UFC 61: The rematch
The main event of UFC 61, held July 8, 2006, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, was a heavyweight title fight between Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, a bout that turned out to be dreadful. Sylvia won the rematch of their UFC 59 bout via unanimous decision.
But the fight that most people were interested in seeing was one in which the outcome seemed almost guaranteed. Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock were set to meet in a rematch of their 2002 bout, which Ortiz handily won.
Interest in the match was high, fueled by the trash talk from both men and their hatred toward each other. They had coached on “The Ultimate Fighter 3” and were meeting to settle the score at its conclusion.
It turned out to be a controversial match because referee Herb Dean stopped it just 78 seconds after it started as Ortiz was pounding with elbows on the ground after a big slam. Replays showed, however, that Shamrock was knocked unconscious by one elbow and then brought back by the next one.
When the bout ended, a jubilant Ortiz began to dig a ditch in the center of the cage, as if he were going to bury Shamrock, further enraging the veteran and setting off another skirmish in the cage.
It was hardly a great fight, but the fans who watched ate it up. It attracted a live gate of $3.3 million and sold 775,000 pay-per-view units.
During the card, UFC president Dana White entered the cage and announced that light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell would face PRIDE superstar Wanderlei Silva at UFC 65 if Liddell successfully defended his belt against Renato “Babalu” Sobral at UFC 62. Silva and Liddell came to the cage and had a staredown, but negotiations between the UFC and PRIDE broke down and the fight did not occur. PRIDE instead promoted two cards in Las Vegas over the next year.
Because so many fans were upset at the quick ending to the Ortiz-Shamrock fight, White decided to have a third fight between them and put it on basic cable’s Spike TV as a way of paying the fans back. The bout was held Oct. 10, 2006, in Seminole, Fla., and became the most-watched fight in mixed martial arts history. Ortiz stopped Shamrock on strikes, again in the first round.
Heavyweight Jeff Monson defeated Anthony Perosh on strikes in the first round and earned a heavyweight title shot against Sylvia. More noteworthy, perhaps, was the fact that Monson, a self-professed anarchist, walked to the cage to John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Drew Fickett def. Kurt Pellegrino, submission (rear naked choke), 1:20 R3
Cheick Kongo def. Gilbert Aldana, TKO, 4:13 R1
Jeff Monson def. Anthony Perosh, TKO, 2:22 R1
Hermes Franca def. Joe Jordan, submission (triangle choke), 0:47 R2
Joe Stevenson def. Yves Edwards, TKO, 5:00 R2
Frank Mir def. Dan Christison, unanimous decision
Tito Ortiz def. Ken Shamrock, TKO< 1:18 R1
Josh Burkman def. Josh Neer, unanimous decision
UFC heavyweight championship: Tim Sylvia def. Andrei Arlovski, unanimous decision (Sylvia retains title).
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