Sylvia Regains Title and Tito Triumphant in Return
UFC 59 in Review
In a year that has already seen its fair share of upsets, Tim Sylvia proved just about everybody wrong and defeated Andrei Arlovski in the first round of their fight, regaining the UFC heavyweight title.
In front of a packed house at the Pond, in Anaheim, California, Tim Sylvia was able to withstand a very heavy shot from his opponent early in the fight and recover almost immediately which led to him landing a punch of his own that floored the now former champion. As Arlovski fell to the mat and covered up, Sylvia seized the moment and started to reign down bombs on his head, causing the referee to call a stop to the fight and declared Tim Sylvia the new UFC heavyweight champion.
It was Arlovski’s initial shot that brought the crowd to its feet, but just as quickly, Sylvia recovered and caught Arlovski with a short uppercut that sent him to the canvas. The referee stopped the fight before any harm could come to Arlovski, who was raising his hand to block the oncoming shots but doing nothing to improve his position on the ground to prevent the strikes. Tim Sylvia, who was seemingly written off before this fight ever even happened, walked out champion and puts the title back around his waste, something he has adamantly stated was his ultimate goal.
In other action, Tito Ortiz made his return to the octagon to take on Forrest Griffin, and much like his last fight with Vitor Belfort, controversy reigned supreme as Ortiz walked out with a split decision victory.
As the fight began, Tito looked like he was back in his old form when he took Griffin down and proceeded to absolutely unleash a barrage of punches and elbows from inside his guard. Tito’s double leg takedown was flawless and quick, just like when he was taking out fighters like Ken Shamrock only a few years ago. He opened a cut above and below Forrest’s left eye that made many wonder if the fight would even see a second round.
Griffin did survive the first round and as the second began, something seemed to change with Tito’s approach to the fight. He was stepping fairly gingerly throughout the second round and his shot was much slower and he wasn’t driving through his opponent to truly go for the takedown. Griffin did however go for a number of combinations to score the necessary points to win the second round, but did no real damage to Ortiz.
The third started off with more of the same, but this time both men started to land more shots that could have put an end to the fight. Tito was stuffed a few times when he was going for takedowns in the 2nd and 3rd rounds but did manage to finally get a hold of Griffin’s leg later in the last round and he started to open up with more punches and elbows.
The judges scored in a split decision for Tito Ortiz, and many fans were upset with the announcement and started to boo in the arena. The fact is that when the fight was over, Forrest had multiple lacerations on his face and very well could have lost the first round with a 10-8 score due to the pounding that Ortiz gave out. The second round was definitely Forrest but he did nothing to really show dominance with something like a takedown or a knockdown. The third was more even, but Tito’s striking was on par that round and he did manage the one takedown that allowed him to resume his ground and pound attack. In the end both fighters should be proud of their performances but unfortunately it was revealed post fight that Tito has a tear in he ACL and MCL in his knee and may be out for an undisclosed amount of time.
In a fight that helped to determine the #1 contender for the heavyweight title, Jeff Monson took on Marcio “Pe De Pano” Cruz in what ended up being a fairly boring fight. Both fighters pride themselves on ground fighting but most of this battle took place on the feet, with Monson landing the more effective shots despite giving up more than just a few inches in reach. In the end Monson won a split decision over Cruz and will now wait for a chance to take on the new champion, Tim Sylvia.
Evan Tanner returned in great fashion with a triangle choke victory over WEC veteran, Justin Levens, who did take the fight on only a few weeks notice. Tanner went back to working on the ground, which is what made him such a dangerous opponent for many years. Levens did fight very hard and should be commended for taking the fight on short notice and still putting on a great fight.
In the swing bout, Sean Sherk fought at 170lbs for the last time apparently before he drops to fight at 155lbs when he won by judges decision over Nick Diaz. The fight was pretty uneventful with the exception of a couple takedowns that Sherk was able to secure and a couple of submissions attempted by Diaz. Neither fighter truly dominated but Sherk did get the victory and now its wait and see if Nick Diaz will return to the octagon after his third straight loss.
Overall, UFC 59 has to be seen as a success with the debut in California and a sold out crowd standing behind them at all times. Sylvia’s win was unexpected but it does open up some interesting possibilities for future match-ups. Tito Ortiz won his fight and probably won’t get a chance to fight again until he’s healthy and that will likely be against Ken Shamrock after the Ultimate Fighter season 3 ends.
Prelim Results compiled by MMAWeekly.com Staff
Thiago Alves was rocked early by body shots by Derrick Noble in their highly anticpated rematch, but Alves changed everything with a wicked right hand that dropped Noble and Alves wins at 2:54 of Round 1 by TKO. Referee Mario Yamasaki pulled Alves off Noble for Thiago’s impressive win.
Jason Lambert had to survive an onslaught of big punches by Terry Martin in the first round. Lambert survived the power of Martin and showed that he was in much better shape than Martin as he wore the fighter from Chicago down in Round 2. Lambert would secure a takedown in Round 2 and get the win by TKO at 2:37 of the second round.
In a controversial finish, David Terrell wins by rear naked choke at 3:08 of Round 1 over Scott Smith. New referee Mario Lopez in the middle of Round 1 called for a break in the action. Both fighters were in the clinch position, when the referee called for a stop in the action. Smith stopped battling for position then Lopez, the referee, called for action to resume right after he said stop. Smith had relaxed when the referee stopped the action, Terrell heard Lopez call for action, secured the takedown and put on a rear naked choke for the win. Terrell was clearly NOT in the wrong as he followed the referee’s instruction. Smith was clearly disgusted by the referee’s “stop and go” command. Lopez was clearly in the wrong in this fight as Terrell gets the win.
Karo Parisyan improved to 23-3 in his MMA career as he took out Nick Thompson in a welterweight bout. Parisyan looked very sharp after his 8 month layoff due to injury as he outworked Thompson for the win. Parisyan would put a finish to the fight at 4:44 of Round 1 as Thompson tapped out just before the end of the first round.