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


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1 minute ago, wandshogun09 said:

Fuck, I forgot about him as well. He wasn’t with the UFC that long, was he? Don’t even recall hearing he’d died. 

According to Wiki, he did 7 events with the UFC between 2001 and 2002. 

I do remember hearing about his death now I think about it. His passing was big news on MMA sites at the time. He was the co-founder of the MMAWeekly website, which I visited frequently when I first got into the sport. I think he did a radio show on there with Frank Trigg. 

But I don't actually remember much about him as a person. Hence why I got him mixed up with Osbourne. 

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Jeff Osborne was the guy behind the Hook'n'Shoot promotion, which was one of the first promotions to properly feature Women's MMA.

There's a really good article about him here from the MMAJunkie forums.

I didn't know he was a pro wrestler at one point until reading that, but did know he was big into tape trading and I'm pretty certain he owns some Memphis master tapes (or at least did at one point).  I've got a handheld of a USWA show from Evansville in either 1991 or 1992 and Osborne filmed it  as well as giving a brief introduction before the footage starts.

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13 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

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. 

Nah i mean that initial run of DVD's that came out, i think they ran from UFC 35, i bought that whole run. Think it was UFC 35 to 42, then they started releasing them within a few months of the events happening. The older shows got released later on in those double pack things.

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I recall watching that Hughes vs Penn fight and being in total shock that Hughes was getting steamrolled in it. My recollection of the time, having gotten into UFC around Hughes vs Trigg II, was that Hughes was just unstoppable and rarely looked like he was in trouble. So seeing Penn making him look like shit was mind blowing. I was never a fan of country boy Hughes, so seeing that Penn could finish him was massively exciting, the third round was such a disappointment. 

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Same here, i remember where i was when it happened i remember telling the boys i was with that Hughes was gonna destroy Penn. 

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On 4/8/2020 at 10:10 AM, Egg Shen said:

Nah i mean that initial run of DVD's that came out, i think they ran from UFC 35, i bought that whole run. Think it was UFC 35 to 42, then they started releasing them within a few months of the events happening. The older shows got released later on in those double pack things.

After checking, it appears that UFC 38, 39, and 40 were released in the summer of 2003. UFC 41 was released later that year. UFC 35, 36, and 37 were all released later on in March of 2004.

 

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yeh that sounds about right, i think 36, 37 & 38 were released on VHS first. I had 36 & 38 (the London show). That was right at the start of my fandom.

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Posted (edited)

Slacked off big time on this. My wife had me doing some jobs around the house that I’d been putting off. I’ve barely had time to shit let alone watch anything. Hopefully I’ll be able to blast through more of these now though.

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#39 - Donald Cerrone vs Benson Henderson 1 - WEC 43 - Oct 10th 2009

This came during a really fun period in the Lightweight division. 155 was really popping at this time, across multiple organisations. In the UFC you had a Marinovic trained BJ Penn looking better than ever. In Strikeforce you had Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez going back and forth. Over in DREAM in Japan you had Eddie Alvarez, Joachim Hansen and Tatsuya Kawajiri tearing shit up. And in WEC, there was a 3 way battle going on between the champion Jamie Varner and his two closest rivals - Donald Cerrone and Benson Henderson.

This was originally supposed to be headlined by a Varner vs Cerrone rematch for the gold. They’d met at WEC 38 in January ‘09 but it ended in anti-climax when Cerrone landed an illegal knee in the 5th round and Varner couldn’t continue. Because it was a foul, they went to the scorecards and Varner won a split technical decision and retained his title. Of course, that triggered shit talking and an intense rivalry was born. The rematch was targeted for this card but Varner wasn’t physically ready and the plan was shelved.

In the meantime, Benson Henderson had burst on the scene and was rising up the WEC ranks in impressive fashion. At this point he was 9-1, on a 7 fight win streak and had stopped both Shane Roller and Anthony Njokuani (good forgotten fighters from that era) in his first 2 trips to the blue cage.

So with the champ sidelined, WEC created an interim belt and booked the top 2 contenders to battle for it.

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Donald Cerrone vs Benson Henderson - Interim Lightweight Title

WEC 43: Cerrone vs Henderson

October 10th 2009

San Antonio, Texas

Ah bollocks, look who’s here...

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In all fairness, I’ve always begrudgingly admitted that Frank Mir was really good in this role. Still a wanker though. He’s fresh of getting annihilated by Brock at UFC 100 here though, so maybe he’ll be a little bit less smug about himself.

Man, Cerrone looks about 14 here.

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Would you sell him fireworks?

Round 1: Wasting fuck all time here. In the first 30 seconds, Cowboy throws a headkick and slips onto his arse, Bendo rushes him, and Cerrone’s got him in a tight guillotine choke. It’s early and they’re dry, and that coupled with Ben’s long mane of hair means slipping out of this one is going to be a right bastard. Even BJJ expert Mir thinks it’s a wrap.

“If he gets out of this...that is a deep choke!” - Frank Mir

Bendo manages to roll and escape but now Cowboy’s switched to a triangle. He’s unable to finish and gives up on it. Ben’s somehow survived. Benson with a takedown and ground and pound now. Cerrone is constantly throwing up submissions off his back the whole time. Henderson’s done well to swing the round back in his favour. It’s a tough one to score because Cerrone definitely came closer to finishing it with that guillotine but Bendo had a strong finish to the round and did more damage overall. I think Bendo nicked it 10-9 myself. I could see scoring it for Cerrone though.

Round 2: Within a minute, Cerrone takes the back but Bendo is having none of it this time and reverses it. Again though, Cowboy never stops working off his back, with strikes and sub attempts.

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Bendo escapes again though. And now he’s on top and dropping some nasty elbows and punches. He pretty much dominates the rest of the round. Henderson 10-9.

Round 3: Striking a bit now but not for long. Ben has him down again is controlling things nicely. It’s never dull though because Cowboy never just concedes position and lies there resting. He’s always moving and trying to go for things. But Bendo is outworking him, no question. Takedowns and top control have secured him another one 10-9.

Despite it being such a good fight and him putting up a strong effort himself, Cerrone is really in a hole here score-wise. He’s at least 2 rounds down, probably 3, going into the championship rounds.

Round 4: Henderson shoots for another takedown right away but Cerrone locks on another choke.

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Ben survives it AGAIN! Fucking Houdini here. Even Mir is baffled at how he keeps getting out of all these submissions.

“I don’t know what’s going on for that choke not to be working!” - Frank Mir

He got away with it but I think Ben got a bit complacent there. He’s run away with the last couple of rounds and he came out reckless. Plus Cowboy knows it’s shit or bust now. He’s got to make something happen. Both throwing kicks. Cerrone avoiding the takedown better now and he’s following up with punches.

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Ben’s trying hard for a takedown and he’s getting punched and kneed for his efforts. Much better from Cowboy here. He walks Bendo down and drops him with a leg kick as the buzzer goes. Cerrone 10-9.

Round 5: Right where they left off, Ben’s having no luck with the takedowns now. Not looking good, he seems out of ideas. Cerrone growing in confidence. Ben’s going balls out for the takedown again and he’s kind of successful. But then Cerrone gets him all tangled up in omaplata, triangle and armbar attempts. Back to the omaplata and it’s looking nasty...

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But Ben’s actually giving a thumbs up while his arm’s halfway up his arse. What the fuck? The nickname ‘Bendo’ wasn’t just wordplay on ‘Ben’ and ‘Hendo’. The fucker had rubber limbs. He escapes yet again!

“That’s discouraging as a submission artist. Almost rips their shoulder out of the socket, and they’re giving the thumbs up to the referee.” - Frank Mir

Ben gets him down again in the last minute but Cowboy absolutely twats him in the face with an upkick and then tries to break his arm as the round comes to a close. It’s all over and that’s another 10-9 in the books for Cerrone. So I’ve got it 48-47 for Henderson.

Winner - Benson Henderson by unanimous decision.

Great fight. It was a brilliant come from behind from Cerrone but I think Benson had built up too much of a points lead in the early rounds and that’s what swung it for him.

Bendo went on to submit Jamie Varner a few months later to become the legit undisputed WEC champ.

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While Cerrone bounced back with a submission over Ed Ratcliffe.

With how good and close the first fight was, there was always going to be calls for a rematch. So Henderson vs Cerrone 2 went down at WEC 48, the promotion’s first (and only) PPV event. This time, there was no gruelling back and forth battle.

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Benson caught him in a guillotine early and it was all over in less than 2 minutes.

With Ben at 2-0, that was thought to be it for their rivalry. And it would’ve been but you know how it goes.

They both wound up in the UFC in 2011 after WEC closed its doors. And Ben won and lost the gold there as well. They both had their ups and downs. But in January 2015, they would unexpectedly cross paths one last time.

Bendo was all set to face Eddie Alvarez in Boston on the undercard of Conor McGregor vs Dennis Siver. Alvarez pulled out injured, the UFC scrambled for a replacement and who’s always ready to step up?

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Cowboy of course.

So we got Henderson vs Cerrone 3. Can’t say I recall the fight in any detail. From my vague memory it was decent but nowhere near as good as their first fight. But Cerrone finally got that win over Benson, taking a unanimous decision. A solid trilogy. Only one of the fights was really anything special but there was something about the matchup where you could never quite guess how it would play out. Even now, if they met a fourth time I’m not sure who I’d pick. It’s one of those matchups. They could probably fight 10 times and go 4-4 with 2 draws and at least one wacky finish each.

Edited by wandshogun09
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1 hour ago, wandshogun09 said:

In all fairness, I’ve always begrudgingly admitted that Frank Mir was really good in this role. Still a wanker though. He’s fresh of getting annihilated by Brock at UFC 100 here though, so maybe he’ll be a little bit less smug about himself.

By 2009, a large portion of the MMA fanbase had soured on Mir as a commentator. The general consensus was that he had grown complacent in the role. This was probably because he was in the prime of his own MMA career at this point in time. He didn't have the time or inclination to sit in production meetings or learn about the fighters he was commentating on. Instead, he was understandably more concerned with preparing for his fights with Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar, and Check Kongo.

It was a shame, because his performance on commentary at UFC 50 was universally acclaimed by fans and critics alike. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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Posted (edited)

@jimufctna24 See, I thought Mir was really good throughout his WEC commentary run. I thought he was better than Stephan Bonnar and Randy Couture, and he was certainly better than Kenny Florian. And if anyone was going to take any chance to dump on Mir’s work it’d be me. I thought he was one of the best colour commentators/analysts in the game. Especially for that period. But because he’s a dickhead, he cocked it all up by publicly wishing death on Brock. 

Moving on, this next one’s gonna be a right fackin’ tearup!

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#38 - Marius Zaromskis vs Ross Mason - Cage Rage 22 - Jul 14th 2007

I’ve never seen much mention of this one but it’s an old favourite of mine. Cage Rage gets a bit of stick due to their ‘proppa ‘ard geezahs’ style of promotion. And rightly so really. It was a bit of a cringefest. Especially with this wally doing the Dave Courtney bit...

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Nawty!

To be fair though, for all their faults, Cage Rage put on some great fights, had a big hand in showcasing guys like Michael Bisping, Paul Daley and Brad Pickett early in their careers and they also brought the likes of Anderson Silva, Melvin Manhoef and BUTTERBEAN onto our shores. And they provided work for Stephen Quadros post-Pride. For that alone, they’re OK with me.

There were low points like this...

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...along with the time Paul Daley got them kicked off Sky Sports for saying ‘cunt’ live on air and Phil Baroni getting headbutted by some bloke’s brother after winning a fight. But on the whole, it was a fun promotion to follow and a bit of a guilty pleasure at times.

Marius Zaromskis was a Lithuanian striker with an exciting style but he was only 6-2 at this time. He’d already fought 4 times in Cage Rage but he wasn’t very well known.

Ross ‘The Boss’ Mason was from around my neck of the woods in the Midlands. 11-5 record at the time with his most notable fight being a decision loss to Chris Lytle at Cage Rage 15 in 2006. Predominantly a Muay Thai striker so him and Zaromskis are pretty much tailor made for some fireworks.

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Marius Zaromskis vs Ross Mason 

Cage Rage 22: Hard As Hell

July 14th 2007

London, England

Got to love that poster. And the ad for The Wrestling Channel at the bottom there! 

The promo is just as snazzy;

HARD AS HELL! Speaking of which, they’ve got ring girls galore here. And some are on fucking stilts! I’m not joking.

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Hard As Hell indeed. Say what you want about Dave O’FackinDonnell, he knew how to put on a show.

Skimming through the undercard and Ross Pointon from TUF 3 is on there. He actually wins! I caught a bit of his post-fight interview and he reveals he chopped the end of his thumb off cutting onions during camp. Good old Ross.

The sound quality isn’t the best but I could swear Ross Mason is walking out to Steve Blackman’s music! If you’ve got Fight Pass have a look and see what you think. I’m sure it’s this...

I want him to win now. Anyway, finally, on with the fight.

Round 1: Lots of kicking from both men to start, as you’d expect. Mason’s doing quite well and Zaromskis is the first to initiate a clinch. Zaromskis rocks him for a second with a punch. Both trading and Marius is starting to get the better of the exchanges. They wind up on the floor and Mason is bleeding from the top of the head. Within seconds the ref is telling them to ‘do something’ as if they’re just chilling down there, which is shite. Back up and Ross is lands a jumping knee and some punches. Both throwing with bad intentions and Zaromskis takes him down with a piss weak German suplex. He ends the round on top and takes it 10-9. Tremendous stuff.

Round 2: Mason is one of them mad fuckers who gasses and still won’t stop marching forward throwing heat. He’s getting lit up now but he just refuses to sod off. Zaromskis appears to be better both in technique and conditioning though and it’s starting to show. He works Mason over on the ground a bit as the ref Leon Roberts (who is mic’d up) keeps banging on at him to stay busy and then stands them up. Again, it’s bollocks but I can’t say I’m not happy we’re about to see more of these mad twats striking. Mason’s flagging now. He’s turned bright pink, dripping in sweat and looks bloody knackered. Zaromskis takes him down again as the round ends. A clear Zaromskis round. Probably 10-8, to be honest, although it likely wasn’t scored that way at the time.

Side note but I forgot how much the old yellow canvas in Cage Rage used to give me a headache. Same when it was used at UFC 200. Earwax yellow isn’t the colour to go with.

Round 3: Final round and Mason must know he needs a finish here. He looks like he’s got a bit more energy and he’s throwing bombs again. And he’s hurts Zaromskis! 

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Zaromskis fires back but he was buzzed for a sec there. Mason going all out for the knockout now. It’s the best he’s looked so far in the fight and he’s winning the roun...

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Forget it. Forget I said anything.

Winner - Marius Zaromskis by knockout. Round 3 - 2:03.

Bags of fun, that one. Hadn’t seen it in at least a decade so forgot a lot of it. Really enjoyed it.

Zaromskis went on to be a real force for a while. He started to become known for highlight reel knockouts, headkicks especially, and in 2009 he won the DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix Tournament.

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He had very mixed results after that though. He had that cracking one round fight against Nick Diaz in Strikeforce but came out on the losing end. He beat Sakuraba but that was when bits of Sakuraba were falling off. Literally, some of Saku‘s ear dropped off in that fight. He had a hot and cold run in Bellator as well. He went AWOL in 2015 but he did resurface in May last year and won a fight by TKO. He’s 39 now though so it’s probably safe to assume his best days are in the rear view. Great to watch in his day though.

I don’t know what became of Ross Mason. According to Sherdog his last fight was in 2008 and he finished up at 13-9. Shame he never got a little stint in the UFC really. He’d never have gone far up the ladder but he’d have been great to throw on the UK and European cards back in 2008-10ish. Whack him in there with Marcus Davis, Paul Taylor, Paul Kelly and that lot and I’m sure he’d have cleaned up for a bit on Fight Of The Night bonuses.

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FACKIN ‘AVE IT, YOU SLAG! 

Edited by wandshogun09
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It’s Atilla Kubilay vs Richard Bowkett from Cage Rage 11. And it gets even worse than that. 

Here’s the full thing...

Wasn’t going to spoil the end but the title of the video says it all. 

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i was at the Cage Rage show with Mason/Zaromskis on, great fight. Only went to two Cage Rage shows but they were great fun.

Ross Mason would have a shoe in for a fun little UFC run but the timing never really worked out. 

Would love to find out what happpened to a lot of that old Cage Rage guard. Not a lot of world beaters, but lots of wild characters. An old school UK MMA podcast is what we need.

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