THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne – now in it’s 10th year!
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It’s the first time two Hall of Famers have faced each other, as Randy Couture went up against Mark Coleman in the main event of UFC 109: Relentless, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain, with Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan handling commentary duties.
The show started with the preliminary fights, beginning with Melvin Guillard and Ronys Torres in the lightweight division. This three rounder proved to be a very entertaining encounter with the debuting Torres putting in some good work on the ground, and Guillard countered with some good defensive work. Torres looked like he would get the submission win in the second with a kimura, and Guillard would probably have got the ground and pound win in the third had the time limit not expired. The judges were called on to make a decision, and all three gave it to Guillard. A good decision, but it must have been a hard one to reach.
The lightweight action continued with Mac Danzig facing Justin Bucholz. This fight gave us some good examples of both the aspects of MMA fighting. The first round was a stand-up battle with Bucholz rocking Danzig with a big right. Round two was fought on the ground, with both guys going for submissions. Round three saw a mixture of the two, with Danzig really upping his game and going for a rear naked choke as the fight came to an end. Danzig’s superior work rate earned him the unanimous decision, ending his losing streak.
The main show began with Matt Serra taking on Frank Trigg at welterweight. The first stoppage for the television audience saw Serra coming forward from the outset. Trigg seemed to be fighting very defensively here, and looked ripe for the picking as Serra connected with a big right hand that sent Trigg crashing down. The referee stepped in as Serra went for the ground and pound. This was a very good performance from Serra, but I can’t help but wonder what’s left for Trigg after this latest setback in his UFC comeback.
It was up to middleweight for the next fight, with Damian Maia and Dan Miller. This wasn’t the most enthralling fight I’ve seen. The talking point of the first round was Maia’s inadvertent low knee, and as the fight went into the second things seemed to come to a standstill at times. The third round was slightly better, with Maia showing some good work on the ground, but that was it, as Maia’s performance earned him the unanimous decision. Well, he tried his best, but Miller was very disappointing.
The elves at ESPN flicked their switches a little too late as the commercial break came back just as the Brian Stann versus Phil Davis heavyweight clash started, meaning that we didn’t see the introductions. This filler material was certainly more enthralling than the previous fight. Davis, making his UFC debut, controlled everything on the ground, and looked awesome in doing so. Stann seemed powerless and bewildered as Davis was able to transition at will, going for an arm bar as the fight came to an end. It was no surprise when Davis got the unanimous decision. This was a great performance from the newcomer, and he looks like he’s got a bright future ahead of him.
The regular action returned with the welterweight bout between Mike Swick and Paulo Thiago. After an interesting first round which saw some good kicks and combinations from both men, a counter left hook from Thiago sent Swick to the ground. Thiago quickly went in for the kill, locking in a d’arce choke. Swick had no chance, and was unconscious in a matter of seconds, giving the Brazilian the impressive submission win.
Then it was back up to middleweight for the next fight, as Nate Marquardt faced off against Chael Sonnen, with the winner getting a shot at the title. To say that this was an outstanding fight would be an understatement. Sonnen put in the best performance of his UFC career as he dominated Marquardt on the ground for the first two rounds, and even a big Marquardt elbow that opened up a nasty cut on his forehead could not stop him. Round three began in the same way, but Marquardt began to fight back in the last minute, looking like he’d get the win with a guillotine. But Sonnen managed to escape, and by then it was too little too late for Marquardt. Sonnen’s earlier domination earned him the unanimous decision, and a shot at whoever wins the upcoming Anderson Silva/Vitor Belfort fight. Outstanding, just outstanding.
The main event was next, the battle of the legends as Randy Couture took on Mark Coleman, a fight that was originally meant to take place way back at UFC 17. Once again Couture proved that he’s still a tremendous fighter. The Natural controlled the action in the first with his superior striking and against the cage with his dirty boxing. Couture began the second with a take down, and it wasn’t long before he took Coleman’s back and synched in the rear naked choke. Coleman was soon unconscious, and Couture had the submission win with an outstanding performance. As for Coleman, he just wasn’t in the game.
The broadcast finished with more filler material as Rolles Gracie faced Joey Beltran at heavyweight. Now when you see the name Gracie in an MMA fight you expect a lot. Sadly, this Gracie failed to live up to those expectations. Gracie had some good moments early on in the first, but he tired very quickly, and this gave Beltran the chance to really up his game. Bu the time the second round came around Gracie was waddling around like a duck, and it wasn’t surprising when the referee stopped the fight, with Gracie flat on his front, trying to survive Beltran’s ground and pound. You really can’t fault Beltran for his performance here, but Gracie was extremely disappointing in a Kalib Starnes kind of way.
In conclusion – well, the UFC delivered again with another great show, topped off nicely with another age defying performance from Randy Couture, and an outstanding outing by Chael Sonnen. Sure, there were a couple of disappointing performances, but they didn’t detract from the rest of the show, as we now look forward to the UFC’s debut down under in a couple of weeks.