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2000-09 in MMA: Top 50 Fights Of The Decade

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#47 - Nick Diaz vs Thomas Denny - EliteXC - Jul 26th 2008 Diaz back in the old 209. Stockton motherfucker! This was near the start of what would end up being the best stretch of Nick’s career. He

So much for this. I might actually finish this by Christmas.  #4 - Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlei Silva - UFC 79 - Dec 29th 2007 OK, this fight was such a long time in the making. They were

#31 - Eddie Alvarez vs Tatsuya Kawajiri - DREAM 5 - Jul 21st 2008 Back in Japan but it’s the first fight in this thread from the DREAM promotion. DREAM was pretty much just bootleg Pride in terms

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@jimufctna24 Ha, this thread has taken a turn. Back to business...


#44 - Pete Sell vs Scott Smith - The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale - Nov 11th 2006

I’ve said it before on here but I’ll say it again. TUF 4 was criminally underrated. Such a fun show to watch week to week. Shonie Carter just being Shonie Carter was must see TV. One of the best things I’ve ever seen on TUF was his bottle raft and the joy and pride he took in it warmed the old cockles. Then you had Matt Serra verbally TKOing Marc ‘Lemon’ Laimon for besmirching the Gracie name. Everyone dubbing Charles McCarthy ‘Captain Miserable’. Mikey Burnette being off his tits. The real beginnings of the GSP-Matt Hughes rivalry. Rich Franklin’s bizarre ‘one knee’ advice which got roundly and rightly laughed out of the gym. The madness of sex pest Jeremy Jackson jumping over the fence to meet a girl and Dana subsequently booting him out the door. I could go on and on. TUF back when TUF was quality. And to think the UFC initially wanted Nick Diaz on that season! Imagine adding him to that cast of characters. Even now, I’d pay actual money just to eavesdrop on a conversation between him and Shonie.

But for all my praise of the weekly show, the Finale just wasn’t much good for whatever reason. Sometimes it just goes like that with sport doesn’t it? The Serra vs Lytle battle of good eggs turned into a bit of a snoozer. And the rest of the card wasn’t much cop either.

There was one exception on the prelims.


Pete Sell vs Scott Smith 

The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale

November 11th 2006

Las Vegas, Nevada

Smith and Sell had been relatively quiet throughout the season. Surrounded by bigger characters, they just blended into the background most weeks. Apart from the time Sell got absolutely bladdered after winning a fight...

😂 Him trying to shut the door killed me when I first saw it. 

But yeah, me and my brother watched the show religiously every week on Bravo. We’re both shit with remembering names so for ages all we knew Sell as was ‘that lightbulb head’. And Smith was pretty quiet all season.

So this fight was pretty much just thrown together as undercard filler. No expectations. No hype.

Round 1: A lot being made on the commentary early on about these guys being good buddies in the TUF house. It’s not stopping them from giving each other a hiding though. They’re pulling zero punches. Bloody hell. Full on slobberknocker. Both putting 100% venom into pretty much every strike. They’re high-fiving now. It’s Lawler vs Lytle all over again.

“I think they’re both just glad to be out of the house.” - Mike Goldberg

Alright for some, eh? Hearing that line while the world is essentially ‘grounded’ makes me want to slap the fake shine off Mike Goldberg’s teeth, it really does.

Jesus fuck, these two are going for the kill. Smith drops him! Looked more like a glancing blow that caught Sell off balance than anything really hurtful. Smith’s pulling ahead as the last 30 seconds or so tick away. He connects with some solid right hands and a knee. Smith 10-9.

This is from the end of the round;


“They know they’re gonna have to go out and do this again in a minute. This is not the end of the fight, this is the end of the round. They’re laughing and bloody. This is crazy, man. This is a crazy fight.” - Joe Rogan

Nutters. They genuinely look like they couldn’t be happier. Having the time of their lives.

Round 2: Starts off kind of cautious but then the haymakers continue to fly again. Sell turning it on now. Smith throwing back. Christ. Then it happens. Sell absolutely folds Smith with a left hook to the body. Perfect body punch pretty much. Smith’s in agony. Sell goes in to finish...


And Sell’s a goner. 

One of the most ridiculous finishes in any fight, from any combat sport that I’ve ever seen. The type of thing you’d see in a movie and laugh at how unrealistic it was. Well it bloody well happened here.

Winner - Scott Smith by knockout. Round 2 - 3:25.



Mad post-fight scenes as Smith looks like anything but a winner. He’s on his back writhing in pain. And Sell’s half conscious asking the ref what happened. Nutty fight from start to finish.

Man, Scott Smith never looked like much, he looks about 12 here, but he was granite hard. Not the most technical of fighters but he could take a hell of a beating and he always had that one punch equaliser in the holster. It got him out of trouble a few times in his career. His nickname was ‘Hands Of Steel’ for good reason. Sell was good value back then as well. I recall his fights with Nate Quarry and Phil Baroni being good rucks. Don’t know why his nickname was ‘Drago’ though. Looked sod all like Dolph Lundgren.

Watching this back, I wish we had a time machine so we could see Smith vs Justin Gaethje. I’ve no doubt Gaethje would win but fuck me it would’ve been a thriller however long it lasted. This was like a Justin Gaethje fight but years before any of us heard of Gaethje. That’s the highest praise I can give it. Everyone remembers it for the mental finish but the fight as a whole is tremendous. Watch it. If you’ve seen it before, watch it again. I didn’t regret it. 

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16 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

And to think the UFC initially wanted Nick Diaz on that season! Imagine adding him to that cast of characters.

There were also strong rumours that Keith Hackney was going to be part of the cast. 

Hackney was best known for this:


And this:


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Forgot all about the Keith Hackney rumours.


#43 - Matt Hughes vs BJ Penn 2 - UFC 63 - Sep 23rd 2006

Bit of history to this one. In January 2004, Matt Hughes was the UFC Welterweight champion, had defended the belt 5 times, was on a 13 fight win streak with an overall record of 35-3 and had wins over Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, Carlos Newton twice and Hayato Sakurai. Hughes was the man at 170lbs back then, no mistake. A dominant champion who was fast running out of contenders. So when the UFC announced that Lightweight BJ Penn would be his next challenger, it was pretty much dismissed as just another routine defence for Hughes. Penn was a badass, a BJJ phenom with KO power and was coming off a big win over Gomi at the time. But still, he was only 6-1-1 in MMA and was coming up in weight to face a bigger, stronger, more experienced guy who was crushing everyone.


But Penn flipped the script. In less than a round, he badly rocked Hughes with a punch on the ground and submitted the dazed champ with a choke.

Things got messy after that though. That was the last fight on Penn’s 3 fight deal and the UFC hadn’t locked him into another contract. They obviously expected Hughes to beat him so didn’t see the need. So now the UFC were in a position where their champion was out of contract and he’d received an offer from K-1. As Penn tells it in his book, Joe Rogan snitched on him to Dana about the K-1 offer;

“The day after the fight, I was in McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, heading back to Hawaii, completely spent. On the way to the gate, I ran into the UFC announcer Joe Rogan, who I knew by name but wasn’t really acquainted with. He congratulated me, and the next thing I knew, we were talking about fighting.

Eventually Rogan asked who I wanted to fight next, and if the UFC had someone in mind. Knowing that K-1 had made this big offer, I just told him, “I think I might go fight in K-1.” Jay Dee and I didn’t think this was going to be a problem since White had been willing to let me fight in ROTR against Gomi and had allowed Liddell to fight twice in Pride.

The conversation seemed really innocent, and certainly I had nothing to hide, but by the time I landed in Hawaii, my phone was filled with messages from Jay Dee and Dana White. Apparently Rogan called White to tell him of my intentions, and White was not happy about it.” - BJ Penn

They went back and forth and the talks deteriorated. The UFC said if he fought anywhere else he’d be stripped of the belt. This bit in Penn’s book made me laugh though. A UFC lawyer apparently made this offer to Penn to get the issue settled...

“A UFC attorney named Kirk Hendrick called me up and offered me their version of a “deal.” I mean, knowing how they operated, you prepared yourself for the worst and the best - the worst possible deal from a monetary standpoint, and the best in terms of comedic value. They did not let me down on either end.

Sensing that I wanted back in, Hendrick said the only way this situation could now be resolved was if I came to the next scheduled event, walked into the Octagon with the belt, publicly apologised to White, and left the belt in the cage. Did White think he was Vince McMahon? Was this the WWE? He needed a public apology from a fighter just so he could then tell people he was right?” - BJ Penn


Anyway, long story short, Penn was stripped of the belt and ended up having a few MMA fights in K-1. This was the period where he got all fat and fought Machida at fucking Heavyweight! In the end, he wound up back in the UFC, losing a razor close decision to GSP on his return. In the meantime, Hughes had got back to winning ways and rattled off 5 straight, including stoppages over a GSP, Frank Trigg and the legendary Royce Gracie.

So UFC 63 rolled around and it was supposed to be Hughes vs St Pierre 2. But GSP got injured a few weeks out. Penn offered to step in. And with many feeling Penn should’ve got the nod over GSP anyway, it all kind of made sense. Especially as Penn already had that win over Hughes and had never actually lost the UFC belt in the cage. It was unfinished business and the best possible save for the event.


Matt Hughes (c) vs BJ Penn - Welterweight Title 

UFC 63: Hughes vs Penn 2

September 23rd 2006 

Anaheim, California

One thing that always sticks out about this fight for me is Penn’s entrance. It starts as his usual Hawaiian walkout song then ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley kicks in and it’s fucking great. It’ll be edited out on Fight Pass but here it is...

It just fit perfectly at the time. With all the talk of Penn wanting to fight Arlovski at Heavyweight and mad shite like that. It was the ideal choice of entrance song for him. It’d be even more appropriate now but for much sadder reasons.


Ahh, we’ve got the old 3 man team of Mike Goldberg, Joe Rogan and Randy Couture calling this one. I liked the addition of Randy. Gave a bit of balance and kept the other two in check.

Round 1: Hughes is going for the takedown as expected. And Penn is defending it while hopping on one leg. His balance really was ridiculous in his prime years. Most natural Welters couldn’t defend Hughes’ takedowns on two legs, and here’s a chubby blown up 155er doing it on one. Hughes can’t get him down. And now Randy is telling us on commentary that when he trained with Penn, HE had trouble taking him down! A Heavyweight, Olympic alternate, Division 1 wrestler struggled taking a 155er down. That right there tells you what a freak Penn was. Hughes has had to give up on the takedown. That’s big. Hughes is trying to box with Penn, which sounds like a disaster waiting to happen but he’s been given no choice. Penn hurts him with a big right to the mug...


Hughes immediately shoots again for the takedown and sort of half gets it. But flexibility of Penn’s legs is making it hard work. Back up and Penn’s boxing him up again.

“This is the best BJ we’ve seen in a long time.” - Joe Rogan

Someone send Joe a link to Pornhub, for fuck’s sake.

Round’s over. Penn 10-9. Hughes got fuck all done that round. Spent the whole 5 minutes trying and failing to get the takedown, and munching on Penn’s knuckles. Terrible start for the country boy.

Round 2: Hughes actually lands a nice body kick at the start of the round. Penn then defends another fucking takedown with his weirdly bendy legs. Hughes finally gets him on his back. He can’t pass the guard but at least he’s finally on top and he’s starting to land some ground and pound. So Penn folds his own legs up like a fucking pretzel to stop Hughes doing significant damage.



Hughes eventually does break through it and now he’s dropping elbows. He seems angry. He’s had enough of Penn and his elastic, Dhalsim-like limbs. It’s been a frustrating round and a half for him but he’s finally doing some damage. Penn tries to sweep, and he manages to take Hughes’ back. Is this going to end like the first fight? Penn’s got a sort of inverted triangle choke from the back. Then doubles up on the attack by extending the arm at the same time.


Hughes is in big trouble! The choke and the armbar are locked in. The crowd is going mad. But Hughes is saved by the buzzer as the round ends. Lucky boy. Penn 10-9.

We go to Eddie Bravo’s scorecard! Remember those days?


Despite being a flat earther, he’s got this one scored right so far. Penn looks exhausted now though.

Round 3: Yep. Penn’s cream crackered. You know something’s not quite right when Matt Hughes is teeing off in the striking on BJ Penn. Hughes has clearly realised Penn is fading badly and you can see his confidence growing. He’s throwing leg kicks, body punches, the lot. Fucking K-1 Hughes here. He puts a punching combination together and then drags Penn down to the mat. Crowd is booing now. They know this is looking bad. Hughes passes to side control. Considering the game he had just getting Penn down earlier, it’s alarming to see how quickly he’s got to this position now. He’s trapped the arms and got the crucifix...


And just rains down punches and elbows from there continuously. Penn never goes out but his arms are trapped so his head is just taking shot after shot that he can’t defend. John McCarthy finally waves it off. 

Winner - Matt Hughes by TKO. Round 3 - 3:53.

Rough finish that. I counted 46 unanswered strikes that Penn ate from the crucifix there. This is one of the fights that gets brought up as an example of Penn being lazy and having shit cardio. And while there’s certainly merit to the criticism, there were other factors in this specific fight. For one, Penn did take it on short notice. And Penn also said that he picked up an injury when he felt something pop in his ribs trying to take Hughes back in the second round. That would explain why he faded so rapidly. Regardless it was a real good fight. Maybe not the most obvious choice for this list but I really liked this fight. The twists and turns and dramatic shift in the third round made it an engrossing watch.

The most memorable thing to come out of the fight though, was when GSP got in the cage after and went all Shania Twain, telling Hughes how unimpressive he was.


Out of character for loveable Georgey but there was a reason. They’d just finished filming TUF 4 around this time and both GSP and Hughes appeared on there as guest coaches for a few episodes. And Hughes was being a bit of a cock to Georges, trying to show him up at the restaurant they were all at. Of course, Georges made him pay in the end by royally fucking him up the next two times they met in the cage, and taking his place as the Welterweight GOAT. So all ended well and he got the last laugh.

As for Penn and Hughes, they’d meet one last time in 2010.


Pretty much the whole fight, that. Penn just came out and wrecked him in 21 seconds. It turned out to be the last win of Penn’s career. Him and Hughes wound up becoming unlikely mates.


Looking back over their trilogy, I think it’s safe to say Penn always had Hughes’ number. Submitted him in a round the first time, knocked him out in seconds the third time. And even this second fight, yeah he lost, but Hughes got zero done until Penn’s cardio failed him/he hurt his rib. Had Penn had a full camp for that fight, I suspect things would’ve been different. As it was, he still nearly had him out of there with those dual submissions before he ran out of time.

Christ, this post went longer than I planned. I’ll try and keep them a tad shorter going forward. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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OK, last one for tonight.


#42 - Joachim Hansen vs Caol Uno - K-1 HERO’S 1 - Mar 26th 2005

Back to Japan and this one is from the first HERO’S show. Uno was obviously the veteran here. He was 17-6-4 at this time and had long stints in both the UFC and Shooto facing pretty much all the top lighter weight class fighters around at the time from BJ Penn to Jens Pulver to Yves Edwards to Dennis Hallman etc. Joachim ‘Hellboy’ Hansen was only 9-2-1 but he’d put himself on the map in 2003 by being the first man to hand Takanori Gomi a loss.


Joachim Hansen vs Caol Uno

K-1 HERO’S 1

March 26th 2005

Saitama, Japan

For some reason, the original entrance songs are left in unedited on these HERO’S DVDs. Uno is walking in to ‘Numb/Encore’ by Jay-Z and Linkin Park. As usual with the Japanese promotions, the production values and overall presentation of the shows is top notch as well. But it’s all been soiled by the tones of Pierre Guillet on commentary dubbed over the top.

Round 1: Uno gets a quick trip takedown right away. That was nifty. Hansen is constantly working off his back so this is a lot of fun to watch. Uno with some good ground strikes but Hellboy is keeping him at bay with upkicks. Back up and Hansen hits a sweet waistlock German suplexy thing. Lots of reversals on the ground. It’s non-stop. Uno trying to pass guard and dropping punches along the way. Uno 10-9 for me. Close but he had top position for a fair chunk of it so he edged it, IMO. That round flew by. Great to watch.

Round 2: There’s a real sense of urgency from Hellboy now and he’s coming out throwing some venomous strikes. Uno gets him down again but Hansen just won’t stop moving is always threatening with the upkicks. Trading a bit in the standup again and Hansen lands a good punch that seems to stun Uno for a second and they end up scrambling about in the grappling again. More striking and Hansen is having more success. He’s got Uno‘s back as the round comes to a close. That’s a Hansen 10-9.

Round 3: Hansen coming after him with knees right out the gate and a big takedown. He goes for an armbar and Uno reverses position and ends up on top again. Uno with the old Sakuraba cartwheel guard pass attempt! Love it. He’s got Hansen’s back now. Man, the positions are changing constantly and so quickly here it’s hard to keep up. This is brilliant stuff from both. Yet Guillet sounds like he’s watching Last Of The Summer Wine. Seriously, the fucker sounds sedated. Uno rolls for a Kimura but he’s landed in a dodgy position. Hansen tagging him with punches. Another Uno takedown. Uno’s starting to run away with this round. We’re in the final minute, he’s on top and this should seal the fight for him. They get back up and Hansen runs straight at him...


Jesus! In the dying seconds of the fight, Uno is out cold before he hits the mat. Incredible ending to an already excellent fight.


Winner - Joachim Hansen by knockout. Round 3 - 4:48.

12 seconds left!

Hansen is a guy I wish we got in the UFC at some point. He was usually always in fun fights and he would’ve been a cool addition to the UFC’s Lightweight division in around 2007-09. Or Strikeforce’s actually. Tell me you wouldn’t have been up for Hellboy vs Gilbert Melendez or Josh Thomson? Looking him up now, he last fought in 2016 and finished up on 3 straight losses. He definitely dropped off the last few years of his career but there was a window of time when I think he’d have had some absolute belters in the UFC, Strikeforce or WEC. 

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6 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

This is one of the fights that gets brought up as an example of Penn being lazy and having shit cardio. And while there’s certainly merit to the criticism, there were other factors in this specific fight. For one, Penn did take it on short notice. And Penn also said that he picked up an injury when he felt something pop in his ribs trying to take Hughes back in the second round. That would explain why he faded so rapidly.

Penn also couldn't take a body shot very well. It was something that I missed at the time, but when Jack Slack looked back at Penn's fight with Diaz and his rematches with GSP and Hughes - he noticed that Penn became winded in all 3 fights after sustaining a few shots to the stomach. 

I'm not saying that was the only reason Penn slowed down in the Hughes rematch. The rib injury was probably legitimate. But the body shots that Hughes landed in the 3rd round, which you noted in your write-up, probably slowed Penn down further. 

That weakness in Penn's game was related to his complacency. Perhaps had he trained more seriously and dieted better he would have been less vulnerable to body blows. But that was BJ Penn for you, a flawed genius who should have achieved a lot more as a fighter.

Btw, I am really enjoying reading this thread. I'd forgotten a ton of stuff. Such as Jeremy Jackson getting thrown out of the TUF house and later getting convicted of rape. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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With my MMA viewing having subsided in recent years (so I never saw the Korean Zombie getting sparked in the last second of a fight he was winning) that Sell vs Smith fight still has has the best finish ever to a fight for me (just ahead of the Showtime kick).

Don't think that'll be the last we see of Scott Smith in this list either.

Mark Weir was also rumoured for the comeback season of TUF, although I can't remember why he never ended up being on it.

Joachin Hansen really is one of those forgotten names in MMA.  Spent all his time fighting in Europe and primarily Japan, only having two of his 38 fights in the U.S. but tough as nails and a great fighter.

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#41 - Kazushi Sakuraba vs Rampage Jackson - Pride 15 - Jul 29th 2001

Going way back now. The mad thing is, this footage looks dated as fuck but I left school in 2001. Makes me feel well old.

This was right at the end of Sakuraba’s prime. He’d had that brutal first loss to Wanderlei by this point but aside from that, he’d been firing on all cylinders in the few years prior. From 1997 through to the end of 2000, he was on fire. Way ahead of his time and if the silly pound-for-pound talk was as prevalent in MMA back then as it is now, Sakuraba would’ve likely been at the top of everyone’s list during this time. I don’t think the loss to Igor Vovchanchyn in 2000 should be held against him considering Igor was the much bigger man and Sakuraba had just fought Royce Gracie for NINETY FUCKING MINUTES earlier that night.

So yeah, Sakuraba was coming off that loss to Wanderlei in March 2001 where he got bloody annihilated by the ‘Axe Murderer’ in short order. This was his attempt to rebound and he’d be taking on a young newcomer to the Pride ring.


Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson was only 23 years old and 10-1 in his MMA career, mostly fighting on cards around California for the King Of The Cage and Gladiator Challenge promotions. He beat a Kenneth Williams in his fight before this.


Stephen Quadros and Bas Rutten are the commentary team for this. Yes! Quadros is interviewing Rampage backstage before the fight. Man, Rampage looks skinny here.


Quadros: It seems like you’ve got a ton of rage in you and you channel that into your fighting. How does that fuel you?

Rampage: It’s like I black out. I just let that rage take over. I let Rampage come in, you know? Let him do his thing. I’m not Quinton when I step in the ring, I’m Rampage.

Quadros: And do you think that’s going to come in handy when you face Sakuraba?

Rampage: Yeah, ‘cause I’m gonna have my chain too.

Quadros: You’re gonna have your chain in the ring?

Rampage: Damn right! Sakuraba tapped out four Gracies. I gotta have a chain with me.

Quadros: So where do you see yourself in two years?

Rampage: Man, in two years? I’m only 23 so, in two years I see myself being 25.


I liked this Rampage. Back before he got all whiny and jaded he was such a fun character. I even liked him when he was feuding with Wandy.


Kazushi Sakuraba vs Rampage Jackson 

Pride 15: Raging Rumble 

July 29th 2001

Saitama, Japan

Raging Rumble.

Sakuraba will once again be the smaller man here, although there’s nowhere near the discrepancy in size that there was in some other fights in his career. Mark Coleman is joining Quadros and Rutten on commentary!

Round 1: Sakuraba, unsurprisingly, is looking to grapple straight away and gets Rampage down with a single-leg takedown. He isn’t getting much done though and Rampage is proving difficult to hold down. Rampage manages to land a powerbomb on him! He then picks him right back up and half hits it again. A double powerbomb! It wasn’t as pretty as when Brock Lesnar was killing Jeff Hardy with in the WWE in 2002. But that’s probably because, understandably, Saku wasn’t exactly wanting to co-operate to make it look good. Actually, given the timeframe, I wonder if this fight is where Brock got that from?


Regardless, what a first impression to make in your Pride debut. No wonder the Japanese fans loved Rampage back then. A double powerbomb, for fuck’s sake!

Rampage is on top in Sakuraba’s guard now. Sakuraba makes the mistake of going for a triangle choke and...


Another double powerbomb! Christ almighty. You’d think Saku would’ve learned the first time. Rampage back on top and this time Sakuraba’s trying for an armbar. So Rampage picks him up and tries to throw him out of the ring, Royal Rumble style.


This is brilliant. Rampage keeps powering out of armbar and Kimura attempts. They’re scrambling and Sakuraba’s looking for openings. He’s tried everything and has just been repeatedly slammed all over the place for his efforts. Rampage is so raw here though. He’s gotten by so far on brute strength but he’s clearly far from the technical master Sakuraba is on the ground. Sakuraba takes his back.


And Rampage has been caught. He can’t escape and finally taps. 

Winner - Kazushi Sakuraba by submission. Round 1 - 5:41.

Short and sweet but it was a hell of a fight, that. Of course, I’ve read all the speculation over the years about it supposedly being a work. I don’t buy it, despite the WWE moves. That was Rampage’s thing. It definitely seems there was an attempt at some foul play by the dodgy fuckers behind the scenes at Pride. But I don’t think it was a work in the sense of the fighters agreeing to co-operate in any way. If there was, Rampage broke that agreement when he tried to Jackknife the poor sod through the ring.

Rampage has spoken publicly about it a few times and did confirm that Pride officials did come to him before the show and tried to get him to throw the fight.


“I’m never the type of fighter that would lose for money. I don’t do that. But they told me, ‘If you win this fight, you get $10,000.’ But they told me - these are two people from PRIDE who got fired recently, I don’t know if the president of PRIDE knew about it - but they told me themselves, ‘If you lose by knockout or submission and you don’t tap, you get $12,000.’

I said, ‘But what if I knock him out?’ They said, ‘You get $10,000.’ Then I understood what was going on. This was my first time fighting in the big show in Japan and I learned sometimes they don’t want the other guy to win. I went out there and gave it my best anyways to get my $10,000.”

Edited by wandshogun09
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18 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

I don’t think the loss to Igor Vovchanchyn in 2000 should be held against him considering Igor was the much bigger man and Sakuraba had just fought Royce Gracie for NINETY FUCKING MINUTES earlier that night.

And Sakuraba even gave a decent account of himself against Igor. He managed to score a few takedowns on the much bigger man. Sakuraba's single leg was a thing of beauty. 


The fight was initially declared a draw, and an extra round was called for to decide the victor. It was only then, after fighting for a total of 105 minutes in a single night, that Sakuraba's team decided to throw in the towel. Today, Sakuraba would be a welterweight, whereas Igor would probably be a light-heavyweight or a massive middleweight. Thus, the modern-day equivalent would be GSP having a 90 minute grappling match with Maia, then fighting Yoel Romero or Paulo Costa for 15 minutes. 


18 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

This was right at the end of Sakuraba’s prime..................



Yep, notice how heavily taped up his right knee is in the picture above. The guy was actually held together by medical tape for much of his career. If you check back, his knee was taped up for the Belfort fight in April of 1999. 

For me, Horiguchi is the greatest Japanese fighter of all-time. I believe he's currently one of the world's best fighter - but because he fights in Rizin and lost his last bout - perception is yet to catch up to reality. The most successful would probably be Gomi or Aoki. The former had an incredible run between 2004 and 2006, where he would have probably been perceived as the P4P number 1 if not for Fedor's presence (btw, I agree with you that P4P discussions are mostly stupid). The latter built up an incredible resume between 2006-2012 - scoring multiple victories over world-class lightweights - even if he never did much for me personally. 

Yet Sakuraba is still easily Japan's most iconic fighter. And I don't see that changing any time soon. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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Ha, look at young Chael in the middle there. Always loved stealing the limelight, that one.

#40 - Matt Lindland vs Phil Baroni 1 - UFC 34 - Nov 2nd 2001

Right then. I’m hoping to bang these out more regularly now. This is an old favourite of mine. The Lindland vs Baroni rivalry was one I got caught up in early into my MMA fandom. I saw the fights after the fact, I think I even saw them in the wrong order, but I loved every bit of this odd clash.

In Lindland you had the reserved and laid back type from Oregon. He didn’t talk shit, didn’t do anything flashy. Just went about his business. He was a highly accomplished wrestler and had won the silver at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.



He’d got into MMA in 1997 and gone 5-0 over the next few years as part of Team Quest along with Randy Couture and Dan Henderson.


Quite a squad at the time. This was also the team that produced a young man named Chael Sonnen, although he wasn’t on the radar just yet.


Baroni was the polar opposite to Lindland in pretty much every single way. From fighting style to personality. Whereas Lindland was all business and didn’t go in for all the theatrics, Baroni was all about that. He was a showman, at a time when MMA wasn’t really heaving with them. He’d turned pro in 2000 and quickly gone 3-0.

So Lindland vs Baroni 1 got made. Like I said, at 5-0 and 3-0 respectively, it was early in both men’s MMA careers. It was just another prelim.


Matt Lindland vs Phil Baroni 

UFC 34: High Voltage 

November 2nd 2001

Las Vegas, Nevada

Both unbeaten. Someone’s O’s gotta go and all that carry on.

“I’ve been breaking the law my whole life. Tonight’s not gonna be no different.” - Phil Baroni

Lindland’s nickname was ‘The Law’, you see!

Baroni has Tito Ortiz working his corner. There’s a meeting of minds. Commentary team is Mike Goldberg and Jeff Osborne.


Completely forgot Osborne ever existed.

Round 1: Lindland’s got him clinched against the fence within seconds but it’s far from boring. It’s about as aggressive a clinch against the fence battle you’ll ever see. Lindland’s kneeing the legs, Baroni is constantly trying to punch anywhere he can. Baroni is defending the takedown really well and briefly has a guillotine choke on but it’s not to be. Lindland escapes and from there it’s Takedown City. He takes over big time and proper lays into Baroni with a series of knees from a front facelock. More knees, just relentless with them. But Baroni tags him a few times and puts a stop to that. Last minute now and Baroni drops him! He needed that. Ground and pound from the New York Badass to end the round.

Tough one to score because Lindland was winning at least 3 or 4 minutes of the round. But Baroni started and finished the round strong and had that knockdown. I actually think I had Baroni nicking it, so 10-9 for the NYBA.

Round 2: Lindland is so awkward and uncoordinated any time they’re standing and striking and Baroni clips him a couple of times. But it doesn’t matter now as Lindland gets a big takedown and he’s straight into side control. Bad for Baroni with 4 minutes left on the clock. It’s just ground and pound all the way here. They wind up back on the feet in the last minute and Lindland actually lands a few punches before sealing the round with another takedown. Lindland 10-9, easy. Possibly 10-8.

We see a young and fresh faced Chael Sonnen in the corner of Lindland between rounds. So Chael and Tito in opposite corners as far back as 2001. Who knew Bellator would be booking that mess 16 years later?

Round 3: Lindland with a left hand. His kicks are woeful. Like, embarrassingly bad. Cro Cop he ain’t. What he’s doing is effective here though as he’s got Baroni’s back already, just a minute into the round.


Baroni survives but now Lindland has the mount. More ground and pound. Elbows and knees to the body from side control. Just total dominance. Somehow Baroni winds up on top briefly but Lindland hits an awesome headlock sweep to regain top position. That was impressive! 

But Lindland lands an illegal knee to the head on the ground and Big John McCarthy restarts them on the feet with less than a minute left. Baroni is nailing him with a barrage of punches.


Lindland is all over the place, he’s badly rocked. He manages to hang on and gets one final takedown right on the buzzer.

Again, tough to score because Lindland dominated most of the round but Baroni nearly had him out of there at the end. I had it for Lindland but I’m not sure whether a point was deducted for that illegal knee. So I’ve got it either 10-9 Lindland or a 9-9 round.

Winner - Matt Lindland by majority decision.


Cracking fight that. I think I had it a draw but there was so much going on that it was one of those fights that could be all over the gaff score wise. Baroni had the big moments that stick out more but I thought Lindland was clearly the better man over the course of the fight as a whole.

There was a bit of bad blood after that first fight. Of course, Baroni felt he won and he didn’t mind letting everyone know what he thought of the decision and Lindland.

“I’m embarrassed that this guy has a win over me. It was my fault. I mean, look at him. How am I gonna take a guy that looks like Woogie from Something About Mary serious? I’m takin’ this guy out. I hate this guy. I’m gonna hurt him bad. The only reason anyone knows him is because he fought me. Nobody cares about him. I’m gonna hit him and forget him.” - Phil Baroni


Baroni had bounced back from the loss to Lindland with knockouts over Amar Soloev and Dave Menne. The Menne finish was fucking ruthless.


That KO was actually one of the first bits of UFC footage I ever saw. I was channel surfing late one night and caught it on an episode of Unleashed on Bravo. Just recall thinking Baroni was a fucking psycho. I was still digesting the KO and then seeing this mad roidy fucker jumping on the cage and screaming “I’M THE FUCKIN’ MAN. I’M THE BEST EVAH! EVAH!” into the camera over and over certainly left an impression on me.

Lindland wasn’t impressed though.

“When you’re the man you don’t have to yell it. Everybody knows you’re the man. You don’t have to scream. He’s too emotional. This sport is not about emotion.” - Matt Lindland

Anyway, they had their rematch at UFC 41 in February 2003.


Lindland even got into the buildup! Think the shirt said something like ‘I JUST LOST TO A HILLBILLY AGAIN’ or something.

It was another really exciting fight. I just watched them back-to-back and I struggled choosing which one to put in this Countdown. Didn’t want to take up 2 slots as there’s so many fights I wanted to touch on. But if you’ve got time (and don’t we all at the minute), I’d recommend watching both fights. I’m still not sure which one I preferred. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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Loved the second fight when i first saw it, was one of the first UFC fights i saw where there a rivalry leading in. Still to this day haven't seen the first one though, it was on those hard to find shows that never got released to DVD/VHS back in the day.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Egg Shen said:

Loved the second fight when i first saw it, was one of the first UFC fights i saw where there a rivalry leading in. Still to this day haven't seen the first one though, it was on those hard to find shows that never got released to DVD/VHS back in the day.

It was actually on the DVD, Egg. Think a few fights ended early on that show (Penn vs Uno 1 especially) so they had time to kill and Lindland vs Baroni aired after the main event. It’s that way on the DVD as well. 

Forgot to say that actually, anyone looking for Lindland vs Baroni 1 on Fight Pass, go to UFC 34 and you’ll find it after the Couture vs Rizzo main event. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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19 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

Completely forgot Osborne ever existed.

I thought Osbourne had died years ago. 

I did google search on his name to make sure. It turns out he is still alive. 

I think I confused him with Ryan Bennett - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryan_Bennett_(sportscaster)

Edited by jimufctna24
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