Ten years ago, UFC 65 took place and MMATorch columnist Shawn Ennis presented the following Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down column on the event…
I’m trying a new feature here with “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down.” I haven’t decided exactly where I want to go with this in general, but this will be the UFC 65 edition. Let me know what you think.
Thumbs Up: Joe Stevenson. He continued to show that he is a real threat in the lightweight division with a dominating submission win over an established competitor in Dokonjonsuke Mishima. I’ll be interested to see whom he fights next.
Thumbs Down: Frank Mir. He’s gotten nary a “thumbs up” in my book since his return. I know how that sounds, but honestly I’d love to see the old Frank Mir again. A lot of Mir’s performance had to do with a knee that he took to the face, but it was lackluster just the same.
Thumbs Up: Drew McFedries and Alessio Sakara. These guys went out there and left it all in the Octagon. Thumbs way up for McFedries, who showed a lot of guts in going toe-to-toe with the heavy-handed Sakara and getting the better of him. I’m really excited to see what he does next, because very rarely are Miletich fighters one-dimensional, so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do on the ground.
Thumbs Down: Tim Sylvia. I was as surprised as anyone that Sylvia could hang with Jeff Monson on the ground. But to me, a champion isn’t content to ride out a lackluster decision. Sylvia easily could have pushed the pace late in the fight and come at Monson with strikes. The fact that he didn’t tells me that Sylvia doesn’t have confidence in himself. Forget what other people say about Sylvia. If he believed he could beat Monson, why didn’t he go after him?
Thumbs Up: Georges St. Pierre. This one, of course, goes without saying. GSP came in and took care of business and never doubted for a second that he was going to get it done. I picked him to win and I believed that he would pull it off, and I don’t see anyone that’s got a chance against him right now.
Thumbs Down: Ugly Americans. How do you boo the man who just decimated the most dominant champion in the history of the UFC? That’s not a rhetorical question. I’d really like to know the motivation. Is it because he’s Canadian? Because he has a French accent? There’s no “home team” here, people. It’s not the Olympics. There’s no Cold War, where Ivan Drago is coming here to kill Apollo Creed. I’m thrilled that the UFC is bringing in more fighters from abroad, but it’s embarrassing to have them booed for no reason other than they’re not American, or they don’t speak English. And it’s not even with everyone. Andre Arlovski is popular, for example. The “USA” chants are stupid too (again, not a team sport), but the booing people for not coming from America is much worse if you ask me.
Thumbs Up: Production of the show. The production crew for this event did a great job. You never know how long a fight will go, and when the first three fights all ended quickly, they were ready with Irvin vs. Ramirez. The pace was spot-on throughout the night, and that makes an event a lot more enjoyable to watch. The intros for each fight were well done and not overdone.
Thumbs Down: Hype for UFC 66. I thought they hyped the main event enough, but Liddell-Ortiz largely speaks for itself to a crowd that’s watching a PPV event. It was nice that they mentioned Bisping-Schaefer and Griffin-Jardine, but it was just a mention. They’ve announced more fights for the event on their website, so why not show a quick highlight reel package of the other fighters scheduled to compete? The argument can be made that there could be late scratches, but so what? Liddell or Ortiz could be scratches too.
Thumbs Up: Randy Couture. I don’t know that it’s possible to give Couture a “thumbs down” in anything. He’s improved quite a bit on commentary since his first go at it. I actually enjoyed Couture more than I usually enjoy listening to Joe Rogan. I think it’s a good move for the UFC to put him in the booth in addition (or even as opposed) to Rogan, as he has instant credibility as a former fighter (who could still probably take anyone in the 205 lb division except Liddell), whereas Rogan has instant name recognition as “the guy from Fear Factor”. Couture also seems a lot more comfortable doing the post-fight interviews than he was before.
Thumbs Down: That horrible gladiator montage at the beginning of the show. Wasn’t that there for UFC 1? I like that they run a short highlight reel of the fighters competing in the event, but the gladiator stuff has got to go.
Thumbs Up: Fight quality. With the exception of Sylvia-Monson, what a solid night of fights. There were no instant classics, but the event was well worth the price tag. It would have been nice to see some more ground action, but the action was excellent and the finishes were all definitive and satisfying.
Overall, UFC 65 gets a “thumbs up” from me. There were negatives, but they were heavily outweighed by the positives. It was a good lead-in to what should be a great December with two UFC events and one star-studded Pride event. I’ll be back next week with a look at the UFC heavyweight division.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS 10 YRS AGO FLASHBACK: 10 YRS AGO – KELLER’S UFC 65 PPV REPORT: Hughes vs. GSP, Vera vs. Mir, Stevenson vs. Mishima, Silvia vs. Monson