Vernon Bryant / Dallas Morning News
Published Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009 | 5:30 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009 | 10:30 p.m.
- Vitor Belfort is back, TKOs Rich Franklin in first round
- UFC 103 Slideshow
- Vitor Belfort puts on phenomenal performance in UFC return
- White not impressed with Mayweather’s comeback victory
- Breaking down UFC 103: Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort
- Vitor Belfort, Efrain Escudero miss mark at UFC 103 weigh-ins
- UFC 103: Breakdown and Picks
- Naturally UFC 103 event is larger in Lonestar State
- Fireside chat with Dana White
- Video: The Return of "The Phenom"
- Bonus machine Tyson Griffin not worried about cash award in bout with Hermes Franca
- Frank Trigg eyeing one last title run
- Rich Franklin not thinking about title shots
- Mirko Filipovic back for good
- Video: UFC 103: Prepare for the Unexpected
- Complete UFC 103 coverage
Vitor Belfort's return to the UFC became official just three minutes into his bout with Rich Franklin.
The Brazilian clipped "Ace" with a big left hand and finished the former middleweight champ with three powerful punches on the ground as 17,428 fans watched at the American Airlines Arena tonight during the UFC's first promotion in Dallas.
"Jesus I love you!" screamed the former light heavyweight champ moments after his first-round TKO. "Glory to God. I want to thank all the fans. I trained so hard, away from my family for three months. God gave me the gift of speed and power."
Franklin, whose previous losses have come at the hands of UFC pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva, unbeaten light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida and former PRIDE champ Dan Henderson, didn't know what happened.
“I’m a little scrambled," he told UFC announcer Joe Rogan. "I asked my corner what caught me and put me down?"
"It looked like it just grazed me. Once you get clip, everything kind of goes blank. I’m sure things will start to come back when I get to the locker room."
Earlier in the week, UFC President Dana White said if Belfort won, he would be in the hunt for a possible bout with friend Anderson Silva. "The Phenom" said whatever the UFC wants him to do, he'll do.
“I’m here to work,” Belfort said.“Anderson’s my friend. I like him as a fighter. A great fighter. But if Dana (White) and Frank (Fertitta) decide ... I’m an employee and I’m here to fight anyone who steps in the ring.”
Rick Story not only picked up his first win in the UFC, but he got paid handsomely for doing it. His submission choke of Brian Foster earned the 25-year-old $130,000 in bonues as he won both "The Fight of the Night" and "Submission of the Night" honors.
Belfort took home the Knockout of the Night award and corresponding $65,000 check.
The estimated gate of $2.4 million is the largest sports gate in American Airlines Center history, trailing only a 2005 Rolling Stones concert has the largest mark ever.
White said he was impressed with the turnout for the UFC record 13-bout card and promised the promotion will soon return to the Lone Star State.
“Dallas was great. This place was packed, tons of energy. Big gate, great crowd, great night of fights," White said. "We’ll be back. We’re going all over Texas, not just Dallas."
Main event (9:00 p.m.)
Time for the main event.
But first a few fans in Dallas are feeling a little feisty themselves. A couple of guys got into it about 20 rows up with one fighter, I mean fan, landing a downward superman punch sending both men tumbling a couple of rows closer to the sanctioned action. The scrum stopped when police broke it up and the UFC flipped on the main event preroll.
Former UFC champ light heavyweight champ Vitor Belfort entered to Brazilian rap music, wearing white trunks.
Former middleweight champ Rich Franklin entered to ACDC's "For those about to Rock," wearing his patented brown and pink shorts.
As always, Bruce Buffer provided the cue: "It's Tiiimmmeee!"
Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort
A smattering of boos rings out as both fighters are feeling each other out for the first minute. Franklin rushes in and tries to land a shot, but Belfort snaps a punch. Franklin tries once again, but the same result. Belfort centers himself in the Octagon throws and uppercut that is partially block, throw a right that misses, before unleashing a huge left that clips Franklin, who immediately falls to the mat. Belfort lands three more power punches on the ground before ref Yves Lavigne jumps in and stops it.
Main Card (9:15 p.m.)
The UFC's pre-event highlight video never gets old, and the crowd in Dallas, many seeing it for the first time, have their eyes glued to the screens. The lights go out and the fans voice their approval once more (the Cowboys might want to think about handing out cough drops or serving hot tea tomorrow).
Buffer doesn't have to worry about it as he screams We are llliiivvveee!
Junior dos Santos vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic
Big strikes by both fighters left the two bruised and bloodied after the first round. The bigger Dos Santos looked to have landed a couple more significant shots in the second round. He took control in the third with huge knees and a couple of big punches. He caught Cro Cop in the eye with a shot two minutes into the third and the Croatian signaled he could not see and couldn't continue.
"I hope everybody enjoyed my fight. The United States has been wonderful to me," said Dos Santos, who did a backflop onto the mat in celebration.
After taking out both Cro Cop and Fabricio Werdum, the sky seems to be the limit for the 25-year-old.
Martin Kampmann vs. Paul Daley
Things couldn't have gone much worse for Kampmann. The Xtreme Couture fighter was supposed to fight Mike Swick to find out who was the welterweight's top contender. Swick got injured and Paul Daley filled in, and in a big way. He landed several big blows early, got Kampmann in trouble with a huge shot midway through the first round, and then finished the fight shortly thereafter. Ref Dan Miraagliotta pulled Daley off him as the two were pressed up against the cage and Kampmann was not defending his punches.
"It was a very just decision. The ref saw his eyes roll back a couple of times. It was a good stoppage. I would have hurt him," said Daley, a English fighter, who was booed heavily. "I'm very pleased. I think the fans aren’t happy because he's such a fan favorite."
Josh Koscheck vs. Frank Trigg
Trigg's return to the UFC was a quick one as Koscheck scored a technical knockout just a 1:25 into the first round. Trigg wasn't happy with the stoppage as he felt he could have kept going. But after Koscheck floored him with a big right, the four-time All-American wrestlter landed a handful of strong punches that Trigg had no answer for.
"To get back to my winning ways is awesome. Thank you Texas 2-0," said Koscheck, who had lost to Paulo Thiago at UFC 95, but defeated Diego Sanchez at UFC 69 in Houston in April of 2007. "I just love you guys and appreciate all your support."
The crowd responded with reverberating boos.
When asked what's up next, Koscheck said he has his sights set on a legend. "There's a guy that just signed a new contract — Matt Hughes. I've been asking for that for a long time," Koscheck said. "I don't care who I fight. I'll fight anybody, any place. I'll fight every month."
Tyson Griffin vs. Hermes Franca
No Fight of the Night money here, maybe the KO dough though. Griffin connected cleanly with a big right hand that put the purple-haired Franca to the mat in the second round. The Xtreme Couture fighter followed with a series of blows to improve his UFC mark to 7-2.
“Yes sir. I was patient He's one of the toughest guys I ever fought. I think I quieted some critics," Griffin told Rogan after scoring his TKO at the 3:26 mark of the second
While it took Griffin, who has won five Fight of the Night awards, awhile to get going (as has been the case all night the crowd let them know they wanted action), he started the second round trading two blows to every one of Franca's shots. The 25-year-old Griffin nearly caught Franca, who was returning from a torn ACL, with a couple of shots before landing the big right.
Preliminary bouts (8:00 p.m.)
Efrain Escudero vs. Cole Miller
It took a little while for him to throw his hands, but when the TUF No. 8 winner did, he made Miller pay. A big right knocked Miller to the mat and the Mexican Escudero, a fan favorite, finished things from there.
Escudero ran around the Octagon, pounded the mat, blew kisses to the crowd and bowed.
"It's my first knockout guys," Miller said as the crowd roared in approval. “Im glad to be back. I w ant to thank everybody here. You guys are my fans."
Drew McFedries vs. Tomasz Drwal
While the bout lasted only six minutes, it was quite the war. The two both landed big bombs in the first round. But when Drwal, who was making his middleweight debut, got the fight to the ground he was able to gain control. He finished the "The Massacre" off with a rear-naked choke 1:03 into the second stanza.
"Look at my eye," Drwal told Rogan when he asked if any of MCFedries blows did damage. "He has heavy hands but I was able to survive. I always want to give the public a good show. I want to thank the UFC for helping me build a future here in America."
Undercard bouts (5:15 p.m.)
A loud roar arose from the American Airlines Center at 5:15 p.m. as the lights went out and the bass thundered on.
The scene — while it won't be the biggest event of the weekend with the Dallas Cowboys playing their first game in their brand new billion-dollar stadium — it signaled Dallas’ official debut into the UFC as a record 13 fights will take place at UFC 103, including a main event between former middleweight champ Rich Franklin and former light heavyweight champ Vitor Belfot.
“It’s gonna be a great fight card. We’re gonna start early and end late,” said Dickie Cole, the state’s combative sport program manager of the event that will be the arena’s largest gate in terms of ticket revenue for a sporting event — and may even surpass the Rolling Stones concert held there.
Midway through the first bout, the crowd erupted once again as fan favorite Tito Ortiz took his seat near the Octagon with his wife Jenna Jameson.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is also in the house.
Jim Miller vs. Steve Lopez
Lopez' UFC debut ends in disappointing fashion as he popped his left shoulder out trying to throw a punch. Lopez, who was in trouble in the first after Miller landed a flurry of blows and caught him on the ground, waived the ref off, saying he could no longer continue 48 seconds into the second round.
Moments later the crowd let out a collective groan as big screens showed Lopez' shoulder protruding under his skin. But the Indiana native didn't seem to be in shock as he calmly told UFC cutman Jacob Duran what had happened.
"That's not how I want to get the win," said Miller, who improved to 4-1 in the UFC. "I want a knockout, a submission or the ref to pull me off a fighter. Not like that. He's a tough kid."
Nik Lentz vs. Rafaello Oliveira
Lentz, the only Texas native on the card, picked up a victory in his UFC debut by basically winning the fight in the second round with effective striking. Oliveira likely took the first and bloodied Lentz up pretty good, but the El Paso native did enough in the second and third to take the bout with scores of 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
"It's great to get the win. I felt 100-percent going in and my training partners prepared me to succeed," Lentz said.
Rick Story vs. Brian Foster
You could tell when they bumped heads at Friday's weigh-ins that these two weren't gonna let the bout go the distance as both fighters were looking for their first UFC win.
The two wasted no time once in the Octagon, swinging away wildly. While it looked like Foster might have got the best of story with a couple of big blows in the first round, "The Horror Story" bounced back in the second by submitting Foster with an arm triangle while within his guard.
"I knew I was going to be the gunslinger. I knew it was going to be a gun fight. He hit me with some good shots," Story said. "He hit me with some good shots. I didn't even see them coming. He hit me a couple times and he showed up in a different place. It was crazy."
Eliot Marshall vs. Jason Brilz
Another fight goes the distance, but this time the judges can't agree on the winner. Chris Lee gives the bout to Brilz, but Kent Basinger and Cecil Peoples score the fight 30-27 in favor of the split decision winner Marshall. The TUF No. 8 cast member was more active than Brilz and able to really defend against the ground game. The victory is Marshall's third-straight in the UFC, while Brilz lost for just the second time in his career.
"I felt like I won the fight," Marshall said. "I wanted to get more power behind my punches. I was confident in my ground game going in but I didn't want to be on the bottom."
Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Igor Pokrajac
Matyushenko might look more like your neighbor than a mixed martial artist, and the 38-year-old's nickname of "The Janitor" certainly doesn't help his case. But the Belarusian hits hard. His power punches and constant pressure on Pokrajac, helped Matyushenko to his first victory in the UFC since February 2003. All three judges scored the bout — which the crowd booed during its few lulls, but were much appreciative when the pace picked up in the second round — 30-27.
"I'm very excited to be back in the UFC," said Matyushenko, who improved his career mark to 23-4. "The fight game has improved. There are no easy fights anymore."
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Robert Emerson
The two kicked off the night's festivities with an action-packed bout that went the distance. The two stood for much of the fight, each landing solid punches and kicks, dos Anjos was particularly effective with his inner leg kicks. In the end it was the 24-year-old Brazilian dos Anjos, who broke his two-fight losing streak and picked up his first win in the UFC with a 30-27 score across all three judges scorecards.
"I really felt the pressure this fight. I felt if I lost this might be my last match in the UFC," said dos Anjos, who had suffered close setbacks to Jeremy Stephens and Tyson Griffin.
Andy Samuelson can be reached at an[email protected] or 702-948-7837.