UFC 99: Stand and deliver

The UFC’s European expansion began in earnest at UFC 99, when it put on a card in continental Europe for the first time. All previous Eurpoean shows had been in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

But the UFC was met with a lot of political pressure in Cologne, Germany. After a controversy about the legitimacy of the sport, a political board and Lanxess Arena agreed to ban anyone under 18 from attending.

A media frenzy about the sport ensued. One newspaper reported that fights to the death were within the rules and that fighters didn’t wear gloves. Others reported that the fights were essentially no holds barred.

It got so bad that the UFC had to sue to demand retractions or corrections.

But the June 13 fight card went off without a hitch and was well received by the crowd.

Many of them came to see heavyweight Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, who was making his first UFC appearance in nearly two years.

Filipovic, from nearby Croatia, said before the fight that his 1-2 UFC record was a “black mark” on his career and vowed he planned to chase the UFC title. He verbally agreed to a three-fight deal with UFC president Dana White on the telephone.

After a victory over Mostapha Al-Turk, however, it was discovered that Filipovic would not sign the UFC extension and rather signed a deal with DREAM to fight in Japan.

NOTEWORTHY

Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva met in a rare catchweight main event, as the two former champions met at a weight limit of 195 pounds. Franklin competes at light heavyweight, but Silva is dropping from light heavyweight to middleweight. He took the fight as a way of easing down to 185 pounds. The crowd heavily favored Silva, who gave a good account of himself, but Franklin came away with the decision. Still, Silva insisted he planned to fight on if the UFC would book him.

Welterweights Dan Hardy and Marcus Davis engaged in a nasty feud and war of words. Davis was enraged by some of the things that Hardy said and alleged that Hardy was responsible for fans doctoring a picture of him on the Internet. Davis said in many interviews that he hated Hardy. Hardy won a split decision, but the feud didn’t end with the fight. Davis stormed out of the ring without shaking hands and said he wanted a rematch. Hardy said he was simply trying to play mind games with Davis.

Lightweight Caol Uno, who had been one of the stars of the UFC’s early days, returned to the company to fight Spencer Fisher. Prior to his fight with Fisher, Uno’s last appearance in the UFC came on Sept. 26, 2003, at UFC 44, when he lost to Hermes Franca. Uno and Fisher engaged in an entertaining match, but Fisher spoiled Uno’s return by gaining a split decision victory.

Quoteworthy: “Cain is a huge inspiration for myself and a lot of guys who train with him. ⦠I can see him with the belt. There’s no doubt in my mind. ” – Mike Swick, on American Kickboxing Academy teammate Cain Velasquez.

RESULTS

John Hathaway def. Rick Story, unanimous decision
Stefan Struve def. Denis Stojnic, submission (rear naked choke), 2:37 R2
Paul Kelly def. Roli Delgado, unanimous decision
Paul Taylor def. Peter Sobotta, unanimous decision
Denis Siver def. Dale Hartt, submission (rear naked choke), R1
Dan Hardy def. Marcus Davis, split decision
Spencer Fisher def. Caol Uno, unanimous decision
Mike Swick def. Ben Saunders, TKO, 3:47 R2
Mirko Cro Cop def. Mostapha Al-Turk, TKO, 3:06 R1
Rich Franklin def. Wanderlei Silva, unanimous decision.