Following their trip to Germany the Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to American soil for the battle between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida in the main event of UFC 123, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.
The broadcast began with the preliminaries as Aaron Simpson faced Mark Munoz in the middleweight division.
This battle between two good friends proved to be a very intriguing affair. Munoz’s striking looked top notch throughout, especially as the fight progressed.
He also showed some good defensive work on the ground, always managing to get back to his feet after Simpson took him down.
However, there were a few controversial moments, low kicks from both fighters, and an accidental clash of heads which opened Munoz up, as well as a Simpson eye poke complaint, even though replays showed that it was a Munoz knuckle from a punch that caused the damage.
With the fight going the distance it was down to the judges, with all three giving the fight to Munoz.
It was down to welterweight for the next fight as Matt Brown took on Brian Foster.
This one saw a nice display of ground work from both men in the first round, with some nice submission attempts.
Foster got caught with an inadvertent low kick early in the second, and even though he decided to fight on he was clearly in pain when he delivered some kicks.
It wasn’t long before the fight ended though. After Foster slammed Brown down he went to work with the ground and pound. Seconds later he synched in a guillotine for the impressive submission win.
The hour rounded out with filler material, and more welterweight action between Karo Parisyan and Dennis Hallman.
A quick fight saw Hallman take control after a clinch against the cage. After the referee separated them Hallman dropped Parisyan with a big right, with the referee stopping the fight after Hallman’s unanswered ground a pound, a decision that didn’t sit too well with Parisyan.
The main show began with George Sotiropoulos taking on Joe Lauzon in the lightweight division.
Lauzon came out at the beginning with all guns blazing, connecting with some very good strikes. The good display continued on the ground, especially when Sotiropoulos went for an arm bar and Lauzon escaped into the guard.
But tat was about it from Lauzon. He was obviously shattered after his first round exertions as the Aussie took control from the beginning of the second. It was only a matter of time before he got the win, with Lauzon tapping out to a kimura. Another good victory for the Aussie, even though it pains me to say that just a few days before The Ashes begins.
Then it was up to the light heavyweight division as Phil Davis faced Tim Boetsch.
Davis put in an excellent performance here, controlling every aspect of the fight, from the crisp striking to the dominating ground control.
Boetsch’s only offence of note came with a brief guillotine attempt in the second round. Moments later Davis tied his man in knots, securing a win with a modified kimura which we must now refer to as Mr. Wonderful.
ESPN were then up to their old tricks, coming back late from a commercial break and missing the first 50 seconds or so of the next fight, the lightweight filler material featuring Paul Kelly and T.J. O’Brien.
O’Brien used his extensive reach to good effect in the first round, but the Brit upped his game in the second, dropping O’Brien with a left hook.
Then, after shaking O’Brien off his back, Kelly tied him up with a crucifix before delivering a barrage of elbows and punches. O’Brien tried to escape, but it wasn’t long before the referee stepped in, giving Kelly the TKO win.
Middleweight action in the form of Gerald Harris and Maiquel Falcao followed.
There were times in this fight where it looked like Falcao had been reading from the Audley Harrison Book Of Tactics. There were long periods when he did absolutely nothing. But when he did do something it was highly effective.
Falcao would surely have got the win in the first when he sprang into life and dominated Harris on the ground, synching in a rear naked choke. Harris looked like he was about to tap when the horn sounded.
Falcao dominated the second round, but did absolutely nothing in the third, secure in the knowledge that his previous work had got the job done.
The judges agreed with him, giving him the unanimous decision, although the fans weren’t too happy with the manner of his victory.
The co-main event saw Matt Hughes taking on B.J. Penn in the welterweight division.
The blink and you’ll miss it affair of the evening. Penn came out swinging, a right hand sending Hughes crashing. Penn followed him down, with the referee quickly stepping in, giving Penn the highly impressive knockout win after just 21 seconds. An awesome performance.
After a second showing of the Parisyan/Hallman fight it was on to the main event as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson faced Lyoto Machida in the light heavyweight division.
While this may not have been the most explosive main event in history it was certainly an interesting contrast in styles.
Rampage’s tactics seemed to be to try and outbox Machida with a distinct lack of leg kicks. Machida was more than a match for this, although he found himself on his back a couple of times.
The best moments came in the third round. After a quick exchange Machida took the fight to the ground, where the Dragon controlled the action, going for an arm bar towards the end.
Once again the judges were into action as Rampage earned the split decision, a decision which clearly surprised him.
More filler material rounded out the show as Mike Lullo faced Edison Barboza in the lightweight division.
Barboza’s tactics were spot on here. Although Lullo put in some good work on the ground Barboza’s attack on Lullo’s left leg was relentless. Lullo just didn’t have an answer to this onslaught, and as he limped into the third round it was only a matter of time before the referee put an end to the punishment, ending an impressive debut for Barboza.
In conclusion – the UFC’s second show in two weeks was another highly enjoyable affair with some great performances from top to bottom, topped off nicely by B.J. Penn’s demolition of Matt Hughes and the close fight between Rampage Jackson and Lyoto Machida. I wouldn’t be surprised of those two were match up again very soon.
The only downside was Maiquel Falcao’s somewhat lacklustre performance, but then again you can’t have outstanding performances all the time.
So in all another enjoyable experience, although I have no doubt that someone will leave a message somewhere saying that I must have been watching a different show.