Sunday, May 29, 2011

4 YRS AGO FLASHBACK - KELLER'S UFC 71 REPORT 5/26: Rampage vs. Liddell, Leben vs. Starnes, Jardine vs. Houston Alexander

By Wade Keller, MMATorch Supervising Editor

MAY 26, 2007

Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan introduced the show and previewed the top matches.

1 -- CHRIS LEBEN (26, 5-11, 185, Seattle) vs. KALIB STARNES (32, 6-3, 186, Canada)

ROUND ONE: Leben bloodied Stares early under his left eye. Leben slipped on a roundhouse kick, but he recovered nicely. Leben left himself open at 4:00 after a wild spin backfist attempt. Stares took him down and threw body shots. In the last five seconds, Stares battered Leben badly against the fence. Leben was probably saved by the bell. That late flurry could give Stares the round. He celebrated after the round to try to sway judges or just because he felt good about how he ended the round.

ROUND TWO: Leben went for another spinning backfist again. Stares scored with a right to Leben's head, then took him down. Leben looked stunned by the punch, but not out. They ended back up on their feet at 2:00, although he took some punches on the ground. Both fighters appeared pretty winded by mid-round. Leben threw a flurry of punches at 4:00, but Starnes covered well enough to survive the flurry. That scored points for Leben. Nice round considered how winded they were most of the way. Close round. Edge to Leben.

THIRD ROUND: Leben roundkicked Starnes's liver. Starnes appeared to be really hurt by it. Leben took him to the mat and controlled him there. Goldberg argued that Starnes won both rounds to this point. Rogan didn't agree. Starnes flipped on top of Leben at 2:45. He stayed there to end the fight, including a flurry of hammerfists. They hugged after the fight. Leben even gave Starnes a quick kiss on the chin.

Eddie Bravo said the fight was hard to score - all three rounds. He gave first round to Starnes, second to Leben, and third to Starns. I agree.

RESULT: Starnes via unanimous decision. Judges went: 29-28, 30-27, and 28-29.

POST-FIGHT: Rogan interviewed Starnes afterward. He said he thinks Leben won the fight. Rogan asked Leben what he thought. He said "screw the judges," he judges the fight on what the fans say. He asked the fans. They booed him a little because he didn't return the graciousness that Starnes gave him. It was cool to interview both fighters together afterward. Leben grabbed Rogan's mic and said he became an uncle and told people where to party with him later.

STAR RATING (***-) - Exciting fight. They worked hard, but it wasn't a classic because it was haphazard at times or they seemed tired sooner than they should have. Good start to the show.

RAMIFICATIONS: Leben looked good enough he'll remain a main PPV card or Fight Night card fighter, but he's at risk of being the guy who tests others, but is pegged as a mid-range fighter in his division, not a title contender.

2 -- HOUSTON ALEXANDER (35, 6-0, 202) vs. KEITH JARDINE (31, 6-2, 205)

PRE-FIGHT HYPE: It's Alexander's UFC debut. Five of his six wins have come by stoppage or submission. Jardine said he's upset he's not fighting a top contender. Alexander said Jardine shouldn't make the mistake of taking him lightly. Rogan said this is an amazing opportunity for Alexander to jump up the ladder quickly.

ROUND ONE: Jardine stunned Alexander early, taking him off his feet. Alexander came back and clutched Jardine and wouldn't let him hit him again. Alexander than took Jardine out with a 20 second flurry of punches and at least one solid knee. The ref gave Jardine every chance to come back, and Jardine kept trying to stand up again. But every time, Alexander just laid in another punch or knee. Jardine was knocked out cold at the end, falling flat on his face with his mouth piece falling out. A minute later he asked his cornermen what happened. He looked devastated. Rogan went nuts, and rightfully so. That's a huge upset, but only because Alexander was untested, as opposed to proven to be mediocre. Alexander stood over Jardine's KO'd body and let out some trash talking. He was elated.

RESULT: Alexander at 0:48.

POST-FIGHT: Alexander told Rogan afterward he wasn't hurt earlier; he just slipped. He gave Jardine props, but touted his punching power during the replay.

STAR RATING (**+) - Wow. One of those really memorable knockouts with added excitement because it was such an upset, and because Jardine was cocky in the pre-fight promos about being "pissed off" he had to waste his time against a nobody like Alexander. He's not a nobody anymore.

RAMIFICATIONS: Huge setback for Jardine, obviously. Alexander showed really nice fire and power and charisma, so whatever his next test is will be an anticipated fight.

3 -- IVAN SALAVERRY (36, 6-0, 184, Toronto) vs. TERRY MARTIN (26, 5-9, 186, Chicago)

PRE-FIGHT: Tito Ortiz accompanied Salaverry. Rogan called Salaverry one of the smartest fighters. He said he's very clever at avoiding damage in fights. Salaverry hit some early inside leg kicks. Martin connected with a right and then clutched him standing. He tried to take him down. but Salaverry wouldn't go down at first. Then when he did, he dumped him on his head, threw a barrage of punches, and the ref stepped in. Salaverry didn't appear hurt afterward, but because he didn't show any fight and just kneeled there after being thrown onto his head and shoulder, it's tough to argue with the ref's decision. It was closer to an early stoppage than a late stoppage to be sure.

RESULT: Martin via ref stoppage at 2:04.

POST-FIGHT: They hugged afterward. Salaverry appeared very disappointed afterward. The crowd moaned and booed a little, thinking the stoppage was early. You always have to consider when fights are in Vegas that a lot of fans who had money on a losing fighter get disgruntled if they think a decision was controversial. Martin came across very nice in the interview afterward.

STAR RATING: (*+) - Disappointing fight only because it didn't last long and the finish was slightly indecisive.

RAMIFICATIONS: Martin looked powerful, but it had a small "fluke" aspect to it so it neither launchees Martin nor destroys Salaverry.

CELEBRITIES SO FAR: David Spade, Mandy Moore, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Criss Angel.

4 -- JOSH BURKMAN (27, 5-10, 171, USA) vs. KARO PARISAN (24, 5-10, 170, Armenia)

PRE-FIGHT: Great forehead-to-forehead staredown before the fight.

FIRST ROUND: They swung for the fences early and each landed. Karo caught a Burkman kick. Good opening minute. Things settled down for about ten seconds, then they swung for the fences again. Burkman tackled Karo to the mat at 2:30. He stood up and as Karo got up, he scored with a punch and a knee. Karo fired back with some nice punches and then a great judo throw that popped the crowd. Great battle for leverage in the final 30 seconds. Burkman worked hard to avoid the kimura by Karo. Rogan said, "Man, what a fight we have here." Close, good round.

SECOND ROUND: Rogan talked about cardio being an issue with both fighters in the past. Burkman landed a punch. Karo signalled to bring it on. Karo then scored with a couple punches. Rogan and Goldberg marvelled at Karo's improved stand-up skills. Burkman looked spent and Karo looked fresh mid-round. Rogan said Burkman's "explosive go for broke style uuses so much energy." Karo wins that round easily, although he seemed to know it and paced himself in the second round to avoid taking any chances that would put the round into doubt.

THIRD ROUND: Burkman's corner told him he had to go all out in this round to have a chance. Burkman landed a strong body blow with his right hand early, but Karo just signalled for him to bring it on. Burkamn swung wildly again, but Karro avoided iteasily. Burkman wasn't being conservative, as he continued to push the pace. They clutched against the fence at 1:00. Burkman lifted and slammed Karo who almost landed awkwardly on his arm. Burkman was on top, but Karo was working for a kimura the whole time. Burkman knew it and tried to catch his breath and hug Karo closely. Burkman complained to the ref that he was holding his glove. Mid-way they were back on their feet, but still clutching. Karo applied an armbar. Burkman held on for dear life and forced Karo to release. The final minute or so was more of a struggle for throws than punches.

Eddie Bravo gave first two to Karo and third round to Burkman, but said it was very close.

RESULT: Karo Parisan via judges' decision 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.

POST-FIGHT: Karo begged Dana White for a title shot. Rogan noted that an injury cost him his previous title shot. He said he wants the winner of Serra and Hughes.

STAR RATING (***): Good fight with a nice mix of stand-up punches, leverage battles, and submission attempts by Karo. The downside is Burkman was blown up mid-way into round two, so that slowed down the fight. It lived up to its billing, but didn't exceed it. Not a classic, must-see fight, but definitely added to the quality of what was a good show up to this point.

RAMIFICATIONS: Karo made a good case for his deserving a title shot. Burkman looked strong enough that won't drop off the map of contender matches.

5 -- DIN THOMAS (30, 5-10, 155, Delaware) vs. JEREMY STEVENS (21, 5-9, 156)

ROUND ONE: Thomas took Stevens down 30 seconds in. Thomas passed his guard a minute later. Thomas got his back at 3:30 and attempted a rear choke. Stevens slipped on top at 4:30 and went for some punches as Thomas was on his back. They were wild and Thomas stayed clam. Thomas stood upa nd went for a big punch in the final seconds. "Wow, what an end to that round," said Rogan. He was right. Thomas gets the round, but Stevens showed good resilience when in trouble

ROUND TWO: Stevens came out with good energy. Thomas mid-way through the round applied an armbar. Stevens claimed he didn't tap, but he definitely made a single tapping motion. Rogan said even if he didn't intend to tap, he was a goner because it was locked on.

RESULT: Thomas at 2:44 via submission.

POST-FIGHT: Rogan said during the replay it didn't look like he tapped, but it didn't matter. He said there was nothing stopping him from snapping his arm if the ref hadn't stepped in. Thomas said, "He probably didn't tap, but I was going to break his arm and take it home with me. Jeremy, happy birthday, brother." Thomas called out Floyd Mayweather to a fight. Really good post-fight promo by Thomas.

STAR RATING: (***-) - A nice mix of high-energy stand-up and skillful ground fighting. It's nice to have that nice of a display of ground fighting on this card since so much has been stand-up otherwise.

6 -- CHUCK LIDDELL (37, 6-2, 205, San Luis Obispo, Calif.) vs. QUINTON "RAMPAGE" JACKSON (28, 6-1, 205, Irvine, Calif./Memphis, Tenn.)

PREFIGHT: Randy Couture stuck with is prediction that Jackson would win. Rogan said Chuck looks calm and Quinton looks nervous. They showed Dan Henderson in the front row and said he's next in line.

ROUND ONE: Nice staredown before the fight. They circled and tested their spacing. Then Jackson knocked Liddell down with a right hook to the chin, then finished him with an elbow and several punches. Liddell went limp and ref John McCarthys tepped in.

RESULT: Rampage via KO in 3:00.

STAR RATING (***-): Just a huge KO for Jackson. This wasn't a three-star fight if it was two other guys, but the payoff of seeing Liddell get taken down that decisively early makes it historical.

POST-FIGHT: Rampage gave a great post-fight promo, and you knew he would. Liddell was resigned and said Jackson caught him, what else can he say. Rogan called Handerson into the ring. Rampage said they're great friend. They hugged. Rogan asked Henderson about fighting Jackson. Henderson said he's up for fighting a friend. "I'd be happy to make some money with some friend." Rampage said Henderson has a great crib and he wants one now. Rogan said he's going to make big money from here on out.

[Chuck Liddell photo by Wade Keller (c) MMATorch]


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