The main event of UFC 123 saw Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Lyoto Machida battling to re-establish themselves as one of the top contenders in the division.
As had been expected Machida adopted his usual cautious strategy, finding some success with kicks, but interestingly Rampage also appeared to be a little hesitant to let his fists fly and a significant portion of the round was spent clinching against the fence. Rampage did land with one brief flurry though that had the Brazilian backing up and showed it’s not just Shogun who can hit him.
The second round was again a tense affair with more clinching against the cage and neither man appeared to be gaining a definitive edge. A brief takedown attempt from Rampage helped score him some points though, while a powerful knee from Machida was his most effective action of the round.
The fight finally came to life midway through the third as the two exchanged in the middle of the octagon with Machida appearing to rock Rampage with a right in particular and then pressed forward with piston-like strikes. Then Rampage reversed the momentum firing back with powerful strikes of his own before Machida managed to successfully execute a takedown.
A patient Machida then slowly but methodically got to mount. As the clock ticked down he went for an armbar put Rampage escaped and they made it back to the feet for the final moments of the fight.
The first two rounds were extremely close but the third was clearly in Machida’s favor. It was down to the judges though and they voted 2-1 in favor of Rampage (29-28 x2, 28-29), handing him the split decision victory.
A clearly surprised but relieved Rampage then humbly admitted that despite his reluctance to do so he felt that Machida deserved a rematch. With Machida in agreement it’s now down to the UFC to decide whether that’s how they wish to proceed.