UFC Vol. 56 - Full Force DVD Review
Fresh off season two of the Ultimate Fighter, coaches Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes were showcased in UFC 56 - Full Force against less than "championship level" fighters. Still though, both champions were ready as well as their opponents. The rest of the card comprised of several familiar and new faces.
Ansar Chalangov was a fighter of noteworthy mentioning in MMA. His success in smaller shows had propelled him to the big leagues against a young standout of the heralded American Top Team. Thiago Alves' UFC debut was a disappointing loss to Spencer Fisher in a bout he was favored to win. His match up with Chalangov would be an interesting one for both fighters. After some good action, the bout took a sharp turn to the victor via TKO.
With the success of the Ultimate Fighter TV series, many of the former contestants/fighters made for good fillers of fight cards. Sam Hoger the heel of the house of season one was back after a set back against season one finalist Stephan Bonnar. Hoger's well-rounded skills were put to the test against an older fighter, but newcomer with a karate base. Jeff Newton had racked up a good 4-1 record against lighter opposition in smaller shows. Right off the bat, Newton's fight stance was very unconventional as he positioned himself in a Karate/Tae Kwon Do side-stance. The battle would be a see-saw battle that would go into two rounds.
After several years of compiling one of the busiest MMA careers, Jeremy Horn signed a 3-fight deal with the UFC...with the first fight against Light Heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell. Unfortunately for Horn, his long awaited rematch with Liddell resulted in a disappointing loss. His second fight would be in the middleweight (185lb) division against a strong fighter from South Africa. Trevor Prangley was a big middleweight, his strength and explosive style drove many former opponents into fits. His most recent victory against BJJ black belt Travis Lutter took many by surprise. A very close fight that would go the distance would leave many unhappy, but technically a very good match.
This card was a double main event featuring two champions, but the following fight in itself was arguably the most competitive on paper and could have been a main even it itself. Sean Sherk was MMA's unfortunate son. His incredible record of 29-1-1 was the result of a swarming wrestling style. His only blemish came in the hands of champion Matt Hughes in UFC 42, and even that match went the distance. Since his loss, he found it hard find a place in the bigger shows (Pride, UFC, and K-1) to exhibit his skills. He was financially strapped and briefly retired from the sport. His call though was answered by the UFC, but his opponent though young, certainly wasn't a novice. Georges St. Pierre's MMA career sky-rocketed immediately after his debut in the UFC. In his debut he bested Judo standout Karo Parisyan. After a spectacular knockout of Jay Hieron, he found himself in a championship match-up against Matt Hughes. While St. Pierre certainly had the physical and skillful attributes to someday become a champion, many questioned whether he really deserved a crack at the title. The bout against Hughes went his way until Hughes turned things around. Many of his critics took pleasure in his defeat (lone defeat in MMA) via an arm-bar submission, but his stock actually did rise considering he really gave Hughes a battle. From this lesson, he tore through an impressive list of good fighters: Dave Strasser, Jason Miller, and most impressively in dominating fashion his victory over Frank Trigg. The stage was set for two fighters at the top of the food chain in regards to contention of Matt Hughes' title. The fight was impressive from a technical and action standpoint, but a clear winner would have his hand raised.
The aforementioned Matt Hughes was ready to defend his title against Karo Parisyan. Unfortunately for many fight fans, Parisyan injured himself in training and had to pull out. With little time to work with, the UFC decided on Joe "Diesel" Riggs. Another disappointment though occurred at the weigh-ins as Riggs failed to make weight and the bout was decided to go on but as a non-title match instead. This soured the co-main event, but the bout did have interesting substance. Matt Hughes could not afford to lose, even if it was a non-title match. Riggs while not fighting for the title still posed a threat to Hughes given his size and strength that on paper rivaled Hughes. The battle between two goliaths of the lightweight (170lb.) division would end in one round after a rather surprising submission.
The always crucial bout before the main event has always carried importance to provide excitement and buzz to carry over to the main event. In selecting Gabriel Gonzalez versus Kevin Jordan, the UFC brass believed in something many did not see...or later would have to unfortunately experience. In short, this bout did end in a dramatic KO, but a lesson in dancing was not billed!
Since a convincing victory over Ken Shamrock in the Ultimate Fighter Finale, Rich Franklin's fan base really took an upwards directional swing. He followed this up with beating Evan Tanner into a doctor stoppage to earn the middleweight championship. His fortunes took off when he was selected (along with Matt Hughes) as a coach for the popular Ultimate Fighter II. TV show. His opponent thought left many with doubts of a competitive fight. Nate Quarry is no novice, he was labeled this by many because of his participation in season one of the Ultimate Fighter. In that original season, Quarry suffered a freakish injury and was not able to continue. At 35 years, he was the elder of the two and had strong right hand that helped him earn the nickname "the Rock". His 8-1 record was impressive, but his victories were not against contender level fighters. After a good feel out period, a noticeable broken nose followed by a paralyzing straight would send the defeated down for the count. A clear and convincing victory to end things for the night.