Sunday, September 24, 2006

UFC 63 Thoughts

Strong show. The reaction live to Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn was amazing. I think this show is going to surprise as far as buy rate, because the Royce Gracie fight had a lot bigger impact on Matt Hughes than a lot of us predicted. He was a superstar on this show. I've been to eight live UFCs at six different locations, with all the top stars (Couture, Liddell, Ortiz, Franklin, Shamrock, etc.), and Hughes got a reaction on par or better than anything I've ever heard at a UFC event. The main event was a hell of an entertaining spectacle. I thought Penn had Hughes with the triangle, and was amazed Hughes was able to survive. It was totally reminiscent of Hughes just willing himself out of a Charuto triangle a few years ago. The guy has no quit. And then Hughes was able to capitalize on his strength and better cardio and stop Penn in the third. It wasn't the best of finishes just because Hughes wasn't doing much damage, but Penn was unable to defend himself so it really did need to be stopped. It was exactly how he finished Carlos Newton in their second fight, and I'm surprised Hughes hasn't popped out the old crucifix more often. It's very effective.

As far as the rest of the card, UFC couldn't have been too pleased. The idea of Swick-Loiseau was to create Swick as a challenger to Franklin, I'm sure. They got their Swick win, but I thought both guys came out looking worse. Loiseau looked like the better fighter and it didn't seem Swick could hurt him, but Loiseau waited 12 minutes to engage and deservedly lost a decision. I don't buy Swick as a challenger to Franklin and I don't think many do. Jens Pulver also screwed up plans in losing. UFC was just overestimating his talent level in 2006 in the plans they had for him. He's good, but not good enough to be worth investing a huge promotional push in given all the other guys they could waive the star making wand over.

Rashad Evans and Melvin Guillard looked good, with Guillard looking like a menace when he has full confidence. Evans is another guy with tremendous skills but that we have to watch put it together in front of us, not unlike Josh Koscheck. Evans needs to continue to improve, but last night was a positive sign for him. Jorge Gurgel vs. Danny Abbadi was a weird fight. Abbadi did more damage, but he backed off the entire fight. There wasn't much Gurgel could do with a guy with greater reach that just wanted to back off and counterpunch. Eddie Sanchez scored an impressive knockout, but I'm not sold on him. I am sold on Tyson Griffin and Roger Huerta, and both looked good on the undercard.

Also, I can't resist this little nugget on Joe Lauzon from the highly respectable MMA Torch: " What's great about UFC is that in 48 seconds, they created a new PPV draw in less than a minute who we'll pay to see in the future to see if he's for real." You can't write intentional comedy that good. -****


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