MMA Review: #21: UFC 25: Ultimate Japan III Jun28


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MMA Review: #21: UFC 25: Ultimate Japan III


Time for another trip to UFCs past. This time, I’m going back to 2000, and UFC 25: Ultimate Japan III – a show that featured Tito Ortiz taking on Wanderlei Silva for the vacant UFC Middleweight Title that Frank Shamrock had vacated after defeating Ortiz at UFC 22. Today, after Silva and Ortiz’ respective dominant runs in the years following this show, this fight would be considered a huge dream match. Would the outcome be the same as it was in this fight? No idea, but it’s very interesting to see them fight before they became the hugely dominant fighters they are today. Elsewhere on this card, the debut of Murilo Bustamante.

UFC 25: Ultimate Japan III


Tokyo, Japan

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Jeff Blatnick. They hype up the card, before introducing us to the backstage interviewer, James Werme, who’s with Tito Ortiz. Werme puts over Tito’s performance in Abu Dhabi (the world submission wrestling championships) as Tito pretty much confirms that he’s ready. The show is taking place in a gym in Tokyo, and it seems a lot smaller than the casinos that the UFC are using today. Like the show the UFC did in the UK, most of the fights involve US fighters against Japanese fighters.

Middleweight Fight: Laverne Clark vs Koji Oishi

According to the announcers, Caol Uno was supposed to fight LaVerne here, but couldn’t for whatever reason and Oishi ended up in his spot due to a request from Akira Shoji. Clark is actually a member of Team Miletich, although he hasn’t fought in the UFC since 2000 now. He was 2-0 in the UFC going into this one.

Clark presses to open, and Oishi tries a takedown, which Clark easily avoids. Oishi tries another shot, but Clark again avoids, this time catching him with an uppercut. Clark avoids a third takedown and clinches against the fence, where they grapple for position before coming back out. Clark tries a combo, then sprawls to avoid another takedown. He seems to find his range at this point, unloading with some good punches while avoiding another takedown. Oishi clinches to avoid more punches, trying to bring Clark down, but Clark out muscles him and works the body to end the round.

Clark presses to open the 2nd, and avoids a takedown but gets caught with another shot and ends up in the guard. Clark holds on, and forces Oishi up to his feet, then gives his back, but manages to get to his feet before Oishi can do any damage. Clark works the clinch, then they come back out where Oishi gets a takedown and gets into the full mount! Clark tries to buck him off, but can’t. Oishi doesn’t really strike from the position, though, and eventually Clark manages to force him off, and ends up in Oishi’s guard. Clark muscles him towards the fence to close.

Round Three, and Clark comes out trying to throw bombs, but Oishi gets a takedown into the guard. Clark sweeps it over into Oishi’s guard, and works the body, holding the position for the rest of the round, and hitting a couple of good combos as the round goes on. We go to the judges, and Clark gets the decision. Pretty uneventful fight on the whole.

Middleweight Fight: Ikuhisa Minowa vs Joe Slick

Slick was another member of the Miletich Team here, but upon a check of his record at Sherdog, he’s no longer a part of the team and hasn’t fought in MMA since 2000. Ikuhisa ‘The Punk’ Minowa trains with the Brazilian Top Team, according to his record.

They press to open the first round, and Minowa tries a takedown attempt, which Slick avoids. Minowa then attempts an overhead throw, but botches it, and Slick catches him in a guillotine choke. Slick gets both legs hooked in, and seems to have the hold locked in, but Minowa manages to escape. Slick gets into Minowa’s guard, and gets some shots, before coming out and grabbing a headlock. Minowa pushes him into the fence, where they clinch, and Slick blocks another takedown only to get caught with a trip and ends up on his back with Minowa in the guard. Minowa throws some elbows inside the guard and they stay there to end the round.

Both men come out in the 2nd throwing combos, and Minowa tries a takedown, but Slick reverses into a front facelock, and tries the guillotine again. Minowa escapes, and they come back up where Minowa clinches and forces Slick into the fence. Minowa gets a suplex into the side mount, but Slick manages to get into his guard before any damage can be done. Minowa works the guard, but Slick comes up, so Minowa lifts him up and hits a BACKDROP (!), only for Slick to luckily land on his shoulders rather than his head and neck. Slick grabs the front facelock, and tries the guillotine again, but Minowa escapes into the guard once more, just holding this time instead of working it, and the round ends in the guard.

Third and final round, and they exchange jabs, before Slick avoids a takedown and ends up in Minowa’s half-guard. Slick works to pass the guard, and gets into the full mount position, but for some reason chooses to go into the side mount, and hits some knees. They end up back on their feet, and Minowa fakes a punch and hits a HUGE high kick that busts Slick WIDE OPEN. Minowa gets a combo, then a takedown into the guard, but the official stops it to check the cut, and that’s all she wrote at about halfway through the third round. Damn, that cut’s one of the sickest I’ve seen before, Slick was just busted open badly. Not a really exciting fight on the whole, though.

Heavyweight Fight: Ron Waterman vs Satoshi Honma

Waterman was 1-1-1 in the UFC here, so this was really a make or break fight for him, and I believe this was his final MMA fight before briefly joining WWE’s developmental fed. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but he was apparently cut by WWE for looking too much like Scott Steiner, which I still find amusing.

Waterman circles to open, and tries a takedown which he gets, right into the side mount. Honma gives his back, but Waterman can’t get a choke in, so he just hammers away with the punches, before ending up in the half-guard. Waterman gets some good shots inside the half-guard before taking his back again, where he keeps chopping away with the punches. Waterman grabs a headlock, and gets some sick knees to the head, before coming back up. Waterman pushes him up against the fence, and keeps him there to end the round.

Waterman comes out for the second round pressing, and crawls in for a takedown, but ends up being kicked. Serves him right for trying that I guess. Waterman muscles him against the fence, and before they call a time out to fix Honma’s glove, which is coming off. They restart, and Waterman gets another takedown into the guard. Honma tries an armbar, but he’s too close to the fence to fully extend it, and Waterman escapes and passes into the side mount. He gets some hard knees to the body, and then takes Honma’s back with the Japanese fighter in the turtle position, and gets some more punches and knees. Honma gets it back to guard, and Waterman continues to work to end the round.

Final round, and they circle for most of it without getting any offense in at all. Waterman finally gets a takedown into the guard, and muscles Honma towards the fence, before working the ground and pound until the end of the round. We go to the judges, and Waterman gets the decision, unsurprisingly. This was a really dominant performance from Ron, but to be fair, Honma barely did a thing outside of the one armbar attempt, and seemed content to allow Waterman to pound him.

Middleweight Fight: Eugene Jackson vs Sanae Kikuta

Eugene ‘The Wolf’ Jackson was coming off one of the coolest KOs in UFC history – over Royce Alger – here, but he was also coming off a bad bout of the flu, and barely managed to make the fight.

They press to open the first round, with both guys looking to strike, before Jackson throws a flurry. Kikuta counters it with a takedown into the guard, but Jackson is able to get up quickly, and tries a guillotine as Kikuta puts him back down. Kikuta slams him to escape, and gets into the half-guard before passing into the mount. Kikuta holds him, and punches, while Jackson puts his arms up for some reason, risking a submission. Kikuta tries a side choke, but ends up in the half-guard, and then finally takes advantage of the position of Jackson’s arms, getting a textbook armbar for the tapout. Jackson looked completely lost here, which I guess can be blamed on his ill health going into the fight.

Middleweight Fight: Murilo Bustamante vs Yoji Anjo

This was Bustamante’s Octagon debut, but he was already carrying somewhat of a huge reputation at this point, as he’d knocked out Jerry Bohlander, and fought to a draw with the huge Tom Erickson. The announcers explain that Anjo has a pro-wrestling background. Methinks he’s doomed here.

Bustamante presses the action right away, and gets a takedown into the side mount quickly. Anjo tries to escape and manages to get up, but Bustamante takes his back, and then ends up getting another takedown into the guard. Busta quickly works to the full mount, and gets some punches in, but Anjo manages to turn him over into his own guard! Whoa, wasn’t expecting that show of skill. Anjo decides he’s better off standing, and comes up out of Busta’s guard, into the clinch. Bustamante gets another takedown into the half guard, and passes quickly into the full mount once more. He closes the round with some hard shots in the mounted position.

Round two, and Bustamante ducks a big punch, getting a takedown, and then as quick as lightning, puts on a tight side choke that causes Anjo to tap out. Good showing from Murilo for his debut, as once he got into his groove, about halfway through the first round, Anjo was clearly outclassed.

UFC Middleweight Title: Tito Ortiz vs Wanderlei Silva

Although Silva had already had quite a few fights at this point, he was only 1-1 in the UFC, with the loss being the legendary beating he took from Vitor Belfort at Ultimate Brazil. Ortiz was already well on his way to becoming a major star in the UFC thanks to his fights with Bohlander, Mezger, and Frank Shamrock, and he was looking to capture the title that had evaded him at UFC 22 in this fight.

They circle to open, with Ortiz looking for a takedown. Silva takes the initiative, and throws some punches, to which Ortiz counters with a BIG takedown into the guard. Tito muscles him around on the mat, and gets some good ground and pound, but Silva’s guard is tight, preventing any major damage. Tito keeps holding him down, stopping him from getting up, and works the body and head with shots throughout the round, then ends with a big flurry of punches. That’s a smart tactic, as it leaves an impression in the judges’ minds if the fight should go to decision.

Round Two, and Silva comes out swinging, only for Tito to avoid and DROP HIM WITH A HUGE RIGHT!~! Silva goes down face-first, trying to hold Ortiz’s leg, and Tito quickly lands some elbows with Silva in the turtle position. Tito pushes him forward into the guard, and gets a hard combo. Ortiz keeps working in the guard, but most of his shots are blocked by Silva’s arms. Tito keeps him held down anyway, staying busy to prevent a restart, and almost passes the guard but Silva manages to block the attempt. Tito keeps punching away, and ends the round with another flurry. Very good round for Tito here.

They circle to open the 3rd, and Tito shoots in for a takedown and eats a knee for his troubles. Ortiz circles, and lands a hard right, and then they go into the clinch. Back out, and Tito throws a body kick, which Silva counters with a right. They clinch again, before Silva NAILS him with a right, putting him down on one knee! Tito comes up, and RUNS ACROSS THE OCTAGON to escape, as Silva charges after him throwing a flurry, which rocks Ortiz before he manages to get a double leg into the guard. Tito’s clearly slowed down at this point, barely working the guard like he was earlier, and only really getting busy towards the end of the round. This was definitely Silva’s round, and seeing Tito run across the Octagon is pretty bizarre, to say the least.

Into the 4th now, and Tito circles to open, with Silva throwing, and missing, some kicks. Tito keeps circling, and finally Silva throws a combo that Ortiz *just* avoids, and counters with a single leg into the guard. Tito holds him down and works the ground and pound some more, but again can’t pass the guard to do any real damage. Silva’s ground defence is very good, even if he can’t actually escape from the position. Tito continues chopping away to end the round.

We enter the fifth and final round, with Tito circling to open once more. Silva throws a combo, but again Tito avoids and gets a SLAMMING takedown into a side mount. Ortiz works the position with some forearms, but Silva manages to get back to the full guard. Tito keeps working with the ground and pound, and passes to the half-guard, where Silva tries to escape back to his feet. Ortiz holds him firmly down and keeps pounding away, but Silva manages to sweep him! Silva almost gets to his feet, but Ortiz gets him back down, and continues to work the position to close the fight. We go to the judges, and the winner, by unanimous decision, is…Ortiz! Tito gets presented with the belt to close the show, wearing his classic ‘I Killed The Axe Murderer’ t-shirt to boot.

I’ve seen a lot of people say this fight was boring in their reviews, and while admittedly, it wasn’t the most exciting fight, I’d have to disagree with them. Ortiz showed a ton of skill in being able to constantly take Silva down and keep him there, while keeping busy at the same time, and it was only Silva’s good ground defense that meant the fight went to a decision. Had Tito come out with this tactic against Chuck Liddell, we might have seen a different result. When the fight was standing, it was pretty entertaining for my money, with both guys getting knockdown punches. Tito running across the Octagon, and Ortiz dropping the feared striker Silva are two images that will stick in my memory for a long time to come. I’m a Tito fanboy, yes, but hey, I enjoyed this fight a lot.

Final Thoughts…

Outside of the main event, I’d have to say that this is probably the weakest UFC show that I’ve seen yet. None of the Japanese fighters on the undercard outside of Minowa really impressed, and Bustamante was probably the lone standout from the whole of the other five matches. The main event, while I enjoyed it, could definitely be seen as somewhat slow by some people. Still, it’s an interesting show if only to see one of today’s dream matches in Silva/Ortiz. Having said that…if you can find that fight without actually picking up this show, I’d recommend you do that instead. The bottom line? This isn’t a good show, but see it anyway for Silva/Ortiz if you have to.


Scott Newman: