UFC: Fight Night 8
-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, who discuss the main event of Rashad Evans vs. debutant Sean Salmon, and the big debut of ex-Pride star Heath Herring.
-One other thing to note is that the co-main event of this show was originally scheduled to be a Middleweight Title eliminator pitting Nathan Marquardt against Dean Lister, but with the signing of Herring, Spike TV apparently bumped that fight onto the prelim card due to fears of a boring match (probably stemming from Marquardt’s last fight on Spike two years previous against Ivan Salaverry). As it turned out, Marquardt won what was effectively a fifteen-minute highlight reel for him that probably would’ve sold him well as a title contender.
Both men were on two-fight win streaks inside the UFC (Franca was actually on a nine-fight win streak overall) and the announcers hint before the fight begins that the winner is likely to get the first shot at new Lightweight champ Sean Sherk some time down the road. Franca also has his hair dyed a garish purple here.
Round 1 opens and they circle off, both men throwing some feeler strikes. This goes on for a while until Franca wings a big right hand, and then follows with a takedown to Fisher’s guard. The Brazilian lands some punches and looks to pass, but Fisher immediately scrambles back to full guard. Franca drops back for a leglock attempt, but Fisher gets his leg too far out and then pulls free, standing back up. He lands some combinations as they go back to the standing exchange, avoiding Franca’s wilder swings, but Franca counters with a trip down to guard. Hermes stands and passes to half-guard, and from there he drops some good punches, ending the round with a heavy flurry to probably take the round on the judges scorecards.
Fisher opens the 2nd with some good punches into the clinch, where he lands a knee that catches Franca off balance and causes him to slip to his back. Fisher tries an axe stomp, but Franca grabs the leg and rolls for a leglock. Fisher manages to roll free and ends up on his back in guard, and Franca stacks up and works into side mount. He looks for the full mount, but Fisher scrambles back to half-guard instead. Franca pins his arm down and lands some hard short punches, but Fisher scrambles and escapes to his feet. They exchange some punches before Fisher avoids a takedown, but as the American attempts to land a combo, Franca NAILS him with a ridiculously wild right hook, stunning him badly. Fisher staggers back and Franca closes in swinging for the fence, landing a couple of brutal flurries and eventually the ref steps in with Fisher looking out of it on his feet.
Pretty surprising finish; it’s really rare that you see a standing TKO stoppage, but it was certainly warranted here as Fisher looked completely out of it and wasn’t defending himself at all. Replays show the punch that initially stunned Fisher was thrown from behind Franca’s knee, which is insane, just a total showcase of the bizarre power Franca wields in his punches. Huge win for the Brazilian.
Post-fight Franca pulls a Georges St-Pierre and gets down on his knees to ask for a title shot, which gets a HUGE pop from the crowd. It obviously worked as he indeed received the first crack at Sherk six months after this win.
After some rumors suggesting the undefeated O’Brien would be the first UFC opponent for Mirko Cro Cop, he was instead presented with the other big heavyweight signing of late 2006 in former Pride contender Heath Herring. Herring’s contract had been transferred across due to the WFA buyout, and despite not having fought a proper fight in almost a year, there was a lot of hype behind his debut with many feeling he’d be an immediate title contender. Sure enough his entrance gets a pretty big crowd reaction here, making his way to the Octagon in full Western garb.
They begin and Herring comes out with a weird low stance, his left hand down by his waist, apparently very wary of O’Brien’s takedown. Both men throw some feeler jabs out for the first minute or so, before Herring catches Jake with a short left hand, dropping him to the mat. Herring looks to close in, but immediately O’Brien pops up and counters with a takedown to guard. An immediate pass to half-guard follows and then O’Brien mounts and takes Herring’s back, but before he can capitalize Heath slips out the back door and escapes to his feet. O’Brien quickly gets another takedown, and this time pins Herring into the fence, landing some short punches. He passes to side mount, and again Herring gives his back, this time eating some punches before rolling back to half-guard, where he remains as the round ends, being controlled and taking some elbows.
Into the 2nd and Herring continues to throw out jabs, but O’Brien wastes no time in taking him down again and going into the full mount. Heath gives his back and O’Brien gets both hooks in and works for the rear naked choke, before Herring turns to full mount again. O’Brien lands a couple of elbows, but Heath reverses to his feet, but before he can mount any offense Jake gets him down again. Into half-guard, and O’Brien lands some punches and elbows that bloody up the Texas Crazy Horse, who looks increasingly frustrated as O’Brien continues to control him from the top. Jake mounts, but Heath rolls and escapes to his feetâ€¦only to be taken down and mounted again. Round ends shortly after as Herring looks very disappointed.
Third and final round is opened by the inevitable O’Brien takedown, and he goes right into side mount, only for Herring to give his back before rolling to guard. The referee stands them up and finally Herring starts swinging desperately, but O’Brien is having none of it and he gets another takedown and mounts once more. Herring gives his back again and rolls to his feet, but O’Brien is relentless and he gets him down again, avoiding a kimura attempt en route to side mount. Heath protests to the ref that O’Brien’s not doing enough, but the ref ignores it and so Heath gives his back again and ends up being mounted. Herring rolls and avoids the rear naked choke, managing to stand up, and this time he manages to avoid the following takedown attempt, sprawling back and landing some punches before trying a desperate anaconda choke, but he can’t lock it up and O’Brien ends up getting him down again. Ref stands them up quickly, and Herring sprawls and throws some punches off the restart, but the time is up.
Judges score it a unanimous decision for O’Brien, I’m thinking 30-27′s all around. Crowd are totally deflated and to say that was a disappointing debut for Herring would be an understatement. Post-fight Herring complains about how all O’Brien did was take him down and hold him there, but hey, that’s part of the fight game too and if you can’t defend it, too bad. After the show it emerged that Herring had a badly injured knee, which may have contributed to his loss, but I would argue that he definitely underestimated O’Brien too, who proved himself here with a major victory. People complained that he was unable to finish Herring with all the chances he got on Heath’s back, but come on â€“ Nogueira only managed one submission on the guy in 30 minutes of fighting, so I don’t think it’s fair to expect a guy as inexperienced as O’Brien to tap him in seconds. Huge win for the up-and-coming O’Brien even if it wasn’t done in the most entertaining fashion.
-Joe Rogan joins Randy Couture to discuss his upcoming appearance on â€˜Pros vs. Joes’ and also his upcoming fight with Tim Sylvia for the Heavyweight Title.
This was a prelim taped earlier in the night, pitting TUF 3 runner-up Herman against Price, who based on his earlier UFC fight against Kendall Grove was probably overmatched here. He actually weighed in at 192lbs, seven pounds over the Middleweight limit, but Herman decided to take the fight anyway. How you end up seven pounds over I don’t know. Size difference doesn’t appear to be huge regardless.
Herman immediately clinches to open the first round and muscles Price into the fence, and they trade position along the fence before Herman gets a nice single leg right down into side mount. Price reclaims half-guard and then looks for a kimura, but Herman works to avoid it, and Price gets full guard back in the process. Herman lands some elbows, causing Price to roll and give his back, turtling up. Herman looks to get his hooks in, and then ends up changing plan, instead pushing off and sliding into a beautiful armbar, which is enough for the tapout.
Really, really nice submission finish for Herman, especially as it was an attempt at the push-off armbar that lost him position in his fight with Kendall Grove and arguably lead to him losing the decision there. Like in his fight with Grove, Price appeared overmatched here and should probably spend a period on the smaller circuit before possibly returning to the UFC, but regardless this was an impressive win for Herman.
The unbeaten Rashad was coming off his most impressive win to date, knocking out Jason Lambert at UFC 63, but to most people this was a strange match for him as Salmon was hardly a big name, making his UFC debut with a record of 9-1. I figured the idea was to give Rashad an opponent with (on paper) better wrestling credentials than himself to see how he would perform, but in reality this seemed like a step down for Evans after fighting Lambert and Stephan Bonnar.
Round 1 begins, and both men press forwardâ€¦.before Salmon attempts some sort of crappy jumping kick, looking like a parody of Jean-Claude Van Damme or something as Evans easily avoids. No idea why he would do that. Anyhow, they press with strikes, neither man landing anything major, until they clinch up and Salmon gets the takedown to half-guard. Salmon passes momentarily into half-guard, but Rashad quickly reverses to his feet, and they go back into the clinch before Salmon breaks with a big right hand. Evans tries a high kick, but Salmon catches it and gets the takedown, only for Rashad to once again bounce right up to his feet. They continue to push forward, but again neither man really lands as the round ends.
Into the 2nd, and Rashad comes out more aggressively, knocking Salmon off balance with a knee, before closing in and attempting to land a flurry of uppercuts. They clinch up briefly, but then break, and Rashad presses forward and suddenly lands a SICK RIGHT HIGH KICK that knocks Salmon OUT COLD!~! Salmon hits the deck HARD, and Rashad adds a right hand for good measure in what has to be considered one of the most vicious knockouts in UFC history.
Kick came out of nowhere and sounded like a gun going off, and Salmon was clearly out before he even hit the mat. Post-fight there’s a bit of a scare as Salmon stays down for AGES and has to be stretchered out, but he ended up being fine after a brief stay in hospital, thankfully. Well, people wondered how Rashad would do against a supposedly superior wrestler and despite having a couple of sticky moments in the first round he generally passed the test with flying colours, and what more can you say about the finish? Total highlight reel job that won’t get old in some time. Hell of a way to end the night.
-And after a highlight reel we end there.
The Inside Pulse
: A bit of a weaker effort for a UFN following two strong shows. Granted, Fisher-Franca was a solid fight and the main event provided a total highlight-reel finish, but the fight preceding the finish wasn’t great and Herring-O’Brien for the most part was a bit of a snoozer. Not an outright horrible show or anything by any means, but the Evans finish can be found on highlight videos all the time and the rest isn’t really worth a huge effort. Thumbs in the middle, leaning down for this one.
UFC: 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, Fight Nights 9-11, and the TUF IV Finale.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.
Until next time,