Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

UFC 92: A knockout PPV

I was ready to lobby Dana White to change the Ultimate Fighting Championship's name to Ultimate Brazilian Showcase. There's Anderson Silva, Minotauro Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva, Vitor Belfort, Thiago Alves, and Ricardo Almeida to name a few who take names and whoop some serious ass. These guys are some bad dudes.

C'mon. Are you afraid of boxers? Mike Tyson in his prime was fearsome... just don't let him speak coz his whiny tone sure didn't scare the living crap out of anyone.

MMA fighters? These Brazilians? I mean what is Nogueir'as real name is is Antonio Rodrigo or Minotauro? The latter fits him well and I don't think anyone's going to make fun of him.

Yet after UFC 92, with Nogueira and Silva getting knocked out... there's a reason why this is a fast growing sport all over the world. And seeing Frenchman Cheick Kongo kick the living crap out of Englishman Mustapha Al Turk is proof that the South American country does not have a monopoly on great MMA fighters.

UFC 92 had a great fight card and if the previous one was good for fight fans, this one was an uppercut to those who said the sport had become predictable and stale. You have got to be shitting me.

Frank Mir vs. Minotauro Nogueira for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship
Frank Mir's fights clock in at an average of under four minutes as he knocks his foes out early or gets them to submit. And he looked to be in great shape as he made no bones about wanting to get back in the octagon with Brock Lesnar at a later date. So he sounded pretty confident but first off, there was the bad ass Nogueira.

Nogueira entered with the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" blaring in the background. and with a 31-4-1 record. But Mir was the least bit intimidated. He showed a new dimension to his game with top notch striking as he knocked down Nogueira twice in the first round. Instead of finishing Nogueira off, Mir let him get back to his feet if only to say, "you're a few seconds away from losing."

The Brazilian, who is a black belter in jiu jitsu was unable to get any solid combinations in unlike Mir who repeatedly jabbed and punctured Nogueira's defense.

Nogueira has been knocked down only five times previous to this match but he's never been finished off. Mir not only sent him to the canvass three times (including one at the buzzer ending the first round) but he landed some solid leg kicks and knees to his foe. And in the second round, Nogueira looking much like Oscar De La Hoya versus Manny Pacquiao was unable to pull the trigger against Mir.

By the second round, Mir sent two consecutive lefty haymakers that decked his foe. Mir sent nine more shots to the defending champ's head before referee Herb Dean pulled him away at the 3:08 mark.

Mir immediately made a beeline to where Brock Lesnar was sitting at ringside and issued a challenge, "You've got my belt!"

You can be sure that the next time these guys meet, no one is going to be pulling any punches.

Grudge Match Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Chuck Lidell knows what it's like to be on the receiving end of Rampage Jackson's fists. And Jackson conversely knows what it's like to get his clock cleaned. After all Silva sent him out of the ring before; the second of two losses to the Brazilian. And what was embarrassing about it was that Jackson was out cold.

But the former Light Heavyweight Champion said that he is a much different fighter this time around. And he was itching for payback.

"He don't like me. I don't like him," said Silva who licked his lips like a man hungry for a hot meal. "I came here not to fight for money but for pleasure." Silva shoved Jackson during the weigh in and the man they call Rampage laughed him off.

Jackson looked and sounded like a man with a plan.

Instead of both fighters charging in and exchanging fisticuffs, they eyed each other warily as Silva borrowed Forrest Griffin's strategy of softening up Jackson with hard leg kicks. Except this time Jackson stayed away and found an opening and sent an uppercut that decked the Axe Murderer into LaLa Land even before he hit the canvas. Rampage waded in and got in a few licks but it was unnecessary as Silva was sleeping like a baby. Jackson, who trained at Wolf's Lair in England with Cheick Kongo for this fight, had his revenge. As for Lidell? Well... that's twice he's been KO'd -- by Rashad Evans and Jackson. How do you deal with that power?

Cheick Kongo versus Mustapha Al Turk
Kongo is nasty. After Al turk inadvertently kneed him in the nuts, Kongo a few minutes later returned the favor to send a message.

The Frenchman mixed in some kicks and punches to throw off Al Turk who was fighting in the UFC for the first time. With time running down in the first round, Kongo aggressively chased his opponent and unloaded hammer fists and elbows on Al Turk. In the 39th second, an elbow opened up the Englishman like a spigot and you could hear Kongo's fists splatter blood.

Steve Mazzagatti, the referee called for the bell and Kongo had his 23 victory against 4 losses and 1 draw. A message was sent to the entire heavyweight community that he is one vicious SOB.

Rashad Evans vs Forrest Griffin for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship
Two Ultimate Fighter winners (Griffin won Season One while Evans won Season Two) but only one can walk out a winner. Forrest Griffin (16-4) is a tough fighter who only gets stronger as the fight gets longer. He took Rampage Jackson's title belt after tenderizing his leg with powerful leg kicks. But he was up against Rashad Evans (17-0) who was undefeated heading into this fight.

Griffin entered to the Drop Kick Murphys. Cool melding of traditional Irish music with primal punk rock.

Evans entered to a re-worked song by 80's New Wave band Blondie.

Someone should tell Bruce Buffer to stop yelling because he doesn't sound cool at all. He reminds me of the PBA analysts who imitate NBA broadcasters by raising their voices at every "highlight" play. Geez Louise! Find your own identity!

The first two rounds was a kickboxing match that Griffin took handily with the same strat he used against Rampage. But in round three, Evans caught Griffin's kick and threw him to the canvass where the tide turned immediately. Evans began to pound Griffin with some brutal rights until Steve Mazzagatti stopped the fight.

And Rashad Evans by TKO is the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champ. Great class shown by Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans.

The best post fight speeches:
Frank Mir, Forrest Griffin, and Rashad Evans!

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