MMA Review: #79: UFC 13: The Ultimate Force Feb24

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MMA Review: #79: UFC 13: The Ultimate Force

UFC 13: The Ultimate Force

05/30/97

Augusta, Georgia

-Your hosts are Bruce Beck and Jeff Blatnick, who quickly run down the format of the show – we’ve got, like in UFC 12, dual four-man tournaments, one Lightweight (200lbs and under) and one Heavyweight (over 200lbs), along with the Superfight of Vitor Belfort vs. Tank Abbott. We take a look at the brackets for the tournaments, before going over to co-host Joe Rogan, who promises interviews and full information regarding the tournaments. Fight format is the same as UFC 12, with a twelve-minute round and a three-minute overtime period if needed in the semi-finals, with a fifteen-minute round and a three-minute overtime period if needed in the finals. Superfight is fifteen minutes with two overtime periods. No messing around on this show, they get right into the opening match.

Lightweight Tournament: Semi-Finals

Guy Mezger vs Christophe Leninger

Leninger is the Judo guy who lost to Ken Shamrock in the quarter finals of UFC 3, and the announcers are making a big deal that he lasted the longest of all Shamrock’s victims. And speaking of Ken, Leninger’s opponent here is Lion’s Den pupil Guy Mezger, in his third UFC but his first in the actual tournament rather than an alternate. And speaking of Ken AGAIN, there’s a sign in the crowd here saying ‘Shamrock sold out’, which I’m guessing is a reference to his WWF debut which would’ve happened around this time period. Leninger is sporting a horrible blue gi here, for those who care.

They begin and Mezger presses forward, looking to strike, and ends up grabbing Leninger by the gi and holding him for some short punches as Leninger tries to reply with some of his own. Leninger grabs Mezger’s trunks and really stretches them, not sure what he’s trying there, but it doesn’t last for long as he pulls guard anyway. Mezger quickly passes into half-guard and works with some short punches, before they come back to their feet. Mezger lands a good low kick and they exchange in the clinch, where Leninger trips him down, only for Guy to pop right back up. They go back into the clinch with Mezger holding the gi, and Leninger pulls an awesome move, pulling Mezger down into his guard but flipping right through into mount, but Mezger quickly reverses and gets into Leninger’s guard. Guy moves him towards the fence and works some short strikes, but things slow down a ton and McCarthy ends up standing them. Mezger works the low kicks from standing as Leninger looks tired, and Guy lands a nice head kick as he works to avoid the clinch now. Leninger looks completely gassed and pulls guard right away from the clinch, but Mezger passes right into half-guard and works some short punches, before they come back up to end the opening period. Crowd are less than happy with this one so far.

They begin the overtime period and Mezger lands kicks from range, but they go back into a clinch and Leninger lands some sloppy punches from close in. Mezger gets a headlock and lands some knees, but they go down into Leninger’s guard, and guy works some short lefts to the head, before closing off the fight with some hard knees to the face, probably the best shots of the fight actually. We’re going to the judges, where Mezger picks up the unsurprising decision. Pretty boring fight here as Leninger was very defensive and didn’t offer anything in the way of offense, which meant that Mezger wasn’t able to catch him off guard for the finish.

Enson Inoue vs Royce Alger

Alger is apparently a highly rated wrestler training with Mark Coleman out of the Hammer House, but the announcers explain that Shooto champion Inoue thinks that as a wrestler, he’s clueless about submissions. Interesting to see Enson here actually – I hadn’t realized he was in UFC at any point, to be honest.

They get underway, and Alger shoots in for the takedown right away, but Enson sprawls back and spins over into an arm scissors hold. Alger manages to escape into Inoue’s half-guard, but Enson gets full guard back quickly and controls Alger nicely from the bottom. Alger looks to land some shots, but Enson answers with some stiff punches from the bottom, before catching him with a textbook straight armbar, Alger falling onto his stomach before tapping out.

Guess Enson was right, Alger was clueless about submissions, proving quickly that not all wrestlers are as awesome in MMA as Coleman was at this point.

-We go to a Tank Abbott video package, centering around his UFC career so far and also mentioning the UFC 8 incident with Allan Goes (who’s now one of Vitor Belfort’s training partners) that saw Tank suspended from action for a while.

Heavyweight Tournament: Semi-Finals

Steven Graham vs Dmitri Stepanov

Stepanov is a Sambo/Muay Thai fighter, while Graham – who’s a huge black guy, almost 300lbs – is billed as an ‘Extension Fighter’, which is basically a hybrid of wrestling and some other techniques, apparently.

Graham comes right out and gets a nice bodyslam to side mount before Stepanov can even attempt offense, and controls him from the top. Stepanov’s clearly in trouble, and Graham simply traps the arm and works for a keylock, eventually applying it for the tapout at about 1:30 in. Total squash here as Stepanov clearly had no clue what to do on the ground.

Randy Couture vs Tony Halme

Yep, the debut of the legend. This was Couture’s MMA debut and he’s billed here as one of the world’s best Greco-Roman wrestlers, holder of numerous titles including Most Outstanding US Wrestler for 1997. His opponent, Tony Halme, strangely enough, was also known as Ludwig Borga in the WWF! The announcers immediately pick up on this and probably taking a sly knock at Ken Shamrock, mention that Couture’s been competing all his life, while the WWF is by no means a legitimate competition. Halme does have some legitimate boxing credentials though (the Finnish HW champ apparently) so I guess that’s something. It’s weird to see Randy here, before he was even known in UFC, never mind a legend. Sort of like seeing Shamrock and Gracie and Severn for the first time I guess.

Halme comes charging out of the gate to begin, but Couture ducks a punch and gets a quick double leg takedown into side mount, as Halme holds on, looking to secure some kind of neck hold. Couture quickly works himself free and controls from the top, before landing a stiff left hand that causes Halme to turn onto his stomach. Couture takes advantage, quickly spinning over onto Halme’s back and getting both hooks in, and from there he locks on the rear naked choke for the tapout.

Yeah, that was as quick and easy a debut for Couture as it sounded. Halme’s WWF experience obviously did him no good whatsoever here as Randy just took him right down and finished him off smoothly.

-They show us a UFC Flashback to UFC 7 and the victory of Marco Ruas over Paul Varelans in the tournament’s final round.

-Another video package follows, this time titled ‘Boys from Brazil’ and basically following the lineage from Royce Gracie to Marco Ruas through to Vitor Belfort (choosing to ignore less successful guys like Joe Moreira and Amaury Bitetti).

-We go to Joe Rogan who informs us that Enson Inoue is officially OUT of the Lightweight tournament, citing vision problems, and this means that the winner of the earlier alternate Lightweight bout is in. Who’s the lucky alternate, you ask? Well, they decide to show us his fight from earlier.

Lightweight Tournament: Alternate Bout

Wes Albritton vs Tito Ortiz

Billed as a ‘Street Fighter’ and pushed mainly as a Tank Abbott training partner, despite having many wrestling credentials, UFC 13 was indeed the debut show for another modern-day UFC legend ‘ Tito Ortiz. Kind of strange to think that Ortiz and Couture debuted on the same show (although Tito’s 22 here and Randy was already 34), considering the paths their careers ended up taking. It’s almost funny to see Tito here, looking *exactly* the same as he does now (albeit slightly less shredded) and already talking a good game even as an alternate. Albritton is a kempo karate expert, and it’s pretty obvious even by looking at them who’s going to win this one.

Albritton comes forward to open, closing the distance for some reason, and that plays right into Tito’s hands as he grabs double underhooks and gets a swift takedown. Ortiz lands a brutal flurry of elbows and punches, passing into a full mount along the way, before opening up with some more fast elbows. Albritton looks in trouble, and Tito tees off with some stiff lefts to the face and finally some heavy hammer-fists right on the chin, and the towel flies in there for the stoppage.

Dominating debut performance from Ortiz who looked like a complete animal in there with a totally overmatched opponent. We now return to the regular broadcast, as it’s time for the new Lightweight finals, Guy Mezger vs. Tito Ortiz.

Lightweight Tournament: Finals

Guy Mezger vs Tito Ortiz

The announcers explain that Ortiz isn’t even getting a pay cheque for his fights, as he’s fighting as an amateur. Even as an alternate here Tito was somewhat over with the crowd following his opening fight, and you can just tell by his whole demeanour walking to the ring and during the introductions that he was going to be a future star in the UFC. Some guys just have that ‘star’ aura about them, and Tito is definitely one of them.

They get underway and despite Mezger supposedly having the better striking, Ortiz comes out throwing heavy leather, causing Guy to shoot in for a takedown. Tito sprawls back to avoid the single leg, elbowing Mezger’s back, and he secures a front facelock for control. Tito lands some knees to the top of the head, then grabs a head-and-leg cradle, landing some stiff knees to the head, and suddenly it looks like Mezger taps out as McCarthy comes in to separate them. Crowd go berserk, but it turns out that the stoppage is to check a cut opened on Mezger’s head, as McCarthy audibly says that Mezger didn’t tap, he was trying to protect himself from the knees (replays later would verify this as true). Tito looks confident at this point and high-fives his corner as the doctors check Mezger over.

They decide he’s okay to go and restart, and they exchange some more strikes standing, before Ortiz shoots in for a takedown. He makes the mistake of leaving his head up, though, and Mezger secures a tight guillotine, and pulls guard, forcing Ortiz to tap out at 3:00 and crowning Mezger the Lightweight Tournament winner.

A fun little fight there that’s made more important by its historical significance, as while Mezger walked away the victor, the experience ended up making Ortiz a better fighter, and he would return to UFC just under two years later as a complete monster, taking out Mezger easily in a rematch, and well, the rest is history. Kudos to Mezger for this fight though, as he looked to be in a very sticky situation going into the cut stoppage, but somehow managed to pull the victory from the jaws of defeat.

-Joe Rogan interviews Mark Coleman on his upcoming UFC Title defense against Maurice Smith. Coleman says he’s in the best shape he’s ever been, and he’s going to ground-and-pound Smith. And by God, that sounds believable.

-Another Tank Abbott video package follows, really trying to push him as a heel who doesn’t care about the fans.

Heavyweight Tournament: Finals

Randy Couture vs Steven Graham

They show us some highlights of both men’s semi-final performances beforehand, reminding us that Couture’s at a 65lbs weight disadvantage here. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to matter…

They begin, and Couture gets a swift double leg trip down to a side mount, before manoeuvring around into the north/south position and slugging away. Graham gives his back, but blocks the choke attempt as Couture can’t get both hooks in, and Graham flips through to half-guard. Graham tries to scramble for an escape, but you don’t get out from under Randy Couture that easily, and Couture gets back into north/south and lands a knee to the head. Randy moves back to side mount and lands some more glancing punches, as the announcers start to wonder whether he can actually finish Graham off. Couture then spins through to a front facelock and lands some knees from there, before spinning over again into a back mount, this time getting both hooks in and flattening Graham out. From there he rains strikes down onto the back of the head, and McCarthy stops things there.

That was an even more dominating performance from Couture than the first one I think, as while he choked Halme out quickly, it was clear Graham was more skilled than the former Ludwig Borga. Still, he had no answer for Couture’s superior wrestling skill and once he found himself on the bottom position, there was simply no way out, and Couture’s transitioning from position to position was great. Post-fight Randy says he’s got a big Greco event coming up, and then hopefully he’ll be back in the Octagon. Definitely an impressive debut show for Couture, and as everyone doubtless knows, better was yet to come.

-Another UFC Flashback to hype the Superfight, showing Tank Abbott’s impressive performance at the Ultimate Ultimate 1996, and then following with Vitor Belfort’s destructive showing at UFC 12.

Superfight

Vitor Belfort vs Tank Abbott

I’m guessing they put this together after Abbott basically tried to dismiss Belfort’s boxing skill in his UFC 12 commentary, and boy, they really try to build it as a face/heel clash in the pre-fight promos, with Abbott talking smack while Belfort is completely respectful. The announcers explain how excited Tank is that they’ve finally found someone who’ll stand and trade with him. I’m thinking he’ll be less excited once they get underway.

Huge crowd heat for this one. They begin and Belfort gets almost a hip-toss takedown and looks for an arm, Tank manages to scramble out and gets an ankle pick that puts Belfort on his back, but then stands off and lets him come back to his feet. Back up, and Vitor lands with a stiff left into a clinch, where they exchange body shots. Suddenly Vitor breaks off and OPENS UP with LIGHTNING PUNCHES that rock Abbott, finally putting him down. Tank covers up, lying on his stomach, and Vitor gets behind him ala the Ferrozzo beating, sits him up, and starts pummelling away with heavy punches. Abbott goes back down to his stomach, covering up for dear life at this point as Vitor continues to punish him, and at 53 seconds, McCarthy’s seen enough and things are stopped there. Good lord, what a massacre.

The more I watch of the old Vitor, the more I understand why people made such a big deal out of him. Scarily fast hands, and a supposedly great ground game too – probably the most well-rounded fighter in UFC history at this point. Watching him here, even cutting his post-fight promos, he seems so’.at ease with everything, and it makes you wonder what he could’ve gone on to do had his mental state been able to keep up with his physical prowess throughout his career. Still, an awesome beatdown to cap off the show.

-We end with the announcers discussing the dominance of Belfort, as well as talking about the upcoming Coleman/Smith showdown.

Final Thoughts…

UFC 13 probably wouldn’t make any lists of the greatest MMA shows of all time, but thanks to the debuts of two of the more famous UFC stars of the modern era in Couture and Ortiz, it’s definitely one of the most historically significant. Discounting Leninger/Mezger for a second though, everything else is over within three minutes, and pretty much all of it is exciting, so if you’re a fan of quick finishes, this is definitely one of the better early shows for you. If you’re a Couture, Ortiz or Belfort completist, this gets the highest recommendation, but if not, it’s probably worth a look anyway as a piece of UFC history. Recommended show.

Coming Soon…

Pride: 27 and 28.

UFC: 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 56 and 57.

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.

IFC: Shogun

Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

OratoryNewman@gmail.com