The Ultimate Fighter 2 winner Rashad Evans moved one step closer to a 205-pound title shot as he remained undefeated on Saturday at UFC 88, knocking out former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell midway through the second round of their main event matchup.
UFC 88 “Breakthrough” took place on Saturday, September 6th, in front of a sold out crowd at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia and aired live on pay-per-view.
An aggressive Liddell circled and punched in the close-yet-tentative opening round while Evans failed to shoot for a single takedown allowing Liddell to steal the first frame 10-9 on the MMAFrenzy.com scorecard. Evans came out confident in the second, countering Liddell’s rights with solid left hooks before connecting with the “Knockout of the Night” overhand right that knocked Liddell out cold.
A disappointed Liddell, who has now lost three out of four fights, took several minutes to recover from the punch before eventually returning to his feet.
With the win Evans moved closer to a future matchup with current UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.
In the evening’s co-main event former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin successfully returned to the 205-pound light heavyweight division, dominating his former training partner Matt Hamill en route to a third-round technical knockout victory. Despite a large gash near his right eye opened up early in the fight Franklin remain focused and connected with numerous body and leg kicks that slowed Hamill, who was able to take Franklin to the ground just once in their featured bout. After dominating the opening two rounds Franklin finished Hamill off with a kick to the liver in the first minute of the final frame that forced The Ultimate Fighter cast member to tap and the referee to intervene.
Former PRIDE middleweight and light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson won his first bout inside the octagon in over 10 years as he knocked off Rousimar Palhares via unanimous decision. Henderson floored Palhares several times during the three-round bout, including a near finish moments into the contest. Though Palhares attempted to take the fight to the ground and keep it there Henderson escaped several submission attempts in the fights limited time on the ground and was able to keep the fight standing where he picked Palhares apart with crisper striking to earn 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28 scores on the judge’s scorecards.
Henderson had previously lost back-to-back bouts while the win snapped Palhares’ six-fight win streak.
In a key middleweight matchup Nate Marquardt dominated Martin Kampmann, defeating the Dutch kickboxer via TKO just over one-minute into the fight. Following a tentative start to the bout Marquardt landed a massive head kick that collapsed Kampmann then finished him off with a flurry of strikes including a big uppercut and shots to the body. Kampmann temporarily withstood the barrage but eventually sank to the canvas forcing the referee to halt the bout.
With the win Marquardt bounced back from a controversial loss to Thales Leites and moves back into the 185-pound title picture while Kampann suffered just his first loss inside the octagon in five fights.
The opening bout of the pay-per-view spawned controversy as Matt Brown was defeated by South Korea’s Dong Hyun Kim in a close-but-exciting welterweight matchup. In the opening round Kim took Brown’s back with ease, securing several near-submissions that came up just short in finishing the bout but earned him a 10-9 round on the scorecards. Brown rebounded in the second, securing a 10-9 round with good body shots and tough defense. In a close final round Brown was aggressive early but Kim eventually took the fight to the ground and stole the decision with a late assault of elbows in the closing seconds of the bout. The judges awarded the close split decision to Kim with scores of 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28.
In preliminary action Kurt Pellegrino earned a hard-fought unanimous decision victory in the “Fight of the Night” against Thiago Tavares, Tim Boetsch stopped Mike Patt via first-round TKO, Jason MacDonald earned “Submission of the Night” honors for his second-round rear naked choke submission of Jason Lambert, and Ryo Chonan defeated Roan Carneiro via split decision in the event’s opening bout.
Evans, MacDonald, Pellegrino, and Tavares each earned an additional $60,000 bonus for their UFC 88 performances.
UFC 88 “BREAKTHROUGH” RESULTS
- Rashad Evans def. Chuck Liddell via KO – Round 2, 1:51
- Rich Franklin def. Matt Hamill via TKO – 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 – 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 – 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, 29-28, 28-29)
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