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Ultimate Fighting Championship, Vol. 86: Rampage Jackson vs Forrest Griffin
First of all, in the opening prelims, we see in the background evidence of the jaded Vegas audience. Fight fans inexplicably pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in tickets but don't show up for the early fights leaving the bleachers sparsely occupied. This is also true of boxing and for the life of me I'll never understand it. To me its like buying a movie ticket and walking into the theater an hour late.
Corey Hill Vs. Justin Buchholz- Corey Hill is 6'4 and fights as a lightweight. His arms and legs appear to be about the same circumference as a Ultra Fine Point Sharpie and his ribs and spine are so defined under his skin, one imagines he could get Sally Struthers to be one of his fight sponsors. For the majority of the fight, Buchholz simply cannot solve the reach advantage that Hill naturally employs, but after reaching Hill's noggin' with a kick and thus the fight hitting the mat in the third, Buchholz submits Hill for a perfect comeback. Melivn Guillard Vs. Dennis Siver- In this basic pitting of striker versus striker, Siver is out of it from the get go, countered after a lackadaze, pawing at air jab, then after a taking a bit of a pounding, trying to lunge in with another unprotected punch. Jorge Gurgel Vs. Cole Miller- Gurgel is one of the most frustrating figures in all of MMA. Long known as a coach and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert, Gurgel fights like a brawler and mostly refuses to engage in the one area he's supposedly good at which I'm convinced is because his BJJ is great but his fight-BJJ is not. The two are very different animals. When you consider Gurgel's incorrect assumption that fight fans want to see brawling and striking over submissions, lets just say that makes the outcome of this great scrap highly ironic. Gabriel Gonzaga Vs. Justin McCully- Pretty much, Gonzaga kicks an off balance McCully and take it to the floor. While both are known for having BJJ black belts, lets just say, the way Gonzaga manhandles McCully proves his belt must have quite a deeper shade of black.
Now we get to the main card bouts. Tyson Griffin Vs. Marcus Aurelio- Not the best way to start a card. The boo birds come out early as the two men are pretty hesitant on the feet. Griffin has a wrestling background but is more prone to strike and use his wrestling to keep things on the feet or fall back on a takedown and some ground and pound to seal a round in his favor. Aurelio is a BJJ ace with almost zero stand up who has never been finished. Combine that with Griffin being able to outland, outwrestle, yet unable to dent Aurelio and you get a pretty uneventful fight. Josh Koscheck Vs. Chris Lytle- Veteran Lytle is known for his willingness to slug and Koscheck is known for his wrestling background and steady evolution into a more well-rounded fighter. Rather than engage Lytle with the brawl he desires, Koscheck repeatedly takes it to the mat where opens some nasty cuts on Lytle, making the second half of the fight a wet and gruesome horror show. Joe Stevenson Vs. Gleison Tibau- This is one of those strange fights where, despite a conclusive outcome, it really falls flat due to its quickness and the fact that Tibau just makes one casual error and falls straight into a submission. Pure technique. Not so much a matter of being out-fought as it is out-thought. Patrick Cote Vs. Ricardo Almeida- In this fight to establish either man as a legit MW title challenger, we get another one where each man's skillset is lopsided to one specific area, Cote content to strike, Almeida another BJJ wiz. Caution and conditioning are the keys that led to some crowd boo's. Cote is cautious. Almeida appears, after the first round, to be totally gassed out and unable to impose his will in any shape or form.
The main event was Forrest Griffin Vs. Quentin "Rampage"Jackson. Ultimate Fighter season one star Griffin is an affable fan favorite but his road to this title shot was a bumpy one consisting of some middling wins until he gamely took on and, surprisingly, beat top light heavy Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. "Rampage's" road was more conventional. After being acquired by the UFC, they quickly introduced him to fans with a tune-up fight and then setup a rematch with LHW champ and UFC poster boy Chuck Liddell, who "Rampage" had defeated in Pride. "Rampage" needed only one punch and one round to defeat Liddell the second time.
The fight is interesting. It begins with Jackson seemingly getting the better of Griffin, landing some powerful hooks and uppercuts that make Griffin weak knee'd and fallen. But Griffin had also landed some unchecked leg kicks that seemed to irk Jackson. The second round starts with Griffin buckling Jackson with said kick, leading to a desperation takedown shot, which Griffin stuffs and reverses, then spending the entire round busy on top advancing, controlling, looking for subs, and elbowing Jackson in the face. After trading opening rounds, the resulting decision seems to come up to a close round three and round five (Griffin clearly loses the fourth). Do you award Griffin's ring control and workrate or do you award Jackson's infrequent but powerful, stalking combinations?
Picture: The event is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen. The UFC was fairly quick to step up and deliver HD broadcasts. Details are good, from the sharpness of beads of sweat on fighters faces, to the striking color of the orange Harley Davidson sponsor logo on the cage floor to the deep black contrast of the,... uh... Harley Davidson sponsor logo on the cage floor.
Sound: Nothing much other than two language options, English and Spanish, presented in 2.0 Stereo. Crisp, clear, and dynamic as it needs to be.
Extras: A second disc of extras includes a nice round of features from the Spike tv Countdown show (39:52), Weigh-in footage (22:42), Behind the Scenes footage (26:22), and finally UFC.com Features (21:22). The Countdown show is a good look at the co and main event, equal jobs of fight context, fighter profile, and shameless shilling. The Behind the Scenes video follows Jackson and Griffin, press conference and other interviews, cutting weight, and post fight comments. The internet features offers interviews with most of the undercard fighters, pre and post fight.
Conclusion: When I originally watched this event on pay per view, I was left feeling pretty letdown. Despite the addition of the decent unaired prelims (they did add one, Gulillard-Siver, to original live broadcast), fact remains the main card wasn't highly exciting. The main event had the double-edged sword of being back-and-forth debatable. So, I'd have to say this is a purchase for die hard completeists only. Though far from being a bad night of fights, it falls largely short of competative drama and casual MMA fans probably wont be giving this one many spins.