UFC 48: Snapped in half
One of the most famous moments in UFC history took place at UFC 48, on June 19, 2004. Frank Mir snapped the arm of Tim Sylvia in winning the vacant heavyweight championship at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Sylvia was stripped of the title nine months earlier after testing positive for the steroid Stanazolol after his title defense against Gan McGee. Sylvia vs. Mir was supposed to happen earlier, but Sylvia failed a second steroid test before the first scheduled date.
The book on this fight is Sylvia would try and keep it standing, and likely knock Mir out, or Mir, a jiu-jistu black belt, would take Sylvia down, and likely submit him.
In a strategic move that defied explanation, Sylvia, who entered the fight with an 18-0 record, came right out and tackled Mir to the ground. Mir immediately caught him with the armbar and referee Herb Dean stopped the match when he saw Sylvia’s forearm vividly snap under the skin at the 50 second mark.
The clip since has been replayed to death in hyping Mir fights, most notably building his first fight against Brock Lesnar in early 2008.
Fans booed the stoppage, even though the hometown Las Vegas fighter had captured the championship, as Sylvia got off the mat and immediately protested. But when they showed the forearm break on the replay, fans were stunned into silence.
Dean made the right call, as X-rays on Sylvia showed four fractures from the armbar, two in both the radial and ulna bones in his right forearm. Sylvia underwent surgery later in the week.
Even though there was a heavyweight championship match on the show, the main event pitted a rematch from UFC 8, more than eight years earlier, with Ken Shamrock facing Kimo Leopoldo. Shamrock, at the time the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw, won the first match in 4:24. In pre-match interviews, Shamrock noted that Kimo had improved, and predicted, “this time I’ll beat him in 10.”
But instead, Shamrock caught Leopoldo with a hard knee to the chin, with such force he cut his own knee open, and Leopoldo dropped to the ground. It was over in just 1:26.
A match still debated to this day featured Matt Hughes against Renato “Charuto” Verissimo, who was B.J. Penn’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach. Penn had left the promotion to fight in Japan after beating Hughes for the welterweight title, so even though not a title match, this bout was to determine the best welterweight in the company. Hughes won a unanimous decision in a boring fight on scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. I scored it a 28-28 draw, and there was no way Verissimo didn’t win the first round, but two of the judges gave it to Hughes. Little happened in the match other than Hughes taking Verissimo down. He did no damage in the first two rounds, but cut Verissimo in Round 3. The only significant move of the fight was a triangle choke by Verissimo in the first round that Hughes admitted nearly put him out.
Georges St. Pierre def. Jay Hieron, TKO, 1:42 R1
Trevor Prangley def. Curtis Stout, submission (neck crank), 1:05 R2
Matt Serra def. Ivan Menjivar, unanimous decision
Evan Tanner def. Phil Baroni, unanimous decision
UFC heavyweight championship: Frank Mir def. Tim Sylvia, TKO, 0:50 R1 (Mir wins vacant title.
Frank Trigg def. Dennis Hallman, TKO, 4:15 R1
Ken Shamrock def. Kimo Leopoldo, TKO, 1;26 R1
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