (93kg)

Birth Date 12/17/1969

City San Luis Obispo

State California


Fighter Analysis:
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Going into UFC 43, Chuck Liddell was on top of the LHW division, a king without a crown. Many believed that Tito Ortiz, the champion at the time, was ducking out of a match between the two, fearing a knockout loss that would strip him of his title (when the two did fight later on without a title on the line, Chuck did indeed knock him out). Tiring of Tito’s constant excuses, Dana White and Zuffa set up an interim title fight designed to give Chuck the title he had been waiting so long to have. The problem was that they needed a challenger. Randy Couture wasn’t doing anything, and after two losses in the heavyweight division, it was decided that a drop down in weight might actually be good for his career.

No one realized just how good it was, as two and a half years later, he has achieved the status of undisputed top LHW in the world, along with a role on the hit TV show “The Ultimate Fighter”, not to mention a very loaded contract, laden with better incentives and sponsorship opportunities than he had received before. It all started with a dominating victory over Chuck Liddell, “out-striking the striker” (Credit: Joe Rogan’s Big Book of Clichés) and stopping him with a brutal TKO victory in the third round. A couple of wins over two top LHW later, and no one really thought that he could be stopped.

Going into UFC 52, Randy Couture was a king with a crown. Many believed that the title would stay with him until he retired. He had beaten the top challengers that the UFC had to offer so convincingly that if there was to be a rematch no one had expected anything to go differently. However, since Chuck was the best option, they decided to throw him on the TV show with Randy, with the promise of a big PPV Battle after it was over. Again, no one expected the champion to lose his title, since he had Chuck so well scouted. One of my favourite moments on the TV show was when Randy had Lodune Sincaid on the stool, giving him his advice. “Watch out for that big one-two, left-right combo. Chuck loves that one and he’ll probably tell Bobby to throw the same thing.” The scene switches to Chuck coaching Bobby Southworth in his corner, and he offers him this advice. “Throw that big one-two, left-right. Bam, BAM! He won’t know what hit him.” Yeah, Randy had him scouted pretty well.

What people failed to take into account was that Chuck too changed his game plan. Gone was the flat-footedness. Rather, he learned to use his angles much better, moved side to side, and most importantly seemed to be light on his feet. Randy, after having been accidentally poked in the eye, was goaded into chasing Chuck, which caused one of the most brutal knockouts you will ever see. Chuck was now champion, both in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division and of the latest Xyence marketing campaign. Chuck took Xyence, and won the title right afterwards. Coincidence? I think not. Something I found hilarious that is worth noting, is that shortly after this fight, Randy said in an interview, talking about the loss, “It happens, what am I gonna do, write to my congressman? That ain’t gonna do shit!” I didn’t know what that meant then, and I don’t know what it means now. I guess he got hit harder than I originally thought.

Fight Analysis:

So here we are, back again. They’ve both thoroughly defeated one another, so the question is, who will do it this time around? To be honest, I don’t know. The problem with how Chuck won is that he did it very quickly. Randy won a three round drubbing. When you take longer, it looks a lot more convincing as people are wowed by the fact that you’re consistent in your domination. Chuck’s right cross has come under a lot of speculation as being a fluke shot, something that won’t happen again. I think that this reasoning is flawed, as it’s not Chuck’s fault that he’s got enough power to take out another fighter in one fell swoop. The fact that Chuck’s victory happened later is also important, in a “what have you done for me lately” sort of way. Interesting to note, Chuck threw a low kick in the first fight, but due to his lack of conditioning got the leg caught and was taken down. In their second fight, he felt much more confident and threw them whenever he wanted, not getting taken down either. While it wasn’t as much of a factor in their second fight, I think it will be this time around, which I’ll get into more later.

We all know what their strengths and weaknesses are. These guys have fought so much in the UFC we’re all familiar with the little blurb you get as the fighter gets in the octagon, “World class this, trains in a great camp, working on that”. Yeah, Randy is a world-class wrestler who uses hands very well and is intelligent to boot. Yeah, Chuck’s a world-class striker with great takedown defence and a chin of granite. How do they match up with each other? I personally think Chuck has the advantage, in that Randy doesn’t have a lot of ways to win, and if Chuck has nullified one of those ways already, what else can he do? I guess he’s become knowledgeable with submissions as shown in his last fight, and we all know how uncomfortable Chuck is on his back. Still, Chuck is great at standing back up, and if his last fight is any indication, his cardio is good enough to let him use that whenever he wants. Randy, while showing more skills in his last fight, looked like he had slower reaction time and was getting tagged by Mike Van Arsdale for a while. While Chuck is a very different striker than MVA, that’s still not a good sign for Randy. Andrei Arlovski being in Randy’s corner doesn’t really do much for me either, so I see this fight being an extended version of their last one. Randy might get a takedown here or there, but I see Chuck eventually pulling Randy out of his game plan with some nice jabs and low kicks, circling around the whole time. This will eventually frustrate Randy to come in again, where Chuck will have that haymaker ready. So, I see this one being a later KO, maybe TKO victory for Chuck, due to a flurry, probably in the third round.

Winner: Chuck via T(KO) in the third round.

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So looking over this show, every match offers some intrigue at the very least. I am actively looking forward to watching everything, other than Monson vs. Hinkle and Jardine vs. Whitehead, and I’ve already stated that the former will be a fun squash. Will they all live up to their potential? No, probably not. However, odds are that most of them will, and I would not want to miss out on it. The UFC, over the past three or so years since I’ve really become a fan, has rarely had a card that disappointed. I don’t see this card being an exception. If you’re still unsure about whether or not to order, or if you aren’t sure whether you like this MMA stuff in the first place, just give it a shot and check it out. This card has competitive match-ups for the hardcore fans, as well as an epic main event to appeal to those really unsure of how they feel about the sport. Combine that with the fact that this card has some serious impact on the future of the UFC, and you better believe that this is a show to watch. Rumour has it that there will be a big announcement on this show too. So yeah, buy it, you (probably) won’t regret it. I’ll be back on Monday or Tuesday with a review. PM me (Your Paragon of Virtue) with feedback, it would be appreciated.


Credit to Sherdog for the stats and most of the pictures, while big props goes out to LeiTong for helping me out with the analysis.


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