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UFC 25: Tito's time

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The main event of UFC 25 ended up being a much bigger deal historically than it was at the time.

On April 14, 2000, the UFC was in a familiar position as it presented its third and final card in Japan: the company was looking to fill a title vacancy.

This time, the departing champion was Frank Shamrock, the first holder of what is now the company's marquee light heavyweight championship. After defeating Tito Ortiz at UFC 22, Shamrock left the company, announcing his retirement as champion. In reality, the company couldn't afford his contract and allowed him to make the announcement as a way for both sides to save face.

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Tito Ortiz began the longest reign in UFC history when he decisioned Wanderlei Silva.
(File photo)

So the UFC matched up Ortiz with up-and-coming Brazilian striker Wanderlei Silva, not knowing at the time the fighters would develop into the sport's two biggest light heavyweight names within the next two years.

The match itself, held at Tokyo's Yoyogi Gym, was by no means an all-time classic. Ortiz, using his wrestling, repeatedly took Silva down. Other than one shot in the third, in which Ortiz ate a Silva knee when he went for the takedown and was in trouble for much of the round, the scenario repeated itself round after round. Ortiz, though, never came close to finishing Silva, who showed good defensive technique on the ground.

"The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" took the decision and the title. Ortiz held the belt for 3½ years, which is still the longest single title reign in UFC history.

The loss was Silva's last match in the UFC for nearly nine years. In Nov. 2001, he become the first PRIDE 205-lb. champion, a title he held until Feb. 2007, the longest title reign in major mixed martial arts history.

During much of Ortiz's reign, the UFC struggled, as it looked to get regulated in the United States and ended up sold. In the interim, PRIDE asserted itself as the world's dominant mixed martial arts organization, with better depth of talent, bigger cards, and bigger paydays.

But while Ortiz and Silva were both champions, the UFC could point to the UFC 25 result, and, right or wrong, claim that they had the best fighter in the world at the weight class.

NOTEWORTHY

For the first and only time in company history, UFC 25 featured four judges. While the possibility of two judges voting one way and two the other loomed large, none of the three matches that went the distance were ruled a draw.

Veteran Caol Uno was supposed to make his UFC debut at this show, but pulled out due to an injury. Then replacement Diaju Tasake also pulled out with an injury. Finally, Koji Oishi took the match and lost to Laverne Clark on a majority decision. Uno eventually fought twice for the UFC lightweight title, losing to Jens Pulver and fighting B.J. Penn to a draw. He will return to the company when he meets Spencer Fisher at UFC 99.

Future UFC middleweight champion Murilo Bustamante debuted on the card and defeated Yoji Anjoh with a second-round arm triangle.

RESULTS

Laverne Clark def. Koji Oishi, majority decision
Ikuhisa Minowa def. Joe Slick, TKO, 1:54 R3
Sana Kikuta def. Eugene Jackson, submission (armbar), 4:39 R1
Murilo Bustamante def. Yoji Anjo, submission (arm triangle), 0:31 R2
Ron Waterman def. Satoshi Homna, unanimous decision
UFC middleweight championship: Tito Ortiz def. Wanderlei Silva, unanimous decision (Ortiz wins vacant title)

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