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Articles of 2007

Bravo, PBF

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The Brit had a lot of people believing that he could topple PBF from his P4P throne.

And through the first six or so rounds on Saturday evening in Las Vegas, it didn't seem wildly implausible that Hatton's rough and tumble style could do the job that 37 other men couldn't do.

But then his stamina lagged slightly, and PBF went into another gear, a gear that nobody else in the game possesses. He had sized up his foe, saw what he brought to the table, and dug into the task of putting another '0' in his row.

And then he did something that his detractors, and there are legions of them, and I have been a most vocal one at times, have faulted him for. He looked to close the show, in decisive fashion, with the exclamation point that removes the possibility of buffooning judges. He dropped a sweeping left hook to the Brit's chin, sending him to the anti-Wonderland, and hopped on Hatton with a climactic flurry that had referee Joe Cortez (who earned his purse, separating the clingy twosome every 20 seconds) halting the one-sided assault.

Then, PBF did his best work of the night, in my opinion. He acted not like Youtube Floyd, Rapper Wannabee Floyd, Money Mania Floyd.

He acted like a gentleman, like a class act, like a role model for a kid from a broken home situation like he muddled through.

He went over to Hatton consoled him, told him he was still a champ in his eyes. He was similarly humble talking to old foe Larry Merchant post-fight, and made certain to laud Hatton for being a consummate pro. He could've talked smack, say I told you so, dissed the naysayers whose hopefulness, whose distaste for the Money Mayweather persona, triumphed over stats and facts, when they gave Hatton a chance at dethroning P4P PBF.

He didn't, and he behaved in a manner that fight fans, all fight fans, not just Floyd Fanatics, can embrace.

Bravo, PBF.

Bottom line, this superfight was far more satisfying for me than the May 5 PBF/Oscar tangle. It was $55 fairly well spent, and as long as this model exists, that's basically all I can ask for, as a fan.

REWATCHING, WITH TIVO
With the benefit of the trusty TiVO, I saw that Floyd's backward stumble in the first possible came as a result of a foot-tangle, most likely, not from the force of Hatton's short right/leaping left hook combo platter. Thus, while I thought that juncture may have tipped the round to Ricky, in retrospect, PBF probably grabbed it with an edge in telling blows.

In the second, to me another close round, during my re-watch, I saw that Floyd was slipping some shots that I thought had landed more cleanly on first watch. It is possible that on first watch, I was overly impressed with Hatton's hand speed, and aggressiveness, and was overly inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

In the third, the first time around I was inclined to call it a draw, as both men were engaged in too many armbars for my liking. But it turns out PBF landed several clean straight rights, enough to take the round, IMO. On first watch, I had it 2-1 Hatton, like Lederman… now, with TiVo, I had PBF up, 3-0. Sorry, Hatton-ites.

I first noticed a slight deterioration in Hatton late in the fourth, during my re-watch. He was eating too many hard rights, and he began to plunge and lunge forward, and PBF landed a vicious right-left-right trio that had Hatton backtracking. If you study Floyd's fights, I do believe the fourth round is when he typically has finished up his scouting work, and gets down to nitty-gritty bidness. Same thing here.

The fifth was mostly mucho mauling, you could've given it to Hatton without much of a fuss. I say yes, because this was when Floyd's forearm foolishness picked up pace. 4-1, PBF,  on my card now.

Now, the sixth, the point deduction round. TiVo shows Ricky hitting PBF behind the head,  shoving PBF toward the ropes and then clubbing him as his head was in between the top two rungs, with his back to Hatton. Cortez yanked Hatton away as Freddie Blassie whacked PBF with his cane…I mean, as Floyd extricated himself, and then the ref took a point away from Hatton. This looked like the point where Hatton became frustrated with his inability to land clean on one of the fight games' all-time best defenders, and he let it overwhelm him.

He indicated to Cortez that PBF had turned his back, and then a bit later complained about the forearm situation. Instead of attending to what he could control, he began to fixate on, and blame, an outside source. There weren't too many clean blows evidenced, but those that were,  were mainly Floyd's. 10-8, PBF. But it was tight, could've gone to Hatton, as Merchant had it. Lederman had it 3-2-1 Hatton now, and gave the sixth to the Brit, for a 57-56 Hatton card.

The Brits were still rockin' to start the seventh, doing the Wonderland chant. Their buzzes never wear off, it seems. The round was just about all chin to chin infighting, and almost no power punches thrown…until the 10 second mark, when Floyd landed a snappy left hook-right hand hand follow that gave the judges the nod to give him the round. THAT'S a lesson in stealing a round, y'all. 6-1 PBF to my eyes.

PBF landed his most telling, jarring blow to this point a minute in to the eighth. It was a lead right, thrown a second after he jabbed to the gut to get Hitman to drop his hands, and the crowd roared as Hatton's head snapped back violently. PBF landed almost the same left hook that spelled the end for Hatton in the tenth with 42 seconds to go in the eighth and came REALLY close to ending it at this point. PBF is a master at knowing when a foe is ready to go, when he's in that mental mode, and his hands aren't hurting him and he can comfortably set down on his shots. When I run boxing, and fix the points system, I'd score that round 10-8 1/2 PBF, because the margin was wider than 10-9, but there was no knockdown. The end is near, it is clear, for Hatton. Cortez saw that, coming to his corner, telling the team that he wouldn't let Hitman eat an excess of wallops.

PBF fought the ninth with a strategy that I think could've worked well if he committed to it the whole way through–he moved, and jabbed, moved and jabbed and Hatton was two steps behind him continually. 8-1 PBF with an extra point for the foul. And, those Hatton-ites were still game, doing the Wonderland chant after the ninth. Their stamina was a step up from Ricky's, even.

The safe fell on Hatton's head at the 1:58 mark of the tenth, with that “Check Left Hook” (or is it spelled Czech?) that Floyd unleashed as he slid to his left, as Hatton readied a left hook that never left the holster. Ricky banged his noggin into the corner post, and was up at eight on Guinness legs.

Floyd rocked another left hook, solid, then another, even more solid, a right to the nose, and Hatton tried to slide right, to safety. Cortez was already smothering Mayweather, as Ricky slid to the mat, dazed and downed, for the first time, by the best in the business. The end, as the ref waved his hands to signify that he wouldn't let Hatton even try to rise again.

And still, the Brits chanted Wonderland.

“I love all the fans that came from the UK, I love all the American fans,” PBF then told Merchant, with his right arm draped around Larry. “Ricky Hatton is one tough fighter, he's still a champion in my eyes and I'd love to see him fight again.”

“Ricky Hatton is probably one of the toughest competitors I ever faced, he kept coming, I hit him with some big shots, some big body shots,  but he kept coming, I see why they call him the Hitman. He's one helluva fighter.”

Then, Floyd told Merchant that he came in to this one wanting to step it up, as “a few fights ago, I gave the fans a couple of dull fights, but I wanted to come back with spark and a lot of energy, so that's what we did tonight.”

Class act, bravo PBF.

SPEEDBAG I was surprised at some of the venom aimed at Joe Cortez. Lord, he had an unenviable task. Both men were grabbing each other greedily. The ref called time and convened the ruffians at 1:50 of the second, and at :31 of the same round,  what else was he to do, I figured. But then I saw PBF whack Ricky on the back of the head, when Hatton's back was turned. And then he broke the two while Hatton's hands were free, which is one of the beefs the pro-Hatton, ant-Cortez crew had. Also, Cortez never did get a handle on Floyd's illegal usage of his forearms, did he? That said, hard task, imperfectly handled, c'est la vie.

—And regarding chopsbusting towards Preacher Graham, I can't say either way. HBO needed a translator to interpret for the non-Brits.

–PBF says he wants to promote now. Cotto and Mosley, he pointed out, are both great champions, but he will take a vacation in the near future. Then he said he's fought the best in the world, has nothing left to prove, and again mentioned the promotional sphere. I say the public is craving a fight with Cotto, and come springtime, PBF will get the itch again. He's amassed 50 mill in these last two fights, but you don't hear the same cheers when win in the gambling arena as you do in front of 20,000 in Vegas. We'll see PBF in the ring, in 2008, is my guess.

–I was very disappointed to hear that Golden Boy yanked a credential from Mike Marley's writer, saying that they didn't like some of the coverage they've gotten on Marley's site. The press is allowed to furnish their opinion, and Oscar is free to disagree with those opinions. But once a promoter starts yanking credentials because they don't like the coverage, we start moving in to dangerous territory, towards censorship. I've not had great like communicating with Golden Boy (phone calls and emails going unreturned) in the past, so I hope they reassess how they want to do business with the press, and improve on that front. Marley is correct, the websites are pulling their weight and then some in promoting the sport. For instance, the NY Times didn't send a writer to this event, and instead used AP copy.

Are there as many trained journalists now covering boxing as before? No. Could some of the writers use some basic training in the principles of solid journalism? Yes. I can see how some people would get irked that so many rumors get reported without being checked, and people without journalism training have the ablility to be heard far and wide. It is incumbent on us to report truthfully. But Oscar De La Hoya should publicly take a stand against the credential issue, now. That sort of behavior is beneath him, and his company.

Boxing fans should know that we are moving towards a crucial fork in the road of coverage. Many of the websites, to stay in business, must accept advertising from the promoters. Oscar even owns Ring magazine, the oldest and most respected boxing print publication, and that creates the potential for a severe conflict of interest. These arrangements can affect the ability of reporters to report freely, without fear of retribution, or loss of one's job.

Marley is from the old school; he's a real reporter, whose primary interest is the truth. If you guys want that, and I believe you do, let Golden Boy know.

Articles of 2007

Pavlik Or 'Money': Fighter of the Year Is…

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There’s nothing like the terror felt when you have a big black bear snarling and snorting and hunting you down, eager to stuff your tender head into his mouth, to make you run as fast as you’ve ever run.

Thanks, Dana White, aka the big black bear.

Thanks for waking up the semi-slumbering powers that be, and forcing them to acknowledge that boxing needed to step up its game, or be eaten alive, and shifted even further back in the sports world’s relevance race, in 2007.

With UFC threatening to snarf up those much lusted after PPV dollars, the suits went into overdrive, and worked smarter, and harder, to give fans compelling matchups.

They agreed to get along to get money, and they relegated the sanctioning bodies, with those moronic mandatories, and instead listened to you, the consumer, and booked the fights that made sense.

Nobody worked smarter or harder than the PR arms for HBO, and “Money” Mayweather, the artist formerly known as Pretty Boy Floyd. Through his appearance on the ABC reality dance competition “Dancing with the Stars,” and stubbornly effective marketing by HBO (24/7 before the De La Hoy and Hatton showdowns were masterful mini-movies which whet appetites of even non fight fans), “Money” emerged as a pay per view attraction who can take the baton as the premier earner from Oscar De La Hoya.

He transcended the sport, and boxing added another player to the mix of fighters that even non-fight fans in the US recognize the name of. Now there’s Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, and Floyd Mayweather…

Boxing, a sprawling mess of interests lacking a central organization that insures cohesiveness in marketing, and message, and mission, relies on a central figurehead to maintain its precarious perch in the mainstream sports information flow. Mayweather, a savvy marketer who has outgrown his periodic outbreaks of youthful indiscretions, is a superstar that fits our age to a T.

He knows exactly what buttons to push to keep his name in the papers-—or, more accurately today, on computer screens—and feeds us rabid presshounds of negativity and turmoil red meat, with his intra-familial beefs and 50 Cent-inspired rants proclaiming his peerlessness.

The only thing holding Mayweather back is his own talent, probably, as he owns too much of it. He blew out De La Hoya, and Hatton, and like Roy Jones in his heyday, he so dominates his opposition, that drama is missing from his fights. Most of us tune in to the sport to savor the drama that comes from one man reaching deep into the well of heart and guts to bring forth reserves even he didn’t know he possesses, and imposing his will on an opponent who had been imposing his will upon him. That sort of drama, as manufactured by the late Diego Corrales, is the variety that the sweet science can deliver like no other sport.

We saw it in excess in 2007, from my personal choice for 2007 Fighter of the Year, Ohio’s Kelly Pavlik.

He dug into his well, after getting knocked to the floor in the second round of his tussle with middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, and refused to lose.

All of us could apply his tenacity in staying on his feet, and roaring back to topple Taylor with a furious flurry in the seventh round of their Sept. 29 battle, in our own lives. We all could identify with, and root for, the TSS Fighter of the Year.

One could argue that Mayweather, with ultra high profile wins over De La Hoya and Hatton, who did as much as anyone to keep the sport relevant in the last 12 months, deserves the TSS FOTY honor. As referenced before, maybe his superior level of talent has set the bar too high for us nitpickers. We may be prone to be too hesitant to bestow praise on Floyd, because he makes it look too easy. Sorry, Money, it’s possible you are being penalized for just being too damned good. You certainly are the runaway frontrunner for Fighter of the Decade…

Pavlik, we didn’t know how good he was coming in to this year. We knew how good his promoter, Bob Arum, thought he was. But we reserved judgment, unwilling to make too much of wins over Lenord Pierre and Bronco McKart. We became believers, to a point, when the Ohio native showed boxing skill and a closer’s mentality with his January win over Jose Luis Zertuche (KO8), and true believers with his dominant march over Edison Miranda (TKO7), the heavily hyped Colombian who was no match for the Youngstown hitter’s work rate in their May match.

But we still withheld a measure of respect before Pavlik met Taylor, the middleweight king, in Atlantic City. Maybe we had been burned by (not as great as we were led to believe) white hopes in the past, and were worried that hype and marketing were his greatest attributes as a boxer. The respect came pouring forth when he stayed on his trembling legs in the second round of his September scrap with Taylor, and intensified when he closed the show with a KO crack in the seventh.

The fighter has to be rewarded for staying the course, and not allowing himself to be knocked off the title path since turning pro in 2000, and progressing at a sometimes snailish pace, and sticking with his no-name trainer Jack Loew even though some experts urged him to trade Loew in for a flashier model, and battling frail hands, and getting pinched for slugging an off-duty cop in 2005.

Pavlik’s rise in 2007 came the old fashioned way, via training his tail off, and staying on message mentally, and rising to the occasion when the situation offered a softer, easier choice.

There was no mega marketing machine bombarding our short attention spans with a campaign to make Kelly Pavlik into the torchbearer for the sport in 2007.

But the 2007 leg of his march to prominence reaffirms the best of what the sport has to offer, and reminds us that with talents like Pavlik, the sweet science will never crumble into obsolescence.

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Articles of 2007

Resolution Time For Harold Sconiers

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When Harold Sconiers of Tampa, Florida, looks in the mirror these days he doesn’t see the journeyman heavyweight with a 15-17-2 (10 KOs) record that most other people do.

What he sees is the dynamic, hard-hitting heavyweight who made it to the finals of the 1996 Olympic Trials, and began his pro career with six straight knockouts and one decision victory.

Since being stopped in the first round by then undefeated Bermane Stiverne, who had won all nine of his fights by knockout, in February 2007, Sconiers has completely reassessed his life and career.

He has come to understand what transformed him from an exciting amateur and fledgling young pro with seemingly limitless future to a nominal heavyweight who had at one point lost 10 fights in a row.

Now aligned with a new manager, David Selwyn of New York, he plans on utilizing that newfound knowledge to embark on what he believes will be the comeback story of 2008.

“I always knew I had a lot of talent, but I never let that talent completely develop,” said the 31-year-old Sconiers, who has lost to such notables as Clifford Etienne, Maurice Harris, Donovan “Razor” Ruddock, David Defiagbon, DaVarryl Williamson and Eric Kirkland.

“I had a lot of different problems, but my biggest problems were self doubt and self sabotage. I would do things to make sure I never rose above a certain level.”

During his intensive, exhaustive and brutally honest re-examination of himself, he chose to forego all of the negative aspects of his career and instead focus only on the positive. Through lots of reading and candid discussions with his former trainer Larry Berrien, he went about changing the mindset that made him so comfortable with losing.

The first thing he did was look at his complete record from a totally different perspective. Rather than just dwell on the losses, Sconiers lauded himself for beating six previously unbeaten or once beaten fighters. Among them was Ray Austin, who was 14-1 at the time and later challenged Wladimir Klitschko for the heavyweight title.

He also fought Edward Escobedo, who was 12-1, to a draw, and lost a split decision to Ruddock, who has always been a formidable ring presence.

When he examined his 10 fight losing streak, he realized that his opponents had a combined record of 164-32-8. Of the 32 losses, Harris, who had revitalized his once dismal career in much the same way Sconiers hopes to, had incurred 10 of them.

And the always competitive Sherman Williams, accounted for another 10, which means eight other opponents had only 12 losses between them. Several were undefeated at the time they faced Sconiers.

“Losing to all of those guys gave the boxing world the perception that I was washed up and just didn’t care anymore,” said Sconiers. “I realized I had to change that perception, and the only way to change it was to change my old habits and my old ways of thinking, dissect everything I’d been doing wrong, and working really hard to establish a new belief system.”

Tapping deep into his own psyche, Sconiers came to realize that much of his lack of self worth was rooted in childhood issues. As a kid he had a passive personality, and both of his parents were college graduates who held what he calls high ranking positions in the corporate world.

He was bright enough to skip grades in school and he scored high on IQ tests. In no way was he destined to become a boxer. His parents had told him on many occasions that he would be well-suited as psychiatrist or attorney.

His life changed when his father held a Mike Tyson fight party at the family home. To say that Sconiers was mesmerized would be a gross understatement.

“I was instantly locked in,” said Sconiers. “I told myself that I have to do this.”

Sconiers ventured to the Frontline Outreach Gym in Orlando, where he met Antonio Tarver, who was roaring through the amateur ranks en route to the 1996 Olympics. Because Tarver was a few years older than Sconiers, he became a surrogate big brother to him. To this day, Sconiers has the utmost respect for Tarver as both a fighter and a friend.

During Sconiers’ amateur career, which consisted of 77 fights, of which he lost 9, his mother continuously reminded him that, in her opinion, “boxing was for dummies.”

Still, he managed to win a silver medal in the 1996 U.S. Nationals, where he beat eventual Olympic representative and future heavyweight title challenger Calvin Brock, as well as the finals of the 1996 Olympic Trials. In that tournament he lost to Williamson and Lamon Brewster.

When his pro career began to get derailed, the young and immature Sconiers blamed everyone but himself for his shift in fortune.

“I thought the problem was outside me, and thought everyone was responsible but me,” he said. “I dumped Larry in order to self-manage myself. I left what had always kept me grounded. Some of the fights I lost I could or should have won. There’s no way I should have lost to Etienne, but all I did was show up. The Ruddock fight should have been mine.”

As Sconiers lost interest and motivation, he also began dabbling in drugs and alcohol. More times than not, he would take fights on short notice. Even if he had time to train, he never cared if his opponents were switched or where he was lacing them up. Resigned to the fact that he was just fighting for money, he didn’t train hard, if at all.

He’d also pick up a few dollars working as a sparring partner for the likes of Etienne, Shannon Briggs, Jameel McCline, Larry Donald and Kirk Johnson, but the passion was gone. Many of those fighters, as well as their trainers, told Sconiers to snap out of his trance because he was a lot better fighter than he gave himself credit for.

While working with Etienne, the esteemed trainer Don Turner told Sconiers he could make him heavyweight champion of the world if only he’d “get his (stuff) together.”

Sconiers said he was at his personal abyss in mid-2003, when he was stopped by Kirkland, who was 16-1, in the first round in Vallejo, California.

“That was a real bad time for me,” he said. “I was up all night using drugs and alcohol and just didn’t care about anything.”

Although it would be nearly four more years before Sconiers embarked on his personal renaissance, when he looks back on his sordid past that is his most vivid memory. He has learned to use that memory to his advantage.

“A lot of people go down the same route I did and destroy themselves completely,” he said. “I was close to that point around the time of the Kirkland fight, but managed to survive another four years. It is so obvious to me now that I was trying to destroy myself.”

Sconiers is the first to concede that once you fall into the role of an opponent, it is hard to extricate yourself.

“A lot of guys go through this and fall by the wayside,” he said. “Look at Emanuel Burton (Augustus). He’s an immensely talented guy who’s good enough to be competitive and probably beat anyone. But he is in that opponent role, which is hard to snap out of.”

Having done lots of reading on positive thinking and overcoming psychological roadblocks, as well as completely revising his physical training regimen, Sconiers believes he has snapped out of it.

Besides the steadfast support of his beloved wife of six years, Jennifer, who just earned her master’s degree, he believes that his association with Selwyn is a pivotal component to the success he foresees for himself.

They plan on having a momentous and memorable 2008.

“Harold says he is going to be the Cinderella Man of 2008,” said Selwyn. “We plan on keeping a very busy schedule. History has shown that heavyweights are always just a few wins away from redemption. At his best, Harold is very good. It is undeniable that he was his own worst enemy in the past. Now he believes in himself, Larry believes in him, and I believe in him. I’m really looking forward to working with him so he can reach his full potential.”

“We plan on a busy schedule and a lot of upsets,” added Sconiers. “After my first couple of wins, people will probably say they were a fluke. I’m not quite the Cinderella Man and I’m not quite Rocky, but I am an underdog who can make it. Hope sells in boxing, and I plan on being one of the biggest stories of the new year.”

Manager Dave Selwyn can be contacted at: Boxingkid@aol.com or 845-893-2829.

*photo courtesy Harold Sconiers

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Articles of 2007

St-Pierre, Liddell, Clementi Win @ UFC 79

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LAS VEGAS-A reinvented Georges St. Pierre proved he’s ready for the true Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title with a dominating win over Matt Hughes and Chuck Liddell returned to the win column in his big showdown on Saturday.

St. Pierre took the final chapter in the trilogy with Hughes and now is the UFC interim champion at the 170-pound division.

Hughes just shook his head after tapping out before a sold out audience at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It was called “Nemesis” and St. Pierre conquered his nemesis.

“Georges is just a better fighter,” said Hughes (43-6) who beat St. Pierre several years ago, but lost two years ago in a title match. “I just don’t know how much longer I got.”

St. Pierre (15-2) found Hughes using a left-handed stance to change up his attack, but the Canadian quickly adapted and used his quickness, skills and raw strength to take Hughes to the ground.

“If it wasn’t for my wrestling training I wouldn’t have been able to adjust,” said St. Pierre who had been preparing to represent Canada’s Olympic wrestling team.

Inside the Octagon the Canadian was never in danger. In fact, Hughes was the fighter teetering for the entire fight that ended in 4:54 of the second round.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

Hughes, known for his wrestling skills, just couldn’t solve St. Pierre’s quickness. Every move the Illinois fighter attempted was squashed.

St. Pierre is now promised a fight against the current UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra, who pulled out of the fight with Hughes because of injury.

“If I don’t get my belt back, I’m going to consider myself champion,” said St. Pierre filled in for Serra with less than a month of training.

After dominating the first round on top of Hughes, the second round was even worse as St. Pierre landed elbows and fists. Though the Illinois fighter escaped from underneath, he was quickly thrown down. Within seconds St. Pierre grabbed Hughes left arm and turned it into an inescapable arm bar.

Hughes screamed out: “I tap!”

St. Pierre now awaits Serra to recover from his back injury.

The semi-main event was no less intense.

The light heavyweight showdown between Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and Brazil’s Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva was a three-round punch out between two famous sluggers. In the end Liddell’s sharper punches in the first and third round decided the fight despite a knockdown in the second scored by Silva.

Silva (31-8-1) dominated the second round for four minutes and 30 seconds but Liddell rallied and took the Brazilian to the ground. Two judges were somehow impressed by Liddell’s last 30 seconds and inexplicably gave him that round.

With both fighters huffing and puffing, and Silva with a bad cut over his right eye, Liddell seemed the stronger puncher and landed a back-handed fist and a right hand that stunned the former Pride FC fighter Silva. But he survived the round.

The judges scored it 29-28, 30-27 twice for Liddell who won his first bout after back-to-back losses.

“I knew it was a big fight for everybody and especially for me to get back on track,” said Liddell (21-5). “He had a lot more than I thought he had.”

Silva, who was making his first UFC appearance, was gracious in defeat.

“He won,” said Silva. “I gave my best.”

Temecula’s Rameau Sokoudjou fell short against Brazil’s undefeated Lyoto Machida (12-0) in their light heavyweight contest. The Cameroon native was unable to use his punching power with effectiveness against the karate-trained fighter. Then, unexpectedly, Machida landed a left hand that dropped Sokoudjou (4-2) and proceeded to gain an arm triangle that forced a submission at 4:20 of the second round.

“I’ve been working on my ground game,” said Machida who wants a world title match. “I beat the Alaska assassin, the African assassin, what other assassins are left?”

A heavyweight bout featured two Southern Californians eager to punch out. But San Diego’s Eddie “Manic Hispanic” Sanchez’s experience proved decisive in beating Temecula’s Soa Palelei (8-2) with uppercuts for three rounds. With his nose bleeding profusely and sustaining three consecutive uppercuts, referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight at 3:24 of the third and final round for a technical knockout.

“He was out of gas,” said Sanchez (10-1). “He was always putting his head down.”

Undercard

A grudge fight between two Louisiana fighters ended in a decisive submission victory by Rich Clementi of Slidell over the favored Melvin Guillard of New Orleans. A rear naked choke at 4:40 seconds of the first round forced Guillard, who had been predicting domination, to tap out. Though the fight was definitively over, Guillard attempted to assault Clementi but referee Herb Dean grabbed the fighter.

“He still didn’t learn his lesson,” said Clementi after Guillard attempted to rush him after the fight. “I validated what he’s known for six years, I’m the better man.”

James “The Sandman” Irvin (13-5-1) was nearly put to sleep by an illegal knee to the eye from Brazil’s newcomer Luis Cane (8-1) in the first round of a light heavyweight fight. Unable to continue, Irvin was declared the winner by disqualification at 1:51. Cane seemed unaware that UFC rules disallow knees to the head while the person is on the ground. Some mixed martial arts organizations allow it.

Former Ultimate Fighter participant Manny Gamburyan (6-3) quickly took his fight to the ground with former boxer Nate Mohr (6-5). Once on the ground the lightweight used his quickness to grab an ankle and twist. Mohr screamed to stop the fight at 1:31 of the first round.

“I’m so sorry for you man,” said Gamburyan who suspects he broke Mohr’s leg. “Nate’s a great guy.”

San Diego’s Dean Lister (10-5) scraped out a unanimous decision win over Bulgaria’s punch-crazy Jordan Rachev (16-2) in a middleweight bout. The judges scored it 29-28 for Lister.

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