Brazilian newcomer Maiquel Falcao
didn't do anything to endear himself to the UFC fans on Saturday at UFC 123
, beating Gerald Harris
by unanimous decision but doing it in fairly dull fashion, and doing it after a fight that included a dirty tactic of holding onto a choke after the bell rang.
The judges scored the fight for Falcao 29-27, 29-28 and 29-28, improving Falcao's professional record to 26-3. Harris, who had been on a tear this year, fell to 17-3.
The fight was expected to be a barn-burner, so it was surprising that they spent the first few minutes just feeling each other out and not doing much offensively. Eventually, after about three and a half minutes, Falcao landed a flurry of punches, knocked Harris down, and had him in big trouble. In the closing seconds of the first round, Falcao sunk in a rear-naked choke, and Harris was saved by the bell.
When the horn sounded to end the first round, Falcao didn't let go of the choke -- and he even appeared to try to tighten the choke after the round ended, before referee Dan Miragliotta pulled Falcao off. Falcao had a reputation in Brazil for questionable tactics and not stopping at the bell, so it was disturbing to see him continue the same practice in his first UFC fight.
In the second round Falcao continued to dominate, hurting Harris with strikes and controlling him on the ground as well, and once again almost getting a rear-naked choke. Although Harris did at one point manage to pick Falcao up and slam him down, for the most part all Harris could do was hang on for dear life.
By the third round Falcao knew he had to be winning on the judges' scorecards, so he stayed cautious and stood back. Harris, meanwhile, was so worn down from the beating Falcao had put on him that he couldn't get anything going offensively. That led to a dull third round that had the fans at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, booing. The fight took all the air out of the building, and, for a winning effort, wasn't an impressive debut.