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wandshogun09

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

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Yeh, ive got a vague memory of him passing away too. Awful ring announcer but he fit the aesthetic. 

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Edited by Egg Shen

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I knew I didn’t make it up. What a shame. Can’t have even been that old in 2009 either. He wasn’t great but for some reason whenever he’d appear on my screen in his white jacket, I got a kick out of him. Seemed to be loving life every time. 

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id love a warts an' all account of the entire Cage Rage saga, i bet there's some mental shit that went on behind the scenes.

Remember the the other guy O'Donnell used after? Bret Freeman, he was truly terrible:

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Oh fucking hell I’d forgotten all about him. He was Phoenix Nights all over. Was it Cage Rage who had Richard Blackwood doing the Joe Rogan in-cage post-fight interviews for a bit as well? I always remember him saying to Manhoef “Can you be defeated? I mean, you can’t work in an office. You look like you’re built to just...hurt people.” 

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3 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

What a shame. Can’t have even been that old in 2009 either.

He was 53. It says so in Breen's Tweet. 

I don't think the cause of death was ever revealed. 

1 hour ago, Egg Shen said:

Bret Freeman

Amazingly, he isn't the worst Freeman to have announced at a MMA show. 

29 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

Was it Cage Rage who had Richard Blackwood doing the Joe Rogan in-cage post-fight interviews for a bit as well?

That rings a bell. 

They also used OJ Borg at one point.

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OJ Borg moved between ring announcing and hosting the show. He did BBC's MMA podcast too when it was on.

edit* Borg did BAMMA, not Cage Rage.

Edited by Egg Shen

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10 minutes ago, Egg Shen said:

Borg did BAMMA, not Cage Rage.

He did the post-fight interviews for some of Cage Rage's later shows - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct9QXUvqGIE

He was on the scene long before BAMMA's emergence. There are videos on Youtube of him messing around with Dave O'Donnell in 2007. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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I probably saw some of that stuff but forget. Was Borg ever on that weird on the couch talk show Cage Rage did?

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I apologise in advance for the length of this (never said that before). 

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#21 - Randy Couture vs Pedro Rizzo 1 - UFC 31 - May 4th 2001

Going really old school now. It’s May of 2001. Young Wand is 15 years old, still has a full head of hair and I’m sitting my GCSE exams. Vince McMahon has just bought WCW. Prince Naseem has just lost to Marco Antonio Barrera. Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake are everywhere. Shaggy is saying it wasn’t him all the time. And we’re still 4 months off the madness of 9/11. It was a different world. Some things stayed the same though. 19 years later and Beyoncé is still bootylicious, Jennifer Lopez is still fit as fuck, The Sopranos is still the shit, Tito Ortiz still can’t string a sentence together and Old Wand is still a 5’6” dwarf and 9st-something soaking wet with a brick in each pocket.

The UFC was definitely going through some changes at this time though. Zuffa had just bought the company in January 2001. UFC 30 was the first card under the Fertitta banner. Right away, starting this show up on Fight Pass you can see they were going all out to change the image of the UFC.

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Looks like a bloody WWF show opening from the Attitude Era. Fireworks, the ramp, goofy on screen graphics. They even have Hardcore Holly’s old theme music playing over the Tale Of The Tape!

Zuffa were giving the company a new lick of paint. At the start under SEG in 1993, it was promoted as a barbaric blood sport where someone might die. By 2000 the company was on its arse and a lot of those shows were in dingy arenas with no atmosphere. That period, say UFC 23-29, was just dire. I’m sure there’s the odd exception but pretty much everything after the great Tito Ortiz vs Frank Shamrock fight in September 1999 up until Zuffa took over at the start of 2001 is awful. I mean, even Wanderlei had that stinker with Tito in 2000. Then there was the whole UFC 24 debacle where Kevin Randleman actually knocked himself out backstage by slipping in the shower or something, and the show ended up with Tedd Williams vs Steve Judson as fucking main event. Just a rotten time.

Anyway, the story of the Fertittas saving the day has been told to death. I won’t bother with it. But this was Zuffa’s second UFC PPV. And they’d really made an effort to put together a strong card. Looking back, UFC 31 was probably the most stacked card in company history at this time. You had BJ Penn on the prelims, Matt Lindland, Semmy Schilt, Shonie Carter vs Matt Serra, Chuck Liddell on the rise and getting his big break against Kevin Randleman, Pat Miletich defending the title at 170 against Carlos Newton. It was a heck of a lineup. But the main event was the cherry on the cake. 

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Randy Couture was 37 years old. He’d been a late starter in MMA but he had the advantage of having competed at a high level as a NCAA Division 1 wrestler and had been an Olympic alternate in Greco-Roman wrestling. So he came in with a good base to build on. And he wasn’t making the transition alone. He started Team Quest in Oregon with Olympic wrestler buddies Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson. Randy always loved the phrase ‘iron sharpens iron’ and those 3 having each other to train with must’ve been a boost coming into the crazy world of MMA, or No Holds Barred fighting as it was still being called a lot back then.

He made his Octagon debut in 1997 at UFC 13 beating WWF’s Ludvig Borga of all people in his first appearance. By the end of the year he’d upset Vitor Belfort and won the Heavyweight belt from Maurice Smith. He bounced about after that, vacated the title, went to Japan and got submitted by Enson Inoue, came back and beat Kevin Randleman to win the title again, went back to Japan and got subbed again by Valentijn Overeem (Alistair’s big bro). Busy boy. But despite coming off that loss to Overeem, he was still the UFC champ. And the new owners wanted him back in the cage.

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Pedro Rizzo was a protégé of Marco Ruas. He’d got into Judo as a kid but it wasn’t violent enough for him and he wanted to hit things so he was advised to get into Kickboxing and seek out Ruas to train him. It worked out and he ended up putting together a Kickboxing record of 31-2-1 with 30 knockouts. Like his mentor Ruas, he developed a particularly nasty leg kicking game that would come in very handy later in his career. In 1996, he started his MMA journey and finished his first 5 opponents, all in the first round. In October 1998, the UFC were holding their ‘Ultimate Brazil’ event. Rizzo’s opportunity had arrived and they threw him in with Tank Abbott in his debut.

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Tank got battered. This was a big win for Rizzo because of Tank’s name. He followed that with wins over Mark Coleman, Tra Telligman and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. After losing a decision to Randleman at UFC 26, Rizzo was matched up with former ‘Ultimate Ultimate’ champion Dan Severn. Rizzo bounced back in style, taking Severn apart with brutal leg kicks in about 90 seconds.

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He then scored a vicious one punch KO over Josh Barnett at UFC 30. He was really proving to be an all-around bad motherfucker. Knocking guys out with his hands, folding fuckers with those crippling leg kicks and he was one of the first strikers (along with Maurice Smith) who actually showed they could give wrestlers problems. The only knock on Rizzo was that he seemed to switch off in fights at times and not pull the trigger. But it didn’t show on his record and, at 11-1 with 10 finishes, it was time for a UFC title shot.

From Randy’s book;

“Zuffa contacted my manager Jeremy, asking if I would defend my title at UFC 31 against Brazilian Pedro Rizzo. We accepted immediately.

I didn’t do anything special to prepare for Rizzo. I watched his tapes, including his fights against TK Kohsaka and Kevin Randleman. In his mid-twenties, Rizzo wasn’t an aggressive fighter. He waited and had trouble pulling the trigger, though he had obvious power behind his punches. I saw him knock out Josh Barnett at UFC 30 and noticed it had all been off counterpunching, meaning Rizzo would only throw a punch once his opponent did. I thought I’d be able to go after him aggressively and avoid getting hit.

Though Rizzo was classified as a kickboxer, I hadn’t really seen him use his leg arsenal on his opponents. I had fought other kickboxers like Mo Smith, so I felt I’d be able to take him down if he kicked me. I did my conditioning and was ready to fight.” - Randy Couture

Hadn’t seen him use his leg arsenal? Ol’ Randall must’ve missed those Tank and Severn decapitations. Regardless, the stage was set. Couture vs Rizzo for all the marbles.

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Randy Couture (c) vs Pedro Rizzo - Heavyweight Title 

UFC 31: Locked & Loaded

May 4th 2001

Atlantic City, New Jersey

We’re at the Trump Taj Mahal. Fucking Trump, there’s no escape. Commentators are Mike Goldberg, Frank Shamrock and the late Jeff Blatnick.

Round 1: Clinch battle early and it’s good stuff. Randy does a nice job of combining dirty boxing and knees with his Greco background. But Pedro is landing his share of punches in close quarters too. Randy with a big takedown and he’s wasting no time raining down the ground and pound.

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Nasty elbow splits Rizzo open. This is a disastrous start for the Brazilian. He’s getting absolutely crushed.

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Randy really pouring it on now and ‘Big’ John McCarthy looks close to stopping it but Pedro’s moving about and trying to push off with his legs just enough that McCarthy’s letting it go. Randy slows down and the round ends. Couture 10-8 for me.

Man, even the corners are badass here. Dan Hendo in Randy’s corner, Marco Ruas with Rizzo. Should’ve made it a tag match.

Ah, this was in the days of the fans voting who they thought won after each round on UFC.tv. And 22% gave that round to Rizzo?! Jeff Blatnick sounds as baffled by that as me. Must’ve been a lot of fans who went to the Cecil Peoples school of MMA judging out there in 2001.

Round 2: Complete turnaround now. As Randy comes forward and Rizzo fucking BLASTS him with a leg kick that drops him.

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Sounded like a gunshot. Randy just clings onto his leg for a bit and Rizzo lets him back up. Pedro is stuffing the takedowns now, not a good sign for ‘The Natural’. Punching combinations from Pedro. And it’s clear that he knows Randy’s leg is jacked because he keeps targeting it with more kicks.

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Randy’s leg is getting all kinds of beat up. And as tough as we know Randy is, he can’t hide it and put a brave face on it. He’s visibly hurt and he’s starting to grimace every time Rizzo throws that kick. He keeps going for takedowns but his legs are so mangled he’s got no explosion and with each failed shot he’s taking longer to stand back up. The damage to the leg coupled with him possibly punching himself out in the first round has him looking fully bollocksed. On top of everything else, now Randy’s nose is pissing blood. Rizzo threw a headkick and it looked like he kicked Randy’s own hand into his nose and smushed it. Is that what they call friendly fire? Thai clinch and knees from Rizzo. Last few seconds and Rizzo drops him with sort of a cuff around the head more than a clean punch, and gets a few digs in as the round ends. Rizzo 10-8. Huge comeback for Pedro but a nightmare round for Randy that.

Randy hobbles back to the corner looking for some warm words of encouragement...

“Bleary-eyed and gasping for breath, I gazed over at Danny, and he asked, “What are you looking at me for?” I had to make a decision. Could I get off the stool and finish this fight or not? It was gut-check time.” - Randy Couture

Ha. You get no sympathy from Hendo. Nothing.

Round 3: Pedro stopping the takedown again early here and this is really starting to look like a losing battle for Couture. Randy gets back to his feet with all the speed and agility of my dear old Nan the time she had a fall in the kitchen and sat there nonchalantly (with a broken hip and holding a piss in!!) for 4 hours until my Mum walked in and found her. Hard as fuck, Nans. She could’ve taken Pedro’s leg kicks, I’m sure.

Anyway, Randy finally gets that takedown! He needed that. Bad.

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State of that leg though!

Nothing much happens for the remainder of the round. Randy just holds him down and lands occasional little punches from the guard. Just trying to ride out the clock and rest his leg a bit. Bit of a boring round but it was a necessary tactic for Randy to slow it down and recoup. Couture 10-9. The commentators are acting like it could’ve gone either way but Randy had that takedown and top control and nothing else really happened so I don’t see how you score it for Rizzo.

Round 4: Dirty boxing again. Randy looks a little bit more with it now and lands some decent shots from the clinch. Both trade and land some punches and Pedro stops some more takedown attempts. He’s doing really well on the whole here with his defensive wrestling. Didn’t remember his sprawl being this effective but his destroying Randy’s leg probably has a big part to play in that as well. The damage is all Pedro’s doing though so full credit to him. Oddly, he’s mostly abandoned the leg kicking now but he misses one and Randy makes him pay...

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Randy on top landing little chipping shots. Not a ton of damage being done but it looks good to the judges. And that’s another round in the books. Couture 10-9.

I’ve got it 38-36 for Randy going into the final round.

Round 5: Blatnick points out that Rizzo is moving forward more now, rather than hanging back to counter. He knows the fight might be hanging in the balance. Rizzo stuffing the takedowns nicely again and punishing Randy with strikes.

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Leg kicks again and Randy’s not even coming close on these takedowns now.

“I’m amazed. Look at how hard they’re both breathing. They are exhausted fighters. I mean, I’ve had my arms rubbery in a wrestling match but I’ve never had to hold them up to protect my head the whole time as well. It’s just amazing the kind of effort these fighters put out. It’s why I respect this sport so much.” - Jeff Blatnick

I really liked Blatnick on commentary. Always thought he really stood out as a knowledgeable analyst. Especially during this timeframe when you didn’t get a lot of that like we do now.

Randy’s being forced to stand with Pedro now because he’s having sod all joy with the wrestling. He lands the odd punch but Pedro starts with the leg kicks again and I think Randy’s just about ready to crumble.

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And yep. Rizzo drops him with another one in the dying seconds and is punching away as the round ends. Rizzo 10-9, maybe 10-8 because Randy really didn’t do much that round.

So depending on whether that last round is 10-8, I’ve either got it 47-46 for Couture or a draw.

After all that, we go to the judges...

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Winner - Randy Couture by unanimous decision.

Randy looks a bit surprised but, although it was close, I had him winning. Fucking barely.

Great fight. It’s not a million things going on a minute so if you've never seen it, don’t go in expecting Gaethje vs Ferguson shit. It’s a different time in the sport’s evolution and it’s Heavyweights. It’s methodical at times but it’s a gripping watch. Just a gruelling 5 round battle with twists and turns and both men having to dig deep.

I know I’ve already described the beating Randy’s leg took in this fight enough but it shouldn’t be understated. Rizzo REALLY did a fucking number on that leg.

Again, from Randy’s book. Fucking read this shit;

“By the time they raised my hand and the confetti fell, everything got foggy. My leg stiffened and tightened up immediately. I had to lean on Brad Anderson, my second cornerman and a buddy from the All-Army wrestling team, to get down the Octagon steps and back to my dressing room. On the way, I sat down to take a picture for Flaunt magazine. I saw the picture later, and it looked like I was about to die.

That night, I couldn’t walk. I hung onto my corner guys and hobbled back to my hotel room. I sat on the couch with my leg elevated for the rest of the night, just so I could get on the plane the next day. My leg started turning black. My thigh swelled so much I had problems putting my pants on. There were pockets of blood under my skin I could chase around with my finger. It was like I had an alien stuck in there. I had to get physical therapy and ultrasounds to break all that down. A therapist massaged my leg, and I wanted to punch her, it hurt so badly. I still have a dent in my quadriceps where my muscle died from the damage. It took three weeks for me to walk normally.” - Randy Couture

CHRIST!

You don’t really think about the pain these guys go through beyond the actual night of the fight but I bet a lot of the after-effects that we don’t see from wars like these, in the days and weeks following, are along the same lines of grim.

With the fight being so close and the decision being so debated, the UFC decided that an immediate rematch was the way to go. Problem was, Couture had one fight left on his contract and it was negotiating time. This is where the issues started with Randy and Dana over his ancillary rights. Zuffa wanted the rights to his name and likeness “in perpetuity”. Randy says that Dana started calling him directly to go around his managers, who he called “the hair fags” because one of them had curly hair. Nice. Randy’s managers got him some good things out of the deal which fighters weren’t typically getting at the time (rematch clause, guaranteed 3 fight deal where they couldn’t just cut him after one loss and so on) and he decided to stay. The ancillary rights issue would obviously rear its head again in 2007 when Randy had the big fallout with Dana and fucked off to try to do the Fedor fight outside the UFC. But for now he was staying put.

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Couture vs Rizzo 2 went down in November 2001. And it’s safe to say Randy went into it with his boss hoping for his downfall. Dana had even gone so far as to pay to have Randy airbrushed out of a promotional poster featuring various UFC fighters and Carmen Electra. He really has always been a petty bastard. Zuffa also gave Rizzo a big 6 fight deal and Randy saw that as them having big plans for Rizzo and expecting him to win this rematch. All this pissed Randy off and made him train harder. He left no stone unturned and this time he brought ex-opponent Maurice Smith into his camp to prep him better for Rizzo’s kicks. The old Rocky-Apollo alliance with Pedro as the Brazilian Clubber Lang. It paid off and this time there was zero controversy, Randy smashed him to a pulp and stopped him in 3 rounds.

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Of course, Randy’s career was full of ups and downs after that. The losses to Barnett and Rodriguez. Reinventing himself at 205 with wins over Liddell, Ortiz and Belfort. The whole TUF 1 exposure. Returning to Heavyweight to end the horror of Tim Sylvia as champion. The epic with Nogueira. The James Toney classic! It was some ride. He retired after a 2011 loss against Lyoto Machida but beat a heart attack last year. “Not bad for an old man.”

Rizzo battled on until 2015. Which is nuts to me. Post-Couture, his most notable wins in the following years were Andrei Arlovski, Ricco Rodriguez (although the fight was crap), Gary Goodridge and Ken Shamrock. He suffered some heavy KO defeats though. Barnett got him back in brutal fashion in their Affliction rematch and Sergei Kharitonov, Gilbert Yvel and Fedor separated him from consciousness as well. Fittingly, his last fight was a win via leg kicks. Hopefully that stays his last. He’s always been a bit of a forgotten, unsung badass for me. One of the first fighters to really show that leg kicks could be a game changer. He learned that from Ruas but I think he took it to another level. You can see his influence on the game to this day in guys like Jose Aldo who’s trained extensively with him and carried on the leg killing tradition. 

Jesus, I’ve waffled. Wanted to go more in depth on this fight though as it’s a period of the UFC we don’t talk about that much on here and one that’s not really being touched on much in this thread. If you’re still with me by this point, cheers! 🍺 

Edited by wandshogun09

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8 hours ago, Egg Shen said:

Was Borg ever on that weird on the couch talk show Cage Rage did?

There were a few MMA magazine shows that O'Donnell hosted. Borg probably popped up on all of them at some point. A quick Google search reveals that he co-hosted at least one of them with O'Donnell.

Here is O'Donnell putting him in a poorly executed RNC:

 

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😄 brilliant.

I met Dave O'Donnell once briefly outside Wembley Arena when there was a UFC there, it was only quick and we grabbed a pic, but he was super nice.

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#20 - Mark Hunt vs Wanderlei Silva - Pride Shockwave - Dec 31st 2004

OK then. This is a bit of a nutty one. Two of my all-time favourites but it’s a fight that probably shouldn’t have ever happened.

Pride had actually booked Wanderlei vs Sakuraba 4 for this event originally. Not sure why. Wand had already won the series decisively. They were really trying to get poor Saku killed back then, weren’t they? Days before the show though, Sakuraba withdrew with an injury. So Pride just casually chucked MARK HUNT in there. Never mind the little matter of the 70lbs weight difference and 3 days notice. Being a nutcase, Wanderlei happily accepted. No bother. Think about that for a second. You’re preparing for a 185lb grappler who you’ve already spanked a few times. Then just days before the show, the opponent is switched to a 280lb K-1 knockout machine with a concrete head. Wicked. And Wandy just took it in his stride. Nobs like Jorge Masvidal, Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor try to force all these ‘gangsta’ moments. Yet here’s Wanderlei with an absolutely crazy ‘G‘ move and there was no shouting about it or waving his hands about like John Cena. Just agreed and went about his business. No big thing. That’s a real badass move. Although, probably not the wisest in hindsight.

And it’s not like Wanderlei had nothing to lose. He was the Pride Middleweight champion at this time. He’d become one of the biggest stars in the company and had gone unbeaten in Pride for 4 years. Taking this fight and risking irreversible damage that could (and I believe did) effect his form going forward when he returned to Middleweight. It was a risky, ballsy and probably stupid move.

We’d already been teased with a big crossover fight over the Summer as well.

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Wanderlei turned up at UFC 49 in August to watch Randy Couture successfully defend his title against Vitor Belfort. After the fight we got a cool Randy-Wandy face-off and everyone was buzzing about the possibility of finally seeing a UFC champion vs Pride champion megafight. Then Wandy knocked Rampage out cold in their second fight in October, only making a potential cross-promotional fight bigger. Of course, nothing would ever come of it but it’s a cool picture, I guess. 

The UFC even sent Couture over to Japan for this event. He appeared as a guest commentator and no doubt the plan was to challenge Wanderlei in some fashion if he beat Hunt.

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Mark Hunt vs Wanderlei Silva

Pride Shockwave 2004

December 31st 2004

Saitama, Japan

Sure enough, Randy’s in the ring before the fight. Giving flowers to Hunt and Wanderlei. I see, trying to charm Wand into giving him what he wants. Smooth. No wonder he was such a hit with the ladies back then. He’s done his bit of flirting and now he joins Mauro and Bas on the headsets.

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It’s about to go down. I’ve seen this a bunch of times and that staredown still gave me goosebumps. 

Round 1: Wanderlei gets an early takedown but has a difficult time keeping the bigger man down and they end up standing again. They start swinging and Hunt clips him around the neck with a left that drops Wand to his knees briefly.

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Wandy’s going for it now. Hunt avoids most of it but it’s a warning from the ‘Axe Murderer’ that he gives no fucks about the size difference. Crowd seems to be more with Wanderlei. He’s standing in the danger zone throwing haymakers.

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Absolute nutter. Another takedown from Silva. He’s going after the arm but Hunt just rolls over and ends up on top. That’s where the 70lbs weight advantage comes in because you can see Wandy is the better grappler technically, but Hunt’s extra weight is the difference maker and makes up for the gulf in ground skills. Hunt doing well on top given his inexperience but he seems to get impatient and goes a bit mad...

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“Oh my god! The atomic butt drop!” - Randy Couture

In the madness though, Wand gets back on top. Bit of ground and pound but he wants to get those stomps in and Hunt uses the opportunity to get back up. Wand swinging recklessly and Hunt drops him again. Seemed more of a glancing shot but it’s clear his size and power are giving Wand some issues now. Hunt working from the guard as the round ends.

Round 2: Wanderlei circling. He’s looking to play the matador and counter a bit now it seems. But that doesn’t work either as Hunt starts busting him up again.

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Unlike the first two, this knockdown is no glancing blow. He clobbered Wandy with a few real good ones there. The uppercut that started it and the right hook that dropped him landed flush. Ground and pound now but Wand’s somehow still got his wits about him enough to be going for an armbar off his back! He’s survived the storm but he’s not out of the woods yet as Hunt’s on top again.

While ref restarts them in the centre of the ring, Mauro asks Randy about the potential fight with Wanderlei.

“This is one of the best guys in MMA today and that’s why it would be an honour for me to compete against him. He is an awesome fighter. The aggressiveness and his technique. He’s shown some well-roundedness here tonight that I wouldn’t have assumed he had. We’ve expressed interest in the fight, I think it’d a huge fight for the sport to finally bridge that gap between the organisations and see an undisputed type of a title.” - Randy Couture

Stop it. Cock tease. 

Wand with yet another takedown and lands straight in the mount. Wand still looks bollocksed from that last knockdown though. He seems to be just using the position to buy time and regroup. And Hunt again uses his size to sit up and roll out of the mount! And another round finishes with Hunt on top. Whoda thunk it? That was a rough round for Wandy. Looks like he’s aged 5 years as he goes back to the corner.

Round 3: Final round! Nice knee from Hunt. Wanderlei gets him down and takes the back but loses position and Hunt’s back up. Fuck! Wand just can’t catch a break here. Well, unless it’s his jaw. Another hard right from Hunt and Wandy just eats it. This is brutal. Wand clips him with a right hook and finally gets that takedown he’s been looking for. But the ref stands them up and gives a yellow card. Little prick. Wand says ‘fuck you’ to that and just takes him down again;

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Beautiful wrestling from Khabib Wandegomedov there. He works from half guard and moves to mount. This time he stops Hunt from powering out of it and lands some solid punches from there. Hunt does eventually manage to buck out of it but it’s too late. The bell is ringing.

Miraculously, it’s gone the distance. Randy seems confident that Wanderlei has done enough to secure the win.

Winner - Mark Hunt by split decision.

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“Wanderlei Silva has just tasted defeat for the very first time in Pride Fighting Championships.” - Mauro Ranallo

4 year streak over. Hunt actually looks a little bit surprised to have got the nod there. Wand isn’t happy. Bas and Randy seem to think the judges got it wrong as well.

“I’m dumbfounded. I’m surprised by that decision. Especially with the weight difference. I’m kinda surprised. Not taking anything away from Mark Hunt, he did an awesome job in that fight but I didn’t think he finished strong enough to win it.” - Randy Couture

Bas agrees with him. To be honest, despite the knockdowns, I can sort of see Wandy’s argument for getting the decision here. He landed a lot of strikes himself, won the grappling exchanges and finished the fight strong which always weighed heavily in Pride’s scoring. But even as big a Wandy fan as I am, I just can’t look at this and feel like he won. Hunt went for the finish more and nearly had the finish a couple of times. He had the bigger moments. He did more damage. He had top position a fair bit too. The commentators were saying you have to allow for the size difference but how does that work when scoring the fight? How much do you factor that in and stack it up against everything else? End of the day it’s still a fight and Hunt had Wanderlei hanging by a thread at a couple of points here. Wand fought like a lion though. The fact that he was giving up 70lbs and, not only went the distance but was competitive enough that many felt he won, it says it all about what a hard cunt he was around this time.

I’ve said it a few times on here but I look at this fight as the nail in the coffin for Wanderlei’s prime. Late 2004 in general actually. Those wars with Rampage and Hunt, within 8 weeks of each other, was fucking brutal. He was never quite the same again for me. Aside from a razor thin decision over Ricardo Arona (which I’m still not sure was the correct call), he never had another top level win in Pride. The revisionists like to say ‘Wandy wasn’t so good when he came to the UFC and couldn’t juice, eh?’ Bollocks to that. For one, why should we assume the UFC guys weren’t on the gas back then? And two, as I said, Wandy had already been on the decline for a good 2 years before he signed with the UFC in 2007.

Whatever. This was a wild one. A fight that could’ve only happened in the crazy world of Japanese MMA. There’s no chance it would’ve ever been sanctioned in the States in 2004. Imagine what other mental Openweight fights like this we’d have seen if Pride lived longer? Such a cool fight to see actually happen and it pissed all over seeing Sakuraba get massacred by Wanderlei again. 

A classic

Edited by wandshogun09

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10 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

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Wanderlei turned up at UFC 49 in August to watch Randy Couture successfully defend his title against Vitor Belfort. After the fight we got a cool Randy-Wandy face-off and everyone was buzzing about the possibility of finally seeing a UFC champion vs Pride champion megafight. 

Randy would have whipped him 😉

In all seriousness, I have no idea who would have won. The clinch exchanges would have been very interesting. 

13 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

The revisionists like to say ‘Wandy wasn’t so good when he came to the UFC and couldn’t juice, eh?’ Bollocks to that. For one, why should we assume the UFC guys weren’t on the gas back then? And two, as I said, Wandy had already been on the decline for a good 2 years before he signed with the UFC in 2007.

Aye, he fought completely differently in the latter stages of his career as well. 

The years of hard sparring at Chute Boxe probably didn't help either. He never had the best chin, but it declined further later on in his career. 

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#19 - Diego Sanchez vs Nick Diaz - The Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale - Nov 5th 2005

Inside the Top 20 now. And this is an old favourite of mine from my early days of really getting into MMA. It’s the Finale of The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 but TUF 1 is still fresh in the memory as this was only a few months later. Of course, Diego Sanchez had won TUF 1 as a Middleweight in April. And he’d followed that up with a TKO victory over Brian Gassaway at UFC 54 in August. So it kind of made sense for him to come full-circle and main event the TUF 2 Finale card. In his way though would be Nick Diaz. And he was pissed off with these reality show Johnny-come-latelys taking spots on cards that he’d grafted the hard way for.

“First of all, how come you get the six figure contract? How come you get paid more than me? If you’re getting paid more than me then I’m definitely gonna be a little bit more excited about this ass whipping I’m gonna put down on you.

If I was him, I’d keep my mouth shut. He ain’t fought nobody good yet and he’s gonna have to fight me? He gets on a TV show and then he wins one fight, and now they’re putting him in a main event? I don’t think he should be where he’s at right now. I think he should be a few steps back.” - Nick Diaz

We didn’t know Diego too well back then but with the benefit of 15 years worth of hindsight, it should come as no surprise that he wasn’t fazed by Diaz talking shit about him.

“Until someone can beat me...I’m here. So get used to it. He can’t stop the takedown, he can’t stop my ground and pound. I will pass his guard and I will be on top. And those elbows will be dropping and bones will be breaking.” - Diego Sanchez

I remember reading all sorts about the behind the scenes beef between these two. At one point, Diego even claimed that Diaz sent emails threatening his family. Diaz obviously denied it. Then even on the night of the fight, when they were both backstage before they stepped through the curtain, words were exchanged and Diaz actually threw a shoe at Sanchez and his team! A fucking shoe. I remember the footage was shown in the DVD extras but you couldn’t tell what was thrown. Diego himself confirmed later that it was a shoe.

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Diego Sanchez vs Nick Diaz

The Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale

November 5th 2005

Las Vegas, Nevada

All emailing and shoe throwing aside, they both made it to the cage for what promised to be a hell of a fight. Man, 23 and 22 years old. In my head this fight doesn’t seem that long ago but then the ages pop up and you think how knackered they both look now and you remember it’s actually been 15 years.

Big John has to get between them during the pre-fight staredown.

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Round 1: And straight away they’re in a mad scramble. Took about 5 seconds. Diego winds up on top and he’s not holding back on the ground and pound. He’s trying to punch Diaz through the Octagon canvas. Diaz is trying to work his guard and is throwing kicks but Diego’s just all over him here. Diaz goes for a Kimura but Sanchez rolls out and he’s on top again. So many transitions and changes of position here it’s hard to keep up with. Diego is elbowing and punching as the round ends. Sanchez 10-9.

Side note but just putting it out there that I used to really dig when the UFC would hold some of the smaller shows at the Hard Rock in Vegas.

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I loved the look and atmosphere of that place as a venue in those early Fight Night/TUF Finale days.

Round 2: Diaz comes right out and throws a headkick but slips on his arse. It doesn’t take long for Sanchez to put him on his back again. He’s shooting in really low as well so it’s not even like Diaz can try to catch him in a guillotine coming in. Diego slams him and continues to rain down the ground strikes.

“These guys, both of them, have a huge future ahead of them. This could be a rivalry that spans quite a few fights.” - Joe Rogan

If only. Diego with more elbows and Diaz is bleeding. As usual. Sanchez so aggressive with the ground and pound here that it almost backfires...

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It’s a good job Diego’s chin was like stone back then because he got proper cracked right on the jaw there. That would’ve knocked a lot of guys out. He just keeps coming forward like Terminator though. Diego with a big knee to the chest and into the mount;

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But Diaz reverses it and ends up on top! The overall pace here is as insane as the two fighters. Transition after transition. Diaz lands a few punches on the feet and they end up tangled up on the mat again at the buzzer. Closer round but Sanchez 10-9 again for me.

Round 3: Right away Diaz lands a big left hand that puts Diego on his arse for a second. Diaz trying to get his jab going and he’s actually defending the takedowns pretty nicely here early on. But Diego eventually gets him down again. He takes the back but Diaz is too slick and escapes. Now it’s Diaz with a takedown. And now Diego is bloody. It’s a decent sized cut above the eye as well.

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Diaz finally on top with 2 minutes left on the clock. Diego’s going for an armbar but Diaz gets out. Fuck me.

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This is ridiculous. I’m knackered just watching it. Now John McCarthy’s telling them to work. What the fuck, John? The fight ends with them tied up in knots again. I think Diaz might’ve shaded that one. So I’ve got it 29-28 Sanchez. 

Winner - Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision.

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They shake hands after but, unsurprisingly, Diaz still doesn’t want to give Diego much credit in the post-fight Rogan interview.

Phenomenal. This fight was a big turning point for me as a fan. I’d been almost a lifelong Boxing fan. Grew up watching it from a really young age with my Dad and Uncle and later on my sister and brother got into it. Then I got into Muay Thai in my teens. So it was always going to be the striking aspect of MMA that pulled me in. I was never one of those ‘Why are they rolling about on the floor? This is boring/gay’ divs. And as a pro wrestling fan I could obviously appreciate the idea a submission finishing a fight. But I never completely ‘got it’ until I watched Diego Sanchez and Nick Diaz scrambling around like lizards. I always say that this fight, combined with Joe Rogan’s enthusiastic but easy to understand commentary explaining what they were doing, is what really opened my eyes to fully enjoying the grappling side of MMA. Honestly, between 2004 and 2006, that little series where Diego Sanchez, Nick Diaz and Karo Parisyan were all fighting each other is probably as big a reason I got hooked on MMA as the likes of Wandy, Chuck, Cro Cop, BJ Penn or any of the bigger names at the time.

I actually remember a little bit of talk about a rematch years later. Just a few comments from Diego as I recall. Never went any further than that. Obviously it never happened. Would’ve been cool to see at one point but not now. I think it probably would’ve been a completely different fight later on as well. Because Diego seemed to forget he was a great grappler after about 2007 and fell in love with having mad FOTY slugfests all the time. It probably would’ve been as non-stop as this 2005 fight was but standing up instead of grappling. Would’ve been good but that type of fight would definitely have favoured Diaz more.

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Stockton motherfucker!

Edited by wandshogun09

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