Minute-by-Minute: UFC 65

By Jake Rossen Nov 21, 2006
Like death, taxes, and Jeff Sherwood’s appetite, you can always count on Matt Hughes (Pictures).

Until Saturday.

The most decorated champion in Ultimate Fighting Championship history had few answers for the agile, determined Georges St. Pierre (Pictures), who finally earned his coveted UFC welterweight title.

Despite the fact that St. Pierre has even less of a grasp on English than Jean-Claude Van Damme — though he’s at least as coherent as Sylvester Stallone — he’s going to emerge as a very big cross-demographic star in the coming years.

Everyone loves a winner, even if he pronounces it “wiener.”

The bout capped the UFC’s best event of 2006. In the interest of those who couldn’t pry themselves away from drunken revelry, I offer these notes.

10:00 p.m. Tim Sylvia (Pictures) opens the show by discussing his pending title bout against Ian Freeman (Pictures).

10:00 p.m. Sorry. It’s Jeff Monson (Pictures).

10:01 p.m. Gladiator Guy makes his requisite appearance to fondle dirt.

10:03 p.m. The UFC is in Sacramento’s ARCO Arena, which Google informs me is a frequent host to the NBA’s Kings, Ringling Brothers Circus, and WWE. Aren’t the latter two one and the same?

10:03 p.m. Frosty-tipped Mike Goldberg gets us riled for the main event between Matt Hughes (Pictures) and Georges St. Pierre (Pictures) by telling us that “Hughes hasn’t lost in nearly four years.” It’s actually a little less than three.

10:04 p.m. MMA’s Dorian Gray, Randy Couture (Pictures), steps into the frame, subbing for an “on assignment” Joe Rogan. Couture must be the most formidable commentator in the business. I’d like to see Larry Merchant give him some guff.

10:08 p.m. Dokonjonosuke Mishima (Pictures) shadowboxes as Goldberg busts out a proper pronunciation of his first name. Why is it always raining in these training montages?

10:10 p.m. Alistair Overeem (Pictures) has a hammer. Lee Murray (Pictures) came out dressed like Hannibal Lecter. And Mishima comes out wielding … a Snoopy plush toy.

10:11 p.m. Mishima spazzes out in the middle of the ring, posing and gesticulating like the world’s most demented traffic cop. He might be the UFC’s unofficial substitute for Genki Sudo (Pictures), who is currently getting some presumably decent coin in K-1.

10:16 p.m. Rachelle Leah is not on the ring card girl staff this evening. Incredible as it may seem, walking around in a bikini apparently leads to advancement opportunities.

10:17 p.m. Mishima escapes a tight guillotine courtesy of opponent Joe Stevenson (Pictures).

10:18 p.m. Stevenson gets another guillotine, and Mishima is all out of fight. He taps out.

10:20 p.m. Stevenson implores the partisan crowd to “Cheer for this guy!” But he’s Japanese and they’re drunk, so that’s not going to happen.

10:22 p.m. Chuck Liddell (Pictures) and Tito Ortiz (Pictures) exchange words during a preview for UFC 66. The UFC’s production truck is pulling a Kung-Fu movie: neither one’s speech is matching their lips.

10:26 p.m. Like all fighters, Frank Mir (Pictures) is forced to warm up in precipitation. His shorts are hanging so low that I avert my eyes, just in case.

10:30 p.m. Having skipped the midnight runs to Del Taco, Mir is looking a lot better than his previous appearance, though what he has left after that bike accident remains in question.

10:32 p.m. Mir’s stand-up isn’t looking too bad against sharp striker Brandon Vera (Pictures).

10:33 p.m. Vera lands a big right hand, and then feeds Mir a knee. Disregard “10:32.”

10:34 p.m. Vera pounds out a flattened Mir for the win. At this point, I’d really like to see Vera-Liddell, but it doesn’t make sense for UFC to have him drop down when their heavyweight division is so anemic. Still, Vera is carrying some excess weight. The cut should be easy for him.

10:37 p.m. The camera cuts to a prayer session “in a very quiet Hughes’ locker room,” says Goldberg, whose voice thunders through the TV speakers in the room. Smooth.

10:38 p.m. We’re informed that UFC.com visitors can “sit Octagon-side with Dana White” if they so choose. This is presuming you want running commentary that involves more uses of the f-word than a screening of “Scarface.”

10:41 p.m. Alessio Sakara (Pictures)’s dubbed interpreter says “scientifical.”

10:44 p.m. Webster.com says Sakara’s interpreter has some issues.

10:48 p.m. Sakara is in a real battle with Andrew McFedries. He’s landing some great body shots, then knocks out Drew’s mouthpiece.

10:50 p.m. Great Tanner’s Beard! Sakara inexplicably flops to his back, and McFedries ends it with punches. I imagine he hurt his leg, though I fully expect to see forum threads that accuse him of taking a dive so he can collect on the substantial underdog profits.

I’m not so sure that kind of scheme involves hitting your opponent so hard that his mouthpiece flies into the stands.

10:55 p.m. It’s the third commercial in an hour for Liddell-Ortiz II.

10:58 p.m. Hector Ramirez (Pictures)’s pre-fight verbal riff rambles a little. “A dog is in his home, the cage is like his home, and there’s another dog in your home, you gotta run him out.” Yes. Exactly.

11:03 p.m. Bruce Buffer formally announces the UFC debut of Hector ”Sick Dog” Ramirez. And we’re officially out of nicknames.

11:06 p.m. Ramirez pounds James Irvin (Pictures)’s head from the back-mount.

11:08 p.m. Irvin slips for the second time off his own high kick. Somewhere in Croatia, Mirko Filipovic (Pictures) is having a beer and laughing his ass off.

11:11 p.m. Irvin withstands quite the storm from Ramirez in round two. Hector is a “well rounded fighter out of East L.A.,” proclaims Goldberg. Doesn’t that describe anyone from East L.A. who’s still alive?

11:12 p.m. Irvin floors Ramirez with a right and starts celebrating, doing a double take when Mario Yamasaki doesn’t step in to call it. He punctuates with a kick to the ribs and some elbows to his cranium.

11:12 p.m. “And the sick dog gets put down!” All right, so Goldberg didn’t say it, but would it surprise anyone if he did?

11:13 p.m. Irvin starts crying, presumably because he won. He also may have just been handed his check.

11:14 p.m. Adult actress Brittney Skye is spotted in the crowd. Wikipedia tells me that prior to her current vocation, she designed children’s bedrooms and is “said to have been diagnosed with ADHD.” Is that all?

11:15 p.m. Now I’m looking at her filmography. Does anyone know if I’ll be able to follow “Naked Volleyball Girls 4” if I haven’t seen the first three?

11:17 p.m. Josh Barnett (Pictures) is shown holding pads for Monson. I’m reminded that the “Baby-Faced Assassin” shames virtually every UFC heavyweight except the two headliners.

11:18 p.m. Sylvia intones that he “possesses the power to make someone forget 10-15 seconds of their life.” I wonder if he can make me forget the time he admitted to pooping his pants in the ring.

11:21 p.m. Monson comes out to “Imagine,” by John Lennon.

11:24 p.m. Sylvia is met with a chorus of boos as Kanye West blares over the sound system. In a battle of entrance music, Monson’s has just triangle-choked the correct unconscious and left it to lie in its own waste.

11:25 p.m. Sylvia stands near the cage with a flag draped around his shoulders. This is ostensibly a battle of pro- and anti-Bush supporters, though nowhere near as vicious as Florida congressional races.

11:28 p.m. Monson and Sylvia loiter through the endless introductions. The tattooed Monson is capping one of the most heavily-inked cards in history. One of his arms looks to have actual prose on it. He should come with a Table of Contents.

11:30 p.m. Robert “T-1000” Patrick is in the audience. No one seems to care.

11:31 p.m. Monson’s first shot is deflected.

11:31 p.m. So is his second.

11:32 p.m. Now his third. I’m sensing a pattern here

11:33 p.m. And a fourth. This time, Monson actually struggles underneath Sylvia for a bit, trying to rein in the champ while spinning like he was doing the Curly Shuffle.

11:33 p.m. That’s five.

11:35 p.m. Sylvia misses a high kick as the bell sounds. Perfect strategy with no risk — if Monson scored a takedown off of it, he’d have no time to work.

11:37 p.m. Six, that’s six deflected takedowns, blah.

11:38 p.m. Seven. Monson’s lower-body shots are officially not working. Why not switch to some kind of clinch work?

11:39 p.m. Eight.

11:42 p.m. Nine. Round two ends.

11:42 p.m. McCarthy consults with Sylvia in his corner, admonishing him to start throwing hands with greater frequency. “Don’t listen to him,” his cornerman retorts.

11:43 p.m. Unofficial scorekeeper Eddie Bravo reports that “the first round was really close.” This is why he’s the unofficial scorekeeper.

11:43 p.m. Ten … No, wait! Monson finally hits a double-leg and winds up in Sylvia’s guard to start round three.

11:45 p.m. Monson tries a flurry, but his stout arms can’t reach Sylvia’s chin. This is both funny and sad, like most of my Saturday evenings.

11:46 p.m. Monson gets side-control. He goes for a choke, but Sylvia slips out. The big man is surprisingly elusive on the mat.

11:48 p.m. Monson has a nasty cut under his eye. Sylvia tries a couple of knees, which bully Monson down, but the round expires.

11:49 p.m. Monson’s cornerman nearly pokes his eye out with a Q-Tip.

11:51 p.m. Missed Shot number 10, though it does lead to a ground scramble.

11:53 p.m. Sylvia tries an armlock on Monson. He’s getting pretty bold. Maybe he senses Monson is too weathered to be all that dangerous.

11:54 p.m. Monson reverses and gets on top. Sylvia looks like an upended bug on his back, his rigid legs sticking straight up.

11:57 p.m. It’s round five and Monson just took his eleventh failed shot.

11:58 p.m. BJM scolds both men for passivity. Ringside, Dana White makes some phone calls to consult on the feasibility of arming referees with a cattle prod.

11:59 p.m. Twelve. If I had made a drinking game out of this, by now I would’ve been as incoherent as Ortiz usually is.

12:00 a.m. Thirteen. This has got to be some kind of record. It’s over. Sylvia will easily win a decision, four rounds to one.

12:02 a.m. Attention-starved Shonie Carter (Pictures) spouts nonsense in the crowd.

12:02 a.m. Sylvia ponders the carefully worded criticism coming from a group of respectable gentlemen near the cage, then flips the bird.

12:04 a.m. Sylvia wins a plodding decision. Republicans rejoice.

12:05 a.m. The champ thanks Xyience for his cardio. To be fair, his mettle through five rounds — both here and against Arlovski — is nothing short of amazing for someone his size.

He makes mention of Vera, who enters the ring to congratulate him. I have no idea what to expect from that fight, but I don’t see how Vera’s speed will succeed where Arlovski’s failed.

12:15 a.m. Time for the main event. Hughes follows St. Pierre to the ring. He looks ready, but I’m not sure two months is enough time to recover and peak for a fight as important as this one. He really went to war with Penn.

12:20 a.m. Mixed boos greet GSP’s introduction. This is how we repay a country that gave us Howie Mandel?

Actually, yes. I suppose it is.

12:24 a.m. Hughes eats a spinning back kick, running parallel to the one he absorbed in their first fight.

12:25 a.m. Hughes takes a kick to his package, no additional postage required.

12:25 a.m. GSP cracks him low for a second time, which puts Hughes on all fours. BJM has an extended discussion with GSP about intent, and how his leg is sliding up, and could he please try to inflict some cranial trauma next time.

12:27 a.m. Matt is continuing the very dangerous game of striking with GSP. The challenger has reach, accuracy, and quickness on his side. Hughes can’t get in close enough to measure his shot. It resembles the rematch with Penn, but St. Pierre won’t be gassing.

12:28 a.m. Hughes gets underhooks but still can’t get him to the mat. Very demoralizing.

12:28 a.m. Hughes is dazed by a flurry just as the round ends. He gets up and makes the universal hand gesture for, “Was that a stoppage?” It is not.

12:30 a.m. Round two: Hughes tries a clinch and can’t get anything from it.

12:31 a.m. The challenger launches an awesome, Johnny Lawrence-esque leg sweep that takes Hughes’ feet out from under him. I half-expect the camera to cut to a smirking Martin Kove.

12:31 a.m. GSP knocks him down and follows through with a barrage for the win.

12:32 a.m. He hugs Hughes and promises a rematch, one that probably won’t go any differently unless Hughes can muscle him to the mat early and often.

12:34 a.m. GSP is officially crowned the new UFC welterweight champion. With his win, all belts but Liddell’s have changed hands this year.

12:37 a.m. Hughes is non-committal about his future plans. I’d prefer not to see a rubber match right away. Diego Sanchez (Pictures) is on a 16-fight win streak and deserves his chance at the title — assuming he gets by Joe Riggs (Pictures).

Rather than kill Hughes’ relevance at 170, I’d like to see him move up to 185 and challenge Anderson Silva (Anderson Silva' class='LinkSilver'>Pictures) for the belt. Silva doesn’t have nearly the takedown defense of Penn or St. Pierre. It’s classic striker-grappler conflict in its purest form.

12:58 a.m. GSP is seen holding his mother on his shoulders. I’ve got the warm fuzzies — according to Brittney Skye’s Web site, it should clear up after a two-week course of Penicillin.

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