While one trilogy was finished at UFC 123, another might have been born,
It took BJ Penn a mere 21 seconds to claim his trilogy with Matt Hughes at UFC 123 in the Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday in Michigan. But the meeting that left Quinton “Rampage” Jackson a split-decision winner over Lyoto Machida in a matchup of former light heavyweight champions appears headed for a quick rematch.
Penn won the rubber match with Hughes with the most stunning finish of his career, needing just 10 punches to do it. Penn (16-7-1) clocked Hughes (45-8) with an overhand right, putting him to the floor, and then he stood on top and blasted away as the fight was quickly halted.
“Matt you’re my idol, you’ll always been my idol. Thank you,” said Penn, who had sprinted out of the Octagon after the quick victory, perhaps looking to grab the $80,000 bonus check he was awarded for knockout of the night. “I’m pumped up.”
Hughes could not believe it was a fist that hit him.
“He hit me hard,” admitted the former welterweight champion, who is now 1-2 against Penn. “When I felt the hit I thought it was a knee or a kick. He hit me pretty hard.”
Hughes had been on a roll, with wins over Matt Serra, Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida. But this was his third fight of the year, a schedule he had not kept since 2006.
“I don’t know what the plan is now,” Hughes said. “I had a perfect camp coming into this fight. This is one of those fights I would have paid my own purse to have this fight. To be honest, I don’t know what the plan is now.”
Jackson desperately needed a win and, more than anything, his aggressiveness earned it for him.
Jackson (31-8) stalked the elusive Machida from the opening bell, being most impressive in the first two rounds. He clearly lost the third to Machida (16-2), who started his career with 16 straight wins and the UFC title before losing to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 113 in May. He has not won in 13 months.
Jackson never seemed to hurt Machida, and was quick to grant an immediate rematch, should his bosses at the UFC agree to it. He realized his game plan, more than anything else, was a key to winning this fight.
“I think that’s the only thing that earned me a decision,” Jackson said of his constant attack, which was not always effective. “Machida whipped my (butt) tonight. I didn’t do what I wanted to do. He took me down, bloodied my nose. To me, I consider that (a whipping).
“Even though I don’t want to, I have to give him a rematch. I was like, Damn, homey can fight. Machida is hard to hit. I’m trying to come in there and knock him out. Machida is the man. Even though I don’t want to, I think an immediate rematch would be the fair thing.”
Machida is ready to take him up on it.
“I did the best that i could tonight, but if the judges saw it that Quinton won, that’s what they saw. That’s going to be up to the UFC, but I’d like an immediate rematch also, and we’ll see what they say.”
Maiquel Falcao was en route to an exciting victory over Gerald Harris but instead made it a snoozer.
Falcao won a unanimous decision, 29-27 and 29-28 twice on the judges’ cards. Falcao nearly completed a rear naked choke at the end of the first round. Harris was saved by the bell, and Falcao (26-3) non-sportingly held the choke after the bell.
Harris (17-3) never got anything going, even in a lackluster third round, knowing he was well behind. There was almost no action in the final stanza as the crowd’s booing increased. Falcao threw just seven punches in the last round.
Phil Davis single-handedly submitted Tim Boetsch with a kimura to win submission of the night and the $80,000 bonus.
Davis got Boetsch’s left arm locked behind his body while keeping him down. Without using a traditional kimura grip, Davis pressed the arm further behind, eliciting the tap.
“I do what I can out here. I’m trying,” Davis said. “I kind of make the rules up as I go. I almost didn’t go for it. It’s kind of what I was trying to get on Rodney Wallace, but I didn’t get it. Then I said, Go.”
The tap came 2:55 into the second round and increased Davis’ record to 8-0 overall, with the last four wins coming in he UFC. Boetsch fell to 12-4 and had his four-fight winning streak stopped.
George Sotiropoulos locked in a kimura at 2:43 of the second round to submit Joe Lauzon.
Sotiropoulos (14-2) watched Lauzon (19-6) explode early but then seemingly gas out by the second round.
“There’s always a calm before the storm,” said the Australian, who is 7-0 in the UFC. “I knew I would find my range. I want to face the best, I want to earn what I get, I want to make a case for the belt, that’s my goal. I’ll continue to make my case.”
Both fighters will enjoy their bonus money for fight of the night, with each getting an $80,000 share.
Sotiropoulos, who actually lost the first round on all three judges’ cards, also seemed to reveal his next fight.
“I’ll see you guys Feb. 27 Down Under,” he said, referring to what appears to be the promotion’s second foray into his home country for UFC 127 at the Acer Arena in Sydney.
Brian Foster shook off a groin shot with a submission win in the second round over Matt Brown.
Foster took a groin shot early in the second round and even winced shortly after the action was restarted, but continued on. He caught Brown in a guillotine at 2:11 an received a tapout shortly thereafter.
Foster (15-5) won his second straight fight an improved to 3-2 in the UFC. The entertaining Brown (11-10) lost his third straight fight — all via submission — and is in peril of being dropped from the organization. He is 4-4 in the UFC.
The middleweight match between friends went to Mark Munoz over Aaron Simpson, 29-28 on the cards of all three judges in what turned out to be primarily a stand-up war between a pair of high-caliber former collegiate wrestlers.
“I knew he was going to go for takedowns, or it was going to be a standup battle,” said Munoz, who appeared to have more gas than his opponent as the fight wore on. “I know Aaron doesn’t back down and I wasn’t going to back down from three rounds. I tried to get it there (to the ground) as much as I (could), but Aaron scrambled to his feet a lot of times.”
Munoz (9-2) rebounded from his loss to Yushin Okami in August, while Simpson (7-2) dropped his second straight after opening his career with seven wins.
Dennis Hallman, Edson Barboza, Paul Kelly and Nik Lentz were the winners in the unaired preliminary fights.
Hallman (50-13-2) took 1:47 to finish off Karo Parysian by TKO via strikes. He landed an overhand right that buckled Parysian (19-6), then pounded him out with hammer fists.
“The big thing going in for me was working on my standup,” Hallman said. “When you train hard, you get lucky.”
Barboza (7-0) went 26 seconds into the third round before Mike Lullo (8-2) was victimized by leg kicks.
Kelly (11-3) secured a crucifix in the second round and battered T.J. O’Brien (16-4) until the fight was stopped at 3:16.
Lentz (20-3-2) got the better of Tyson Griffin (14-5) in a controversial split decision, winning 29-28 on two cards but losing all three rounds in the eyes of another judge. Griffin has lost three straight bouts, albeit two by split decision, after going 7-2 in his first nine UFC fights.