UFC 33: Overtime
This fight card was a big step forward in UFC history, as it marked both the first mixed martial arts bout held in Las Vegas, which had been known as the boxing capital of the world. It was also UFC’s return to pay-per-view cable.
The event, however, was also a big step backward, as the return to pay-per-view featured three dull title fights that went the full 25 minutes and ran over the allotted satellite time.
Thus, viewers didn’t see the end of the main event, which Ortiz won over Vladimir Matyushenko by unanimous decision.
UFC president Dana White later said the combination of lack of action and the missed finish set the company back several years.
Semaphore Entertainment Group, the company’s previous owner, had tried, and failed, to get the Nevada Athletic Commission to sanction MMA in the state, in what turned out to be a move that forced it to sell the company.
The owners of Zuffa, the company that bought the UFC from SEG, were Las Vegas casino moguls Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. Lorenzo Fertitta had been an influential member of the athletic commission prior to resigning and buying the UFC. He was probably most known during his time on the commission for saying to former boxing heavyweight champion Mike Tyson during a disciplinary hearing, “My advice is to pack Mike Tyson’s bags up and take this act on the road.” After buying the company and stepping down from the commission, Fertitta convinced the remaining members of the commission to sanction MMA in the state.
The card also suffered because a hotly anticipated light heavyweight title match between Tito Ortiz and Vitor Belfort was shelved when Belfort had to pull out a week before the fight because of an arm injury. Matyushenko, a solid veteran who was most recently seen in a loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at January’s Affliction card, stepped up and took Belfort’s place.
The UFC has never again held three championship fights on the same show.
Matt Serra, who would go on to become perhaps the most unlikely champion in UFC history, scored his first UFC victory by defeating Yves Edwards.
Din Thomas def. Fabiano Iha, unanimous decision
Ricardo Almeida def. Eugene Jackson, submission (triangle choke), 4:06 R1
Jutaro Nakano def. Tony DeSouza, KO, 0:15 R2
Matt Serra def. Yves Edwards, split decision
Chuck Liddell def. Murilo Bustamante, unanimous decision
UFC middleweight championship: Dave Menne def. Gil Castillo, unanimous decision (Menne becomes first 185 lb. champion)
UFC lightweight championship: Jens Pulver def. Dennis Hallman, unanimous decision (Pulver retains title)
UFC light heavyweight championship: Tito Ortiz def. Vladimir Matyushenko, unanimous decision (Ortiz retains title).