This Day in MMA History: May 29

On May 29, 2010, the Ultimate Fighting Championship capped off a days-long fan expo in Las Vegas with UFC 114. The card was topped by a light heavyweight title eliminator between two men who had already worn UFC gold in Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson, fighting to determine who would be the next to challenge Mauricio Rua and attempt to retake the throne.

The high stakes, the personal animus built up over the time Evans and Jackson spent as opposing coaches on Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter” and the legitimately unfriendly promotional build-up to the fight, all seemed to promise a violent grudge match. However, the in-cage product that night did not deliver in the least, as the two former champs engaged in three rounds of clinching, half-hearted wrestling and increasingly sporadic boxing exchanges. A decade later, it remains one of the most infamously dull pay-per-view main events in UFC history, its only saving grace the fact that non-title main events were still only three-round affairs at the time.

No, the true highlight of UFC 114 came from the main card heavyweight matchup between Todd Duffee and Mike Russow. Going into the fight, Duffee was the division’s shiny new thing, an undefeated 24-year-old with the body of Thor who had knocked out Tim Hague in seven seconds in his UFC debut to bring his overall record to 6-0. Russow was less shiny but far more experienced. The 33-year-old police officer had won eight straight, including his own UFC debut the previous August, and was 12-1 with one no contest against much sterner competition; his lone career loss had been to Sergei Kharitonov under the Pride Fighting Championships banner. Nonetheless, most people appear to have looked at young, chiseled knockout machine Duffee, then at the paunchy and relatively unassuming Russow, and assumed the former would win easily. That includes the oddsmakers, who installed Duffee as a 3-to-1 favorite.

For two and a half rounds, the eyeball test seemed sound, as Duffee mauled Russow right out of the gate, dropping him and swarming for a near-finish. Though Russow recovered, he continued to get much the worse of the boxing exchanges, as Duffee backed him up with one-twos and some wild haymakers.

Then, a little over two minutes into the third round, Russow timed Duffee for a clean counter right to the temple. Duffee stumbled backwards and Russow stepped in to land another, nearly identical follow-up punch. Duffee fell flat to his back, out cold, but Russow was already diving in for one final blow. That legendary hammerfist, whose only real rival in the annals of major MMA is Dan Henderson’s diving forearm shiver to the chin of Michael Bisping at UFC 100, put a resounding exclamation point on one of the best comeback wins of the year. We suspect that “The R-Bomb,” as we wish people would start calling it, in absent from UFC highlight reels as a precaution in the name of decency, in case a child might enter the room and be traumatized for life.

Hammerfist of death aside, the rousing comeback extended Russow’s win streak to nine. It would reach 11 before he was finally turned away by Fabricio Werdum in a fight with UFC title implications. Meanwhile, neither Evans nor Jackson would be the next to challenge “Shogun” for the belt, as an injury to Evans allowed for Jon Jones to step in on short notice, whereupon he crushed Rua at UFC 128 and inaugurated a new era in the UFC light heavyweight division.

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