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UFC 88 Review: Evans knocks out Liddell

The UFC continues to pop up in places that at one time looked impossible. Along with this, UFC 88 came to us all live on September 6th from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia; the first time that the promotion had ever found its way to the great state that produced Herschel Walker. Dana White and friends weren't just doing Atlanta lip service either as Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell, eight months off of a huge victory over Wanderlei Silva, was set to take on undefeated Rashad Evans in the main event with the winner probably getting a shot at Forrest Griffin for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.

Beyond that, some other questions were sure to be answered at UFC 88. With Rich "Ace" Franklin set to take on Matt Hamill the questions regarding Franklin's jump up in weight and Hamill's true skill levels were about to be settled. With Dan Henderson set to take on Rousimar Palhares, we were sure to get the scoop on the new BJJ phenom and where Henderson, fresh off of two straight losses to upper level competition, really stood in the UFC.

Of course, these days each UFC event answers a plethora of questions. That's why it's clearly the best MMA organization on the planet right now.

So let's get to it.

Before fight number two between Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, many wondered if The Natural could be knocked out. After that fight, everyone knew that he could. The bottom line is that Chuck Liddell has proven the same against multiple fighters, and clearly believed coming into this bout that he would do the same to the undefeated Rashad Evans.

"Can't wait to hit him," Liddell said. "I can't wait to put my hands on him and test his chin. . . I plan on knocking him out." Of course, Evans had a lot of confidence coming in as well. We're talking about an undefeated mixed martial artist that was able to win a TUF Championship at heavyweight.

Remember, he's fighting at 205 these days.

"Tonight I'm hosting Chuck Liddell's retirement party," Evans said beforehand. "After this fight, he's gonna take off his gloves and walk his old ass out the Octagon. I'm gonna stand there, being the victor."

In the end, though, it never matters what people say before the fight; only what happens during. Speaking of during.

The first round was for the most part uneventful. In other words, both guys stood up and threw very few punches. Still, toward the end of the initial stanza Liddell connected with a couple of nice shots. Further, he was clearly the stalker during the round. Thus, give him the stanza based on that alone.

One problem of note was that Liddell sustained a cut under his right eye during one of the few times he was hit in the first.

In the second came the shot heard around the world. Namely, Evans connected with a couple of flurries. Then Liddell came forward, directly into an Evans overhand right.

That was it. Liddell was out cold. In fact, he was down for a long time, which was a little scary. But the Iceman did eventually get up and will hopefully be okay.

Rashad Evans wins via KO at 1:51 of round two.

"No one believes I can beat Rich Franklin," said Matt Hamill coming into their fight at UFC 88. "I love to be the underdog. . . Tonight I'm going to shock the world." Of course, there have been many that believed they would defeat Franklin in the past, but only Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida were able to come through.

Would Hamill be different?

The first round was Franklin's. For the majority of the stanza, Ace connected with low kicks and controlled the action. Hamill did take him down toward the tail end of the stanza and executed some ground and pound; but Franklin attempted an armbar and got to his feet, where he hit home nicely with some shots.

Both guys were cut in the first. Franklin's, which was adjacent to his eye, was worse.

The second saw Franklin dominate, connecting with great low kicks to go along with high kicks and hard punches. In fact, a lesser man would've probably gone down from the beating, perhaps. In addition, Hamill's gameplan had to be questioned, as the takedown attempts were few and far between.

Of course, that may have had something to do with the damage his legs had sustained from Ace's leg kicks. So onto the last round.

Bottom line on that stanza was Franklin connected with a hard body kick. Hammil went down.

And that was all she wrote.

Rich Franklin wins via TKO at 39 seconds of round three.

Dong Hyun Kim vs. Matt Brown: The first round was excellent, with Kim taking Brown down and nearly pulling off a standing guillotine. Brown powered and persevered his way out to connect with some nice shots on his feet. In fact, he came close to getting in the right position to pull off a guillotine on the ground himself.

A round for Kim; but he looked tired between rounds.

In the second, that fatigue showed as Brown shirked all of his judo adversary's takedown attempts, beat him up with knees in the clinch, nailed him with hard punches from a distance, and even executed some very strong ground and pound, especially toward the end of the round with elbows.

The third stanza would decide things. And it was the most competitive round of the night.

Basically, Kim took Brown down twice. Though he didn't do any real damage, the second time he did hit home with some decent ground and pound in spurts, including opening a cut on Brown's cheek. When they were on their feet, Brown did better with knees inside, but Kim did connect with one huge left.

In the end, the final round was Kim's; therefore, the fight should be as well.

Dong Hyun Kim wins via split decision. Some boos afterwards, but it was the right call for sure. Still, Brown is a very tough guy.

Martin Kampmann vs. Nate Marquardt: "KO, round three," Martin Kampmann told this writer before taking on Nate Marquardt in the biggest fight of his MMA career.

In the end, it didn't go well for Kampmann.

Early in the fight, Marquardt hit home with a right high kick to the head that stunned Kampmann. Though Kampmann showed toughness afterwards, the continuous barrage of punches coupled with a huge knee by Marquardt forced the referee's hand.

Nate Marquardt wins by way of TKO at 1:22 of round one. This was a very impressive victory.

Dan Henderson vs. Rousimar Palhares: "The way that I'm going to win this fight is by landing this hand (right) on his chin. And it's as simple as that," said Henderson coming in.

The opening round saw Henderson shirk Palhares' takedown attempts and connect with some big shots, particularly rights, in spurts. In fact, at one point Henderson seemed to have his opponent stunned. Palhares did connect with some wild kicks and managed to get on top of his opponent toward the end of the stanza.

But the round went to Henderson. Palhares has a good jaw.

In the second, Palhares slammed Henderson down to the canvas hard, showing some wrestling skills of his own. While on the ground, Henderson managed to escape a heel hook then kneebar attempt that left him limping for a moment on his feet.

Later in the stanza, Henderson ended up on top of Palhares but was unable to do anything with the position; hence, the referee stood them up with less than a minute left in the stanza.

A close round, but the slam and submission attempt probably left Palhares the victor in the stanza. So the third round probably would decide things.

In the third, Palhares connected with a solid knee early. But from there, Henderson began hitting home with hard shots in bursts, all the while sprawling out of takedown attempts. At the end of the fight, Henderson connected with some very hard punches, following his opponent to the canvas.

Dan Henderson wins via unanimous decision.

Tim Boetsch vs. Michael Patt: This one went like this. Boetsch connected with some punches early on. Then he hit home with a huge right that floored Patt. Then he followed him down to the canvas and pounded away until the referee was forced to step in.

Tim Boetsch wins via TKO at 2:03 of round one.

In the end, anytime that Chuck Liddell gets knocked out, particularly in brutal fashion, an event surely will make people take notice and UFC 88 was no different. Rich Franklin also served notice at 205, and Dan Henderson finally got back to his winning ways.

Oh yeah, and Nate Marquardt made a statement.

These days it's near impossible to predict fights in the UFC. Everyone is just so close, and Evans certainly proved that again on September 6th.