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Sports

May 19, 2014

David Estrada column: UFC appreciates what Texas brings

PORT ARTHUR —     "Texas has been very good to us so we’re going to come back,” said UFC President Dana White during the UFC 171 Dallas post-fight press conference in March.  With that, he announced the UFC's quick return back to the state with an event at San Antonio’s AT&T Center in June.

    Dana’s statements are true; Texans have flocked to UFC events that have been held in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and even a special UFC Fight for the Troops at Fort Hood.

    To expand on Dana White’s comments about Texas being good to them, the UFC has been good to Texas, delivering memorable and even historic moments in MMA.  That was the inspiration to think back of such moments.  

    Here is a top five list of groundbreaking or memorable moments in Texas-held UFC events:

    5. MMA’s first Sports Illustrated cover: At UFC 69 Houston’s Roger Huerta battled it out with Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia.  One of the pictures from the event, a perfected-timed snapshot of Huerta kicking Garcia, made the cover of the nation’s premier sports magazine.  This May 2007 SI cover was titled “Too Brutal or the Future? Ultimate Fighting - America’s Fastest Growing and Most Controversial Sport.”

    It’s interesting that seven years later Ultimate Fighting (the UFC’s brand name for the sport of mixed martial arts) is no longer controversial.  It has surpassed boxing as the nations top combat sport.  There is an interesting side note: One can watch this bout on DVD or online and see the flash go off when this historic picture was made.

    4. Changing of the guard – Cro Cop defeated by Junior Dos Santos: UFC 103 Dallas' main event featured Vitor Belfort versus Rich “Ace” Franklin but the moment to remember was from the co-main event — Mirko “Cro Cop” versus Junior Dos Santos.  Dos Santos pummeled Cro Cop for two and a half rounds before he verbally submitted, resigning to defeat.  

    This 2009 bout marked the ascension of JDS who would later fight for and win the UFC heavyweight title.  It also marked the decline of the longtime PRIDE and K-1 kickboxing legend, Mirko Cro Cop.  

    3. The most blatant trash talk:  UFC 136 in Hoston was headlined by two UFC title bouts at lightweight and featherweight, but the event had what could be considered a third main event — a middleweight title challenger bout between Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann.  Sonnen was coming off of the improbable last- minute defeat at the hands of Anderson Silva after dominating Silva for four and a half rounds.  A victory was needed to get back on track for a rematch with Silva.

    Sonnen came through at the 2011 event by defeating Stann with an arm-triangle choke.  What transpired after the bout during the in-Octagon interview is what will be remembered.  When asked in front of the Toyota Center crowd how happy he was with his performance over Stann, Sonnen belted out “Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck!”  

    The arena erupted and the jumbotron panned to Silva who was sitting Octagon-side.  This brazen trash talk further fueled the Silva-Sonnen rivalry and eventually led to one of the greatest rematches in UFC history.

    2. UFC 166 as a whole:  This 2013 event held in Houston is widely regarded as one of the most exciting MMA events ever held from top to bottom.  The heavyweight main event rubber match between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos was one of the most riveting in years with Cain taking the 2-1 edge in bouts between them.  

    Diego Sanchez and Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez delivered in a bout turned slugfest in what many consider to be the 2013 fight of the year.  Hector Lombard and John Dodson added exclamation points with their knockout victories and Daniel Cormier demonstrated his versatility by being a heavyweight victor, Octagon-side coach for Velasquez, and Fox UFC television anchor.

    1. The greatest upset in UFC history:  To this day the improbable Matt Serra first round knockout of the then unstoppable Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69 is widely considered the biggest upset in mixed martial arts history.  The Toyota Center crowd was in a collective state of shock as the underdog Serra wobbled St-Pierre and pummeled him on the ground to end the bout.   

    Most MMA knockouts lead to fans raising their hands up and applauding.  This knockout led to fans raising their hands to their dropped jaws.

    David Estrada Jr. is a Mixed Martial Arts columnist for the Port Arthur News. He can be e-mailed at

DavidEstrada@DavidEstrada.com

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