UFC 45: Revolution

November 21, 2003, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville Connecticut

UFC 45

© Marc Wickert

All photos © Zuffa LLC – Photography by Josh Hedges

Celebrating Ultimate Fighting Championship’s 10th Anniversary, UFC 45 was planned to be a special event for MMA fans. And it was just that: a special and unique night.

Some critics were disappointed with the way a couple of bouts ended. But from its inception a decade earlier, UFC has polished and maintained its banner ?As Real As It Gets”.

Certainly some of the fights didn’t go the way many expected, but that’s all part of the package when maintaining an “As Real As It Gets” policy. Street fights aren’t choreographed either, and they often end unexpectedly and unpredictably. On the other hand, professional wrestling is rehearsed and does have a fairytale ending, if that’s what critics want.

A lot of people didn’t tip Randy Couture to decisively beat Tito Ortiz or Chuck Liddell. And many such upsets make for exciting rematches. The main event scheduled for UFC 46: Super Natural is a rematch between Randy Couture and Vitor Belfort. Frank Mir v Wes Sims is another return contest fans have called for.

Let’s hope we get to see rematches of Cabbage v Tank, and Evan Tanner v Phil Baroni, although Baroni’s career has been put on the backburner for 12 months.

Before we start cheap-shotting 45, how about using Shamrock v Severn II as a yardstick: the non-fight that resembled a novice fire-walker’s initiation ceremony. Or cast back to Kerr v Duarte at Pride.


Robbie Lawler v Chris Lytle (Welterweight)

(Referee ? Big John McCarthy)

Robbie Lawler came out of the Team Miletich corner to face former Indiana boxing champ Chris Lytle. Lawler, a southpaw, instigated an early body-slam in Round 1 and displayed some impressive ground’n’pound abilities. Lytle attempted heel hooks, and caught the standing Lawler with a vicious kick to the face from ground position to close Round 1.

UFC 45

In Round 2 Lawler chose to disengage rather than fight. Lytle was the instigator, administering a dose of thigh kicks and some impressive hooking punches. One left hook landed firmly on Lawler, with Robbie adopting a crucifix stance in response.

The unconventional entertainment continued in Round 3, when Lytle tagged Lawler with a right punch. Robbie reacted by pulling a face similar to Johnny Winter’s chest tattoo, and adopted a reach-for-the-stars posture, followed by a bodybuilder’s ‘most muscular? pose. Lytle responded by applauding, before being sent to the canvas with one of Lawler’s powerful punches. Lytle continued to clap from the horizontal position. Chris added a suplex takedown to his tab, but Lawler cushioned the fall with his left arm. This bout probably could have gone either way, but was awarded to Robbie Lawler.

Result: Lawler by decision.

Evan Tanner v Phil Baroni (Middleweight)

(Referee ? Larry Landless)

Phil Baroni opened the fight with nitro knuckles that found their mark and left Evan Tanner dazed and confused, with a cut under his left eye. Tanner’s bleeding caused the fight to be temporarily stopped before the doctor allowed the bout to continue. Unfortunately for Baroni, the stoppage enabled Evan to regroup and come back with a volley of knees.

Tanner took Phil to the ground where Evan unleashed some persuasive ground’n’pounding. With ten seconds to go in Round 1, there was a misunderstanding between referee Larry Landless and Phil Baroni, with Landless believing Baroni wanted the fight to end.

UFC 45

For a moment the Sun Arena seemed to echo Communication Breakdown – a song by a former Sun Records recording artist ? and Larry Landless became Larry Landed.

Result: Tanner by referee stoppage.

Wesley “Cabbage” Correira v David “Tank” Abbott (Heavyweight)

(Referee ? Big John McCarthy)

With Cabbage at 265 lbs and Tank weighing in at 253lbs, this match-up promised to send nuclear sparks flying. And they did. Prior to the fight, Joe Rogan observed, “Tank looks hungry”. In an earlier press release both fighters announced they were going to slug it out. Unfortunately when two freight trains with fists of titanium collide, there’s bound to be some collateral damage.

Round 1 opened with Cabbage missing an attempted leg kick. Tank landed some of his trademark jackhammer punches, and Cabbage replied with big Muay Thai knees to Tank’s face. As seen in previous Abbott fights ? a la Abbott v Frye – Tank appeared to have trouble with his footing: slipping rather than being knocked down.

UFC 45

However Tank continued to bulldoze on, sending in a salvo of hooks and uppercuts, only to be answered by Cabbage’s powerful knee strikes. One knee opened a nasty gash above Tank’s right eye and caused the doctor to stop the fight due to Abbott’s inability to see out of that eye. Both fighters have agreed to a rematch.

Result: Cabbage by cut to Abbott.

Matt Lindland v Falaniko Vitale (Middleweight)

(Referee ? Larry Landless)

This rematch was a quieter fight that probably would have suited Larry Landless at the time. The main contest here was between Lindland wanting to take it to the ground and Vitale wanting to strike it out on his feet. In the end Lindland won mat position.

UFC 45

With Randy Couture in the southpaw’s corner, it was obvious Lindland would be sporting excellent G’n’P skills and a full cylinder of stamina.

Both men provided a good rematch that was worth the wait.

Result: Lindland by tap out.

Matt Hughes v Frank Trigg (Welterweight Title)

(Referee ? Big John McCarthy)

In the ring, prior to Big Mac’s, “Let’s get it on”, Hughes wanted to stare Trigg down, but Trigg only showed his back. However, when the main event started, the fight was on.

UFC 45

Trigg showed Hughes to the canvas with an early takedown, and the pair spent ninety seconds, entwined like twisted taipans, scurrying for the superior position. Hughes then performed his ?haul and heave? routine, carrying Trigg aloft before dumping him with a big body slam. Frank attempted a kimura, but Matt was too evasive and caught Trigg out with a standing, rear-naked choke. With 1.06 minutes to go in Round 1, Hughes had successfully defended his UFC World Welterweight Title for the fifth time.

UFC 45

For southpaw Frank Trigg, his debut in the Octagon was no disgrace. And both combatants displayed some first class MMA skills. Putting the pre-match psyche-out behind them, Hughes said of his opponent, “Frank Trigg is a hell of a wrestler”.

Result: Matt Hughes by submission.

Earlier Matches

Yves Edwards defeated Nick Agallar (strikes).

Keith Rockel defeated Chris Liguori (guillotine).

Pedro Rizzo defeated Ricco Rodriguez.

Viewers? Choice Poll Results

UFC 45

(10) Oleg Taktarov

(9) Pat Miletich

(8) Marco Ruas

(7) Dan Severn

(6) Mark Coleman

(5) Don Frye

(4) Tank Abbott

(3) Royce Gracie

(2) Ken Shamrock


(1) Randy Couture


Hall of Fame Charter Members

UFC 45
Royce Gracie & Ken Shamrock

Coming Up – UFC 46: Super Natural

Randy Couture v Vitor Belfort

Matt Hughes v BJ Penn

Frank Mir v Wes Sims

Lee Murray v Jorge Rivera

(more matches to be announced)

For more on Ultimate Fighting Championship: www.ufc.tv

Article written by Marc Wickert

Marc Wickert is one of the world's most respected martial arts journalists.

For years his articles have been published in America, Europe, Australasia, and on the acclaimed knucklepit.com website.

Having interviewed some of the most elite combatants of the No-Holds-Barred inner sanctum, and a hybrid fight system's instructor in his own right, Marc Wickert is also author of the now-famous self-defense manual Knucklepit.com - The Book.