Sunday, November 21, 2010


Fast action, fighters getting knocked down, mind games on the ground; this match had it all! I really like both of these fighters and have been eagerly awaiting this fight. I'm a bigger fan of The Dragon's, though, and it's the primary reason I predicted that he'd take it.

My prediction wasn't all subjective, though. Rampage's primary method of success in the Octagon is getting hold of guys, slamming them, dealing huge ground and pound, or catching them on their feet with just one punch. I was sure that Lyoto's legendary elusiveness would allow him to avoid all that, and that he would be able to slip past Rampage's defenses and either knock him out like he did Rashad, or take him down and submit him somehow.

Machida utilized his trademark elusiveness throughout the match
I'm not counting Rampage out by any means, though. I'm a big fan of his as well and never dismissed the possibility that he could catch Lyoto at any time during the fight. I'd have been very surprised if he could pull this off, but it's not impossible. Hell, Shogun did it just six months ago.


The round clearly demonstrates both fighters' game plans: Machida wants to keep his distance from Rampage and jump on any openings to possibly knock Jackson out. Rampage, meanwhile, is keeping his cool and observing Lyoto as much as he can to get in proper distance to land his trademark one-punch knockout.

One thing's clear though: he still ain't checkin' 'em. Lyoto threw at least a dozen leg kicks during the round and Rampage checked none of them. Most of them were probing rather than damaging, though, as Lyoto used his foot instead of his shin to connect. These were mostly for distance control, which is what Machida's style is all about.

Rampage gets the clinch, and I fully expected a takedown or a slam. Surprisingly, this never happened, as Machida not only avoided being taken down by Rampage, he even reversed him on the cage and attempted to take him down instead. Lyoto's a black belt in BJJ, so I could definitely see him submitting Rampage on the ground. Lyoto decides to separate, though, and stick to his game plan of distance control and landing precision strikes.

The round ends and I give it to Machida. Rampage landed a few punches here and there, but Machida landed much more. Pretty much all his kicks connected, and he definitely dealt more damage in that round.


Much of the fight was spent in the clinch
The bell for the second round rings, and both fighters come out pretty much the same as in the first. This time, however, Rampage manages to take Machida down after he clinches with him. He doesn't manage to deal any damage, though, as Machida manages to immediately stand up. Another thing is that every time Machida separates from Rampage, he gets caught with a punch. It's very dangerous that he doesn't seem to be guarding his head well enough, especially in close quarters, considering who his opponent is.

The round comes to a close and it's The Dragon's turn to catch Rampage. Machida catches Jackson with a straight right just as the bell rings and charges in with a head kick. He immediately breaks out of it and apologizes, though. That's a shame that he landed that strike so late into the round. I would have liked to see this fight be Rashad all over again, since I never, for once, thought that Machida could knock Rampage out.

In any case, I gave the round to Machida, especially considering that last shot. The round's extremely close, though, considering that Rampage managed to take Machida down early on and kept landing shots every time the two broke away from each other.


Rampage catches Machida with a left hook
It's the final round and Rampage finally wises up and throws a leg kick of his own. One of his downfalls, aside from not checking leg kicks, has always been that he very rarely mixes up his strikes. He just goes for the one-punch knockout most of the time. It was a great relief to see him actually throw kicks for once, but, unfortunately, that was the only one he threw. D'oh!

Machida's no one trick pony, though, and proves that by catching Rampage yet again early in the round with a right hook and swarms Rampage with combinations one after the other. Rampage has a great chin, though, and he immediately comes back with punches of his own.

Machida ducks the punches, though, then he quickly clinches with Rampage and takes him down. On the ground, it is clear what Machida wants: he wants to submit Rampage. Machida transitions for a full mount and tries for an arm bar. This is a classic Rampage scenario, though, so he stands up and tries to viciously slam The Dragon down on the mat.

Machida's no fool, however, so he lets go of the arm and escapes Rampage's knockout move. There's less than a minute left in the fight by this time, though, so Lyoto does the smart thing by clinching Rampage once again and running down the clock. No way should he risk getting knocked out when he's done this well so far. The final bell rings and I predict that Lyoto wins via unanimous decision.

Machida attempts to submit Rampage

Surprise, surprise, but Rampage wins via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28). Pretty much no one believes it, not even Rampage. Hell, Rampage raised Lyoto's arm as soon as the final bell rang. If I didn't see it for myself, I wouldn't have believed it. I could definitely concede that the second round went to Rampage, though, despite the fact that Lyoto dropped at the very end, since he did catch Lyoto several times and managed to take him down, but the fist and third rounds were definitely Lyoto's. That Machida got robbed by the judges is definitely subjective, but I sure feel that way.

Anyway, Rampage asks for an immediate rematch with Machida since he thinks it's only fair and concedes that "Daaaamn! Homie can fight!" Rampage is always entertaining with the mic in front of him and it was very interesting to see him concede that Lyoto truly "whupped his ass".


Even Rampage couldn't believe he won!
I am definitely not a fan of immediate rematches, and voiced my opinion against the Chael Sonnen rematch with Anderson Silva several times. After all, that was pretty decisive. Silva came back after four full rounds of beatings and submitted Sonnen fair and square. Split decisions like this one, the first Penn vs. Edgar matchup, and the first Machida vs. Rua fight, I can probably lean towards. After all these immediate rematches that have been talked about for the past several months, this is honestly the first one I'm highly supportive of. I was   a bit supportive of the Penn vs. Edgar rematch because I didn't think Frankie won decisively enough to be called the champ (I don't think that now, obviously, and neither should anyone else), but I truly believe that Lyoto was robbed of the decision this time around, and I'd like to see him redeem himself from that. I'm sure that Rampage will come back better than ever as well, as he should have learned a lot from this first encounter. I just hope that the next one (if it happens, and I'm hoping it will) absolutely does not end via decision again, though, just so everything's clean cut and truly decisive.

In any case, I truly enjoyed this fight and find it to be a worthy main event bout. The ending saddens me to no end, but I'm writing this review directly after viewing the fight, so my emotions are still high. I'm sure I'll get over it soon, but this fight really hit me hard in more ways than one.

Check out more amazing photos of UFC 123 at the official UFC website!

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