In what was a rather interesting event, UFC 90 will be remembered for several things but namely an impressive debut from an all-time great heavyweight and a main event that ended in disappointment. For the state of Illinois though it marked the first UFC event to be held in the state and it was held in Allstate Arena rather than the United Center, a play many events will follow suit with.
A look back at UFC 90
The event as a whole though was loaded when you look back on it. When you include the entire roster for the fights that night you would get four UFC champions in Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum, Sean Sherk, and of course Anderson Silva who was the main event and in the middle of his historic run as champion. On top of the future champs, you would also have four future title challengers in Gray Maynard, Thiago Alves, Josh Koscheck, and Thales Leites.
Looking back on a card like this in late 2008 shows how this was when the sport was starting to change. The UFC had Anderson Silva to ride high on, several great wrestlers who lacked elite striking in Koscheck and Maynard, and the debut of the original boogeyman of the heavyweight division in dos Santos.
The event as a whole saw a ton of action and came away with several storylines that fans would follow and build a fandom with, starting on the undercard.
A Buster Douglas Moment for a Debuting Heavyweight
Okay so maybe it wasn’t an upset on a Buster Douglas level but it still shocked fans who had been following the sport. UFC veteran Fabricio Werdum had been clamoring for a title shot but was left out of the picture so he took a fight to stay active in the meantime against a promotional debutant, Junior dos Santos.
dos Santos would enter the fight a 5-1 underdog according to Illinois sportsbooks that night and Werdum himself was looking right through him with the focus on the winner of Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar being his focus. The fight wouldn’t last long as dos Santos would score a vicious uppercut that folded Werdum like a lawn chair and would start a run by dos Santos that would lead to the heavyweight title and for Werdum he would be cut from the promotion entirely.
The Pitbull Earns His Title Shot
Thiago “Pitbull” Alves, coming into UFC 90, was riding a six-fight winning streak that was highlighted by five knockouts highlighted by a vicious flying knee against UFC legend Matt Hughes. The hype was surrounding Alves and while he was scheduled originally for Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck would step in and give Alves a tough test with the promise of a title shot looming for the winner.
Alves would win the fight via unanimous decision with two of the three judges scoring 30-27, Alves would use his muay thai, specifically his leg kicks, to keep Koscheck at bay. His wrestling defense, in particular, was what really had people talking with him heading into a fight with Georges St-Pierre, ultimately that would be a moot point but in October 2008 that was a discussion.
Anderson Silva Misses Out on Another Shining Performance
The legend of Anderson Silva was in full effect by UFC 90, he had a 7-0 record in the UFC and had already defended the middleweight title four times and had finished all seven of his fights up to that point.
Standing in his way of a fifth title defense was the always scrappy and well-rounded Patrick Cote. Cote entered the fight on an impressive five-fight winning streak that included three knockout finishes of his own. Sadly the fight wouldn’t go much past two rounds as Cote would suffer a debilitating knee injury that would see him take almost two years before returning.
Silva would go on to make another appearance at light heavyweight and defend his title another six times and cement himself as one of the greatest fighters in not just MMA but combat sports as a whole.
Tons to remember from UFC 90, tons of money would be lost by Illinois Sportsbooks thanks to Junior dos Santos, but all in all MMA fans would be able to remember a memorable night some 13 years later.