The UFC’s light heavyweight championship has changed waists for the fourth consecutive time at UFC 98 as Brazilian Karate dynamo Lyoto Machida shattered Rashad Evans with a brutal second round knockout to become the division’s newest conquerer.
The night featured some actioned packed brawls, surprising finishes and vicious knockouts.
Come along as we take a closer look at some of the key match-ups from UFC 98.
Sean “Muscle Shark” Sherk (33-3-1) vs. Frank “The Answer” Edgar (9-1-0)
Edgar came out aggressive and looked quicker and more comfortable with his 5-inch reach advantage. Edgar seemed more than happy to stand and exchange with Sherk early on and it worked as he hurt the Muscle Shark with combinations and leg kicks. Sherk attempted a leg kick in Round 1 but Edgar caught him and took him to the ground but was unsuccessful in a guillotine attempt. I gave the first round to Edgar pretty easily.
Sherk continued to stand with Edgar in Round 2, which surprised me given his wrestling background. Edgar’s quickness on his feet really gave Sherk problems, yet the Shark refused to try and take the fight to the ground. You could tell Edgar was gaining more and more confidence as the fight moved on. Sherk looked like the older fighter, as he was always the second guy to get off. Another easy round for Edgar, as he just picked Sherk apart.
Sherkfinally took Edgar down early in Round 3 but Edgar got right back up to his feet, avoiding any damage. Sherk tried another takedown but failed and Edgar made him pay with a couple of shots to the head. The round ended with Edgar almost getting Sherk in a guillotine as the bell sounded. A tough round to score but I gave it to Edgar.
I saw the fight 30-27 Edgar and all three judges scored it the same way.
I didn’t get Sherk’s gameplan at all. I know Edgar is a great wrestler but so is Sherk and with Edgar being the younger, quicker fighter, it didn’t make a lot of sense for Sherk to stand with him for three rounds. Sherk certainly looked every bit of 35 years old, while it was another very impressive win for Edgar, as he positions himself for a lightweight title shot.
Winner: Frank Edgar by unanimous decision
Dan Miller (11-1-0) vs. Chael Sonnen (21-10-1)
Sonnen took down Miller early but got himself caught in a tight guillotine. Luckily for Sonnen, Miller had to release it. For the rest of the round, Sonnen performed some impressive ground and pound on Miller. It was a round full of fists, forearms and elbows for Miller. Other than the early mistake, it was a dominating round for Sonnen.
The exact same thing happened in Round 2. Sonnen took Miller down, got caught in a guillotine but Miller couldn’t hold it. Then, it was back to the ground and pound for Sonnen. Miller used up all of his energy trying to fend off Sonnen’s attack. Miller got Sonnen in an arm bar but couldn’t hold him. Another one-sided round for Sonnen.
Heading into Round 3, Miller knew he needed a stoppage of some kind after getting dominated in the first two rounds. The problem for Miller was he had nothing left in the tank. Early in the third, Sonnen took Miller down once again and it was game, set match.
I –and anyone else with eyes – scored the fight 30-27. An easy unanimous decision win for Sonnen.
What a dominating performance for Sonnen. If someone wants to teach a young fighter how to master an opponent with ground-and-pound, throw in the tape of this fight. Miller had won nine straight coming into this fight but Sonnen made him look like an amateur. Sonnen was a late replacement for this fight and it looks like someone forgot to tell Dan Miller.
Winner: Chael Sonnen by unanimous decision
Drew “The Massacre” McFedries (7-5-0) vs. Xavier “The Professor X” Foupa-Pokam (20-10-0)
This will be the easiest analysis I ever do. McFedries came in, connected with a crushing right hand, pounced on Foupa-Pokam and the fight was stopped. Drew McFedries by TKO in 37 seconds but the fight was essentially over in 10 seconds. Everyone figured this fight was going to end early; I just wish it lasted a little longer than 37 seconds.
Winner: Drew McFedries by 1st round TKO
Matt Hughes (42-7-0) vs. Matt “The Terror” Serra (9-5-0)
Hughes came into the ring and looked in tremendous shape, which I took right away to be a bad sign for Serra. I was wrong early as Hughes got stunned with a head to the jaw and then ate a couple of right hands. Hughes, the pro that he is, was able to recover and slow the fight back down. Hughes took Serra down and attempted a rear naked choke but Serra displayed great defense and was able to get a reversal. A good round of action that clearly went to Serra.
Hughes took Serra down again early in Round 2 but Serra once again showed strong defense. Hughes wasn’t doing any really damage on the ground but he was controlling Serra and dominating the round. Not a very exciting round at all but a big round for Hughes because he was able to regain his composure and win it easily.
I had the fight dead even heading into Round 3, so this was for all the marbles on my card, and I imagine most other peoples. Hughes hit Serra with a stiff right and took him down to the mat. Hughes held full guard and went to work. Serra tried some submission attempts from the bottom but Hughes fought them off. Not much action at all and the referee finally stood the fighters up. Serra took Hughes down late and did some damage. Tough round to score but I gave it to Hughes by a hair
I scored the fight a 29-28 win for Matt Hughes. The judges scored it a 29-28 unanimous decision for Hughes.
The fight ended up being what most of us were afraid it would be: kind of boring. When the most exciting moment of the fight comes from a head shot to the jaw, that’s not exactly what you are looking for. Even though Hughes won, I hope he retires. The old Hughes would have ended this fight much sooner. Serra is a good guy and in my opinion, he would make an excellent announcer. Both fighters have been great for the UFC and Hughes is an all-time great. However, I can go without ever seeing either guy fight again to be honest. Any top contender would most likely knock them out at this stage in their career.
Winner: Matt Hughes by unanimous decision
“Sugar” Rashad Evans (13-0-1) vs. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (14-0-0)
The fight went almost two minutes without either fighter doing anything before Machida connected with a head kick. Evans looked really tentative early on and wouldn’t let his hands go. Machida hurt Evans badly with a kick to the body followed by a straight left that floored the champ and almost ended the fight. Evans was able to recover and finish out the round but a huge opening stanza for Machida.
Round 2 began and Evans looked even more confused than he did when the fight started. Machida saw an opening but Evans countered and just missed a big uppercut. Evans looked like he was beginning to tire, while Machida was still very calm and cool. Big uppercut by Machida rocks Evans. Machida goes in for the kill. Evans is out on his feet. Say goodnight and hello to the new light heavyweight champion.
We are seeing a new kind of animal with Lyoto Machida. I don’t know how anyone fighting right now is going to beat this guy. Forget about beating him, first someone just has to hurt him. His fighting style is a thing of beauty. As a fight fan, I feel honored just to be able to watch him perform. He toyed with Evans tonight. Think about that. He absolutely destroyed the unbeaten light heavyweight champion of the world without breaking a sweat.
I picked Machida to win this fight by decision so I’m not surprised he won. I know how good of a fighter he is but he is so good right now it’s scary. But that’s why MMA is the best sport in the world. There is always a Matt Serra waiting to knock out a GSP, so no matter how dominant Machida looks, anything can happen inside the octagon. Anyway, Lyoto Machida is a very deserving champion and I don’t see him giving up that belt anytime soon.
Winner: Lyoto Machida by 2nd round TKO
A full list of the results from UFC 98 are listed below:
Lyoto Machida def. Rashad Evans via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 3:57
Matt Hughes def. Matt Serra via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Drew McFedries def. Xavier Foupa-Pokam via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:37
Chael Sonnen def. Dan Miller via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Frankie Edgar def. Sean Sherk via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Brock Larson def. Mike Pyle via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 1, 3:06
Tim Hague def. Pat Barry via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 1:43
Kyle Bradley def. Phillipe Nover via TKO (strikes) Round 1, 1:03
Krzysztof Soszynski def. Andre Gusmao via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 3:17
Yoshiyuki Yoshida def. Brandon Wolffvia submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 2:24
George Roop def. Dave Kaplan via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)