UFC 62: Deja vu

Renato “Babalu” Sobral had spent four years obsessed with the memory of being knocked out by a spectacular head kick from Chuck Liddell in a Nov. 22, 2002, fight in Las Vegas.

But after going on a 10-match winning streak, Sobral lasted only 1:35 in the rematch before being TKO’d in the main event of UFC 62 on Aug. 26 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

The card was built around Liddell’s light heavyweight title defense against Sobral, and a rematch of one of UFC’s all-time classic matches, the 2005 Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar bout.

The first Griffin-Bonnar match saw two men whose abilities were almost equal in every category go to a split decision that favored Griffin, but could have gone the other way. The second match showed in the 18 months after both men became famous for their battle in the first live UFC event on basic cable television, that Griffin had improved greatly as a fighter, while Bonnar had not.

Griffin displayed the footwork and ring generalship of a good boxer, cutting off angles and generally befuddling Bonnar. Bonnar seemed shocked that he was taken out of his game after being at the same level in the previous bout. Griffin took a one-sided decision on straight 30-27 scores in a match that didn’t approach the quality of the original. To this day, if you bring up Griffin vs. Bonnar as a fight, few even recall that a second bout took place.

Griffin, came into the fight with a badly swollen knuckle that made it extremely painful every time he threw a punch. But it evened out, since Bonnar broke his right thumb in the first round, and ended up needing surgery.

Nick Diaz, coming in on four days notice after Thiago Alves was diagnosed with Hepatitis A, outboxed Josh Neer, winning with a Kimura at 1:42 of the third round.

NOTEWORTHY

Probably the least famous pro wrestler to make the transition to UFC was on the undercard of this show. Cory Walmsley, who was choked out in 2:32 of the first round by David Heath, was a pro wrestler based out of Minneapolis. He used the name Wicked Lester Brody.

Current WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner lost in the third round to Hermes Franca in the best match on the show. Varner continually took Franca down in the first two rounds and seemed on the verge of winning the decision, which at the time would have been a major upset. But Franca rocked Varner with a brutal knee to the face in Round 3, and Varner ran away from the fight to the point ref John McCarthy docked him a point. Franca then finished the fight with an armbar.

RESULTS

Yushin Okami def. Alan Belcher, unanimous decision
Cory Walmsley def David Heath, submission (rear naked choke), 2:32 R1
Wilson Gouveia def. Wes Combs, submission (rear naked choke), 3:32 R1
Eric Schafer def. Rob MacDonald, technical submission (arm triangle choke), 2:26 R1
Hermes Franca def. Jamie Varner, submission (armbar), 3:31 R1
Cheick Kongo def. Christian Wellisch, KO, 2:51 R1
Nick Diaz def. Josh Neer, submission (Kimura), 1:42 R1
Forrest Griffin def. Stephan Bonnar, unanimous decision
UFC light heavyweight championship: Chuck Liddell def. Renato Sobral, TKO, 1:35 R1 (Liddell retains title)