The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in
MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story,
important news and notable quotes.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship's light heavyweight title hasn't
been successfully defended since September 2007. But shortly after
Machida took the belt from Rashad Evans
in a scintillating performance at UFC 98 on May 23, a sense began
to develop that the gifted karate exponent is poised to grind title
turnovers to a halt.
Though the Machida vs. Evans fight marked the first time two
undefeated fighters clashed for a UFC belt, the principals hardly
seemed on the same level. Evans only connected on seven of 54
strikes, according to CompuStrike, while Machida set up punches
with kicks expertly, at one point swatting aside Evans’ right hand
and simultaneously landing a crushing straight punch.
Machida moved in for the kill in round two, unleashing a punch
combination punctuated by a swift left hook that put Evans out cold
for the first time in his MMA career.
The increasingly aggressive Shotokan karate black belt was jubilant
following the win, taking the microphone from Joe Rogan to hold
court about dreams coming true. Machida, a fighter the general
public had been ambivalent toward for most of his UFC run, truly
came off as a star in the fight -- loud "Machida" chants rung out
from the fans on hand at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las
Machida came into the fight having been prominently highlighted on
a "Countdown" Spike TV special that drew 768,000 viewers, the
second highest in the series' history, according to MMAPayout.com.
The profile heavily played up his roots in Shotokan, and by the end
of the weekend "Machida Karate" was settling into the MMA
Machida's manager, Ed Soares, told the Sherdog Radio Network's
"Beatdown" show that Machida has trademarked the term "MMA Karate"
(short for "Machida Martial Arts Karate") as a way to brand the
unique skill set he brings to the table.
Machida earned a $60,000 “Knockout of the Night” bonus for his UFC
98 win on top of his $140,000 purse. The win shot Machida from No.
4. to No. 1 in Sherdog.com’s 205-pound rankings and to No. 4 on the
Talk quickly turned to how the rest of the UFC's marquee division
would fare against Machida. UFC President Dana White said in a
post-fight press conference that Quinton
Jackson would get the next shot at a title that hasn't been
successfully defended in almost two years. However, the company
announced later in the week that Jackson will coach opposite
Evans on season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which begins a
13-week taping regimen on June 1 and will begin airing in
Jackson told Yahoo Sports that he requested to coach against Evans
instead of Machida. There was widespread speculation that Mauricio 'Shogun"
Rua, coming off a victory over Chuck Liddell,
would be the first to challenge Machida. Rua agreed to the fight
this week, according to the Brazilian website SuperLutas. Soares
told “Beatdown” that Machida will fight again by the end of the
year, likely in October or November.
In addition to Machida, bonus payouts went to grudge-match
principals Matt Hughes and
Serra for having the “Fight of the Night.” Hughes was the
night's highest earner, taking home $260,000 in disclosed pay for
his unanimous decision win. Hughes overcame headbutt-induced
wobbliness early in round one to wrestle his way to victory.
Hughes, who some speculated would retire after the fight, said he
intends to pursue the division's best, telling Joe Rogan that he'd
like to fight near his Illinois hometown one more time. Hughes' UFC
contract is up, but he pledged not to entertain offers from other
UFC 98 drew 12,606 fans to the MGM Grand, which translated into a
$3.4 million gate. The gate was about the same as the company's
last event in the building, UFC 92 in December, although there were
some 2,000 less people in the building.
In other notable outcomes, Frankie
Edgar took a big leap toward lightweight contention by
outboxing former dominant champion Sean Sherk en
route to a unanimous decision. Edgar was able to shut down sparse
takedown attempts by Sherk and use his reach effectively, a
performance White said "blew him away."
Sherk, despondent over the loss and looking to blow off steam, ran
out of the MGM Grand Arena in his shorts and gloves (no shoes) into
the streets of Las Vegas, but returned before the show concluded.
Sherk told “Beatdown” that he was suspended for 45 days by the
athletic commission for the move, but the commission told
Sherdog.com the suspension was tied to damage he sustained in the
fight, not the post-fight sprint.