"Rampage" has slayed the "Dragon."
Or has he?
There will be much debate regarding Quinton Jackson's split decision victory over Lyoto Machida last night (Sat., Nov. 20, 2010) at UFC 123 from The Palace of Auburn Hills in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan.
"Rampage" won the first and second rounds on two of the three judges scorecards, while Machida definitively took the third, the round that saw the most action of the night. Some are calling into question the effectiveness of the ten-point must system due to the dominance displayed by Machida in the final frame.
Jackson came out aggressive and took the center of the cage looking to find his range. Machida opened with kicks to cut down the powerful strikers legs but never quite landed with the authority he's exhibited so often in the past.
While "Rampage" may have only landed clean with a big uppercut, he was clearly the more aggressive of the two and pushed the action in all but the final round. After the fight he acted as though he had lost and told Joe Rogan, "Machida whooped my ass."
His shock when Bruce Buffer announced his split decision victory was obvious but undoubtedly sweet for the erratic Jackson. Whether you agree with the judges or not, the W belongs to "Rampage."
Could we see a rematch in the near future? Both fighters say they would love one.
The main event may not have delivered the kind of action so many had hoped but that certainly was not the case in the co-main event of the evening.
B.J. Penn was looking to make a statement after two decision losses to current Lightweight Champion Frank Edgar. He would have to do so at the expense of one of the most dominant welterweight champions of all time in former nemesis Matt Hughes.
We heard you loud and clear, sir.
Just 21 seconds into the first round, Penn landed a thunderous right hook straight to the country boy's chin. Hughes dropped to the canvas having been completely separated from his senses.
The follow up punches while Hughes lay prone were brutal and put an exclamation point on a trilogy that many never wanted to see completed.
There was doubt in the minds of fans and pundits alike as to whether or not the "Prodigy" would come into this fight motivated. Would he be in shape for his move back up to 170-pounds? Would he put the work in order to compete with a reinvigorated and suddenly relevant Matt Hughes?
There's no doubt anymore.
Whether Penn remains at welterweight or drops back down to 155-pounds to make another run at the lightweight title, there is no question that he still has a lot left to offer in MMA.
UFC newcomer Maiquel "Big Rig" Falcao made his debut against surging middleweight Gerald "Hurricane" Harris. Coming in, it was understood that Falcao had the heavier hands but Harris would hold the edge in wrestling.
That didn't account for weak strategy.
Harris came in pumping a jab and wasn't looking to take the fight to the floor, where he was thought to have the advantage. Ignorance is no defense but it was clear the "Hurricane" didn't know what he was dealing with.
"Big Rig" took his time to letting his hands go but once he did, he landed hard and made it count.
He dropped Harris in both the first and second rounds with shots and quickly took his back both times looking to end the night with a rear naked choke. He wasn't able to do so but after decidedly winning the first two frames, he decided to play it safe in the third.
The crowd didn't like it but who can argue a winning strategy?
In the end it was clear that "Hurricane" brought little more than a shower and "Big Rig" could have a rather bright future in the UFC.
Another strong wrestler in Phil Davis came into the night looking to extend his winning streak to eight and build on an impressive start to what he hopes will be a long career with the world's largest fight promotion. Tim Boetsch was in his way and hoping to derail the hype train.
Train roll on.
"Mr. Wonderful" put on a performance worthy of his name and dominated the "Barbarian." But he didn't just do it with his wrestling. He demonstrated very well-rounded skills in avoiding Boetsch's takedown attempts and slipping strikes like a season veteran.
When he wanted to take the fight to the mat that's exactly what he did.
Fans were hoping to avoid a typical top control decision they have come to expect from the young hungry lion. Davis came to put on a show and he displayed his improving submission game by locking in a kimura and then when it wasn't getting him the finish, modified it and turned it into a move that Joe Rogan dubbed "The Mr. Wonderful."
Whatever it was, it got the job done.
It's time for a big step up in competition for the dangerous and still young light-heavyweight.
The opening bout of the evening showcased two lightweights with outstanding jiu-jitsu and a propensity to finish the job once they get a hold of a limb.
It was the exact performance so many have come to expect from the Australian phenom. Having fought seven times in the UFC and winning every single one of those fights, you would think the next stop for "Sots" would be a title shot, or at least a number one contender bout.
No such luck.
With such a great performance tonight, it seems he deserves more. Lauzon came out aggressive and pushed the action in the opening stanza. He may have won the round with superior striking and outstanding takedown defense. He seemed to gas and was tired heading into the second.
He was no match for Sotiropoulos once it went to the floor.
"Sots" put on yet another clinic and the German brawler Dennis Siver will certainly have his hands full early next year (2011).
After the borefest that was UFC 122, this event delivered plenty of finishes and exciting action.
But that's enough from us -- now it's your turn to discuss "Rampage vs Machida" in the comments section below. Did you agree with the judges when they awarded "Rampage" the split decision victory over the "Dragon?" Or did you feel Machida did enough to steal the victory? Where does B.J. Penn go from here? Is Matt Hughes done? What about Phil Davis? Now that he's won four in a row in the UFC, who should he fight next? Should George Sotiropoulos be getting a title shot soon?
Sound off, Maniacs.
For complete UFC 123 results and detailed blow-by-blow commentary of the televised main card fights click here.