Now at UFC 70 Gabriel “Napão” Gonzaga picks up where they left off by stunning the Croation sensation Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic who is arguably one of the two best heavyweights in the world, crushing him with a devastating right high-kick to win by knock out in the first round.Manchester, England – Randy Couture started the UFC’s “upset wave” by dethroning the heavily favored heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia at UFC 68. Matt Serra carried it through UFC 69 by shocking the world and claiming the once indestructible Georges St. Pierre’s welterweight title. Now at UFC 70 Gabriel “Napão” Gonzaga picks up where they left off by stunning the Croation sensation Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic who is arguably one of the two best heavyweights in the world, crushing him with a devastating right high-kick to win by knock out in the first round.
Stepping into the Octagon, Napão seemed very confident in his well-rounded skill set and looked ready to compete with widely feared CroCop from the begining of the fight. Just about everybody counted Napão out of this bout before it even started, but he quickly changed some opinions when he caught a body kick from CroCop early on and put the Croatian on his back. The Brazilian a world champion black-belt in Jiu-Jitsu opened up a barrage of viscious elbows from inside of CroCop’s guard putting a couple of cuts on his hairline. The Croatian appeared calm and collect as he tried to ride out the sotrm with an effective, though defensive, closed guard.
With less than a minute to go in the first round, referee Herb Dean controversially stood the fight up and everyone in attendance and watching at home was just waiting for CroCop to uncork his legendary left high-kick. The exact opposite is what happened seconds later, as Napão unleashed a huge right high-kick of his own that floored the CroCop, buckling his right leg underneath him, leaving him laying motionless on the Octagon floor in a sickening position. The knock out secured yet another huge upset (something we’ve all become accustomed lately in the UFC) putting Napão in line for a UFC heavyweight title shot against Randy Couture and sending CroCop back to the drawing board to wonder just what had happened.
The rest of the card for UFC 70 – Nations Collide was largely uneventful with the exception of the fight between the UK’s hometown hero Michael “The Count” Bisping and “The King of Rock n’ Rumble” Elvis Sinosic who made the trip to England all the way from Down Under. Bisping came out to a huge ovation from the hometown crowd, getting so excited before the fight began that he almost forgot to stop to let the cage-side referee check him out before the fight began. Sinosic looked calm and collect, as always, and while his record is less than spectacular, he always comes in ready to give a good effort. Bisping came flying out of the gate, but didn’t immediately dominate the stand-up so the fight ended up on the ground where the crafty Australian Sinosic, an ADCC veteran, looked to capitalize.
Bisping then unleashed some of the most devastating “ground n’ pound” this side of Fedor Emelianenko and a familiar sight occured to long-time UFC fans, as cut after cut opened on the scar tissue covering Sinosic’s head. It seemed like the fight might be stopped from strikes on the ground, but time ran out with Sinosic bloodied and beaten on the mat. The second round started with another standing exchange, but it was the Australian who landed a big knee that put Bisping down and sent the British crowd to their feet, gasping for their collective breath. Sinosic, still reeling from the first round, did manage to take Bisping’s back and almost secured a fight-ending Rear Naked Choke, but the gutty Englishman reversed the position, as he did to Eric Schafer in his last fight, and took over once again. This time he landed punch after punch and a very winded Elvis Sinosic could do nothing, but cover up and wait for the referee to stop the fight. Michael Bisping remains undefeated at 14-0 and climbs further up the loaded UFC light-heavyweight division.
Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski picked up a second consecutive win, after losing two title fights in a row to Tim Sylvia last year. In doing so, he has began his journey back towards UFC heavyweight title contention. He did this by earning a unanimous decision victory over highly regarded Pride fighter and CroCop training partner, Fabricio Werdum. The first round saw Arlovski land a few good punches and leg kicks that seemed to confuse Werdum. It looked early on that Arlovski would finish the fight with strikes as Werdum came nowhere close to landing a takedown and the Belarusian was landing shot after shot on the feet.
Unfortunately, the first round was the only truly eventful round in the entire fight. The second and third rounds mostly consisted of Werdum circling Arlovski and the former UFC heavyweight champion not engaging, surely avoiding the potential ground war that his opponent surely hoped for. After three rounds, Arlovski picked up a win, but not without the crowd in the United Kingdom booing him for his lackluster efforts. Something he was also booed for in the United States, after two consecutive less than impressive efforts against Tim Sylvia.
The popular French kickboxer Cheick Kongo got back to his winning ways. After a disappointing split-decision loss last October to Carmelo Marrero, he defeated the hulking Brazilian fighter Assuerio Silva by majority-decision. Kongo dominated the stand-up, landing some huge combinations, many of which would probably have put down a number of heavyweights, but Silva persevered showing great determination to survive and push forward.
The majority of Silva’s offense consisted of taking Kongo down at will, but doing absolutely nothing once the fight hit the ground. Joe Rogan made comments throughout the bout that he was largely ineffective on the ground, while Kongo was just a decent training camp away from being a legitimate threat in the heavyweight division, if he could pick up a more effective ground game. Three rounds later, the judges scored the majority-decision in favor of Cheick Kongo, putting another victory on his UFC record, while Assueiro Silva moves to 0-3 in the Octagon and possibly out of the organization for a while to search for a will or a way to win.
The main card bout between Ryoto Machida and David Heath, which Machida won via unanimous decision, did not air on the SpikeTV broadcast in the United States, as it was mostly uneventful up until the final moments where Machida nearly ended the bout. In a similar manner to his previous bout against Sam Hoger in his UFC debut, Machida’s defensive wiles and quick hands completely shut down a dangerous, resourceful, and undefeated opponent.
Machida’s slick southpaw pot shots bring to mind boxing’s former four-weight titlist Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whittaker. Much like Whittaker, when Machida decides to stay in close and punch away, he can do so almost untouched, while his lightning-fast reflexes and footwork carry him harmlessly out of the way of any counters. Heath was game, but just that one step behind throughout, and found himself on the canvas courtesy of a series of knees in the final round. Machida dropped a few punches and elbows before effortlessly transitioning to side-control and then the mount before almost ending the bout with a Rear Naked Choke in the last few seconds of the round. Two judges scored 30-27 for Machida with the third tabbing him a clear 30-26 winner. Machida may not be the world’s most exiting fighter, but there is no smoother craftsmen operating in MMA at 205.
In a preliminary bout that aired on the SpikeTV broadcast in the United States, the local favorite, Englishman Terry Etim remained undefeated by choking out American fwrestling-based fighter Matt Grice in the first round of their bout. To Grice’s credit, his ground n’ pound was absolutely brutal and during parts of the round it looked as though he would stop the fight at any moment, as he dropped bombs at will.
Personally, I’m glad they chose to air this fight to show the average fight fan, that the tide of a fight can change in an instant. Etim eventually got the fight back to the feet, where he eventually locked on a Guillotine Choke that seemed to finish Grice, but the former Oklahoma wrestler escaped only to get caught in the same move just seconds later. This time truly leaving him unconscious in the Octagon. Etim picks up a win and will surely be seen in the UFC again, as he has finished all 10 of his fights to date, 9 via submission and 1 via TKO.
Italian MMA star Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara, a 25-year-old former pro boxer, should be relieved to get back to his winning ways after being quickly submitted by Dean Lister then knocked out by Drew McFedries in his previous two UFC appearances. Sakara bounced back from consecutive UFC defeats by scoring a surprisingly easy first round TKO stoppage victory over Canada’s usually durable Victor “The Matrix” Valimaki. After hurting Valimaki with a right hand, that actually dislodged his mouthpiece, the end came just moments after when another thumping right dropped the Canadian in a heap against the cage. A brief follow-up flurry forced the referee’s intervention at 1:55 of the first frame.
Welterweights “Relentless” Paul Taylor of Walsall, England and Edilberto “Crocata” de Oliveira of Brazil were the first men into the Octagon and the British fighter delighted the crowd by scoring a spectacular high-kick highlight real of a KO over his Brazilian opponent. Taylor largely dominated the stand-up, showing excellent takedown defense, and solid composure when Crocata briefly had his back in the standing position late in the first stanza. Crocata’s jab and occasional overhand right proved little match for Taylor’s crisper stand-up and greater variety. Taylor gradually chopped away at the weakening Brazilian, and the third round finish came as no real surprise. The enthusiastic Taylor having to be virtually pulled off of his battered opponent by the referee. The official time was 37 seconds of the third round.
London Pancrase’s head coach, Jess “The Joker” Liaudin had an easier time than expected with German-based Russian born judoka and “Cage Warriors” veteran Dennis Siver. The French born Liaudin absorbed an early takedown before finishing the German fighter with a slick and tight armbar to score an impressive submission victory at just 1:21 of the opening round.
Finally, our thoughts go out to London’s David Lee. The likeable lightweight submission fighter would be the only Englishman on the card not to emerge victorious on the night. The American-based Brazilian Junior Assuncao, who is a capoeira and jiu-jitsu stylist, saw to that with a dominating second round victory. Assuncao rocked Lee early in the first round and had his way with the brave Englishman, before scoring a fight-ending Rear Naked Choke at 1:55 of the second stanza. The aftermath told the tale of these two fighters who had both attempted to rebound from debut UFC Rear Naked Choke defeats: Lee beside himself in tearful dismay with Assuncao knelt in prayerful thanks just a few feet away.
Overall, UFC 70 was somewhat of a disappointment, with a very boring fight as two top-ten-ranked heavyweights in Arlovski and Werdum went to a decision, while Cheick Kongo and Assuerio Silva did much of the same outside of the Frenchman’s fantastic stand-up arsenal. The biggest shock of the evening of course took place in the main event when Gabriel “Napão” Gonzaga stunned the world by knocking out the heavily favored Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic in the first round. Napão definitely earned Fighter of the Night status, while he also earned a UFC heavyweight title shot against Randy “The Natural” Couture, which is tentatively scheduled for August 25th. Fight of the Night would have to go to Michael “The Count” Bisping and Elvis “King of Rock n’ Rumble” Sinosic for both going out and leaving everything they had in the cage. Sinosic should be commended for his performance even in losing, while Bisping relished fighting in front of his hometown crowd.