UFC 151: What it was and what it could have been
UFC 151 was a disaster if you want to call it that. It was the PayPerView that never was…
Could Dan Henderson have landed the H-bomb on Jon Jones? Speculate all you want because you will never know! UFC 151 was a fairly well-rounded card. It had several good fighters, several fun fights, and a great main event between two of the best to ever do it. So, what could have possibly gone wrong? Well for starters Dan Henderson injured his knee several weeks before the cancellation but kept the injury private hoping to recover in time to compete with Jones. Instead he pulled out at the 11th hour and left the UFC without a main event just eight days out from the PPV. The UFC scrambled to find a replacement and managed to do so only for Jones to then turn down the new opponent. That opponent was Chael Sonnen and his willingness to take the fight would earn him a shot at Jones at a later date, but UFC 151 could not be saved. The UFC decided to just move forward, and they called the next PPV UFC 152 and 151 was termed a “lost show”.
Most of the fights on the card were rescheduled for later dates but the world never got the chance to see Dan Henderson vs. Jon Jones. Some blamed the UFC stating that the card shouldn’t have been so thin, while others blamed Jones and his camp for the new main event not coming together. Either way UFC 151 came and went without a single fight taking place and without a single punch being thrown.
3 Stages with Shamrock: Ortiz vs. Shamrock 1,2….and 3
Ken Shamrock was one of the first “greats” that MMA ever saw. He was a fierce grappler who defeated most of the men that he faced during his hey day in the early to mid-nineties before eventually retiring to pursue the bright lights and the big pay checks that Pro Wrestling offered. When he returned to MMA just after the dawn of the new century it was clear that he was not the same fighter that he was before his early retirement. Shamrock vs. Ortiz 1 took place in 2002. Ortiz was the reigning and defending Light-heavyweight Champion of the world. While Shamrock was 2-2 since returning to MMA and coming off a split decision loss to fellow MMA icon, Don Frye. Despite fairly even odds it was the younger Ortiz who ran away with a clear victory, dominating Shamrock with takedowns and ground and pound before forcing a corner stoppage after the third round. It was a great fight, all things considered and if it would have ended there all would have been well.
But it didn’t…
Some years would pass before the two would meet again and the two would be very different fighters when it finally did happen. In 2006 Shamrock was coming off an ACL injury and was clearly no longer a championship level contender even if his popularity was still huge. Ortiz was no longer the champion, but he was still among the elite of the division and it showed when the two fought. Shamrock was taken down early and beaten with punches and elbows from the much younger Ortiz. The fight was stopped, and Shamrock protested, the fans protested and yes…Dana White agreed.
And so that is how it came to be…Ortiz vs. Shamrock III….
Ken Shamrock was once a proud champion, but those days had passed. Ken Shamrock was still a proud fighter though, who still believed in his skills, and so he was more than happy to face Ortiz for a third time. Ortiz picked up the win in the third fight as well and afterwards the two buried the hatchet once and for all. It was a great rivalry but for odd reasons. In a way the three fights show the decline of Ken Shamrock from contender into faded veteran. Few rivalries since have generated as much attention as Shamrock and Ortiz…but its safe to say that the trilogy probably wasn’t necessary. Ortiz proved himself superior in the first fight, but money is money and those three fights sure did make a lot of it.
The Machida Era…
Lyoto Machida was an anomaly when he first entered the UFC cage. He was a traditional martial artist in a world filled with Mo-hawks and bleached blond haircuts. He had a style that most people thought wouldn’t work, and a personality that in some ways clashed with the culture of MMA at the time. He came into the UFC with an impressive 8-0 record and victories over some well-known fighters including Stephan Bonnar, Rich Franklin, BJ Penn, and K1 Star, Sam Greco. He would go on to defeat his first six UFC opponents and earned a title shot for doing so. The champion at the time was the well-known and popular Ultimate Fighter Winner, “Suga” Rashad Evans. Both fighters were undefeated and when the bell sounded, and the fight was all over it was Lyoto Machida that emerged as victor and so began…The Machida Era…
Now you might expect that the new champion, with the undefeated record and the unique style would go on to dominate his division for years to come but alas it was not to be. The first challenger to step into the cage against Machida was the former pride superstar Shogun Rua. The two fought to a close decision and though Machida emerged as victor it was clear that the riddle was getting closer to being cracked. An immediate rematch was ordered and Machida and Rua met again in a war to settle the score. What eluded Rua in the first fight was easily within his grasp in the second and he made quick work of Machida and in the process ended the short but sweet Machida era with a series of punches in the first round.
And so, it was…The Machida era came and went in the blink of an eye, but Machida remains as one of the more unique fighters to have ever competed and the god father of karate in the sport of MMA.
UFC 9: Open hands of Fury
UFC 9 holds a bit of a distinction in the history of the UFC. It is the only event in history that didn’t allow…punches…
The story goes a little something like this…UFC 9 was a major event scheduled to be headlined by UFC Superfight Champion Ken Shamrock and multi time UFC tournament Winner Dan “The Beast” Severn. But the late Arizona senator John McCain had other ideas. McCain had begun a crusade against what he referred to as the “brutal spectacle” of MMA (“No Holds Barred” or NHB at the time). McCain referred to the sport as un-American and claimed that it was far to brutal for viewers to watch. He tried convincing PPV providers to drop the sport and truly succeeded in creating a headache for the then fledging sport. The issue was still not resolved just a few hours before the show and UFC officials were actually in a Detroit, Michigan court fighting for approval until the 11th hour. The UFC was allowed to proceed with the show but only under a set of modified rules. Perhaps most notably was that the use of closed fisted punches to the head were banned…which is a bit of an issue in a combat sport. The consequence for throwing a closed fisted punch would be time in jail. So basically, the fighters were threatened with an arrest for fighting.
The result was a bit of an odd card. Punches were still thrown, and while nobody was arrested, the threat still had an effect on the card. In the years since the fight Ken Shamrock has said that he believes he could have finished Severn had he been allowed to throw punches, but the result instead was a split decision loss for “The Worlds Most Dangerous Man.” Things returned to normal for UFC 10 but John McCain’s mark on MMA is certainly an interesting topic to talk about today.
Sean Gannon: The man, the myth, the UFC fighter?
Sean Gannon was just a regular guy when he first found fame as a fighter. Gannon was a member of the Boston police force, and while that is admirable he is far better known as the first man to ever conquer Kimbo Slice. Slice was of course well known at the time for his series of YouTube street fight videos and he had built up quite a reputation as a legit tough guy. When the two met it was a war that saw Gannon emerge as the victor and with that he earned the distinction of being the only man to ever defeat Slice in one of his videos.
The notoriety gained from defeating Slice led Sean Gannon on to bigger and better things. He was featured in the media and he was also offered the chance to compete in the UFC. That’s right…defeating Kimbo Slice in a street fight led the UFC to offer Gannon the opportunity to actually compete inside the octagon. Gannon had competed before, but his record varies depending on the source though most seem to agree that he was something like 2-0 as a professional going into his UFC debut. His opponent was Brandon Lee Hinkle, who has a name like a serial killer but was in fact a solid wrestler and member of Team Hammer house. Needless to say, Gannon didn’t offer much of anything against the far more experienced Hinkle and he was soundly defeated in the first round. With that loss came the end of Sean Gannon in the UFC and as of this writing he has not competed in MMA at all since that loss.
Today Gannon maintains a bit of cult hero status and you will sometimes find him giving interviews and interacting on sites such as The Underground. His MMA career was not exactly successful but he is a prime case of being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of a situation when it was presented to him.