Sylvia Retains UFC Title; Ortiz Dominates Shamrock

By Mike Sloan Jul 9, 2006
UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia (Pictures) was able to last the full five allotted rounds en route to capturing a unanimous decision win over challenger Andrei Arlovski (Pictures) Saturday evening inside a sold-out Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Sylvia was able to keep his challenger in check throughout the contest and the end result was a lackluster main event, capping off a relatively uninspiring overall event.

The one bright sport of the night, however, was Tito Ortiz (Pictures)'s dismantling of an overmatched Ken Shamrock (Pictures) in which the former light heavyweight monarch stopped his rival in the first. But even that bout fell under scrutiny, a microcosm of a dud-like and relatively dull evening of action … or lack thereof.

Sylvia and Arlovski squared off in the main event and many mixed martial arts insiders felt that the fight, like the heavyweights’ previous two encounters, would end in the first round, regardless of who would triumph.

Both fighters have weaknesses and each possess enough firepower in his hands to fell an oak tree, but instead of explosive fireworks, the sold-out Las Vegas arena was "treated" to a shower of smoke bombs and sulfur snakes.

Arlovski started off the contest peppering the taller Sylvia with vicious legs kicks, but shockingly tapered off from the effective attacks and in turn allowed "The Maine-iac" to seize control of the action. From that point forward, it was the Iowa-based fighter's battle, as his pesky jab kept the Belarusian at bay.

Questions about Arlovski’s alleged weak chin entering the contest were answered as he took Sylvia's best shots and kept coming. “The Pitbull” was able to fire back with some loopy overhand rights of his own, but he was a bit too passive to really do enough damage to steal the rounds, which were all about as close as they come. Arlovski's eyes were bloody and swollen by fight's end, but he was never in danger of being taken out.

"It looks like he went back and toughened up his chin," a victorious Sylvia joked immediately afterward. "He must have because I hit him with some clean shots. I hope I proved to everybody that I can go five rounds and that I am the best in the world."

Sylvia wound up retaining his title via official tallies of 48-47 (twice) and 49-47. Sherdog.com also had it 48-47 for Sylvia, who will now enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation following his victory over "The Pitbull."

As to where the lurching Sylvia goes from here is anybody's guess, but a rematch with former champ Frank Mir (Pictures) isn't out of the question. Arlovski might have been a little more successful had he employed a more aggressive offense, but his caution and abandonment of the legs kicks cost him.

In the co-main event, popular former 205-pound fighter Tito Ortiz (Pictures) obliterated the aging Ken Shamrock (Pictures), stopping him with a sinister elbow attack at the 1:18 mark of the opening round. Referee Herb Dean (Pictures) jumped in to rescue Shamrock after about five unanswered elbows bounced off his noggin, but the stoppage appeared a bit premature.

“I hit him with an elbow that made him go limp,” Ortiz said afterwards. “I continued to hit him with elbows and he wasn’t answering back.”

Chants of "Bullshit! Bullshit!" echoed throughout the arena, but Dean did the right thing by pulling away Tito before more unnecessary punishment could be rained down.

“He hit me with two elbows and they stop the fight,” an exasperated Shamrock said. “I hit him with three clean shots. I’m not saying he didn’t hit me with clean shots, I’m just saying they stopped the fight early.”

It was an emphatic victory for Ortiz, who hopes to land a rematch with current light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell (Pictures) early next year. But, Tito said, if Shamrock wants to do it again, he's more than happy to oblige.

And, with the official announcement of Liddell locking horns with PRIDE Fighting Championships' middleweight (205-pound) champion Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) in November, a rematch with Liddell for Ortiz might not happen when he'd like.

Shamrock seemed hopelessly overmatched once the fight began, especially after Ortiz scooped him up and slammed him down for a perfect double-leg takedown. From there, the end was just around the corner as Ortiz's strength and determination were too much the UFC Hall of Famer to overcome. Tito manhandled his arch nemesis with the ease most predicted, leaving little to the imagination in terms of drama and excitement.

Former heavyweight champion Frank Mir (Pictures) was lucky to skate past Dan Christison (Pictures), as he won a controversial unanimous decision that helped keep his sagging career alive. Mir looked lethargic and was gassed as early as the second round, but the bigger Christison couldn't finish his man off.

Mir came out hard in the third and final round and ground-and-pounded his way to easily win the final stanza. The official scores favored Mir with tallies of 29-28 on all three cards, a verdict that elicited a chorus of jeers and boos from the capacity crowd. It's unknown exactly as to where Mir goes from here, but after scoring a victory in such a manner, it's doubtful that the UFC brass will put him in against Sylvia in his next bout.

The Ultimate Fighter season two welterweight champion Joe Stevenson (Pictures) scored easily the biggest win of his career, stopping lightweight warrior Yves Edwards (Pictures) at the end of the second round.

Stevenson, who was making his lightweight debut in the Octagon, opened a nasty laceration on the side of Edwards' head, allowing the blood to cover a few square feet of the canvas. At the conclusion of the second round, the ringside physician saw fit to end the contest due to the severity of the cut, ending the fight before the third round could begin.

Much doubt surrounded Stevenson going into the contest and many felt that Edwards’ experience and deadly striking ability would be too much for "Daddy" to handle, but Stevenson looked better than he ever has.

Stevenson was able to recover quickly from a left head kick/right hook combo from Edwards early in the first, and wound up enforcing a brutal ground-and-pound tactic to score the victory.

Josh Neer (Pictures) and Josh Burkman (Pictures) squared off, and it was the slightly better Burkman who had his hand raised at the end of the fight. Both men employed a dazzling array of submission attempts, striking and takedowns, but it was Burkman who seemed to want it more. The fight was about as close as they come, but the three judges favored Burkman 29-28 (twice) and 30-27. The fight was the most exciting bout of the televised card, and it was competitive and action-packed enough to warrant a rematch somewhere down the road.
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