MMA Review: #28: UFC 34: High Voltage Sep25

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MMA Review: #28: UFC 34: High Voltage

Welcome back.

I’ve actually had this one written up in note form for about three weeks now, but didn’t get round to typing it out. At any rate, after this one, I’ll be re-doing UFC 47 in proper format (rather than the post-show review that’s in the archive) and then UFC 48 and UFC 39, before moving back to Pride for a while, which should keep me occupied until the end of 2004 at the least. Christ, this year’s gone quickly. We’re going back to the final show of 2001 with this review though, as both the Heavyweight Title and the Welterweight Title were on the line at UFC 34: High Voltage.

UFC 34: High Voltage

11/02/01

Las Vegas, Nevada

-This was UFC’s second Vegas show of 2001, following up the disappointing UFC 33. Your hosts are Mike Goldberg, Jeff Osbourne, and guesting, ‘Little Evil’ Jens Pulver. The graphic for the show’s title is AWESOME, just thought I’d point that out.

Heavyweight Fight: Josh Barnett vs Bobby Hoffman

Hoffman had recently left the Miletich camp before this fight, and doesn’t look in as good shape as I’ve seen him before. On the other hand, Barnett seems to be in better shape with every show, and after Pedro Rizzo KOd him at UFC 30, he’d armbarred Semmy Schilt at UFC 32 and was looking to get back into the title contention with a win here.

They clinch to open and Hoffman muscles him into the fence, before getting a takedown into Barnett’s guard. Josh immediately goes for a triangle, but Hoffman avoids. Barnett keeps moving his legs up and looking for submissions, so Hoffman stands to avoid. Barnett catches his arm and tries an armbar, but Hoffman escapes to the half-guard, where he tries to work some ground and pound. Barnett tries a kneebar, so Hoffman decides to stand properly this time, and Barnett gets double underhooks up against the fence. Josh gets a takedown to the half-guard and passes into full mount, so Hoffman rolls and Barnett tries an armbar. Hoffman escapes and gets into Barnett’s guard, where he tries an armbar again, and Hoffman escapes into the half-guard, where he ends the round. Hoffman’s looking really worried about Barnett’s subs.

Barnett lands a nice uppercut in the clinch to open the 2nd, and muscles him to the fence, getting a takedown to guard. Barnett moves him up against the fence and begins to pound away, landing some heavy shots. Hoffman tries to fight back with some strikes from the bottom, but Barnett keeps working the elbows and forearms, then stands, and passes to side mount. He keeps landing elbows, cutting Hoffman in the process, and Bobby desperately covers up. Barnett keeps coming, and Hoffman finally taps out with about 30 seconds remaining. Barnett pretty much dominated this fight, and he would go on to capture the Heavyweight Title with his next appearance in the Octagon.

Lightweight Fight: BJ Penn vs Caol Uno

They’re promoting this one as a fight to decide #1 Contender to Pulver’s Lightweight Title, which is what they promoted Penn/Thomas at UFC 32 as, too. I guess they felt Uno deserved another shot. Pulver is obviously a very interested spectator on commentary.

They get underway and Uno comes SPRINTING across the ring, and tries a flying kick, but Penn swiftly dodges, and comes forward with a LIGHTNING FAST COMBO that puts him down, before finishing him off with some jackhammer rights in ten seconds! Penn runs out of the Octagon and to the back to celebrate, and holy God, was that fast. Watching these old UFCs I’m beginning to understand why Pulver actually beating Penn at UFC 35 was such a big deal, I didn’t realize that Penn had been dispatching of all the top contenders in seconds beforehand. Anyhow, what with Uno’s crazy kick attempt, and Penn’s combo, you probably won’t see a more exciting ten seconds in MMA. Crazy stuff.

-We get an up close feature on Matt Hughes and Carlos Newton, who fight for the Welterweight Title next.

UFC Welterweight Title: Matt Hughes vs Carlos Newton

This was Newton’s first defense of the Welterweight Title he won from Pat Miletich at UFC 31, and it’s against a Miletich protege, to boot. Totally contrasting entrances here as Hughes comes out to Kid Rock’s ‘American Badass’, while Newton comes dancing out with a huge afro wig to Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bootylicious’, probably the most ludicrous MMA theme song I can think of.

They come forward and Newton pulls guard right away. Hughes tries to muscle him around, but Newton gets a beautiful sweep into the full mount! Newton starts to land some punches, so Hughes rolls, and manages to stand up just before Newton can get his hooks in. Hughes grabs a bodylock and gets a SLAM into side mount, but Newton works back to full guard, and then rolls him over into Hughes’ guard, escaping a guillotine choke in the process. Newton pins him against the fence, but Hughes comes up, and lands two good knees before getting a takedown to guard. Hughes lands some shots, and then ends the round with a big flurry. Great opening round.

Newton comes out for the second looking to strike, but Hughes quickly grabs him and gets a HUGE SLAM into the guard, that was awesome. Hughes tries to pound away, but Newton gets his legs up for a triangle, and manages to lock it on! Hughes can’t power out, so instead, he STANDS UP with Newton still holding the triangle on, and walks him over to the fence! Newton gets his legs really tightly locked on, holding the top of the fence, but the ref makes him let go, so Hughes props him against the cage. Hughes starts to fade, as the choke takes effect, and then he falls, hitting a SITDOWN POWERBOMB!~! on Newton as he goes, and BOTH men are out! Hughes comes round quickly, and sits up, and the official awards the match and the title to him, as Newton is still out. Hughes doesn’t realize that he’s won, but then the realization finally hits him, and he clambers over the fence to celebrate with Pulver.

Now THAT’S a fight. I’d rank this in the top ten, maybe five of all the MMA that I’ve seen, as both guys looked awesome, with Hughes busting out his slams, and Newton getting some sweet reversals on the ground. The finish is probably the craziest one I’ve ever seen in MMA, and probably the most controversial too as some felt that Newton had choked Hughes out and should’ve won, or the fight should’ve been a no-contest as both guys were out. Hughes would of course put the doubters to rest with a decisive victory over Newton at UFC 38. Classic fight right here.

Heavyweight Fight: Ricco Rodriguez vs Pete Williams

Ricco had been on a hell of a roll going into this one, 8-0 since the turn of the century, and he’d stopped a young Andrei Arlovski at UFC 32. Williams was the opposite, on a downward slide after his loss to Kevin Randleman.

Both men press with combos to open, before Ricco gets a takedown to guard. Ricco moves him into the fence, and works in the guard, as Williams looks for a submission attempt. Ricco lands some forearms, then stands, and re-enters the guard with more punches. He keeps landing, before Williams comes back up to his feet. Ricco gets another takedown, and Williams tries an armbar, but Ricco avoids. Ricco gets a ride, and Williams ends up in the turtle position before they come back up, where Rodriguez gets a single leg into the half-guard. Ricco tries a kneebar and almost gets it, but Williams somehow escapes. Back up, and Ricco grabs a waistlock, and hits a German suplex, but Williams gets it back to guard, where Ricco works to end the round.

Williams opens the 2nd by landing a punch, and Ricco goes down to guard. Williams passes to mount, and takes Ricco’s back, but Ricco rolls through into the half-guard, and lands some punches. Williams tries to stand, so Ricco grabs a guillotine and brings him down with a ride. Back up, and they clinch, where Ricco gets a takedown to half-guard, where he lands some elbows. Ricco keeps landing some brutal shots, then takes his back, and pounds away as Williams covers up, so the official stops it. Ricco is mad impressive in pretty much every fight he’s in up until the Sylvia KO. If he could get back into shape and get motivated, I think he could easily come back and dominate the HW title scene now.

UFC Heavyweight Title: Randy Couture vs Pedro Rizzo

The rematch of the fight that was voted pretty much unanimously as the best UFC fight of 2001, the general consensus was that Rizzo had to win here to stay in title contention, as he’d already lost two previous title fights. Couture comes out with the US national anthem preceding his theme (Moby’s ‘Bodyrock’), and does some salutes to the same pyro that Kurt Angle gets in a cool moment that plays up the Captain America deal.

They begin, and Randy opens with some nice leg kicks. Couture blocks a couple of combos, and they clinch, where they exchange some knees. Randy lands some punches, and they come back out where Rizzo blocks a takedown, but Couture lifts him up and puts him on the mat, into guard. Couture tries to work as Rizzo manoeuvres away from the fence. Couture lands some shoulder shots to the face, then stands, and lands some good shots from there before going back into the guard to end the round.

Round 2, and Rizzo throws some combos as they press, before settling down and looking to counterpunch. Couture clinches and gets a DRIVING TAKEDOWN into the guard, and moves Rizzo to the fence where he lands some forearms. Randy looks to pass the guard, and keeps working before getting to half-guard. Couture opens up a cut on Rizzo as he keeps landing, and they call time to check the cut, before the round closes.

Into the third, and Rizzo looks reluctant to engage. He sprawls to avoid a takedown, and Randy lands more strikes. Rizzo finally lands a leg kick that buckles Couture’s leg, so Randy comes back with a takedown and drives Rizzo right into the fence. Couture BRINGS THE PAIN, and opens up on him with some really vicious ground and pound, and the official comes in for the stoppage early in the third. Well, this wasn’t as good as the first fight, but it was more than adequate for a main event, and Couture looked AWESOME, destroying a guy who actually beat him in some people’s eyes just months before.

-We go to the announcers, who tell us that we’re going to get the prelim fights now, as everything went so quickly on the main card. Hey, I’m not complaining.

Middleweight Fight: Phil Baroni vs Matt Lindland

Yep, this is where the rivalry actually began, in a relatively low-key prelim fight in Lindland’s third, and Baroni’s first UFC appearance.

They clinch to open and exchange some shots, where Lindland works for the takedown. Baroni grabs a guillotine, and pounds away at the head, but Lindland gets him down and passes into half-guard. Lindland moves to a front facelock, and lands some knees to the body, before they come back up to their feet and Lindland gets some knees to the head. He keeps landing, but Baroni finally breaks and nails him with some heavy rights. They clinch against the fence, and come back out, where Lindland lunges with a kick, but Baroni counters and DROPS HIM WITH A LEFT! Baroni comes forward and lands some forearms in the side mount, before standing, with Lindland still down, to end the round.

They come out for the second, and Lindland grabs the clinch, but Baroni rocks him, so Lindland gets a SLAM into the side mount. Lindland lands some elbows and punches, but Baroni gets back to guard. Lindland keeps busy, dropping some heavy shots, before passing into the mount. He drops some nasty forearms, but Baroni uses the fence, and sweeps him over into guard. Baroni lands some shots, then stands, where Lindland gets a combo, and a takedown to side mount. Lindland closes the round with some nice knees to the body.

Baroni looks to strike to open the third and final round, but Lindland clinches and gets a waistlock. He lands some knees, and jumps on Baroni’s back for a choke, but only gets one hook in and can’t get it. Lindland gets into full mount, and punches away, with Baroni trying to reverse. He manages to get into half-guard, but eats more forearms for his pleasures. Lindland passes to side mount and then takes Baroni’s back, getting both hooks in, but Baroni gets a cradle and reverses, taking Lindland’s back, but Lindland then reverses THAT back into side control! Nice stuff. Lindland knees him in the head, drawing a foul, and the official stands them up, where Baroni ROCKS him with a ton of hard rights. Lindland closes with a single leg slam. We go to the judges, and in a close majority decision, Lindland picks up the win. This was a good fight, not as good as their UFC 41 effort I think, but still really solid stuff. Baroni was closer here to winning than he was at 41, for sure.

-We get a short highlight clip of Evan Tanner beating Homer Moore by armbar. Announcers are happy for Tanner because this was his first fight back after Ortiz slammed him unconscious.

Heavyweight Fight: Frank Mir vs Roberto Traven

Big pop for Mir here, who’s making his Octagon debut in his hometown. Traven’s a Jiu-Jitsu guy, so the general consensus from the announcers is that Mir will have his hands full.

Mir presses, and Traven goes down to half-guard. Back up, and they circle before Mir drops him with a combo, and comes forward right into an armbar to make Traven tap out. REALLY strong debut for Mir who just didn’t waste any time.

-Back to the announcers for a summary, and that’s that, as we close with Couture celebrating.

Final Thoughts…

This is a total blowaway show; easily one of the best UFC’s put on. Every fight’s either a vicious beatdown, really quick, or just a great war, and there’s nothing here that I wouldn’t mind seeing again. Major highlights would be Penn’s annihilation of Uno, Newton and Hughes’ first meeting, and of course Couture’s performance in the main, but Ricco Rodriguez and Josh Barnett were also really impressive, and that’s not even counting Lindland and Baroni’s first war. After starting 2001 on an awesome note with UFC 30, they closed it with arguably their best show of the year here. I’ve said it before, but 2001’s UFC shows really need a DVD release as they’re some of the best MMA action that you’ll find. I’ll see you soon for UFC 47, until then…

Peace,

Scott Newman:

OratoryNewman@gmail.com