Published Saturday, May 23, 2009 | 5:30 p.m.
Updated Saturday, May 23, 2009 | 11:30 p.m.
Moments after Lyoto Machida claimed the UFC light heavyweight title, he delivered a message to the buzzing crowd still on its feet inside the MGM Grand: "Karate is back!"
And after the explosive performance the undefeated Machida (15-0) had just displayed in his second-round destruction of previously unbeaten Rashad Evans, it might be a good bet the belt and Machida's unorthodox style won't be going anywhere for a while.
"I try all my life to be champion. I’m very, very happy," said an emotional Machida, who turned to the crowd of 12,606 and said: "If you have a dream ... it is possible."
Evans, who buried his head into the padding at the top of the cage as he watched Machida celebrate with his former belt already around his waist, said all he could do was comeback with the same ferocity that made him the champ.
“I’m a little dizzy," Evans said with a slight smile to UFC commentator Joe Rogan. "I got to take my hat off to him.
"All you can do is smile and know that every time you come into the Octagon you got a chance to prove yourself."
UFC president Dana White announced the $60,000 "fight night" bonuses that went to Machida for "Knockout of the Night," Serra and Hughes for "Fight of the Night," and Brock Larson for "Submission of the Night."
Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida
There was little time for the crowd to get over Hughes' win in the grudge match as the main event intro began before the Illinois farm boy couldn't exit the arena as the crowd was already on its feet for the first title bout in UFC history featuring two undefeated fighters.
The UFC preview showed Machida video showed him saying he worked his whole life to be champion.
"The Dragon" dressed in black and red shorts walked in to "Bleed It Out" by Linkin Park.
The champ came in bobbing to "Time For Some Action" by N.E.R.D.
"This is the main event of the evening," Buffer screamed.
The two spent a whole minute feeling each other out without throwing anything. Some boos rang out as the crowd grew impatient.
Big head kick by Michada to start things, the challenge threw a handful of other big kicks without much doing much damage.
But with under a minute Machida connected on a big leg kick that dropped Evans. He tried to finish Evans off, but the champ recovered.
The crowd roared in approval.
Machida slammed Evans into the fence to start the second.
“The Dragon” charged landing some blows, but Evans connected on his best offensive effort of the night with a big combo to back the Brazilian up.
Evans threw a big kick that was blocked. The champ is definitely being cautious after that first round explosion by Machida.
Moments later everyone in the MGM Grand knew why.
Evans missed a punch and Machida made him pay with a big left.
Machida charged forward delivering blow after blow as he pushed Evans into the cage. Evans tried to recover but got pinned on the other side of the Octagon and then ate two rights before another huge left knocked him out for the first time in his career. He hit the mat out cold as his right leg dropped awkwardly underneath him at 3:57 in the second round and referee Mario Yamasaki stepped into to stop it.
The new champ rushed to the center of the Octagon before dropping to his knees and bowing at the center of the mat.
Main Card (7:00 p.m.)
The bass is booming and the stands are buzzing, meaning that the main event portion of UCF 98 tonight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena is underway.
While the event isn't a sellout, plenty of mixed martial arts fans are on hand and voicing their opinions as the video previews show the long boiling feud between Matt Hughes and Matt Serra.
When unbeaten challenger Lyoto Machida and light heavyweight champ Rashad Evans appeared on screen, the boos lessened as cheers erupted throughout the arena for each respective fighter.
But just to be official, the voice of the Octagon Bruce Buffer offers his patented "We are Liiivvveee!"
Directly after Edgar's dominant victory UFC cameras panned over to B.J. Penn, who is in the house. Shortly thereafter they caught up with all four main event fighters tonight, as they made their respective trips to their dressing rooms to warm up.
Now it’s time for the grudge match between the Matts as Hughes and Serra face off in a battle that’s been brewing for years.
UFC shows each fighter’s prefight comments on the lead-up video. Plenty of anger spewed from each, with Serra leading the charge with plenty of unprintables.
Serra entered first to the “Rocky” theme, while Hughes came into a louder ovation, boos and applause, to “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams Jr.
Referee Steve Mazzagatti tells them to “Hook em up.”
Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra
The bad blood might not be completely evaporated, but the two fighters hugged it out moments after the fight ended and exchanged words.
Seconds later Hughes was rewarded a unanimous decision victory as all three judges saw the bout 29-28.
"(The talk) definitely was motivating factor," said a relieved Hughes. "We definitely wouldn’t have hugged at the gym."
Hughes, who nearly was knocked out in the first round when a Serra shot stunned him enough to think he got knocked out, came back to claim the match with his wrestling and ground game in the second and third rounds.
“I didn’t know exactly what hit me,” Hughes said. “He obviously hit me pretty good.”
A disappointed Serra thought he might have connected with the haymaker in the first.
“I wanted to keep my cool and try to finish him off. But he’s got a good chin. He hung in there. I just really wanted this win. I’m a positive person, I take my hat off to him."
Drew McFedries vs. Xavier Foupa-Pokam
McFedries won the crowd over on his way to the Octagon with his walk-up song of "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" that prompted several fans to freestyle along with Dre and Snoop. The action didn't stop once the Ames, Iowa native as the door closed to the cage. McFedries immediately landed a big right that stunned "Professor X." A flurry of rights by McFedries signaled the stoppage at :37 in the first.
"I don’t know what to say. I just get emotional," McFedries said. "I just want to go, go, go, go, unitl it's all over."
Dan Miller vs. Chael Sonnen
There was nothing to write home about in this one. The crowd booed throughout, but that had as much to do with judge Yves Lavigne and his short stoppage to the Nover-Bradley fight earlier than Miller and Sonnen's lackluster performance. None of that matter to Sonnen, who left the Octagon with a unanimous decision victory.
Sean Sherk vs. Frankie Edgar
If Sean Sherk’s previous three losses are any indication, big things are in store for Frank Edgar. In his previous 40-plus fights, Sherk had only lost to champions in Matt Hughes, B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre.
Saturday night the New Jersey native Edgar looked very capable of following in their footsteps.
The smaller framed and less experienced Edgar dominated the fight in all facets in all three rounds. He kept Sherk off balance with his slick boxing and well-timed kicks. He actually pushed the ground game and about ended the bout with an electrifying guillotine choke in the final 10 seconds.
Edgar was obviously excited afterwards, but told the crowd he hoped the big win was just a sign of bigger things to come.
“I’m pumped. Us Jersey boys know how to do it,” said Edgar who won by scores of 30-27 across the board.
“But I’m not gonna throw my hat too high, I want to get to a championship fight.”
Undercard bouts (5:00 p.m.)
Mike Pyle vs. Brock Larson
This one was a back and forth battle, but Larson secured a arm triangle for the choke-out just after the three-minute mark.
"I had to be patient and take my time. I trained with (Sean) Sherk and (Matt) Hughes for this camp, and it was a Godsend training with those guys."
Patrick Barry vs. Tim Hague
Barry looked to end this one early with a huge right that stunned and bloodied Hague. But the big Canadian bounced back trapped Barry under his weight and secured a guillotine for the win.
"One thing about me is that you're never gonna see me quit," Hague said. "Pat's a tough guy — he hit me with a straight left, busted my nose I think, but it's all good."
Phillipe Nover vs. Kyle Bradley
Nover who Dana White dubbed the next Anderson Silva is now 0-2 suffering a first-round stoppage by Bradley. Bradly drilled Nover with a big right, momentarily making him go limp. Referee Yves Lavigne stepped into stop the fight, but at the same time, Nover bounced up to his knees. But it was too late.
"What are you booing," said Bradley who was loudly booed as UFC color commentator Joe Rogan interview him. "All I did was throw hard punches. All I did was try to win the fight."
Bradley admitted it was a tough call: "He did go limp but he got his faculties back quickly. The next shot might've broken his jaw."
Andre Gusmao vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
Soszynski, an alum of "The Ultimate Fighter" season No. 8 landed a huge right that floored Gusmao and ended the fight at 3:17 in the first round.
Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Brandon Wolff
Yosida gets Wolff a guillotine during an exchange and actually forces Wolff to tap, but ref Steve Mazzagatti misses the signal. Seconds later he sees it as Wolff taps again at the 2:24 mark in the first.
George Roop vs. David Kaplan
Kaplan rocked the same red briefs that he wore to weigh-ins, but it couldn't bring him luck as he lost the split decision.
Andy Samuelson can be reached at email@example.com or 702-948-7837.