UFC 55: Cop to it
UFC 55 may have been the first time a mixed martial arts Internet furor spilled over into the mainstream.
Years before he became the headliner of the first live network television MMA card, Kimbo Slice made his name in the underground through filmed street fights against hand-picked opponents.
Slice won all of those fights but one: A loss to Boston police officer Sean Gannon. The resulting Internet buzz over Kimbo’s defeat spilled over into the mainstream and turned Gannon’s exploits into headline news in Boston newspapers and on television newscasts.
Sensing a chance to seize upon the publicity in its return to New England, UFC president Dana White ventured into straight-up gimmick-fight territory for the first and only time in his years at the helm and signed Gannon for UFC 55 on Oct. 7, 2005, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
The results weren’t pretty.
Gannon was signed for the main card to meet Brandon Lee Hinkle, who was also making his debut. Hinkle brought an 11-6 record into the fight; Gannon had just one pro fight under his belt, a victory on a local card.
Hinkle took Gannon down early and pounded him in front of the estimated 8,000 fans in attendance. And pounded. And pounded. By the time match was mercifully stopped late in the first round, Gannon was a bloody mess.
That was the end of Gannon’s pro MMA career, as the Boston Police put a stop to his side gig. Hinkle has lost four of five fights since, including three first-round stoppages. And White clearly learned a lesson about going the Japanese gimmick route, as he’s never attempted to market such a match again.
Andrei Arlovski retained the UFC heavyweight title when he scored a devastating knockout of Paul Buentello in just 15 seconds in the main event. After a September 2004 motorcycle accident left champion Frank Mir severely injured, Arlovki beat Tim Sylvia for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 51. Arlovksi was scheduled to meet Mir in a title unification match at UFC 55, but Mir was unable to compete. With more than a year passed since the accident, UFC made Arlovski the official heavyweight champion and replacement Buentello his first defense.
The building of Forrest Griffin continued, as “The Ultimate Fighter 1” light heavyweight champ was given main-card exposure. In his second fight after his legendary TUF 1 finale victory over Stephan Bonnar, Griffin defeated veteran Elvis Sinosic via strikes at 3:30 of the first round. Sinosic was a replacement for Ian Freeman, who suffered an injury in a horse-riding accident and had to pull out.
UFC 55 also marked the show in which the company instituted its controversial crackdown on credentialing Internet mixed martial arts sites. Some of them, such as MMAWeekly.com, have since had their credentials restored, others have yet to be re-credentialed.
Alesso Sakara vs. Ron Faircloth, no-contest (unintentional foul by Faircloth)
Macrio Cruz def. Keigo Kunihara, submission (rear naked choke), 1:02 R2
Jorge Rivera def. Dennis Hallman, unanimous decision
Joe Riggs def. Chris Lyttle, TKO, 2:00 R2
Renato Sobral def. Chael Sonnen, submission (triangle choke), 1:20 R2
Branden Lee Hinkle def. Sean Gannon, TKO, 4:14 R1
Forrest Griffin def. Elvis Sinosic, TKO, 3:30 R1
UFC heavyweight championship: Andrei Arlovski def. Paul Buentello, KO, 0:15 R1 (Arlovski retains title)
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