In a bout that has stirred up some controversy, former PRIDE FC superstar Quinton “Rampage” Jackson defeated Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida via split-decision last night in the main event of UFC 123. Reminiscent of Machida’s hotly disputed first contest against current champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the story of the bout was Machida’s elusive countering against Jackson’s aggressive offense.
Jackson raised Machida’s hand after the bout and acted genuinely surprised when he got the split-decision victory. UFC President Dana White expressed frustration at Jackson for acting like he lost after the fight, and Jackson gave an explanation at the evening’s post-fight press conference.
“I had just got done getting punched in the face,” said Jackson. “My trainers told me I won the fight, but … when he dominated me in the third round, I forgot what happened in the first two rounds… It’s one of those things where at the time I thought I was getting my ass whooped because I was just on the ground taking a flurry to my face.”
Throughout the first round Jackson looked to engage with a circling Machida, doing little better than grazing the Brazilian karateka. “Rampage” engaged the clinch more than once, but was never able to do much from that position. All told, the two fighters landed close to the same amount and, for that reason, the first round could have easily been scored a draw.
The second round was mostly more of the same, with a successful takedown attempt and a few solid punch combinations landed giving a slight edge to “Rampage.”
The third, however, was all Machida. “The Dragon” stung Jackson with a punch and shortly after scored a takedown. He eventually established mount and rolled for an armbar, prompting Jackson to attempt his trademark slam. Machida avoided the slam and pulled Jackson back to the ground, where he tried for a leg lock and possibly an omoplata before the bell rang.
Both fighters showed each other a great amount of respect post-fight, and both agreed that a rematch is in order.
Jackson gave Machida credit for a job well done, saying that “he whooped my ass tonight,” in addition to giving him other praise. He noted that he has more respect for Machida’s style… but still doesn’t plan on watching it.
“It’s different fighting than Machida than watching Machida,” he said. “I have more respect for his style. I wish I could move like that. I have more respect for his style… But I still don’t want to watch it.”
Jackson also turned some heads with his walkout, coming to the cage to the old PRIDE FC theme. Jackson had been talking about wanting to return back to the Rampage from the PRIDE days heading into the fight, and the music was an homage to that time.
“I remember PRIDE,” Jackson said. “Everyone knew me and loved me. I used to fight for honor and respect. Now I come to the UFC, and I make way more money than I did in PRIDE, so I got a little greedy and fighting for the dollars and stuff. So I wanted to come out to PRIDE and get that old PRIDE spirit. I felt like some of it kind of came back. I even tried to slam Machida.”
With the win, Jackson improves his record to 31-8 and bounces back from a decision loss to Rashad Evans earlier this year.