Ten years ago today, UFC 65 took place in Sacramento, Calif. The following is MMATorch editor Wade Keller’s report on the event…
UFC 65 PPV
NOVEMBER 18, 2006
LIVE FROM SACRAMENTO, CALIF.
-Mike Goldberg and Randy Couture introduced the show. Joe Rogan is “on assignment” for a comedy engagement, but will be back for the Dec. 30 show.
1 — JOE STEVENSON (24, 5-7) vs. DOKONJONOSUKE MISHIMA (34, 5-7) – Lt. Wt. (155 lbs) Division
RESULT: Stevenson via tapout early in round one.
STAR RATING: *+ — Went right to the ground, and Mishima left himself open to a guillotine. He survived it for an amazing amount of time and his face turned blue. He eventually slipped out, but twice more got caught and finally had to tap. I added the plus to the baseline one-star rating because of Mishima surviving so long in the choke. But otherwise, not much of a showing or a fight.
POST-FIGHT: Stevenson apologized to the fans for not giving them the stand-up they wanted. He said he trained for stand-up like mad, so he’s disappointed, but happy with the win. He insisted the fans cheer for Mishima because he said “he is awesome.” He also noted how hard it is to stay at 155 pounds while training.
-They showed Chuck Liddell in the front row. They hyped the Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz fight on Dec. 30.
2 — BRANDAN VERA (29, 6-3) vs. FRANK MIR (27, 6-3) — Hvt. (220-plus lb.) Division
RESULT: Vera in 1:00 via ref stoppage. Vera scored with a stright punch to the face that slipped right through Mir’s fists. He followed with a killer knee, too Mir down, and then took a half minute to decide how to finish him. He thought of an armbar or a choke, but then just pounded away at Mir’s now-bloodied face as Mir covered. The ref stopped it then, and rightfully so.
STAR RATING (**-): The punch and the knee move it into the two-star range, although barely, but the ramifications of a 7-0 up and comer destroying former heavyweight champ Mir so decisively is newsworthy enough to justify the two-star-minus rating.
RAMIFICATIONS: Vera looks like he’s rising quickly in the always-thin UFC Hvt. Division, while for Mir it’s a huge setback on his comeback. He hasn’t looked impressive since his accident.
POST-FIGHT: Vera said he was nervous and said Mir was an idol before his motorcycle accident. He said he hopes Mir comes back another day. Nice charisma and star power from Vera. If Vera becomes a top UFC star, he’s got the personality to be marketable and draw some buys.
3 — DREW MCFEDERIES (28, 6-0) vs. ALESSIO SAKARA (25, 6-0) — Lt. Hvt. (200 lb.) Division
RESULTS: Late in round one, McFederies just dropped to the mat out of nowhere, a few seconds after a stiff left uppercut. He then threw three hard kidney shots and some hard head shots. The ref stepped in. No dispute there. McFederies dominated early with a lot of punches scoring, but Sakara came back and showed some life and scored with some punches. McFederies, though, rebounded with a decisive win.
STAR RATING: **+ — Good stand-up exchanges.
RAMIFICATIONS: McFederies is one or two fights away from being seen as a legit title contender and some big purses. Sakara went down, but threw some good punches and took some good punches and has looked good enough in the past that he’ll get another chance.
4 — JAMES IRVIN (28, 6-2) vs. HECTOR RAMIREZ (30, 6-0) — Lt. Hvt. (200 lb.) Division
FIRST ROUND NOTES: The fans gave it a standing ovation as both guys banged back and forth the whole round. There was some time on the mat, but mostly stand-up punches and some big kicks. Irvin ended on the ground, covering, and perhaps thankful to hear the horn.
RESULT IN ROUND TWO: Irvin dropped Ramirez with a punch, and Irvin stepped away with his arm raised as if he won. The ref, though, didn’t stop it. So Irvin walked in and kicked his ribs and threw a few punches. Ramirez didn’t respond or defense, so the ref stepped in at 2:36 of the round.
STAR RATING: **+ — Good, wide open stand-up battle with a satisfying, decisive finishing blow.
POST-FIGHT: Irvin said he is a good friend of Ramirez, and he knew he had to keep it on the feet as he’d be in trouble on the ground. He said he sensed Razmirez was getting tired. He said he didn’t know if he should laugh or cry, he was so emotional.
5 — TIM SILVIA (30, 6-8) vs. JEFF MONSON (33, 5-9) — UFC HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH
ROUND ONE NOTES: Goldberg and Couture talked about how there is no prouder champion in UFC than Silvia. They said he went to a 7-Eleven the other day with the belt around his waist, and said rumor has it he sleeps with the belt. Silvia avoided the first takedown with a sprawl. The second time he took him down, but Silvia ended up on top and hugging him and throwing a few punches to the body. After a minute, the ref stood them up. Monson didn’t like that. They fought the final three minutes tentatively, with Monson going for some punches despite the reach disadvantage, and landed a few. Silvia didn’t look phased, but he didn’t do much damage, either. He threw a kick late in the round, but didn’t land. A soft 10-9 win for Silvia.
ROUND TWO NOTES: Silvia avoided three takedown attempts by Monson in this round. Monson looked to his corner for help or advice, as he began to lose confidence he could get Silvia down. Otherwise, tentative, measured stand-up fighting with the pace dictated by Silvia. Silvia showed momentum in the closing seconds. It appeared at this point that Silvia would either win by decision or KO, and those were the only likely finishes. Silvia 10-9.
ROUND THREE NOTES: Monson took Silvia down in the first minute. His body was wrapped between Silvia legs and he couldn’t reach Silvia’s head with any power. He tried several times to shift to a side or full mount. Silvia kept his legs around him. Monson finally gained side mount and then applied a guillotine which looked potentially lethal. Silvia slithered and twisted out of it. Monson applied another guillotine; again, Silvia escaped the same way. Really impressive, clearly something he practiced a lot. The ref checked on a Monson cut late in the round. Silvia scored after the re-start with a strong knee, taking Monson down. The round ended. Monson gets that round 10-9, easily, although Silvia was impressive showing defensive ground skills.
ROUND FOUR NOTES: Silvia ended up on top of Monson after a Monson takedown attempt. Goldberg noted that Monson’s corner seemed to have to talk him into continuing, telling him he could win. Monson sat up, and Silvia briefly had his back. Monson rolled back onto his back. Silvia went for an armbar. Monson escaped and slipped back on top of Silvia at 3:45. Silvia almost got a triangle choke, but Monson slipped out and back on top of Silvia. He appeared too gassed to do much damage. Both of Monson’s eyes looked very swollen at this point. Close round. Silvia edges him 10-9 with the apparent near submissions and, in part, because Monson just looked so much worse for wear – between his swollen eyes and spitting out his mouthpiece near the end.
ROUND FIVE NOTES: They circled each other and did nothing for the first half of the round. Ref John McCarthy called time-out, grabbed their gloves, and said, “This is a fight; let’s fight!” Monson and Silvia tapped gloves and went back to tentative circling of each other. Monson then went for a takedown. Silvia sprawled. Monson stayed on the ground. Silvia threw some kicks from standing, seemingly getting close enough that Monson could have thrown a thrust kick from the ground and taken out his knee. The ref stood Monson up. They threw a few punches to the air and Silvia threw a knee to the air. Monson landed one jab at the very end. Slow, tentative round. Maybe the edge of Silvia only because he looked and acted fresher. 10-9.
RESULT: Silvia via decision 50-45, 49-46, and 49-46 to retain the UFC Hvt. Title. The crowd booed the decision, not because they disagreed with it, but because Monson was the fan favorite during the match for some reason, and the fight itself wasn’t what the casual UFC fans would look for. The early three rounds were actually pretty fascinating, but the last two were sloppy. Silvia played it smart, though, and would have been crazy to not play it safe in those last two rounds. Too much money and prestige is on the line to risk a loss by going for the homerun.
POST-FIGHT: Silvia said he is disappointed he didn’t knock him out, but he bragged that he out-jiu-jitsu’d UFC’s best jiu jitsu fighter. Silvia said he wished Mir won tonight, so they could finish some business, but now Vera is in line, and he looked forward to knocking him out. Vera walked into the Octagon. They shook hands and hugged. Vera tapped the front of the belt. Goldberg said that would be a very different fight, and it might be next.
STAR RATING: ** — I liked those first three rounds from a human chess match standpoint, but it was more intriguing and newsworthy seeing Monson’s failures to take Silvia down and control him than exciting. The last two rounds were utterly forgettable and unimpressive.
RAMFICIATIONS: Silvia proves something by showing a good ground defense against Monson. Monson performed about how I expected he would based on past performances and the size-difference. He was winded enough that Silvia probably could have KO’d him, but he was smart not to risk it since the fight was his for the taking by just playing it safe.
-They showed Chuck Liddell chatting with Sacramento King Mike Bibby in the front row.
6 — MATT HUGHES (33, 5-9) vs. GEORGES ST. PIERRE (25, 5-10)
ROUND ONE NOTES: GSP had more energy, a real bounce to his step. He went for some low kicks, and three times Hughes grabbed at his cup. Ref McCarthy told GSP that even though he wasn’t intending to kick low, his kicks were sliding up, so watch it. GSP landed some solid punches. Hughes went for a takedown, but GSP kept on his feet. That was impressive. Hughes appeared to be saved by the bell as he went down from a hard straight punch to the upper forehead. 10-9 to GSP, who seemed sure-footed, confident, and clearly with the mental and physical momentum.
ROUND TWO RESULT: Hughes didn’t do any damage and was on the defensive, as GSP just had more speed and power and skills during the stand-up. GSP fended off another take-down attempt. GSP then scored big time with a roundhouse kick with the shin striking Hughes across the side of his head. Hughes went down. GSP followed quickly with punches and then three stiff, hard left elbows, forcing the ref to step in and stop the fight. Good stoppage.
STAR RATING (***): Historical changing of the guard or passing of the torch. It really looked like GSP was a full level better than Hughes and would have won this fight almost no matter what direction it went in.
RAMIFICATIONS: Boy, you’d love to see a rematch, so hopefully Hughes won’t retire, but if his heart isn’t in it for some reason, maybe taking some time off and letting GSP build up a few wins before returning would be okay. In any case, a rematch will draw. That was a great round and a half. I’d love to see four or five rounds like that in a rematch. GSP really looked to be a class higher than Hughes here and lived up to his own boasting that he was a different fighter than the last time Hughes fought and beat him. GSP is an exciting fighter. With him, Liddell, and Silva, UFC has three champs in the middle weight classes that people will pay to see. Silvia is still not going to carry a show on his own, and the 155 division isn’t headline-material yet, either.
POST-MATCH: I’m not sure anyone was happier to win than GSP was – and more likable in the process. He hugged Hughes afterward. Hughes likes to win, but he also seems to be okay with losing. He was relaxed and smiling afterward, as if he won. GSP was booed by the fans (which is crazy), so he promised that fans that even though he’s not from the United States, he’ll try to keep the belt in North America. Hughes said he didn’t realize the knock down blow was from a kick; he thought it was a punch. He said he’s going to take some time to assess things and decide his next move. GSP gave Hughes a pep talk and told him he would grant him a rematch and praised him as the best fighter he’s gone against.
A – SHERMAN “THE TANK” PENDERGARST vs. ANTONI HARDONK — Heavyweight Division (pretaped prelim match)
ROUND ONE RESULT: Hardonk finished Pendergarst off with a left punch to the face, and then a right kick to the left leg. Pendergarst fell into position for a snow angel on the mat, so the ref stepped in right away. Hardonk via KO at 3:15.
STAR RATING: (**-): Enjoyable slugfest.
RAMIFICATIONS: Pendergarst took the fight on short notice, so he won’t be banished for this loss. Hardonk looks like a potential contender.
-Goldberg and Couture (who has settled into color commentary nicely, improving quite a bit from his shaky early performances) closed the show with final analysis of the two title fights, and excitement about a Hughes-St. Pierre rematch in the future. And of course, they plugged the next Fight Night and PPV in December.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS FLASHBACK FROM 5 YRS AGO: Anderson Silva upset with callout by a friend, UFC 138 Spike TV ratings, GSP reveals his pay per fight