MMA Review: #81: UFC 15: Collision Course Mar28

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MMA Review: #81: UFC 15: Collision Course

UFC 15: Collision Course

10/17/97

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

-We open up with a recap of the Maurice Smith/Mark Coleman upset from UFC 14 that saw Smith capture the UFC HW Title from the thought-to-be unbeatable Coleman. This leads us into hype for Smith’s bout against Tank Abbott, as well as Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort, and the HW tournament.

-Your hosts are Bruce Beck and Jeff Blatnick. They explain that Tank Abbott’s taken the fight with Smith on short notice, replacing Dan Severn, and then hype the first ever televised Alternate Bouts, reminding everyone (as usual) that Alternate Steve Jennum won the UFC 3 tournament. Ha, Jennum might be arguably the worst UFC champion in the promotion’s history, but he’ll never be forgotten thanks to the circumstances.

Card is as follows – Four-man Heavyweight tournament with two alternate bouts, a Heavyweight Title eliminator between Randy Couture and Vitor Belfort, and the title bout between Smith and Abbott. Rules are the same as UFC 14 – twelve minute opening round with no overtime for the Alternates, a twelve minute opening round with a three minute overtime period in the semi-finals, and a fifteen minute opening round with a three minute overtime period in the finals and the two Superfights.

We go backstage to Joe Rogan who interviews a doctor, explaining that Dan Severn wanted to fight, but was kept out by a broken hand.

Alternate Bouts

Alex Hunter vs Harry Moskowitz

Hunter is a Jiu-Jitsu fighter who won his alternate bout at UFC 14 but wasn’t needed, while Moskowitz is a local freestyle fighter who bears a strong resemblance to the Big Show, actually, just not quite as big. Even so, he’s got a huge size advantage over Hunter.

They get underway and both press tentatively, before Hunter shoots in for a takedown. Moskowitz grabs a guillotine to block, and lifts him up as if he’s going for a DDT, but instead he lets him back down and lands a knee to break. Hunter goes for a double leg, but Moskowitz blocks it again and they go into a clinch against the fence, where Moskowitz works the body and lands a solid knee to the midsection. Hunter breaks off with a couple of big rights and tries the double leg, but Moskowitz blocks again, using more just his size than any real wrestling skill. They go back into the clinch and exchange, before Moskowitz somehow gets a standing rear choke, and pulls Hunter down, looking to finish. Hunter manages to escape though, and gets into a side mount, then gets the full mount. Moskowitz holds on for dear life but Hunter doesn’t really manage to land much, and they end up being stood with a minute to go. Both men look completely gassed, but Hunter gets a double leg to end the fight.

We’re going to the judges – pretty close fight as neither especially did too much. Hunter gets the split decision though – I’m guessing probably on the fact that he ended the fight in control. Nothing to see here really though.

Dwayne Cason vs Houston Dorr

The announcers build Cason as a good amateur wrestler who’s also related to the Spinks brothers of boxing fame, so there’s a definite possibility he could be good. No real information given on Dorr for whatever reason, it seems clear that he’s here to lose.

They begin and Cason immediately gets a takedown to guard and pummels away, but Dorr manages to tie his arms up. Cason works his way free and tries to pass the guard, but Dorr blocks, so Cason just decides to open up with the ground-and-pound in the guard, and lands a HEAVY flurry to completely knock Dorr out. Easy win for Cason there and it’s pretty clear that he’s the premier alternate this time.

Heavyweight Tournament: Semi-Finals

Mark Kerr vs Greg Stott

Kerr is of course the defending tournament champion, while Stott is a former Army Ranger who’s created his own fighting system known as RIP. I forget what that stands for but c’mon, the last guy to create his own system like that was Jon Hess, and we all remember what became of him, don’t we?

Stott comes right out with a seriously weird stance and snaps some jabs towards Kerr like he’s the Road Dogg or something, so Kerr grabs him in a quick Thai clinch and backs him off before RAMMING him in the head with a HUGE KNEE STRIKE, putting the Ranger out in 17 seconds. The announcers claim it’s the fastest KO in UFC history, but then remember Don Frye from UFC 8 and quickly retract those claims. Still, seriously fast win for Kerr against a horribly overmatched opponent. Stott is probably one of the most maligned fighters in UFC history, and rightfully so. This was, thankfully, his only appearance.

-They show interviews with Maurice and Tank ready for the main event.

Dave Beneteau vs Carlos Barreto

Barreto is another guy out of the Carlson Gracie (now Brazilian Top Team) camp, and at this point he had quite the record, with wins over Dan Bobish, Kevin Randleman and Paul Varelans in a seven-fight win streak. Beneteau was making his UFC return, with his last appearance being a loss to Dan Severn in the finals of the UFC 5 tournament.

Beneteau presses into a clinch to open, but takes a knee and some body shots as Barreto muscles him into the fence. Carlos lands a headbutt, but those were outlawed by this show and McCarthy gives him a warning. Beneteau grabs a front facelock and they exchange some knees in the clinch, with Barreto looking for a takedown. McCarthy restarts them for inactivity and Barreto gets a takedown into side mount, before spinning right over and taking Beneteau’s back with both hooks in. Beneteau looks in deep trouble as Barreto lands a hard flurry to the back of the head, then looks for the rear naked choke, but one of his hooks slips out and Beneteau manages to scramble free to his feet. They circle off and Beneteau comes forward into another clinch, where Barreto muscles him into the fence again and tries to pull guard, but he ends up sandwiched by the fence and Beneteau drops some BOMBS on him, rocking his world with nasty right hands.

Barreto somehow manages to work his way back to the standing clinch, and they come out and circle, where Barreto lands a nice low kick and then a glancing right high kick to the head. Beneteau’s had enough of the stand-up at this point, and shoots in for the takedown, but stands up pretty quickly after getting it, and they press back into the clinch. Beneteau gets a good uppercut in, and they break off and circle, before Beneteau gets the takedown to guard again. He stacks up from the top, but Barreto lands an upkick. Beneteau looks to pass the guard, but Barreto blocks and things slow down from there for a while, until Barreto goes for an armbar, only for Beneteau to pull out and stand. They restart standing, and Beneteau presses, but eats some punches on his way to securing an upper-body clinch. They muscle to the fence, but Barreto grabs hold of the fence to avoid a takedown, and McCarthy gives him a warning and breaks them up. Beneteau gets a takedown to end the opening round, staying tight, but working some short ground-and-pound to close. We’re going to overtime.

They begin the three-minute period by circling into a clinch, and Barreto forces him into the fence, and then gets a takedown to guard. He does very little from the top, though, just landing a few punches rather than really opening up with any hard shots or submission attempts. Beneteau tries the old Royce Gracie heel kicks to the kidneys from the bottom’.but apparently under the current rules that’s a foul, and McCarthy lets the judges know. The fight ends with Barreto in Beneteau’s guard. No idea who’s taking this one. And it’s…Beneteau via unanimous decision. Not going to argue with that, it was a REALLY close fight. I was expecting a stinker here as Jim at MMAReview.com had this rated as a 3 (which puts it with snoozers like Pulver/Hallman), but I actually enjoyed it a ton, and Barreto looked pretty talented at some points (despite losing the ‘D’). Good fight.

-Post-fight Joe Rogan interviews Beneteau who basically admits that Barreto was a terribly tough fight for him, and he’s unsure about whether he’ll continue on to fight Kerr later in the night.

-Vitor Belfort is preparing backstage and boy, he looks nervous as all hell. This leads us into a video package on the Brazilian Phenom.

Heavyweight Elimination Bout

Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort

Pretty legendary match here and if you’ve watched modern-day UFC you’ll know exactly how it went. Couture had won the UFC 13 HW tournament with ease, while Belfort, well, everyone knows what he’d done – blown through three opponents in a matter of a couple of minutes, looking more dominant than possibly anyone in UFC history. Both announcers pretty much agree that Couture has to get Vitor down to win, but even then it’s a grey area as (though he hadn’t been on the mat at this point) the feeling was that Vitor was a whiz on the mat, too. The idea behind the fight was that the winner would get a HW title shot at the upcoming UFC Japan show.

Belfort stalls his entrance for AGES for some reason, as the cameras go back and forth from his little rock star trailer to the Octagon, where Couture seems unfazed. Finally Vitor walks out (looking really nervous again) and it’s time to begin!~!

They circle off, and Vitor immediately looks for his big left hand, but Couture cleverly circles away from it, and then ties him up with a front headlock and tries to get him to the ground. Belfort avoids, and then tries a takedown of his own, but Couture blocks and they break off. Couture surprises the hell out of everyone by walking right forward towards Belfort rather than avoiding, and grabs an upper-body clinch, deflecting Vitor’s uppercut attempts with his forearms. They come back out, and Belfort throws the big left…but Couture counters this time and gets a takedown to half-guard! Crowd pop hugely for that one, as Randy quickly manoeuvres into side mount, not wanting to play the guard game with Vitor. Couture works a headlock from the top, and drops some punches down, but Vitor scrambles and gets guard. Randy stacks up, not landing much, but works some punches and makes Vitor work to retain the guard. Finally Couture stands, flipping Vitor right over, and grabs a front facelock, where he lands some knees to the head. They come back up into the Greco clinch, and exchange some shots, before Randy TAKES OVER with some HUGE uppercuts, snapping Vitor’s head back! They back up to the fence with Couture continuing the uppercuts, and finally Vitor goes down against the fence! Randy smells BLOOD, and drops down, landing some knees into a full mount against the fence, where he continues to pummel away, and finally the official steps in to stop it!

Announcers are just in total shock, selling it as the biggest upset in UFC history, as Couture pumps his fists to the USA chants that are going around the building, pretty much beginning his ‘Captain America’ gimmick.

What can you really say about this fight that hasn’t been said before? Not taking into account the reports that Vitor was sick coming into the fight (which would explain his peculiar look pre-fight, I guess), the key here was obviously that Couture was the first guy to come in against Belfort with a legitimate game plan. Telligman and Ferrozzo obviously had no idea what he was about, and Abbott came simply to brawl – Couture though had the idea to circle away from Vitor’s power hand while also closing him down and basically constricting him, using the clinch to prevent the lightning combos that had finished off his other opponents. The fact that Belfort’s guard wasn’t mainly offensive was probably a bonus to Randy (who probably couldn’t have known that at the time), but you’ve got to wonder too about Vitor’s conditioning, especially as he hadn’t gone longer than two minutes at this point. At any rate, this was a phenomenal performance from Couture, and one that put him on the map for good, as he went on to capture the Heavyweight title with the shot he earned here and never looked back, becoming possibly the most legendary fighter in MMA history along the way.

-We go backstage to Joe Rogan who stands by with Dave Beneteau, who explains that he’s pulling out of the tournament finals because he doesn’t feel he can compete with Mark Kerr at less than 100%. At least he’s being honest, I guess. Rogan announces that Dwayne Cason is the replacement.

Heavyweight Tournament: Finals

Mark Kerr vs Dwayne Cason

Pre-fight Blatnick mentions that Kerr’s only major losses in the Amateur Wrestling world came to ‘a guy named Kurt Angle who went on to win Olympic Gold’. Hmmm…wonder where I’ve heard that name before?

They get underway, and Kerr immediately gets a powerful double-leg takedown to half-guard, before taking a full mount and pounding away at Cason, who looks in trouble already. Cason finally turns his back to avoid the punishment, and Kerr hooks in a rear naked choke for the tapout. Easy win, as expected, from Kerr. God, it’s frightening to see how good Kerr was here (and in his early Pride career too), and what he became due to the painkiller addiction.

-A video package on Big John McCarthy plays, with a hilarious little montage of him saying ‘LET’S GET IT ON!’ about fifty times in quick succession.

UFC Heavyweight Title: Maurice Smith vs Tank Abbott

As was mentioned earlier, Abbott took this fight on short notice to replace Dan Severn, so the general consensus here seems to be that as long as Smith avoids the early barrage Tank’s sure to bring, he’ll win.

They circle to open and Smith avoids a takedown attempt (!). Tank then starts lunging with his haymakers, Smith circling and easily avoiding them. Tank finally bullies him into the fence, and they muscle around, before Tank lands a good shot, causing Smith to drop down to guard. Abbott looks to pound away, but Smith controls him nicely from his back, preventing any offense. Tank works and passes into side mount to his credit, but botches a knee-on-belly ride, and Smith gets the guard back. Tank stacks up and looks to pound away, but Smith deflects most of the shots, and then tries a kimura from the bottom. Tank avoids and works back into side mount, but Smith eventually gets guard back and lands some elbows from the bottom. He hooks a kimura in fully this time, but Abbott manages to get into half-guard and Smith can’t apply the proper pressure and Abbott works to escape, so McCarthy stands them up as things slow down. Abbott looks predictably gassed as they come up, and Smith lands three HEAVY leg kicks with Abbott staggering around, looking like he wants nothing to do with it, so McCarthy steps in and stops it there due to the lack of defense.

Predictable win for Smith there as after taking the fight on short notice, Tank had even less cardio than he normally did (which is saying something) and all Smith had to do was weather the early storm, and there was pretty much no question as to who would come out on top. Entertaining fight for the most part while it lasted, though. Aaaand, we end there.

Final Thoughts…

UFC 15 isn’t the greatest UFC ever, but it’s certainly entertaining for the most part. The tournament is nothing special unless you absolutely love Mark Kerr squashing guys who aren’t really in his league, but the main event is fun and obviously Couture/Belfort I is the most historically important fight on the show, as well as the best and most entertaining. Couture/Belfort proved once and for all I think that no fighter is invulnerable, and if you come in with the right gameplan, even a guy who’s looked completely unstoppable can be brought down. Recommended for Belfort/Couture if you haven’t seen it, but it’s not a must-see show.

Coming Soon…

Pride: 27 and 28.

UFC: 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 56, 57 and 58.

Cage Rage: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.

WFA: 1, 2 and 3.

King of the Cage: 18, 23, 30 and 32.

FFC XV: Fiesta Las Vegas

IFC: Shogun

Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

OratoryNewman@gmail.com