TXMMA – Texas Mixed Martial Arts

UFC 41 Previews & Predictions from Chris Colderley





Chris Colderley submitted another one of his Previews & Predictions pieces for UFC 41: Onslaught.ÿ Check out what Boxing.com’s Colderley has to say about who’s going to win in this upcoming event.ÿ Click READ MORE for the full article.


Previews and Predictions


UFC 41: Onslaught


By Chris Colderley c


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Introduction


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The philosopher Lao-Tzu reminds us, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” After a very successful show in Las Vegas to close 2002, the UFC is returning to the place of that first step – so to speak – Atlantic City, New Jersey.ÿ The UFC 28: High Stakes was held November 17, 2000 at the Trump Taj Mahal. The card featured a heavyweight championship bout between Randy Couture and Kevin Randleman, as well as the UFC debuts of current top heavyweights Gan McGee and Andrei Arlovski. The New Jersey show marked the first time the organization entered into a lucrative fight market with the support of an influential and powerful boxing-athletic commission.


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Since that important New Jersey show, the UFC has held 13 shows.ÿ Despite a change in ownership, some obstacles in gaining approval from state athletic commissions, and the departure and suspension of champions, perseverance has finally paid off. The UFC 40: Vendetta drew Nevada‘s largest fight crowd of 2002, while UFC 36: Worlds Collide, ranked fourth for total-in-arena attendance. The success in drawing live audiences has been complimented by momentum in the pay-per-view industry where projections have estimated the numbers for UFC Vendetta at over 150,000 buys.ÿ


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The UFC 41: Onslaught seeks to continue the momentum established in 2002.ÿ The card features heavyweight champion, Ricco Rodriguez in his first title defense against Tim Sylvia, a match to fill the vacant lightweight championship between BJ Penn and Caol Uno, as well as the return of controversial UFC veteran, David “Tank” Abbott to face Frank Mir.ÿ The card includes five other matches.ÿ In the lightweight division, Matt Serra fights Din Thomas and Yves Edwards faces UFC newcomer Rich Clementi.ÿ In the heavyweight division Vlad Matyushenko challenges Pedro Rizzo, while Gan McGee faces Alexandre Dantas.ÿ Finally, Phil Baroni seeks redemption against Matt Lindland in a middleweight rematch. A review of the individual match-ups follows.


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Matt Serra VS Din Thomas


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Renzo Gracie disciple, Matt Serra, brings an exceptional arsenal of submission skills to his match with Din Thomas. In UFC competition, Serra has posted victories over Yves Edwards by decision and Kelly Dullanty by submission. Serra uses his energy and ground skills to move almost seamlessly from attack to counter-attack. His one weakness has been his stand-up game.ÿ Although he has strong punching and kicking skills, he over extended himself against Carter resulting in a KO and had difficulty scoring against BJ Penn resulting in a loss by decision.ÿ The competence of his takedown skills and stand-up game will be fully tested in this match-up.


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Din Thomas has a “bag-of-tricks” few fighters possess.ÿ He has potent kickboxing skills and is capable of scoring a submission victory over top-level competition. His biggest victory was a submission over former lightweight champion, Jens Pulver in the WEF. He is a better grappler than most strikers, and a better striker than most grapplers. With this range of skills, many observers have been waiting for the real Din Thomas to re-emerge.ÿ He has only 3 career losses and 2 of these have come in UFC competition. Against BJ Penn, Thomas caught a knee while attempting a combination, and in a qualifying match against Caol Uno, Thomas lost a decision after not being able to finish in a one-sided first round, and losing a point in the second round for a stray kick.


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The caliber of both fighters makes just about any outcome possible.ÿ Both fighters will have clear strategies for this fight.ÿ Serra will rely on his aggressive style and superior ground-game, while Thomas has a chance to demonstrate his stand-up arsenal.ÿ Thomas can exploit Serra in a stand-up affair, but he will have to adapt a more aggressive posture and take more chances than in his previous fights.ÿ At the same time, Serra will have to demonstrate that he is capable of matching up with proficient strikers and taking the fight to the ground where he is strongest.ÿ In a back-and-forth affair, Serra will challenge Thomas’ sprawl and ground game with his relentless tactics. Thomas will be able to use his leg kicks and strikes from the clinch to score and his experience and training to thwart Serra’s ground attack when the fight goes down. On the basis his takedown defense and counter-strikes, Thomas will claim a close decision at the end of round 3.


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Yves Edwards VS Rich Clementi


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In addition to the UFC, Yves Edwards has competed in top promotions like HooknShoot, SuperBrawl, and King Of The Cage.ÿ Edwards’ last bout in the UFC ended when he connected with a kick to the head of Joao Pierini (causing a shoulder dislocation) at the UFC 37.5. In other UFC competition, he lost to Caol Uno and Matt Serra by decision. Edwards is renowned for his punching and kicking skills, but he is also capable of scoring a quick submission. At times, Edwards has had difficulty adjusting to aggressive assaults and countering strong ground attacks. Clementi’s relentless tendencies will test the full range of Edwards’s skills.


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Rich Clementi is making his first appearance in the competitive UFC lightweight division.ÿ He is the FFC Lightweight Champion and has demonstrated his cross training and ability to finish with a series of KO’s and submissions. He has earned a reputation for his aggressive style, but has worked on refining his wrestling and ground control. He has losses to UFC veterans Ben Earwood by submission, Steve Berger by arm bar, and Pete Spratt by TKO/cut. Since moving down to lightweight, however, he has yet to lose a fight.


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Regardless of the outcome, this match will be the best of the night. Clementi and Edwards both have powerful hands and wicked kicks and can complete submissions from several different positions. Although Clementi has already faced UFC caliber competition in Earwood, Berger, and Spratt, this fight will be the biggest challenge of his career. Edwards’ striking proficiency and UFC experience give him a slight edge, but he can be overwhelmed at times with a strong ground attack. Clementi will approach the fight aggressively, as usual, and work to minimize Edward’s opportunity to strike. Clementi can rely on his improving grappling and wrestling skills to defeat Edwards, but it is his aggressiveness that may betray him.ÿ In a closely fought battle, Edwards will exploit Clementi with a third round submission by arm bar or triangle choke.


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Alexandre Dantas VS Gan McGee


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Alexandre Dantas is a Brazilian Jiujitsu black belt and a former Pan American and World Jujitsu champion.ÿ His only previous MMA experience was at the UFC 27 where he was TKO’d by Yuki Kondo in a light heavyweight match. Since that fight, Dantas has moved up to the heavyweight division. His Jujitsu experience gives Dantas a strong submission game, but he showed difficulty executing takedowns, as well as some fatigue in his last appearance.ÿ In the heavyweight division against bigger, stronger opponents these weaknesses – if they still exist – will be fully exploited.


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Gan McGee is coming off an extremely impressive TKO over UFC veteran, Pedro Rizzo.ÿ Despite being the IFC Super-Heavyweight World Champion and having only a single loss to former heavyweight champion, Josh Barnett, McGee’s skills remain somewhat underrated. At 6’10” – 265lbs, McGee’s size gives him an advantage over most opponents, and he has frequently used this to dominate his opponents with a massive ground and pound attack.ÿ His continued work with SLO Kickboxing and his last victory have established him as a legitimate striker.


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With reverence to the fighting skills of Dantas, McGee caught a break with this match up.ÿ Dantas is still relatively untested in MMA and will be competing in the UFC heavyweight division for the first time.ÿ McGee’s stand-up attack and solid wrestling background combined with his sheer size will allow him to dominate with strikes and on the ground. His MMA experience and training will compensate for Dantas’ submission skills.ÿ In the end, by combining his kickboxing skills with a strong ground and pound attack, McGee will overwhelm the young Jujitsu fighter with a first round TKO.


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Phil Baroni VS Matt Lindland


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Olympic Silver Medalist Matt Lindland is returning to stake out a position for the middleweight title.ÿ Save a convincing loss to Murilo Bustamante at the UFC 37, his record is unblemished with victories over notables like, Travis Fulton, Yoji Anjo, Ricardo Almeida, Pat Miletich, Ivan Salaverry, and his current opponent Phil Baroni. In his previous match with Baroni and his loss to Bustamante, Lindland demonstrated some serious deficiencies on his feet. To improve his stand-up game, Lindland has been working with Chuck Liddell’s head trainer, John Hackleman, but this aspect of his arsenal remains most vulnerable. Notwithstanding, his real strength remains his grappling and wrestling. His clinch, takedowns, and ground control game are strong enough to carry him through any opponent.


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Phil Baroni’s explosive fighting style was on display in last UFC appearance where he KO’d former middleweight champion Dave Menne in 18 seconds. In addition to that victory, Baroni has KO’s over John Hayes in 35 seconds, Robert Sarkozi in 65 seconds, and Amar Suloev in 2 minutes and 55 seconds, as well as a decision over Curtis Stout. His only loss came against his current opponent, Matt Lindland, atÿ UFC 34. Baroni’s grappling skills and takedown skills are good, but they are not on the same level as those of Lindland. His punching power and quick combinations, however, give him the ability to end any fight immediately.ÿ


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This fight is embroiled with acrimony and animosity. Both fighters have taken opportunities to express their cruel intentions for each other, and there was a rumor that the purse would be a winner-take-all. Baroni’s last fight with Dave Menne may have revealed the game plan that will carry him to the championship: go fast, go hard, and wait for McCarthy to step in. Lindland is much more calculating and methodical preferring to control his opponent and inflict punishment on the ground.ÿÿ Lindland will use his grappling to control this fight, while Baroni will exploit every stand-up with reckless abandon.ÿ Lindland is capable of using his ground game to win the fight, but having to face a charging Baroni at least 3 times at the start of each round may be too much to handle.ÿ


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Everything about this fight is reminiscent of a scene from “Enter the Dragon.” On the trip to the island, Bruce Lee tells an overly ambitious and aggressive challenger that he practices “the art of fighting without fighting.” The eager competitor insists that Lee give a demonstration and ends up being tricked into a towed boat behind filling with water. Lindland’s calculating approach and refined positioning could seemingly carry him though a fight without fighting, while the more aggressive, Baroni relies on his flamboyance and pugilist skills.ÿ In the end, it will be Lindland’s patience and wisdom that triumphs over Baroni’s bravado and brawn.ÿ Combining the clinch, takedowns, and ground control – with developing striking skills, Lindland will claim another unanimous decision.


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Pedro Rizzo VS Vlad Matyushenko


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After suffering a loss at the hands of Gan McGee, Pedro Rizzo is returning for another climb to the top UFC heavyweight division.ÿ Few heavyweight fighters have the credentials that Rizzo possesses. With victories over David Abbott, former UFC heavyweight Champion, Josh Barnett, Richard Heard, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Andrei Arlovski, Tre Telligman, Dan Severn, and Vernon White, he has demonstrated his exceptional stand-up game and devastating punching and kicking power.ÿ Rizzo’s weaknesses are also well known.ÿ In spite of his superior kickboxing skills, Rizzo has shown a proclivity to be overly passive, allowing opponents like Randy Couture and Kevin Randleman to dictate the terms of the fight.ÿÿ He also cuts extremely easily.ÿ Aside from the nasty gash opened by McGee, cuts have been a regular occurrence in his UFC appearances.


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Wrestler, Vladimir Matyushenko is a former International Fighting Championship (IFC) heavyweight champion and veteran of the UFCs 32, 33, and 40. In that last appearance he TKO’d wrestler Travis Wiuff in 4:10. One of his two losses came against Tito Ortiz in Las Vegas, while the other was a controversial split decision against Vernon White in the IFC 5.ÿ Matyushenko’s takedown and grappling skills are exceptional.ÿ He is not in same category as his opponent, Rizzo, but he can strike effectively from time-to-time.ÿ Despite his quick victory at the UFC 40, Matyushenko has shown some difficulty finishing and hesitancy when exercising ground control.


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Because of the state of the heavyweight division, there is a lot at stake for both fighters.ÿ A victory for either will put them in good stead for an eventual shot at the title. In the meantime, there could be some lucrative fights ahead with the likes of Tank Abbott, Gan McGee, or Andre Orlovski.ÿ The patterns of both fighters are well established, Rizzo likes to stand and strike, while Matyushenko looks to use his wrestling attributes to wear down his opponent on the ground.ÿ The outcome will depend on which fighter can dictate the terms of the fight.ÿ Rizzo suffers two barriers in this area.ÿ One, in previous match-ups with wrestlers, both Couture and Randleman were able to impose their will and virtually neutralize his stand-up attack with takedowns and clinches. Two, Rizzo is coming off a devastating loss.ÿ How well he has recovered physically and mentally remains a question.ÿ In the end, Matyushenko will exploit both factors scoring a second round TKO (Cut).


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David “Tank” Abbott VS Frank Mir


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Amid speculation, hype, and controversy, UFC veteran Tank Abbott is returning to MMA after an absence of more than four years.ÿ Despite the long absence, Abbott remains one of the most tested in UFC history with a record of 8-7.ÿ He is a veteran of UFCs 6, 11, 13, 15, 17, as well as the Ultimate Ultimate 95, Ultimate Ultimate 96, Ultimate Japan I, and Ultimate Brazil. In his UFC career, Abbott made it to two tournament finals, losing to Oleg Taktarov and Don Frye by rear naked choke. He lost decisions to Dan Severn and Scott Ferrozzo, was KO’d by Vitor Belfort and Pedro Rizzo, and forced to quit from punishment against Maurice Smith. Aside from a decision over Yoji Anjo, all of Abbott’s victories have come from KO or submission from punishment.ÿ Abbott’s strength has always been what he calls “his six-hundred pound jack-hammers.”ÿ No fighter matches his exceptional knockout power.ÿ To compliment his pugilist skills, Abbott has enough wrestling experience to defend the takedown and exercise control over a downed opponent. His weaknesses have always been the same – his conditioning is extremely suspect and he demonstrates little capacity to defend himself on the ground preferring to give up his back rather than employ the guard.ÿ If these faults are corrected is to be determined.


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After receiving a severe thrashing from Ian Freeman at the UFC 38, Frank Mir is returning to the octagon for the fourth time. Before his loss in England, Mir burst into the heavyweight division with impressive submission victories over Roberto Traven and Pete Williams.ÿ There are still many uncertainties surrounding his abilities and attributes.ÿ His submission skills are unquestioned, but his striking skills were not seriously tested, and in 3 UFC fights he has yet to go past the first round.


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I believe Hall of Fame football coach Marv Levy once said, if you are thinking about retiring then you are retired. After his last fight, Mir contemplated retiring from MMA and this may be his biggest obstacle to winning this fight.ÿ Mir’s loss to Ian Freeman demonstrated the missing elements of his fight game – a good stand-up defense and sprawl. To be successful against Tank, he will need to survive the initial onslaught.ÿ The longer Mir can last, the better his chance of victory. Having said this, it will be Tank’s overwhelming aggression and punching power that prevail in a very short match.


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UFC Lightweight Title: BJ Penn VS Caol Uno


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To the chagrin of some, the lightweight division remains the deepest and most talented in the UFC.ÿ When this fact is combined with controversial departure of Jens Pulver, and his recent loss to Duane Ludwig at the UCC12, there is the basis for a great script for the upcoming year. Act I opens with BJ Penn vs. Caol Uno.


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BJ Penn is a talented Brazilian Jujutsu competitor who has demonstrated a sound array of striking skills by scoring KO victories over Joey Gilbert, Din Thomas, Paul Creighton and his current opponent, Caol Uno in 11 seconds.ÿ Ironically, with his ample range of submissions he has yet to finish a fight in this fashion. Aside from the seeming ease with which he seems to master all aspects of combat sports, he has the ability to impose his will and carry out the fight on his terms.ÿ In his qualifying match for the championship, he demonstrated the quality of his takedown defense and counter-attack skills by continually frustrating Serra’s attacks.ÿ In his only loss, Penn was a few seconds short of finishing former champion, Jens Pulver with an armbar.ÿ Pound-for-pound, he makes a case as the most complete fighter in MMA.


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Caol Uno is making his sixth appearance in the UFC. He has victories over Fabiano Iha, Yves Edwards, and Din Thomas. His two losses came to Jens Pulver by decision and to B.J. Penn by KO. In other competition, he submitted Rumina Sato in Shooto competition in 1999 and won a decision over Dennis Hallman in 2000. Uno combines strong wrestling and submission tactics with adequate striking skills. At times, he is unconventional in his assault, which makes him especially dangerous. In his previous fight with Penn, Uno was quickly overwhelmed with a flash combination, but he has demonstrated his ability to overcome strong strikers in his last two victories. The UFC veteran is capable of scoring a KO or a submission, but his ability to grind out a win with an array tactics is his strongest asset.


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The 11second KO will not be repeated here. The skills and tenacity of both fighters lends to a long, strategic battle with the winner claiming a decision.ÿ In both of his previous victories, Uno used his grappling advantages to control and wear down his opponents.ÿ Against, the Jujitsu fighter, he will enjoy no such advantage.ÿ Uno’s best chance will come from his unpredictability and unorthodoxy – a flying knee, a spinning back kick, or a rolling knee-bar. Having said this, Penn is too composed and skilled to be surprised or overwhelmed by the Japanese fighter.ÿ He will become lightweight champion by unanimous decision.


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UFC Heavyweight Title: Ricco Rodriguez VS Tim Sylvia


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Ricco Rodriguez made it to the top of the heavyweight division by defeating former two-time champion Randy Couture September 27 at the Mohegan Sun. Among his accomplishments are an Abu Dhabi submission title, three victories in the Pride Fighting Championships, and the King of the Cage heavyweight Championship. He has wins over top contenders such as Gary Goodridge, Pete Williams, John Marsh, Andrei Arlovski, and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka.ÿ His only loss came in his second fight to Bobby Hoffman by KO. Rodriguez combines strong wrestling with a range of submission skills. His stand-up game continues to improve, but this element of his package remains most vulnerable to exploitation.


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Miletich Fighting Team member, Tim Sylvia, is a veteran of the IFC, Extreme Challenge, and the winner of Super Brawl 24: Return of the Heavyweights where he defeated Mike Whitehead (twice), Boyd Ballard, and Jason Lambert all by TKO. His last UFC appearance was a dominating second round TKO over Wesley Corriera. Sylvia uses his sprawl to defend the takedown and his reach advantage to execute a potent stand-up game of knees and punches.


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In his fight with Couture, Rodriguez proved the strength of his wrestling and grappling skills by wearing down the experienced wrestler on the ground. Against the younger, 6’8 – 260lb, Sylvia, these advantages are somewhat negated.ÿ Despite having only one UFC fight, Sylvia carries the experience of 15 professional matches and has the added advantage of training with former champions, Pat Miletich and Jens Pulver, as well as current welterweight champion, Matt Hughes.ÿ Sylvia is capable of exploiting Rodriguez’s stand-up game with a quick combination or powerful strike, and he will severely test Rodriguez’s striking defense. The biggest obstacle to Sylvia’s success, however, will be Rodriguez’s strong takedowns and capable ground and pound attack.


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This match will be reminiscent of the Couture – Rizzo fight at the UFC 31 – Rodriguez, like Couture, dominating the clinch and ground game, and Sylvia, like Rizzo, controlling the stand-up with strikes from the outside.ÿ Many people thought Rizzo won that fight, while others claimed that his lack of aggressiveness ultimately cost him the championship.ÿ Since that fight, many things have changed in the UFC.ÿ Specifically, strikers have been exercising more dominance and improving their ability to keep fights standing.ÿ Sylvia’s training with Miletich Fighting Systems will give the game plan and the tools to defeat Rodriguez.ÿ A solid takedown defense for the stand-up combined with a refined ground game, will allow Sylvia to survive Rodriguez’s assaults.ÿ As a result, Sylvia will use combinations to score a fourth round TKO and claim the UFC championship.






Summary and Conclusion


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To recap, my picks are:


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Din Thomasÿÿÿÿÿÿ Overÿÿÿÿÿ Matt Serraÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ By Decisionÿÿÿÿÿÿ Round 3


Yves Edwardsÿÿÿ Overÿÿÿÿÿ Rich Clementiÿÿÿ ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ By Submissionÿ Round 3


Gan McGeeÿÿÿÿÿÿ Overÿÿÿÿÿ Alexandre Dantasÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ By TKO ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Round 1


Matt Lindlandÿÿÿÿ Overÿÿÿÿÿ Phil Baroniÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ By Decisionÿÿÿÿÿÿ Round 3


V. Matyushenko Overÿÿÿÿÿ Pedro Rizzoÿÿÿÿÿ ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ By TKO ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Round 2


Tank Abbottÿÿÿÿÿÿ Overÿÿÿÿÿ Frank Mirÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ By KOÿ ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Round 1


BJ PennÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿOverÿÿÿÿÿ Caol Unoÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ By Decisionÿÿÿÿÿÿ Round 5


Tim Sylviaÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Overÿÿÿÿÿ Ricco RodriguezÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿBy TKO ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Round 4


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UFC 41: Onslaught doesn’t hold the same cachet as its predecessor, but it carries on the task of establishing credibility in the sporting world and rebuilding a PPV following with a strong fight card from top-to-bottom.ÿ After a successful 2002, the UFC moves into the New Year working for bigger and better things, reminding one of the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.”


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