UFC 84 delivered decisive, endings absent questions
This week’s column will review last weekend’s UFC 84 event as well as preview tonight’s highly anticipated Urijah Faber versus Jens Pulver fight on the Versus television network.
Last autumn in this column it was pointed out that a majority of the fights that season had been going to judges’ decision. UFC 84 bucked that trend altogether with an incredible nine out of its eleven fights ending with submission or knockout.
With such definitive and fan pleasing endings this event ended up being one of the most exciting of the year. A side effect of the quick ending bouts meant that the viewing audience was treated to many of the preliminary fights to fill the airtime. Each one delivered excitement.
The main event of the evening, the BJ Penn versus Sean Sherk lightweight championship bout, didn’t end up being the tactical ground match that most people expected. The bout essentially became a boxing match with the two fighters trading jabs and punches for almost three full rounds.
In the waning seconds of the third round, Penn executed a perfectly timed flying knee to Sherk’s cheek that dropped him to the canvas. Penn then rained down with punches and Sherk was saved from more punishment by the round ending horn.
After referee Mario Yamasaki determined Sherk could not continue, the fight was called and BJ retained his lightweight belt with a TKO.
There’s been talk about a another possible bout between B.J. Penn and welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre. Such talk about a Penn-St. Pierre rematch is still a little premature.
Penn went up in weight two years ago only to lose to St. Pierre and Matt Hughes. The UFC lightweight division is still stacked with talented fighters like Kenny Florian and Roger Huerta. Penn has more house cleaning to do in his own house and shouldn’t be concerned with someone else’s . . yet.
In another high profile bout of the evening, the UFC brilliantly pitted decision prone, defensive, even boring fighter, Lyoto Machida against former longtime UFC champion, Tito Ortiz. Ortiz was in the last fight of this UFC contract and with his deep animosity of the UFC brass he is set to jump ship to a competing MMA organization.
Sure enough, Machida won in a decision and Ortiz left on a low note in a bout where some of the loudest crowd noise came from the referee slipping and falling in the Octagon.
Wanderlei Silva is back. After a three fight losing streak, Silva came back to winning form with an emphatic first round knockout of “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine. Jardine has gone 3-3 in his last six fights.
Although inconsistent, Jardine could have high standing in the new domestic MMA free agent market because of his win over UFC figurehead, Chuck Liddell, and knockout of the super popular Ultimate Fighter winner, Forrest Griffin.
Many upstart MMA promotions could be salivating to sign Jardine and bill him as the guy to defeat both of these UFC favorites.
Tonight at 8 o’clock, WEC 34: Faber vs. Pulver will air live on the Versus network (TWC 77, DirectTV 603, Dish 151). The Versus network may be best known to sports fans as the network that airs the NHL.
Faber, who will be fighting in front of his hometown fans at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento, will face his toughest opponent to date in former UFC lightweight champion, Jens “Lil Evil” Pulver.
After losing his last two UFC lightweight fights including one to current champion, BJ Penn, Pulver moved down to his natural weight class of featherweight where he scored a credibility victory and will now challenge Faber for his title.
The 20-1 Urijah Faber is one of the most well rounded and best pound for pound fighters in MMA today. Pulver is a veteran who has fought at the highest level and still fights like a stick of dynamite.
Tune in tonight to view what many feel could be one of the best fights of the year.
David Estrada Jr. is a Mixed Martial Arts columnist for the Port Arthur News. He can be e-mailed at DavidEstrada@DavidEstrada.com