by Mick Hammond and Scott Petersen
Go to the Photo Gallery to see the pictures
James Irvin VS Terry Martin
While he seemed every bit the warrior as he came out to the Octagon wearing a ski mask and some Road Warrior-esque shoulder pads, things would not go Terry Martin’s way against James Irvin. With the crowd behind him, Irvin landed the sharper punches in the early exchanges.
When things got to close range it was Terry who shined bright as he managed to slam Irvin numerous times but was unable to pass the guard and do serious damage. As the first round ended it would be easy to say that Martin was in the lead for his slams and control.
The second round started with a bang; literally, as James Irvin caught Terry coming in on a shoot with possibly the wickedest knee the UFC has seen in a long time. Martin’s body went instantly stiff as he fell back to the canvas unconscious giving the win to James. James Irvin appears to be the new rising force in the 205lb division and in a year or two could definitely compete for the title.
Trevor Prangley VS Travis Lutter
The evening’s second prelim featured a contrast in styles as Trevor Prangley’s striking managed to get the better of Travis Lutter’s grappling as Prangley pulled off a unanimous decision victory.
Early on the size difference was evident as Lutter was never able to keep Trevor in any trouble despite having the edge in takedowns. It was action below the belt that sealed the round for Lutter as Trevor couldn’t keep his shots up, landing two low blows giving Lutter the advantage going into the second.
In the second round Prangley managed to open up a cut on Lutter with short elbows in Travis’ guard, giving him the advantage as things went to the third. The final round replayed much like the previous with Lutter working takedowns but Trevor dominated the action and opened up another cut on Lutter sealing the fight in his favor.
Matt Lindland VS Joe Doerksen
In what was a display of ground transitions, reversals and skill, Matt Lindland defeated Joe Doerksen via unanimous decision in a three round war of attrition.
To his credit Joe showed great skill in the takedown, taking down an Olympic Silver Medal winner on numerous occasions with various Judo trips and throws. But the soul-decimating ground game of Lindland claimed another victim as he stifled everything Joe threw his way.
With sweeps and escapes coming by the dozen Lindland managed to stay away from Joe’s highly regarded ground game. Fighting off rear naked chokes and armbars, Lindland held Doerksen on his back early and often. Thus proving that Lindland is indeed proficient in submission defense and offence as he went for multiple guillotine attempts.
This went on throughout the fight and due to his use of dominant position Lindland was able to secure the victory. With the win Matt should be next in line to face current UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin either in a PPV or Spike TV live broadcast before the end of the year.
Frank Trigg VS Georges St. Pierre
Heading into the bout between Frank Trigg and Georges St. Pierre, many wondered if Georges could wrestle Trigg and do more than just throw fancy kicks and slick submissions, and he did, impressively.
If there was one performance more dominating on the card than what St. Pierre provided it would be hard to find. Georges owned every bit of the fight that lasted just over four minutes. After a brief stand up exchange the fight went to the ground after a failed Frank Trigg shot and from there it was all downhill for Trigg.
St. Pierre dominated position and went for numerous submissions before mounting Trigg and cutting him open on the head. From there Trigg gave up his back and St. Pierre was able to quickly secure the rear naked and take one step closer to getting a rematch with Matt Hughes or Karo Parisyan depending on the outcome of their fight.
Brian Gassaway VS Diego Sanchez
Initially billed as a classic striker VS grappler type battle, the match between Brian Gassaway and Diego Sanchez became more a match of hungry youth overcoming veteran experience as Diego won the fight in the second round via verbal submission.
Early on it was clear that Sanchez wanted no part of Gassaway’s stand up game as he took Brian down and worked for position throughout the first round. Gassaway was able to fend off Diego on numerous occasions but he only ended up finding himself back on the bottom regardless of the wizard-like escapes he pulled off.
In the second round Diego again placed Gassaway on his back with Diego raining down shots from the mount. This time however Gassaway was unable to use the cage to help him escape and Diego’s relentless assault became too much for Brian to handle as he tapped out amidst a barrage of Diego strikes.
Diego continues to look impressive in his UFC PPV debut and will most likely take another fight before the year as he pays his dues before being considered for a title shot sometime next year.
Randy Couture VS Mike Van Arsdale
When people initially viewed this fight it appeared as if something was wrong with Randy Couture when he faced off against Mike Van Arsdale. The once dominant wrestler looked tentative and sometimes not as crisp as he had in the past and it was for good reason.
This fight almost didn’t happen due to a knee injury Couture had suffered prior to the fight. It took all his charm and persuasion for Randy to convince the NSAC to allow him to fight on UFC 54. Like a true warrior Couture fought through the injury and managed to pull of a submission victory over Van Arsdale in the third round.
In the early going Mike seemed to have Randy back on his toes, landing the sharper punches and out wrestling Couture throughout the first round. With the injury hampering his movement Couture was able to stave off anything that Mike was able to throw his way and used his intelligence on the ground, going for submissions and landing knees to Mike’s shoulders when in the north/south position.
The third round started with an interesting exchange across the Octagon as Randy winked and smiled at Van Arsdale from his corner with Mike replying in kind. Feeling the need to possibly finish the fight before his knee could become a factor, Randy charged through Van Arsdale’s punches and took Mike down against the cage and applied the anaconda choke ala Minotauro Nogueira to finish the fight just under a minute into the fight.
Randy keeps himself in the hunt to regain the title with the win and could either face his originally slated opponent, Babalu Sobral, or give a rematch to Jeremy Horn or even possibly face rising star James Irvin before getting a rubber match with Chuck Liddell.
Tim Sylvia VS Tra Telligman
When it was announced that Tim Sylvia would be facing Tra Telligman instead of Assuerio Silva at UFC 54 people knew that the fight had the potential to have an explosive finish and did it ever.
The two strikers exchanged punches throughout the first round with Tim using his size and reach to his advantage keeping Tra at bay throughout the round. At around the three minute mark Telligman began to show signs of Tim’s peppering as his face began to swell before a cut opened below his left eye from Tim’s shots.
To Telligman’s credit he did land punches in the fight but Tim was able to walk through them showing little regard for Tra’s power. With just seconds left in the fight Tim launched a kick that landed clean on Tra’s face sending Telligman down violently giving the win to Tim via KO with just one second remaining in the round.
Telligman would become the second fighter in the evening, along with Terry Martin, to be taken out of the Octagon on a stretcher. Reports from the hospital have Tra recovering well from the KO despite him not regaining his senses until well after he left the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
With the win the UFC’s “Big Man” is indeed back and to further silence his critics, Sylvia tested negative to a random drug test administered by the NSAC to ensure there was no possible controversy involving his earlier infraction. With another win or two Tim could find himself back in the championship picture as he hopes to rematch Andrei Arlovski in 2006.
Chuck Liddell VS Jeremy Horn
In the evening’s main event all the questions were answered. Chuck Liddell, while not able to knock out Jeremy Horn, was able to knock him down and completely take Jeremy out of his game.
Easily larger than Horn, Chuck was able to land the harder shots standing, putting down Horn multiple times throughout the first round. On the first couple of occasions Liddell fallowed Jeremy down, attempting to TKO Horn but soon he realized Horn’s ploy and didn’t fallow Horn to the ground thus avoiding submission situations.
This continued on throughout all three rounds with Jeremy occasionally landing punches and kicks to Liddell, but it was nothing compared to what Chuck unleashed. Easily able to walk though Jeremy’s strikes, Chuck easily overpowered Jeremy’s takedown attempts.
Finally the accumulated damage took its toll on Horn as his vision eroded throughout the fight and he was unable to continue after being again placed on the floor by Chuck’s right hand. The Iceman wins interestingly enough via verbal submission and retains his UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship.
Next up for Liddell could be a possible rematch with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson if he can be signed to a deal. If not then he may face Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar or possibly even a final match with Randy Couture if an immediate challenger cannot be found.
One thing is for sure, Chuck Liddell is a far more complete fighter than many gave him credit for going into the fight and unless someone can take him down and keep him down his reign should last well into the future.