History of the UFC 11.26.07: UFC XXIV - First Defense
Posted by Matt McEwen on 11.26.2007
The UFC opens up the year 2000 with an undercard stacked with mostly unknown (at the time) fighters and a main event featuring the two top heavyweights in the company going at it with the Heavyweight title at stake. So, weak card with a good main event? Well, sometimes things just don't go as planned....
It's March of 2000 and the UFC kicks off the new millennium by returning to familiar ground. UFC XXIV: First Defense emanates from the pre-regulation haven of the south, this time in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
To kick off the new year, we get a top level heavyweight title defense to headline the card, as newly crowned champion Kevin Randleman makes his "First Defense" (witty name, I know) against top contender Pedro Rizzo, in what could be a very good grappler vs striker match up. After that, the undercard is pretty interesting, though at the time I can see it being a bit underwhelming to a lot of viewers.
Jens Pulver makes his PPV debut here, while Team Punishment member Tiki, "Crazy" Bob Cook , Dave Menne, Shonie Carter and Ian Freeman all make their UFC debuts. In hindsight, that's two future titleholders, a couple of exciting fighters, a well known trainer and a future TUF 5: The Comeback cast member all showing up at the same time.
Despite the (retroactively) semi-star studded roster, this is the second of the seven shows that encompass the UFC "Dark Ages", as none of these shows have ever been made available on home video or DVD on a wide scale. This would also be the first time that the UFC would be feeling the financial crunch that would mean, as there was no extra income from Ultimate Japan 2, Feeling the overall crunch of being forced out to the farthest reaching margins of the sports world already, parent company SEG was left up a certain creek without much of a paddle at this point. Give them credit though - they were trying very hard to get sanctioned by the two regulatory boards that really mattered though in the from of both the New Jersey and Nevada athletic commissions. We'll see how those attempts make out in the coming shows. For now though, on to the First Defense.
Two things of note in the opening of the show. Jeff Blatnick in all his indominatable knowledge feels Rizzo's key to winning tonight will be to avoid the takedown. Sounds like a complete "DUH!" moment, but he follows it up with a decent breakdown of Rizzo's propensity to throw the front leg kick, and Randleman's ability to catch the kick and score takedowns.
Another fun note is that the 'Next Generation" of fighters start to fill out the card a bit more this time around, as students of Pat Militech, Frank Shamrock, Tito Ortiz and Bas Rutten all take to the cage. It's kind of fun to watch as this happens, plus it usually means the overall quality of the fighters rise as knowledge gets passed on and built upon.
Lightweights (169lbs and under)
Jens Pulver (0-0-1, 5'7, 157) vs David Velasquez (0-0, 5'6, 156)
So Pulver is newly of the Militech camp, having left Bob Shamrock's Shamrock 2000 team in search of more/better training partners. He certainly would have found them in Bettendorf (or wherever Militech was prior to that gym opening). Velasquez is the first student of Frank Shamrock to enter the Octagon, so we'll see if Frank has been passing on good info or not here.
Before the fight, Goldberg refers to these guys as "Super Lightweights", foreshadowing the creation of a new division for smaller fighters.
They meet in the middle and Velasquez throws a high kick that had KO written all over it....if it had landed. He tries a second one, which Pulver grabs and uses to score the takedown. He lands 3 big left hands quickly, then works to pass guard. Frustrated in his attempts to do so, Pulver gets angry and tees off on Velasquez's head again. They scramble back up, where Pulver grabs a Thai clinch and lands some more big left hooks. Those look nasty, and Velasquez has one hell of a chin to stand up to those.
They break the clinch, and move back to the center, where they clinch again and Pulver uses knees to push Velasquez against the fence. Guess what Pulver uses here - yup, big left hooks again. He actually is able to pull Velasquez down and land a big knee that hurts him on the way back up, then follows that up with yet another big left hand. They break the clinch, and Velasquez is actually coming forward throwing, only there's not a lot left in his shots at this point. Pulver takes him down and mounts him with 30 seconds left in the round. Velazquez actually has good defenses from the guard, so Pulver gives up on punching and grabs an armbar, but time runs out on the round before he can fully extend.
10-9 round for Pulver, though if you scored that one 10-8 I don't think I'd argue too much with you.
Pulver scores a quick takedown into a head and arm choke, but gives it up in favor of mounting Velasquez again. He starts teeing off from that position until Big John McCarthy mercifully pulls the plug on the fight, giving Pulver his first UFC victory in a very impressive performance.
Lightweights (169lbs and under)
Tiki (0-0, 6', 169lbs) vs Bob Cook (0-0,5'9, 167lbs)
Tiki (last name Ghosn, but he's going for the Madonna mystique here) is the first member of Team Punishment (not counting Tito or associate team member Chuck Liddell) to step into the Octagon, while Bob Cook is the second straight student of Frank Shamrock to fight tonight.
Of note in the fight - Tiki cut weight to get to the weight limit, and he looks bigger than Cook. Cook might have an advantage of his own though, as he is a southpaw.
They come out flying and clinch in the middle, with Tiki using knees but still getting pushed up against the fence. Cook takes him down but Tiki bounces right up, so Cook jumps on him and pulls guard. He grabs an arm bar, but Tiki stands straight up, lifts Cook completely off the ground and shrugs him off. Cook gets up and pushes Tiki against the fence. Tiki is able to get free and land a nice body kick which seems to stun Cook, then follows up with a nice punch but lets Cook recover. Instead of going for the kill, Tiki goes for the takedown.
Super active and good opening 2 minutes.
They get back to their feet, where Cook lands a nice left hand. They clinch again, only for Tiki to throw Cook to the ground and let him up. Cook gets in close with a body lock and tries of the takedown, but he ends up on the bottom again. Not much doing down there, so they get back up.
Cook starts teeing off back on their feet, and he rocks Tiki, but he manages to get a little distance and survive out the round.
Kind of a hard round to score as both men were all action, but probably 10-9 for Tiki with the takedowns and some good striking. Tiki, however, looks considerably more tired than Bob Cook.
Slower start to this round, but then they get to throwing a lot. Throwing.....not landing. Cook scores a takedown and quickly mounts the tired Tiki. Goldberg thinks this could mean trouble for Tiki. You'd think after 2 years of doing these shows he might do a bit more than "think". Tiki gives up his back and gets choked out.
Really good fight, and a great showing by Bob Cook in his one and only UFC fight. He has however, gone on to be one of the best known trainers in MMA. Working out of the American Kickboxing Academy, Cook has been instrumental in the careers of Mike Swick, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Paul Buentello and others.
Lightweights (169lbs and under)
Dave Menne (0-0, 5'10, 169lbs) vs Fabiano Iha (0-1, 5'8, 168lbs)
It's a lightweight bonanza to start out this card. Not that I'm complaining.
Iha debuted at UFC XX and lost a controversial fight against Laverne Clark when the ref stopped it due to a cut on Iha's head just as he locked in a tight knee bar on Clark.
This time around, he'll be taking on the debuting Dave Menne, who is yet another Midwest fighter on the card tonight. Like most guys from the area, he has a lot of experience in Extreme Challenge events.
Very good opening round in this fight as both guys seemed to want to make a good impression. The story of the round was Menne stuffing Iha's takedown attempts and muscling the Brazilian in the clinch. He lands several good punches and good knees in the sprawl (not yet illegal). Iha is in the fight, but getting over matched a bit, and especially in the last minute of the round.
10-9 for Menne.
This round is not quite as good as the first, as Menne is the physically dominant fighter an Iha knows it. His entire offense is limited to jumping on Menne and trying to pull guard. Menne punishes him with blows from every position and easily wins the round 10-9. Even still, Menne has a lot of swelling on his right eye, which is actually starting to shut. Really nice observation by Militech on commentary that Menne fights with his left side forward, so a swollen shut right eye doesn't hurt him too badly.
Again, Iha spends the entire round trying to pull guard and eating punches trying to do it. The crowd boos him for doing it, and Menne just keeps punching him.
10-8 round for Menne due to Iha's lack of aggression, and the judges agree with me, giving Menne a unanimous victory in his Octagon debut.
A bit of hype for UFC XXV, which will be main evented by Tito Ortiz fighting Wanderlei Silva for the newly vacant middleweight title. That could be good.
Lance Gibson (0-0,5'9, 194lbs) vs Jermaine Andre (0-0, 5'7, 185lbs)
Andre is apparently freakishly strong, as the quote his dead lift and bench press. He'll need strength here, as he is giving up 10 pounds and is 15 pounds under the weight limit. He does have full on dread locks though, which is a UFC first I believe. He also has a Muay Thai background, so I would expect him to look for the clinch.
Gibson is cornered by Matt Hume, so you know he has some good skill. He's also Canadian, so I'm cheering for him outright.
The story of the first part of the round is Gibson getting better of Thai fighter Andre in the clinch, peppering him with knees and punches. They end up on the ground, and Gibson gets the better of that. Eventually, after landing a few knees in the North/South position, he rolls for an armbar which Andre avoids and gets to his feet. Once he's up, he tees off on Gibson, and even drops him with a huge left. Gibson holds on and survives the round.
I'd say 10-9 Gibson for controlling the first 4:30 of the round, but Andre's late flurry could very well have won the round.
After an exciting first round, we get a pretty boring second. The first half of the round is spent with Gibson pushing Andre against the fence, with little offense. Once Gibson starts getting knees in though, Andre quickly answers with a flurry of punches.
They end up on the ground, and Andre uses brute strength to pull his arm out of an Americana that was about to be cinched in, and that's the round.
Probably 10-9 for Gibson, but Tito on commentary thinks it was Andre's.
The entire first half of the round is spent with Gibson pushing Andre against the fence, but the only offense is weak, low knees and foot stomps. With about a minute and half left they come off the cage and Gibson uses the Thai clinch to deliver a knee that puts Andre out cold.
WOW.....nice finish to a boring end. Impressive that Gibson controlled Andre in the clinch and KO'd him with a knee.
They're looking to fill in time, and we get to see Shonie Carter's UFC debut from the earlier prelims.
Shonie Carter (0-0, 5'9, 166lbs) vs Brad Gumm (0-0, 5'11, 169lbs)
Shonie thankfully is not sporting his "Grown man in a diaper look" that he favors nowadays, but he is wearing one legged tights. Interesting.
They clinch immediately and Carer uses a judo throw to toss Gumm and gain side control. Nicely done. Carter mounts for minute, but Gumm scrambles and gets back up. Gumm falls to his back, but tries a triangle. It looks really tight, but Carter doesn't panic and doesn't look in danger of going out. He spends about solid minute, minute and half in it before pulling free.
They get back to their feet with about two minutes left, where Carter uses another judo throw to toss Gumm and mount him. Gumm scrambles into butterfly guard again, and that's the round.
Tough to score, but I'd give it to Carter since the triangle couldn't have been as dangerous as it looked.
Carter gets two more nice judo throws, and mounts Gumm using the second one. He lands a few shots, but Gumm uses a great ankle sweep with about 20 seconds left in the fight to reverse. Before he can land much though, Carter reverses and probably secures the fight with it.
And...it's a unanimous victory for Carter in his UFC debut. Nicely done.
Heavyweights (200lbs and up)
Tedd Williams (0-0,6'1, 286lbs) vs Steve Judson (0-1, 6'1, 225lbs)
They make Williams sound like he's a top level grappler - good collegiate wrestler with a fair bit of submission experience. He is trained by Bas Rutten - who is in his corner - so chances are he's going to be fairly solid all around.
Judson is hoping to erase from the fans' memory the result of his last trip to the Octagon, when he was KO'd in highlight reel fashion. Giving up 60lbs to a solid wrestler may not be the best strategy in getting on track.
Judson's first left early in the fight lands and stuns Williams, then he lands some more. Williams only answer is to try and clinch, but he keeps eating uppercuts and hooks. Eventually Williams gets the clinch and pushes Judson around a bit. Judson expends a lot of energy trying to get the big man away until finally Williams separates and lands a big right hook that hurts Judson. He follows up with three body shots, then a left jab as Judson backs away that drops him and McCarthy stops the fight.
Nice finish by Williams, who apparently used a bit of a rope dope strategy. He showed a good chin and stamina. It'll be interesting to see how does against some better competition.
So, at this point they announce that the main event between Randleman and Rizzo has been canceled. Apparently Randleman fell in the back while warming up and was taken to the hospital with an apparent concussion.
Now, I have no idea if this was the real deal or what. They seem to be suggesting that something else may have happened, but I've never heard an alternate explanation if there is one, so I'll stick with the fall.
Either way, the main event for the night is off, so we get to see the other prelim fight as a very sad consolation prize.
Heavyweights (200lbs and up)
Scott Adams (0-0,6', 223lbs) vs Ian Freeman (0-0, 5'11, 218lbs)
Adams trains with Chuck Liddell and - by extension at the moment - Tito Ortiz, whom he apparently submitted 30 straight times with leg and knee bars. So, what do you think his plan might be tonight?
He'll be trying to tap out debuting Brit Ian Freeman, who a few of you probably recognize.
Adams scores an immediate takedown and goes for a knee bar. Shocking. Freeman is able to roll and avoid the first attempt, but ends up on his back with Adams in his guard. Good wrist and posture control from Freeman, but Adams falls backs and grabs an ankle and tries for the knee bar one more time. Freeman rolls through again, but Adams ends up with a nice heel hook and the Brit is forced to tap.
Very fun to watch if you like knee bars and leg locks.
The 411: Well, at the time I can see how having the main event cancelled would leave a pretty bad taste in fans' mouthes, but this was a really good show even without it. Even the worst fight of the night (Gibson vs Andre) had a good finish, and every other fight was pretty exciting from beginning to end. Add in this if the first time we see Pulver, Carter, Freeman and Menne on PPV, and the show has a fun historical add on as well. Of course, business wise this would be a disaster, as the dwindling fans left around at this time would have to have been kind of cranky at having their main event cancelled during the PPV. Overall though, worth watching.