Randy Couture hasn’t walked on water yet, but after dismantling Tim Sylvia for all five rounds of their UFC Heavyweight Title fight on Saturday night, it seems like “The Natural” is capable of just about anything.
In the opening moments of the bout it was quite obvious that Randy Couture was more than ready for the challenge of the 6’8″ champion when he landed a big shot that put Sylvia on the canvas and 19,000+ fans on their feet in the Nationwide Arena. Couture moved in for the kill, taking Sylvia’s back, then pursued a rear naked choke while the champion maneuvered to escape the position. The first round ended with Couture still holding on to Sylvia’s back and it was this opening 5 minutes that would set the tone throughout the bout.
The next 4 rounds followed in similar fashion with Couture looking like the better striker on his feet, landing overhand rights that continued to pummel Sylvia at every turn. Couture also unleashed a bevy of takedowns on Sylvia, working ground and pound that looked extremely impressive. The Miletich trained fighter had no answer for Couture’s efforts through any part of the fight, giving up the takedown and being beaten to the punch over and over on the feet.
As the 5th round came to a close, the crowd in Columbus, Ohio roared as they knew that the former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion had just done the impossible, winning his 5th UFC title overall. Couture stood up victorious as Sylvia looked dispelled in defeat.
“Not bad for an old man,” said Couture in his post fight interview with Joe Rogan.
A UFC heavyweight championship earned at age 43…not too bad at all.
UFC 68 was also a night of comebacks for former champions as Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes both retuned after losing each of their respective titles recently. Rich Franklin had the home state fans behind him when he stepped into the Octagon to take on Canadian stand-out, Jason McDonald.
Almost immediately, Franklin engaged McDonald with some big punches that made it very clear the former champ was back and ready to come out swinging. Soon after the initial flurry, McDonald started to work for takedowns knowing that was his best chance to get to the former middleweight champion. Franklin defended the takedown well and even when the fight did make it to the mat, it was the Cincinnati native who dominated with punches from inside McDonald’s guard.
In the 2nd round, Franklin again gained dominant positioning on the ground, landing some huge shots that seemed to really dishearten McDonald who never really seemed to recover. At the end of the 5 minute session Franklin was reigning down shots on his challenger and it was apparent the night was all but over. McDonald’s corner waived off the fight at this point and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight declaring Rich Franklin the winner. Franklin then invited current middleweight champion Anderson Silva into the Octagon where the former title holder declared that his rematch with Silva would likely be in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. This information was later confirmed by UFC president Dana White who said the rematch would take place in the Queen City with the company’s return to the Midwest.
Matt Hughes knew how important his fight with Chris Lytle was on Saturday night, so much so that he must have decided a decision win with little done to finish the fight was the way to go. Lytle engaged early, trying to open up a combination on the former welterweight champion but soon after Hughes took him to the ground where he proceeded to ground and pound his opponent for seemingly the entire fight.
Lytle did manage a few quick escapes and reversals but in the end it was Hughes’ takedowns and superior ground control that earned him a unanimous decision victory over the Ultimate Fighter 4 competitor.
While everyone will be talking about the upset of Randy Couture over Tim Sylvia, another massive upset took place at UFC 68 when Jason Lambert knocked out the #7 light heavyweight in the world, Renato “Babalu” Sobral. Lambert, coming off a loss to Rashad Evans, was not given much of a chance going into the bout but he was able to prove he belonged there in the end.
Babalu gained the early advantage getting Lambert on the ground and taking his back. Lambert stayed patient and never let himself get caught and when they got back to their feet towards the end of the round it was Lambert who landed a thunderous shot that put Babalu down on the canvas. The round ending saved the night for Babalu, at least for the moment. In the 2nd round, Babalu looked very winded and Lambert took full advantage by landing another big punch that put Sobral down and out for good. Lambert is now in prime position to get a big named fight back on his resume, possibly against a fighter such as Keith Jardine, who recently knocked out Forrest Griffin.
Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann continued his undefeated run through the UFC with a submission win over Drew McFedries by arm triangle choke. Kampmann, a former kickboxer, struggled on his feet against McFedries as the Miletich trained fighter landed shot after shot on the Denmark native. Kampmann soon realized the best way to win the fight was on the ground. After securing a takedown, Kampmann locked on a arm triangle choke from side control then transitioning across McFedries’ body. As his arms went limp, referee Herb Dean jumped in and stopped the fight to save McFedries from any further damage.
Kampmann seemed slow releasing the choke prompting many to say that he held on much too long when the referee was trying to pull him off his opponent. After the bout, Kampmann said that he had bad experiences in the past with letting go of a hold when he thought the fight was being stopped and had no intention of trying to hurt his opponent.
With 5,000 plus at the weigh-ins and over 19,000 in live attendance, UFC 68 can only be seen as a huge success. Randy Couture again proved why he is a living legend by defeating Tim Sylvia in dominant fashion earning the UFC heavyweight championship and MMAWeekly’s Fighter of the Night. Jason Lambert’s comeback win and knockout of Renato “Babalu” Sobral was credited for being Fight of the Night. A great show to watch live and for those in attendance they can all say they were there on the night that a legend won his title back.
UFC 68 FULL RESULTS
-Randy Couture def. Tim Sylvia by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
(Randy Couture is the new UFC Heavyweight Champion)
-Martin Kampmann def. Drew McFedries submission (side triangle choke) at 4:06 of Round 1
-Rich Franklin def. Jason MacDonald by TKO (corner stoppage) at 5:00 of Round 2
-Matt Hughes def. Chris Lytle by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Jason Lambert def. Renato “Babalu” Sobral by KO at 3:36 of Round 2
-Matt Hamill def. Rex Holman by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 4:00 of Round 1
-Jon Fitch def. Luigi Fioravanti by submission (rear naked choke) at 3:05 of Round 2
-Gleison Tibau def. Jason Dent by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Jamie Varner def. Jason Gilliam by TKO (choked unconscious from rear naked choke) at 1:34 of Round 1