The Monkey Speaks: UFC 80

B.J. Penn
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First off, they didn’t really shoot all that promotional footage of nice buildings lit up with colourful lights in Newcastle did they? They secretly spliced in some footage of Copenhagen or Koln or something, didn’t they? I mean, is that really the North of England? Where were the goateed old ladies quaffing cans of Special Brew? Where were the fat gypsies in string vests sitting on piss-stained mattresses watching flea-bitten dogs have sex?

Has England really come so far? Have I been away that long?

If so, fucking excellent, Newcastle looked fantastic.

The event itself was great. Plenty of great fights.

Paul Taylor vs. Paul Kelly was a really good scrap.
Paul Kelly (black trunks) vs. Paul Taylor
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The fact that they were both English and both ready and able to bang made the crowd go bananas which was exciting to watch. They showed each other a lot of respect, almost too much… hugging at the beginning of the round. I’m all for respect between fighters, but that shit is dangerous… if the other guy isn’t feeling it, kapowza, it’s lights out for you, Jimmy Boy. Check out Ray Sefo’s beatdown of Marvin Eastman and his corner when Sefo wasn’t interested in touching gloves.

The standard of British fightes is slowly raising, and can only get better with the UFC investing more and more in them, but it looks like the Brits still have a way to go before they can compete with the cream of the crop from the States. While we still have guys like Taylor who can try a kimura without even trying to close his legs around the other guy (and in the post-fight interview, be surprised that the guy escaped your submission attempts), we’ve still got work to do. Definitely on the right track though… those chaps were dropping some heavy artillery on each other.

Jorge Rivera vs. Kendall Grove
Jorge Rivera (brown trunks) vs. Kendall Grove
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Really enjoyed this fight. Rivera, who is kind of an up and down fighter… sucking one minute and being awesome the next… totally smasherised Kendall “The Spyder with the strange protrusion in his chest” Grove. Props to Grove, who managed to stay standing up just long enough for Rivera to punch his head so many times I thought it might actually pop off and tumble into the crowd at one point, spraying pineapple juice and sun tan lotion all over Dana White’s face.

Wilson Gouveia vs. Jason Lambert
Wilson Gouveia (blue trunks) vs. Jason Lambert
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Great fight. Lambert looked big and strong, but his name simply wasn’t as cool as Wilson Gouveia’s, which meant that Gouveia could pull out a sweet right hook to finish.

Fabricio Verdum vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Fabricio Werdum vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
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Despite Verdum moving to Chute Boxe and training with the guys there, I had Gonzaga winning this. The guy is a fucking animal–big, strong, and can kick like a mule. I just can’t get the image of him KO’ing Cro Cop out of my head. Especially since the UFC plays it every six seconds. Verdum has got the skills, but he’s just completely unremarkable to me. Gonzaga’s leg kicks were awe-inspiring. He splashed bruises on Verdum’s legs like his feet were covered in paint. He literally swept the leg, Johnny. I thought it was a matter of time til he put him in the body bag, but to my surprise, Verdum squeaked out a win by peppering him with some pretty weak (relatively speaking) punches from the back. He did clock him with a nice knee beforehand, though.

I hope this isn’t the last of Gonzaga. Feed him at least one can and let’s see him develop his potential as a force in the desparately lacking UFC Heavyweight division.

BJ Penn vs. Joe Stevenson
B.J. Penn (top) vs. Joe Stevenson
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What a fight! I was pumped for this. A prodigy who focuses his talent and refines his skills is a scary prospect indeed, and it looks like that’s exactly what Penn has done. Like he said to Joe Rogan, “Look at my abs.” Which was pretty hilarious… I mean, I noticed that you could see his abs, but he still looks like he eats donuts for breakfast compared to even the average fighter. Stevenson was definitely no joke coming into this fight, and he put up a good fight. But like my pals thingy and whatsisname on the Fightlinker Low Blow radio show said, we wanted to see BJ Penn build his legacy. Wanted to see him do something amazing. We didn’t tune in to watch the Joe Stevenson legacy (no offense to Joe, who I think certainly can build himself a legacy, only it won’t be as awesome or covered in glittery stars and hot boobs as BJ Penn’s.) We tuned it to watch a revamped BJ Penn kick ass, and that’s what he did. The guy is a freak: unorthodox but pinpoint striking, heavenly jiu jitsu, and now conditioning to go with it. Penn always comes off a little crazy when he speaks on the mic, and he’s got that nervous facial tic going on, but I really like the guy. He always seems to have the mental edge on people. I mean, he told Sean Serk he was “dead”, which is pretty hilarious.

Serk came out and mumbled some stuff about not respecting Penn, which I am sure he must have regretted when he thought about it afterwards. He basically came out and urinated on Penn’s face, after he had just made history as the only person beside Randy Couture to have held two different belts in the UFC.