Penn and Silva Punish in the Octagon
On Saturday, May 24, the Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to Las Vegas with a bang. UFC 84 proved to live up to its pre-event hype, and was one of the most exciting fight cards in recent memory. In a card loaded with talent from top to bottom, every aspect of mixed martial arts was exhibited in this event, proving why UFC is the most recognizable name brand of MMA.
After the debacle of buying rival Pride Fighting Championships in Japan and dissolving it, combined with new rival Elite XC and its historic basic cable deal with CBS, the UFC was backed into a corner to prove its supremacy in the realm of mixed martial arts, and they delivered.
In the main event for the Lightweight championship at 155 pounds The “Prodigy” B.J. Penn stopped former champion Sean Sherk at the end of the third round with a flying left knee that stunned Sherk, followed by a series of unanswered punches. Sherk appeared to be saved by the bell at the end of the round, however he was unable to continue and the fight was halted with Penn being the victor.
The fight plan for Sherk seemed to be a huge question mark. Sherk who is known for his incredible wrestling ability and nonstop pressing attack, decided to engage in a standup boxing match with the champion, Penn, who enjoyed at least a three-inch height and a noticeable reach advantage. This strategy proved to be futile as Sherk was continuously busted up by Penn’s jab. By the time of the stoppage Penn opened up multiple cuts on Sherk’s face with his superior striking, and he punctuated his impressive fight with a brutal finish.
The most exciting fight of the night without question was the 36-second destruction by Wanderlei Silva over Keith Jardine. The fight proved to be much more than the battle of the two best nicknames of the fight card, with Silva’s being the “Axe Murderer” and Jardine as “The Dean of Mean.” Silva’s back was against the wall heading into the fight due to his three-fight losing streak after his nearly decade-long reign as the king of the 205-pound division and arguably the best fighter in the world. Silva seemed to turn back the clock with his old ruthless style of destruction.
The old fight saying, “style makes fights” held true in this bout. Silva came out fast and furious, stunning Jardine with a series of punches standing up. He followed Jardine to the canvas, gaining a superior mount position and continued to rain down punches on Jardine as he held Jardine’s head still with a hand around his throat. The referee was forced to jump in and stop the fight, as Silva was successful in both securing a much-needed victory, and separating Jardine from consciousness. The crowd went wild and the camera showed NBA superstar, Shaquille O’Neal giving Silva a standing ovation, and WWE mainstay The Rock noticeably stunned at what he just watched.
In another meaningful bout, former UFC poster boy Tito Ortiz, seemed to make his last stand in the “Octagon,” in an unsuccessful unanimous decision loss to unbeaten contender Lyoto Machida. Ortiz’s skills as a fighter should not be questioned, rather it is his mindset that is unclear. Ortiz has had an open feud with UFC management, in particular UFC President Dana White, for the past few years. With this being his last fight on his contract, it appeared Oritz has fought his last fight in the UFC. It has become evident that Ortiz is more concerned with fame than being a successful, winning mixed martial artist.
In other notable match ups, Thiago Silva remained unbeaten with his victory over fellow Brazilian, Antonio Mendes by way of tap-out due to strikes, and former Pride Fighting standout Sokoudjou bounced back from a loss in his UFC debut to defeat Kazuhiro Nakamura by T.K.O. at the end of the first round.