UFC 45: What happened at UFC's 10th anniversary show?
On November 21, 2003, the UFC promoted its 10th-anniversary show, UFC 45, live from Uncasville, Connecticut.
In a nice touch, UFC introduced it's Hall of Fame at this show and made UFC 1 veterans, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock it's first two members. It made sense as those two were the biggest drawing cards of the early years of UFC, with Gracie winning the tournaments at UFC 1, 2 and 4 and Shamrock winning the inaugural "Superfight" Championship.
Gracie and Shamrock both gave well-received acceptance speeches.
The card was meant to be headlined by a Heavyweight title match but champion Tim Sylvia tested positive for steroids before the show and the bout had to be pulled.
Frank Mir was scheduled to be his opponent, then when Sylvia was forced to withdraw, he was booked to face Wes Sims in a re-match of UFC 43, then when Sims pulled out, he was booked opposite Pat Smith, who competed at the first few UFC events, but he withdrew too. This resulted in Mir not competing at the show either.
Therefore, the headliner, was Welterweight Champion, Matt Hughes versus Frank Trigg. Despite his legendary trash talking, Trigg could not get it done inside the Octagon as Hughes withstood a takedown to manoeuvre Trigg into a submission hold for the win. Truly superb wrestling.
The co-main event saw Matt Lindland defeat Falaniko Vitale in a dull bout. Lindland finally won by pounding away at Vitale in the mount.
"Ruthless" Robbie Lawler, for once went the distance in his fight with Chris Lytle which was an electric brawl from start to finish. Lawler edged a tight decision.
Tank Abbott's UFC career came to a disappointing end versus Cabbage Correira. Tank, who had lost both of his previous bouts versus Frank Mir and Kimo was once more overwhelmed by Correira.
It took just over two minutes for Correira to pound the veteran into submission after an entertaining brawl leading up to that point. Correira nailed Tank with hard knees that earned the stoppage. This bout is most remembered though for its post-fight brawl.
Cabbage mocked Tank after his win, doing a silly dance in front of him. Tank rose above it but his corner overreacted, leading to a mass brawl.
Tank would even the score with Correira, defeating him in a re-match, two years later on a Hawaiian MMA card.
Evan Tanner defeated Phil Baroni in another fight, memorable for its finish. Baroni dominated the early going with some big combinations. Tanner managed to stem the tide by taking down Baroni to the mat and working him over in the mount. However, that is where the controversy began. Referee, Larry Landless apparently asked Baroni if he was OK to continue and Baroni responded saying he was. Bafflingly, then Landless stopped the fight in favour of Tanner, declaring that Baroni had given up.
Baroni was enraged and swung punches at Landless after the finish, in a deeply regrettable scene. He was lucky to keep his job after that one. Baroni was particularly mad as earlier in the fight, he had Tanner beat, when Landless stopped the fight to check on Tanner's cut, which was not serious, giving Tanner a reprieve and the opportunity to win.
The UFC's 10 year anniversary event which was meant to show a larger audience that the company had evolved into a regulated, non-barbaric sport and two of its bouts ended in wild, chaotic brawls. UFC President, Dana White must have been incensed.
The action was entertaining but as a shop window, the event was a disaster. It also disappointed at the box office. Without a Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture style headliner, the card pulled just 40,000 buys on pay per view.