AUBURN HILLS, MI, November 20 – Quinton Jackson brought out the PRIDE theme song, his old aggression, some wild haymakers, and nearly a trademark slam to the UFC 123 main event at The Palace of Auburn Hills Saturday night, and while it wasn’t vintage “Rampage”, his willingness to push the pace throughout the first two rounds and to hold off a late charge from Lyoto Machida allowed him to earn a three round split decision in the battle of former UFC light heavyweight champions.
Scores were 29-28 twice, and 28-29 for Jackson.
“I think that’s the only thing that got me the decision,” said Jackson, when asked if his aggression earned him the victory. “Machida whupped my ass tonight.”
Jackson came out of his corner aggressively, trying to corner Machida. ‘The Dragon’ wasn’t buying it, and he used his movement and some well-placed kicks to the inside of Jackson’s legs to slow him down. With two minutes gone, Jackson made his first rush of Machida, but was turned away by the speedy Brazilian. Seconds later he did it again, and this time Machida clinched, with Jackson pushing him against the fence. After the two broke, Jackson kept coming, missing with a haymaker but again getting Machida to the fence, where he stomped at his feet. After a warning from referee Herb Dean for a lack of action, the two broke, Jackson again swinging for the fences but coming up short.
There was no change to the strategy for Jackson in round two, but this time he was able to pin Machida to the Octagon fence a lot quicker. An inadvertent low knee from Jackson broke up the action momentarily, and this time both fighters circled each other at a perilously close range, the crowd waiting for something to erupt. Instead, the fighters locked up again, but with a little over three minutes left, Jackson was able to score the first takedown of the fight. After a few moments, the two stood, and then broke apart. Jackson unleashed a haymaker, but Machida smothered it and locked his opponent up. After breaking, Machida fired off a high kick and a knee, but then ate an uppercut for his trouble, prompting him to begin moving around the Octagon again to regain control of the situation. At the four minute mark, there was another stalemate against the fence, with little action to distinguish the final 60 seconds of the round.
Machida’s defense left Jackson in the cold after a few looping haymakers to open the round, and the fans began booing. But with under four minutes left, Machida opened up his own arsenal, rocking Jackson with a series of shots. Jackson cleared his head quickly and fired back with both hands. Machida responded with a takedown, but Jackson’s defense was solid as he didn’t allow Machida to improve his position. With under two minutes left, Machida sought out an arm and when that failed, he was able to get into the mount position. From there, he tried to lock up Jackson’s arm, but when “Rampage” went to slam his way out of trouble, Machida released the hold and stood up, ultimately taking his foe down again and working for a submission before the bell intervened.
With the win, Jackson improves to 31-8; Machida falls to 16-2.