| Article Summary:
Atlanta, Georgia - Hotlanta was home to the UFC this past Saturday night as it burst onto the scene with UFC 88 "Breakthrough." The moniker "Breakthrough" was fitting as "Sugar" Rashad Evans did just that with a jaw dropping second round knockout of Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell. Former middleweight kingpin, Rich "Ace" Franklin was also impressive in his 205-pound re-debut against Matt "The Hammer" Hamill.
Two of the UFC's top Middleweights were also victorious as Dan "Hollywood" Henderson earned a unanimous decision victory over Rousimar Palhares and Nate "The Great" Marquardt tore apart Martin Kampmann in under 1 minute and 30 seconds of the first round. Rounding out the main card was Dong Hyun Kim earning a controversial split decision victory over Matt Brown.
Rashad Evans Def. Chuck Liddell
Via KO Round 2, 1:51
In the main event of the night the undefeated winner of "The Ultimate Fighter 2" reality series, Rashad Evans, shocked the Mixed Martial Arts world Saturday night with a highlight reel knockout of the former champ Chuck Liddell. The brutal KO win breaks him through into the upper echelon of the 205 rankings!
Round one didn't see much action as Liddell pursued the dancing Evans the majority of the round. There were a few exchanges, but nothing too damaging or exciting.
Evans entered the second round behind on the judge's scorecards, but was able to elude much of the punishment that the "Iceman" attempted to dole out. As Liddell attempted to close the gap and land one of his fight ending signature uppercuts, it was the speed and raw power of the younger Evans that put the "Iceman" on ice.
Evans faked a quick jab and came over the top with an overhand right that put Liddell to sleep faster than doctor-prescribed ambien. The knockout victory came 1:51 of the second round and earned Evans a cool $60,000 for knockout of the night!
Truly a shocking moment ... Liddell laid motionless, face first on the mat for several minutes. With the help of his trainer, Liddell was able to shake the cobwebs and leave the octagon under his own power.
A gracious a victor, Evans was concerned for Liddell due to the big shot that Liddell sustained and also let us in about his game plan. "The strategy is going straight for the horns," said Evans during the post-fight interview. "You can't beat Chuck Liddell thinking you're gonna take him down all day.
That's the way to get knocked out and that's the way to get tired. I wanted to go straight at him with his own game." Another great game plan engineered by Greg Jackson, who trains not only Evans but the last man to defeat Liddell, Keith Jardine.
A couple of questions were answered during the post-fight press conference, Rashad Evans will get the first crack at Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell more than likely won't be retiring any time soon. "I'll definitely take a little time," said Liddell.
"I always said I'll decide if I want to retire in the training room, not after a fight. I'm fine. I got caught. What do you want me to say?" said Liddell, who looked to be in great shape and focused for this fight, was clearly the fan favorite. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of the "Iceman."
Rich Franklin Def. Matt Hamill
Via TKO Round 3, 0:39
Rich "Ace" Franklin returned to the light heavyweight division in impressive fashion Saturday night. A devastating leg kick to the liver, ala Bas Rutten, earned Franklin the TKO victory over his friend and former training partner, Matt Hamill.
Arguably the most feared wrestler within the light heavyweight division, Hamill was unsuccessful time and time again with his takedown attempts. Franklin was able to keep Hamill off his game and pepper him with a barrage of kicks to the legs and body of Hamill.
Franklin was in trouble only once during the fight as a grazing left hook from Hamill re-opened a cut that halted the fight for a doctor's evaluation. Hamill seemed to wander from his game plan, of out wrestling the smaller Franklin, but you can't blame him for that. Every time he shot in at Franklin, he was met with either a devastating uppercut or a crippling knee to the body.
With less than a minute left in the third round is where Hamill met up with that leg kick from hell that sent him to the canvas. Hamill could do nothing more than tapout due to the excruciating pain.
"I'm hoping he's one of the strongest 205-pounders, because if not, this is going to be a long road if I stay here," said the former middleweight champion Franklin.
"Hats off to Matt. He fought a great fight. He stood there and stuck with me. I had a feeling that he might tend to do that, and of course, I look worse for the wear right now," Franklin said. With no Anderson Silva in sight, new and bigger challenges are on the horizon for Rich Franklin, but it will be no easy task.
Dan Henderson Def. Rousimar Palhares
Via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
With a possible record of 0-3 on the line, Dan Henderson needed a win against fellow middleweight Rousimar Palhares or it was more than likely back to Japan for the former champ. Palhares had nothing to lose, he was facing a legend; Henderson had everything to lose and he fought that way Saturday night at the Phillips arena.
"Hendo" was able to squeak out a unanimous decision victory over the submission specialist from Brazil. The victory was no easy task, as Palhares kept the former PrideFC middleweight and light heavyweight champion guessing with countless kicks and take down attempts.
Palhares surprised the near 15,000 fans in the arena with a thundering slam that would make "Rampage" Jackson proud, and quickly transitioned into a heal hook that nearly ended the fight. "My knee was pretty much out the whole time," Henderson would later say. "I knew that I didn't want to sit there, but I also knew that he really didn't have it."
Henderson was able to survive similar submission attempts from Palhares all night. The second and third rounds is where Henderson made Palhares pay, each time he shot in he was met with powerful uppercuts and his famous over hand rights. "This opponent was just as tough as any I've faced here," said Henderson, who's fought Anderson Silva and Quinton Jackson in the UFC.
"A tough chin. It's tough when you want to fight a certain way, I wanted to try to keep it on my feet. I knew he was damn good on the ground and I didn't want to mess around with him there. I felt comfortable there, but normally I'm more aggressive, so I apologize about that."
Henderson stuck to his game plan, it worked and he was able to earn enough points on the judges score card to capture his first victory in the UFC in over ten years.
Nate Marquardt Def. Martin Kampmann
Via TKO Round 1, 1:22
June 7, 2008 UFC 85 "Bedlam" mark that date on your calender! Why? That's the turning point in the career of Nate "The Great" Marquardt. A controversial loss to Thales Leites that night, lit a fire under this dude's ass. He's on a mission to beat Anderson Silva for the middleweight crown and he started Saturday night against a Danish kick boxing champion, Martin Kampmann.
The former King of Pancrase, Marquardt, made short work of Kampmann. He landed a mind-blowing leg kick to the dome of Kampmann that sent him to his knees and quickly introduced his knee to the Dane's chin. Kampmann, backed up against the cage tried to recover, but was met with an onslaught of perfectly placed combination punches.
"One thing I learned from my experience is not to just go crazy when you get a guy hurt like that," said Marquardt. "You have to get nice, accurate shots and land them right on the chin." Referee Mario Yamasaki had no choice than to put a stop to the beating at 1:22 of round one.
The loss for Kampmann is his first within the UFC and most likely will be moving down to the welter weight division. I personally thought this fight would garner "fight of the night," but I can't always be right! Look out for Nate, hopefully a match with Dan Henderson to find out who gets next crack at the middleweight title is in the works.
Dong Hyun Kim Def. Matt Brown
Via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
The first fight of the pay-per-view was Matt Brown vs. Dong Hyun Kim. The South Korean Kim was able to stay unbeaten in his career with a controversial split decision victory over Brown. Brown showed great resilience throughout the fight as he fended off a numerous submission attempts from Kim.
Brown was able to bounce back from a rocky first round and looked as if he won the next two rounds with some nice precision striking. The judges felt otherwise and gave the decision to Kim. The crowd felt otherwise as well and booed the decision heavily. "I don't fight for judges," the disappointed Brown said afterward.
"I fight for fans and finishes. I fight because I love fighting." Kim shared the same sentiment, "I am sorry to UFC fans for the fight going to a decision," Kim said. "I hate decisions. Next time I finish."
"Knock out of the Night" obviously went to Rashad Evans "Submission of the Night" went to Jason MacDonald "Fight of the Night" went to Kurt Pellegrino and Thiago Tavares.
- Rashad Evans def. Chuck Liddell via KO (punch) -- Round 2, 1:51
- Rich Franklin def. Matt Hamill via TKO (strikes) -- Round 3, 0:39
- Dan Henderson def. Rousimar Palhares via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Nate Marquardt def. Martin Kampmann via TKO (strikes) -- Round 1, 1:22
- Dong Hyun Kim def. Matt Brown via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Kurt Pellegrino def. Thiago Tavares via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-28)
- Tim Boetsch def. Mike Patt via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 2:03
- Jason MacDonald def. Jason Lambert via submission (rear-naked choke) -- Round 2, 1:20
- Ryo Chonan def. Roan Carneiro via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)