Flashback Friday: UFC 31: Locked and Loaded

Heading to the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA, UFC held an event on May 4th, 2001, titled “Locked and Loaded.” The card had two championship bouts, with newly crowned heavyweight champion Randy Couture headlining the card against Pedro Rizzo.

Changes To The UFC

Some small changes happened at UFC 31. For one, the new UFC logo, the old UFC logo was completely gone from the show. The new UFC logo, the one seen nowadays was displayed on the canvas of the octagon. Also, the champions were given the newer championship design.

The weight classes were updated on this show, being changed to what they are nowadays.

DeSouza Gets Debut Win

In his first appearance in the UFC, Tony DeSouza was able to use his strong takedown skills to dominate Steve Berger for three rounds. He evaded numerous takedown attempts as well, going 15 minutes and getting the decision win.

Play-by-play of DeSouza versus Berger.

Penn Wins In Explosive Debut

Making his professional MMA debut, BJ Penn stopped Joey Gilbert in the first round with strikes.

Getting many takedowns in the fight, Penn was able to end it with punches while on the back of Gilbert.

This as the last UFC appearance for Gilbert, who fought two more times before retiring.

Penn would appear again at the next event, UFC 32.

Play-by-play of Penn versus Gilbert.

Disqualification Earns Lindland Win

Despite a dominant performance, it wasn’t what gave Matt Lindland his second win in the UFC. After his opponent, Ricardo Almeida, threw kicks to a grounded opponent three times, he was disqualified.

Lindland moved to 2-0 as a pro, with both wins taking place in the UFC. The fight was the debut for Almeida in the UFC. The matchup kicked off the main card.

Play-by-play of Lindland versus Almeida.

Schilt Stops Williams In Two

The towering Semmy Schilt defeated Pete Williams in his UFC debut, stopping him with punches and knees early in the second round.

The first round went more in favour of Williams, who kept Schilt on the ground.

“The second round was how I planned to fight,” said Schilt afterwards.

Play-by-play of Schilt versus Williams.

Main Event For UFC 33 Announced

Before the next fight, it was announced that Tito Ortiz would fight Elvis Sinosic at UFC 33. Ortiz and Sinosic were there for a short interview. Ortiz was sporting the new UFC belt, which wasn’t shown on a UFC broadcast before.

At the end of the relatively friendly conversation, Ortiz made Sinosic touch his belt, saying “that’ll be the last time you get close to it, buddy.”

Last Minute Spinning Backfist Secures Win For Carter

After nearly three rounds of close battle, a spinning backfist connected from Shonie Carter that ended his fight against debuting Matt Serra.

Earlier in the fight, Carter landed numerous takedowns and did a good job to stop the attempts Serra made.

Play-by-play of Carter versus Serra.

Liddell Beats Former Heavyweight Champion

With an explosive and quick win, Chuck Liddell stopped Kevin Randleman in the first round. Getting a knockout win, Liddell connected with a left hook that dropped Randleman, landing a few follow-up punches before the fight ended.

Randleman’s previous fight was a loss to Randy Couture, giving up his UFC Heavyweight Championship in the fight. He dropped down to light heavyweight for this fight.

“I’m a good fighter. I like coming out and banging. Doesn’t sound like people are too happy about it. Oh well,” said Liddell, noting the large amount of boos coming from the crowd.

Play-by-play of Liddell versus Randleman.

Newton Crowned New Welterweight Champion

Returning to the UFC, Carlos Newton stopped Pat Miletich in the third round to win the UFC Welterweight Championship. The close battle ended in the third round after Newton slipped in a bulldog choke.

“That guy was a nightmare,” said Newton, describing his opponent, Miletich.

Miletich previously defended the promotion’s 170-pound belt five times. “To be a legend you gotta beat a legend, and Pat’s definitely legendary,” said Newton.

Play-by-play of Newton versus Miletich.

Couture Prevails In War

Making the first defence of his UFC Heavyweight Championship, Randy Couture edged out scorecards against challenging Pedro Rizzo.

The win was close, with both fighters having near finishes at some point.

“That is by far the biggest battle I’ve been in my career,” said Couture afterwards.

Couture had a quick start in the fight, nearly finishing Rizzo with strikes on the ground near the end.

Rizzo bounced back in the second round, putting together strong striking combinations that even dropped Couture at one point.

Takedowns were what gave Couture the edge in the later rounds, with fatigue playing a factor near the end.

After the fight, Couture commended the performance from Rizzo, saying “he was everything that they billed him to be.”

Rizzo had challenged for a belt before, losing a decision to Kevin Randleman at UFC 26.

Rizzo was quite doubtful about the result being accurate after the fight, saying “this time I think I won that fight.”

Play-by-play of Couture versus Rizzo.

What Came Next

The next event in the 2001 calendar was Pride 14 “Clash of the Titans.” The card featured lots of the hard hitters that were frequenting the promtion at the time, happening on May 27th.

UFC returned in June with UFC 32, “Showdown In The Meadowlands.” Headlining the card, Tito Ortiz put his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on the line against Elvis Sisonic.

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