Monday, August 10, 2009

Fight night with the UFC

On Saturday night, I took in UFC 101, live on pay-per-view from the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.

Now, as a sports fan, I will admit I don’t know a whole lot about mixed martial arts. However, thanks to my friend Robert, owner of, we will get close to a blow by blow account, with this viewing brought to you unofficially by Miller Lite, because the host house had a ton of it on hand.

9:08 p.m. CDT: The first fight is ready to kick off between Kurt Pellegrino and Josh Neer. This fight is of local significance because Josh Neer, from Des Moines, Iowa, is being sponsored by (seen on his shirt). This could be the fight of the night, I’m told.

9:13 p.m.: Pellegrino takes Neer down with a near body slam, but the Des Moines native continues scrapping to get off his back. Neer also is already cut, only a minute into the fight. The “Let’s Go, Kurt” chant starts ringing from the near-New Jersey crowd.

9:15 p.m.: Pellegrino does a near pile driver on Neer, but Neer is still going strong. When did this dissolve into WWE?

9:16 p.m.: Neer tries a triangle when he can lock a leg over his opponent’s neck. Pellegrino slips out, however.

9:18 p.m.: Round one ends. Pellgrino has dominated for most of the round, remaining on top. Judges’ scoring coming soon.

9:19 p.m.: Round two begins. Neer tries a couple of punches, but misses. A boxing match breaks out in the city of Brotherly Love.

9:22 p.m.: The fight remains on the ground, with Pellgrino staying on top of Neer. Neer complained of a head butt a minute ago, but no go. Neer keeps looking up, but the “fight” drags on.

9:23 p.m.: Another triangle try by Neer, but no go again. Pellegrino goes for a mount, but then moves into a lock on Neer.

9:24 p.m.: Round two ends, and Neer is bloodier than ever. This hasn’t looked good for our midwestern guy, with the first two rounds likely going to Pellegrino.

9:26 p.m.: Neer is not being himself, says Robert, as he timidly approaches Pellegrino at the start of Round Three. Pellegrino promptly takes him down on the floor.

9:28 p.m.: Fans seem to be getting restless as the fight drags on on the ground, as it has all fight long. A minute and a half left, and Neer is going to need a miracle to win this one, or a knockout.

9:30 p.m.” Neer shows life for the first time all fight, and gets on top of Pellegrino for a second. The opportunity is wasted and Pellegrino has the carry against the fence as Neer pounds away as the round ends. “Neer is disgusted,” says commentator Joe Rogan. He should be.

9:32 p.m.: All judges score the fight 30-27 in favor of Pellegrino. Good riddance.

9:33 p.m.: The second fight features Ricardo Almeida and Kendall Grove.

9:36 p.m.: One thing with the MMA fighters you gotta admire is the ink work on them. Grove has the Virgin Mary on his back. Neer has his own name tattooed on his lower back.

9:38 p.m.: Former UFC light heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz is shown. He worked with Grove on the Ultimate Fighter reality show on Spike.

9:40 p.m.: Grove tries a muay thai move, throwing a knee at Almeida’s head. But they soon separate. Grove tries a kick, but Almeida catches the leg and takes him into the fence.

9:41 p.m.: Almeida grabs a leg, but can’t get a good grip to take him down.

9:42 p.m.: Grove takes Almeida to the floor, but soon finds himself on his back.

9:43 p.m.: Almeida throws a couple of knees to Grove’s ribs, but to no avail. He then slams him to the ground, but Grove’s still alive at the end of round one. Rogan says round should go to Almeida because of the takedowns. I would agree. It’s always more impressive, though, when you see a tall guy like Grove (he’s six feet six) go down.

9:44 p.m.: Current UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre is shown on the scoreboard screen, receiving a big cheer from the sold-out crowd.

9:45 p.m.: Almeida takes Grove to the ground 15 seconds. He’s going for the submission now.

9:46 p.m.: Grove turns it around, getting an arm bar and almost finishing Almeida off. He escapes and returns to pounding and wrestling Grove on the ground.

9:47 p.m.: Grove gets a body triangle around Almeida, starting to squeeze the air out of him. Almeida gets out but is definitely winded.

9:49 p.m.: Almeida goes for the mount, but misses as he continues pounding. Grove somehow manages to get up and now has both fighters standing on the fence, throwing a nice uppercut at Almeida’s chin.

9:50 p.m.: Almeida takes Grove to the ground, but Grove gets an elbow in as round two ends.

9:52 p.m.: Grove’s conditioning is starting to pay off. Almeida is dragging as Grove takes him to the ground. Grove does a hammer fist but gets up.

9:55 p.m.: Thirty seconds left and Grove is on the ground, but quickly gets up. He’s looking for the big finish. Almeida pushes him to the post, but Grove throws down a couple of elbows and punches to finish the fight off. Now waiting for the judges’ scoring. Almeida is looking like the favorite because he controlled much of the fight with several good takedowns.

9:57 p.m.: Almeida wins a unanimous decision 30-27. We thought Grove might have won the second round, but who’s to say?

9:58 p.m.: The third fight is Johny Hendricks and Amir Sadollah. Hendricks is a two-time NCAA wrestling champion and is currently undefeated in the UFC. Sadollah, a national muay thai champion, is dancing around a lot as he makes his way to the ring. Hope his conditioning is up to snuff, or he’s toast before he even gets there.

10:03 p.m.: Hendricks goes for the kill 32 seconds in as he gets in several good left uppercuts and starts pounding him on the floor. The ref steps in and ends it perhaps a little early, Rogan says. The ref says Sadollah couldn’t defend himself “intelligently” as the crowd boos (Sadollah is out of Brooklyn, N.Y.).

10:17 p.m.: Shane Nelson vs. Aaron Riley in the third fight of the night.

10:31 p.m.: The crowd starts cheering as Nelson is on top of Riley, but they’re not for them. Apparently a fight broke out in the crowd, getting everyone’s attention. Sadly, that might have been more exciting than the fight we’re watching now.

10:33 p.m.: Rogan says if Nelson wins the fight, he will “burn his headset and run naked through the crowd.” Riley is the favorite in his eyes.

10:35 p.m.: By unanimous decision 30-27, Aaron Riley is declared the winner. “No surprise,” says the commentator.

10:40 p.m. The first of the two main events of the night, Forrest Griffin versus current middleweight Anderson Silva in a non-title match at light heavyweight, coming up.

10:50 p.m.: The crowd is heavily Forrest Griffin, shouting, “Let’s go, Forrest.” Griffin goes for a couple of kicks, but misses. He’s known for landing the most leg kicks, Rogan says.

10:51 p.m.: Silva throws the right hand and knocks Griffin off balance. The American finds his way back to his feet quickly.

10:52 p.m.: Silva’s attack knocks Griffin to the ground off balance, but Griffin is back on his feet. Griffin counters with a couple of kicks. Silva works an uppercut, then keeps dropping his hands before taking Griffin to the ground.

10:53 p.m.: Silva stands back and offers to help Griffin up. He’s getting cocky very quickly here. Silva drops his hands and lets Griffin throw a couple of punches before taking Griffin out with a right jab to the cheek as he is backpedaling. The ref calls Griffin out at 3:20 of the first round and Griffin sprints for the locker room. Rogan calls this one of the “most embarrassing knockouts” he has ever seen.
(Editor's note: Sports is reporting that Griffin suffered a dislocated jaw as well as what is hopefully a temporary loss of hearing in one ear sometime during the fight, hence his quick exit after it was over.)

10:54 p.m,: Silva, up a weight class to light heavyweight, looked awesome tonight. Question of the night: Could Georges St. Pierre take on Anderson Silva? Discussion starts now as we wait for the other main event of B.J. Penn versus Kenny Florian.

10:59 p.m.: Start the movie pimping now, as the stars of the upcoming movie, “Gamer,” are interviewed.

11:09 p.m.: It’s time for the other main event: B.J. Penn versus Kenny Florian at 155 pounds.

11:17 p.m.: I noticed that the current champion B.J. Penn’s logo of “Penn State of Mind” has the same font as Penn State University. I’m waiting for the copyright infringement lawsuit to kick in sooner than later.

11:18 p.m.: Penn strikes first by catching the leg of Florian, and pins him against the fence. Penn throws an elbow as the fighters separate. The crowd shouts, “B.J.”

11:20 p.m.: Penn keeps Florian pinned against the fence, throwing several knees to Florian’s midsection. Florian scraps his way out and breaks free.

11:21 p.m.: Rogan is noticing Penn is looking tired already with about 45 seconds left in the first round and wonders if Penn’s new conditioning regime is working against him.

11:22 p.m.: Penn lands a good punch as the first round ends. Rogan says he is breathing heavily, but not too bad.

11:23 p.m.: The fighters size each other and they swap blows before Florian pins Penn against the fence. Florian throws a couple of left uppercuts to Penn’s face, but the champ is still going.

11:26 p.m.: Florian goes for a takedown, but Pen keeps fighting him off. It could be wearing Penn down, and could work in Florian’s favor in the later rounds.

11:27 p.m.: Penn lands a left hook, but Florian stands his ground. Florian counters with a couple of kicks to Penn’s left knee, trying to wear him down.

11:28 p.m.: The second round ends. Penn landed a couple of good punches, but Florian is still standing and looking fresh.

11:30 p.m.: The third round begins and this is where Penn must prove he is still the man, since he tends to wear down late in fights.

11:32 p.m.: Florian keeps Penn pinned against the fence, and Penn tries punching his way out. The fighters separate and return to full standing.

11:33 p.m.: The fighters are dancing in the middle of the ring before Florian goes for the tackle and pins Penn to the fence. Penn lands a good knee and right hand and breaks free, temporarily tying Florian up before he gets away.

11:34 p.m.: Florian keeps up his same strategy pinning Penn against the fence before the champ throws a couple of good punches to get away.

11:35 p.m. The third round ends as Florian tries to land a roundhouse kick. Penn looks like he took the third round with the last 30 seconds of punches he landed.

11:36 p.m.: Round four, and could it be desperation time for Florian? Florian attacks and almost gets caught with a Penn punch. The continued pinning of Penn against the fence might wear Penn down.

11:37 p.m.: Penn takes down Florian to the floor with a jiu-jitsu move. He keeps up the pressure with several short elbows to Florian’s head.

11:38 p.m.: Penn goes for the pass, with Florian keeping himself alive by grabbing Penn’s ankle. Penn lands more short elbows to Florian’s cheek, wearing him down.

11:39 p.m.: Penn is now going for the choke after landing several punches. He is starting to get the upper hand. So much for the conditioning concerns.

11:40 p.m.: Penn gets his chokehold set up, and Florian is out as he taps out. B.J. Penn wins and keeps his title!

11:41 p.m.: UFC chairman Dana White wraps the title belt around Penn’s waist as ring announcer Bruce Buffer announces the win.

11:42 p.m.: “This is my dream!” Penn says.

That’s all from Iowa City (via Philadelphia on pay-per-view). Thanks for reading.