UFC 98 Review: Machida KOs Evans for title

UFC 98 came to us all live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 23, 2009. The main event between Lyoto Machida and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans was interestingly only the tip of the iceberg on the night. Beyond that, there was also the grudge match of all grudge matches between the Matts- Matt Hughes and Matt Serra.

Before his fight against Sean Sherk, Frankie Edgar said, "I feel a win over him will put me into possible title contention." True. But winning would be the hard part, no?

Early, on, both fighters were busy from a distance. However, Sherk landed the first nice shot, a left. Eventually, the two clinched, with Sherk pushing his opponent into the canvas for a moment before separation. A lot of strikes were thrown from there by both fighters, but few actually connected until the three minute mark when Edgar did hit home with a flurry. Then Edgar did the same with another flurry. Sherk answered with a nice left. From there, the two traded shots. Eventually, Edgar went for a single leg takedown that failed. In the clinch, Sherk connected with a knee and later hit home with a solid left hook. But then when he tried a leg kick, it led to a takedown by Edgar. From there, he held a strong headlock for a period of time before Sherk disposed of the move. Edgar is just moving in and out wih the better striking. Then the bell.

Edgar won the first round by a little, in my opinion, despite a nice leg kick by Sherk near the end of the stanza.

Sherk started the second trying to stalk his opponent again. He connected with a couple of nice lefts. Edgar later landed a nice body kick. Again, Sherk connected with another nice left. Then they clinched and Edgar connected with a knee that sent Sherk to the ground for a very brief moment. For the rest of the round, Sherk continued to put the pressure on, while Edgar hit home with counters after some nice movement. This round was close. However, Edgar was simply crisper throughout the stanza. Sherk may need a stoppage to win.

In the third, Sherk finally went for a takedown that came through. However, Edgar got to his feet after getting hit on his way up. For most of the rest of the stanza, the two traded equally with Sherk being the aggressor. However, at the tail end of the round Sherk shot for a takedown and ended the round in an Edgar guillotine for his efforts. Up to the guillotine, Sherk was winning the final round. But did the ending change that?

Yes.

Frankie Edgar wins via unanimous decision. Great showing by him.

"I don't get taken down in fights," said Chael Sonnen in reference to Dan Miller's ability to utilize his well thought of submission skills in their UFC 98 match up. Would Miller be able to make Sonnen eat his words and add another win for the New Jersey (Frank Edgar) fighters?

Early on, Miller landed a nice right hand and then the two exchanged low kicks. Then Sonnen went for the takedown. Though he achieved it, he was almost stopped by a guillotine choke for his efforts. But Sonnen then started in with some significant ground and pound. Some big elbows and punches by Sonnen were landing. Miller came close to transitioning to a kneebar, but when it failed he ended up in Sonnen's side control for a few moments. For the rest of the round, Miller was punished on the ground.

Great stanza for Sonnen.

Early in the second, Sonnen went for a takedown that failed and got hit with some knees and a punch. But when the two clinched up again, Miller was put on his back. Another guillotine choke by him failed. Then the ground and pound started up again. In the midsts of it all, Miller almost pulled off an armbar, but Sonnen's posture was perfect, eliminating the threat. For the rest of the stanza, Sonnen implemented his ground and pound gameplan, albeit with less ferocity than the first round.

Miller needs a stoppage in order to win in the final round.

Miller landed a big flurry early in the final round. But then Sonnen took him down easily. From there, things looked like the first two rounds until the bell.

Chael Sonnen wins impressively by unanimous decision.

Next up was a match between Xavier Foupa Pokam and Drew McFedries in what promised to be a striking match that would end in a knockout. Not much else to say. Let's get things going.

McFedries connected with a hard left hand that sent his opponent backwards and then a right hand that dropped him hard. Despite following with a torrent of punches on the ground, Foupa Pokam managed to fight his way to his feet. However, another McFedries flurry of strikes dropped him again, causing the referee to stop the fight.

Drew McFedries wins via TKO at 37 seconds of round one. This was a fast, yet exciting encounter.

Next up was a fight between former TUF contestant Krzystof Soszynski and Andre Gusmao. KS started the fight off by forcing the clinch, to which he ate some minor knees and punches inside. But after a separation, KS connected with a couple of nice punches. Gusmao, however, connected with the same in a flurry moments later. Gusmao landed some nice front and low kicks after blocking some KS punches. KS then landed a big left-right combination. Soon after, he connected with a flurry, culminating with a hard right hand that floored his adversary. That was that.

Krzystof Soszynski wins by way of KO at 3:17 of round one. This is a guy that many,20including this writer, have perhaps been mistakenly underestimating.

"Matt Serra is running his mouth enough to where all I want to do is hit it now," said Matt Hughes, coming into his fight against Matt Serra. Of course, Serra believed that he would be the guy to expose Hughes once and for all. And the hatred the two felt for one another coming in is what promised to make this fight special.

Hughes came out in a left handed stance, likely indicating that he wanted to shoot. Not much happened early on. Then came an incidental headbutt that hurt Hughes followed by a flurry of punches that further dizzied him. But somehow Hughes survived to force the clinch where he was able to recover. After a separation, Hughes took Serra down hard into side control. After some nice ground and pound, Hughes took his back.&nbs p; From there came some nice ground and pound. But Serra got up. Hughes hit home with a nice left from there. Serra hit home with a side kick. Then came the bell.

That was a close round. If you eliminate the headbutt, it was Hughes's. But since the headbutt wasn't called.. It could've been Serra's. Close.

In the second, Serra caught his opponent with a hard punch. Then came a nice knee by Hughes, followed by a clinch and then takedown. Hughes moved to Serra's half guard. Some mild ground and pound, mostly to the body, followed from there until near the one minute mark when Hughes connected with some bigger punches to the face. 20Serra did a good job of defending against Hughes's attempts at improving his position. Then at the 13 second mark, the referee stood them up. Serra came after Hughes hard at the end of the round before the bell.

That round goes to Hughes. It's either 1-1 or 2-0 Hughes going into the final stanza.

A Hughes knee connected early in the final stanza. Then came two nice punches by him followed by a clinch. From there, Hughes took him down. However, Serra tried to secure an omoplata attempt on two separate occasions. Both times Hughes got out. Serra then looked for a brief triangle that failed. Hughes moved to half guard. But a lack of action caused the referee to stand them up again.

The two traded hard rights. Later, the two clinched. But this time Serra took Hughes down hard. From there came some hard ground and pound by Serra. Hughes nearly turned things over on his opponent before the bell.

Both the first and third rounds in this one were hard to call. However, chances are that at least one of those questionable stanzas went to Hughes. And the judges clearly agreed.

Matt Hughes wins via unanimous decision. Afterwards, Hughes and Serra hugged and were very respectful to one another. It was nice to see.

"This fight's about one thing, me becoming UFC champion," said Lyoto Machida coming into his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship shot against Rashad Evans. On the other hand, Evans likely would've noted that this fight was about him keeping the belt. With that and one of the more interesting stylistic match ups you'll ever see, let's see how things turned out.

Early on, there wasn't a lot of action. But about two minutes in, Machida partially connected with a high kick. About a minute later, Machida landed a nice body kick and punch to the face. A momentary clinch saw Evans connect with a knee to the body. Then about another minute later, Machida landed a hard body kick and then a left hand that dropped Evans. He followed him to the ground with some more hard striking before Evans recovered and got up. Soon after, came the bell.

Machida clearly won the round. His quick striking ability is amazing.

Early on, Machida landed a couple of decent kicks. Then came a hard body kick by Machida followed by a takedown attempt that nearly bore fruit (would've had the cage not been there). Moments later, the two traded a flurry of punches when Machida came forward aggressively. Machida's throwing a lot of kicks, connecting with many. Later, Evans landed a good body kick.

Then came the big one. Machida connected with a hard left hand that stunned Evans and then a right-left combination that floored him. Evans got back up but Machida didn't let him breathe, eventually hitting home with a left ha nd that left him slumped on the canvas.

Lyoto Machida is simply amazing. He's the kind of guy that makes you believe in karate all over again, when it's done right.

Lyoto Machida wins via KO at 3:57 of round two.

In the end, UFC 98 was all about two fights. Matt Hughes won the grudge match of all grudge matches over Matt Serra in a fight that probably left people with more respect for Serra than they had previously, as it was a very close fight. Lyoto Machida absolutely destroyed Rashad Evans, on the other hand, showing the world that a new era has begun in MMA.

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