UFC 81: Breaking Point came to us all live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 2, 2008. We're talking about the Octagon debut of former WWE and amateur wrestling star Brock Lesnar against Frank Mir going down. We're also talking about a dream match up of sorts between former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia and former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira. Not to mention a fight between the always exciting Tyson Griffin and Gleison Tibau.
So in the immortal words of "Big" John McCarthy, "let's get it on!"
The night started off with a match between Tyson Griffin and Gleison Tibau. "I hope this is the fight where I get that highlight reel knockout," said the whirlwind that is Tyson Griffin before the match.
In the first round, Griffin fought as if he was going for that highlight reel knockout, landing several hard rights and low kicks on his opponent. Though Tibau got a couple of short lived takedowns and landed a few shots of his own, the round clearly went to Griffin.
The second round was a lot like the first, except with less significant stand up from Tibau. Though Griffin was taken down twice amidst landing nice rights and low kicks, the takedowns were short lived and damage was minimal at best. Thus, the second went to Griffin as well.
In the third, Tibau was once again able to take Griffin down twice. The first time, he was able to execute some nice ground and pound, even if it was short lived. The second bore no fruit. Still, Griffin got the better of the stand up exchanges though perhaps less so than in the first two rounds. This round was hard to call. But the fight was not.
And the judges agreed, handing Griffin a unanimous decision. He was simply a far better stand up fighter.
The second fight of the night was between Rob Yundt and Ricardo Almeida. How would Almeida do after a long layoff? Further, how would Yundt do in his Octagon debut after getting only three days notice for this fight?
Well, here's the story on this one. Almeida took Yundt down. Soon after, he sunk in a guillotine. Though Yundt picked him up and slammed him, all that did was serve to flip the two over with Almeida on top.
But the guillotine was still sunk in. Soon after, Yundt?who you have to give credit to for taking the fight on such short notice?was tapping. Now that was some impressive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Ricardo Almeida wins via guillotine choke at 1:08 of round one.
Next up was a match between Jeremy Horn and Nathan Marquardt. "There's nothing he can do to me that I haven't seen and had done to me before," said Horn before the match. Probably true. But that doesn't mean Horn's going to win.
Then again, it doesn't mean he isn't going to either.
The first round was entertaining. Marquardt proved to be better on his feet, landing a hard elbow that dizzied Horn. Further, Marquardt took Horn down and did some significant damage via ground and pound. Toward the end of the stanza, however, Horn was found looking for a gogoplata and then an omoplata. Though he couldn't secure either, he used these moves to turn his opponent over.
Still, the round went to Marquardt.
The second stanza saw Horn secure a strong takedown and then cut Marquardt on the ground. However, Nate "The Great" got to his feet and then while Horn went for a takedown along the wall, Marquardt secured a standing guillotine. It was a very strong move.
Strong enough to get a man like Jeremy Horn to tap.
An outstanding performance by Marquardt.
Nate Marquardt wins via guillotine choke at 1:37 of round two.
Next up was Tim Boetsch vs. David Heath. "I plan on smashing David Heath," said Boetsch before his Octagon debut.
Nice when a plan comes together, isn't it? In the end, Boetsch nailed Heath with several powerful front kicks and knees to the head. But the ending?where he simply threw Heath to the ground like an inanimate object and then pounded on him until the referee stepped in?was something to behold.
"The Barbarian" does it on only 10 days notice.
Tim Boetsch wins via TKO at 4:52 of round one.
Next up was the fight that many were looking forward to?some even beyond the main event. We're talking about the match between Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar. Said Mir before the fight, "I think Brock Lesnar needs to worry less about what people think about him and the WWE and his reputation and be more concerned about what's going to happen inside the Octagon." Said Lesnar before the bout, "I don't care what people think. I'm coming to this fight to win. That's it."
Brock Lesnar wasn't lying. He moved stealthily into the Octagon, immediately took Mir down impressively, and started the pounding. But a punch to the back of the head caused the referee to take a point from the former WWE star and stand the two up.
However, after slipping during a kick, Mir got hit and ended up on his back again. From there, Lesnar unleashed a pounding on his opponent that had everyone on the edge of their seats. But then came the mistake. Lesnar left his leg open for a moment.
And Mir closed the deal. Just like that. But don't underestimate Lesnar's potential. This is a guy that will be great someday. This was simply too difficult a fight for him so early in his MMA career.
Frank Mir wins via kneebar at 1:30 of round one.
Next up was the main event between Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Said the "Maine-iac" before the bout?"I'm actually going to go out there and try to knock him out. No one's done it yet. I want to be the first."
Well, things started off looking like that might happen for Sylvia after a left hook- right hand combination dropped the former PRIDE Champion. From there, Nogueira somehow survived a vicious ground and pound onslaught from Sylvia. Thus, Sylvia stood up.
For the rest of the round, Nogueira began to try and recover while Sylvia got the better of things. But at the end of the round, Nogueira was able to secure a takedown. A confidence boost for the former PRIDE Champ?
The second round was a much closer one. In the end, Nogueira may have hit home with more punches. That said, Sylvia hit home with the harder ones. Further, Nogueira tried a few takedowns. One came close, but Sylvia was able to thwart all of them.
This was a close round.
The third round was an amazing one. Namely, Nogueira fell to his guard with Sylvia. Moments later, he secured a leg and used it to turn his opponent over. From there, he went to side mount. Though Sylvia turned him over, that was more purposeful on Nogueira's part than anything else.
In other words, he was sinking in the guillotine. And once Nogueira sinks in a submission, it's usually over. At least it was in this case.
Nogueira wins via submission at 1:28 of round three.
UFC 81: Breaking Point was a great night of fights. Why? There were a lot of great submissions to watch. Ricardo Almeida did the job nicely in his comeback attempt; Frank Mir reminded the world that technique often beats brute strength without experience; and Antonio Minotauro Nogueira showed the world that he is as tough as they come once again.
"Please Randy, fight against me," said Nogueira after the fight. Yeah, I'd like to see it too, I must admit.