By Thomas Gerbasi
LAS VEGAS, January 31 – Criticized in the past for his unorthodox countering style, Lyoto Machida silenced the critics in the co-main event of UFC 94 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, walking through previously unbeaten Thiago Silva en route to a first round knockout win that solidified his case for a light heavyweight title shot.
“People, do I deserve a title shot,” asked Machida of the packed house that roared in the affirmative. “I’m ready - whenever, wherever, whoever.”
Machida peppered Silva with kicks early on, not getting touched in the process. With a little over a minute gone, the action was halted after Machida landed a low knee, but after the fight resumed, he went right back to work, taking his opponent down, and then after the two stood, dropping Silva with a knee followed by a punch to the jaw. On the mat, Machida remained in control, and when he stood, he continued to score with kicks to the legs of the still prone Silva. Despite the frustration showing on his face, the bruised up Silva kept moving forward, eventually running into another combination that put him down a second time. After rising, Silva and Machida grappled against the fence, but after Machida tripped his foe to the canvas, a right hand to the jaw put Silva out at 4:59 of the opening round.
With the win, Machida improves to 14-0; Silva falls to 13-1.
Jon Jones is for real. Just 21 years old, the unbeaten New Yorker stunned returning light heavyweight star Stephan Bonnar with a varied and aggressive attack that earned him a three round unanimous decision win.
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Jones, who ups his record to 2-0 in the UFC and 8-0 overall. Bonnar, in his first fight since October of 2007 due to from knee surgery, falls to 14-5.
Jones opened up the fight with some unorthodox and orthodox kicks that immediately got Bonnar’s attention. The two proceeded to lock up, with Jones igniting the crowd with two thudding throws to the mat. Once standing, Bonnar tried to get on the board with some kicks of his own, but after another Jones throw missed, the New Yorker simply took Bonnar’s back and threw him backwards, eliminating another offensive opportunity. Offense certainly wasn’t Jones’ problem, as a back elbow dropped Bonnar and a knee stunned him before another takedown ended the round.
Bonnar came out fast to start the second round, looking to turn the tide. Jones quickly made him pay for his aggressiveness though, as he took his back and then continued to score with his strikes from all possible angles before a takedown a minute and a half in. The former JUCO national champion showed off some impressive ground and pound as well before Bonnar fought his way back to his feet. The Ultimate Fighter season one finalist showed some signs of life in the late stages of the round, but just when he would start to get some momentum, it was Jones silencing things with a crisp counter or another thunderous throw.
With the fight slipping away from him, Bonnar went on the attack in the final round, and after some solid strikes, he pinned Jones against the fence and tried to work on the inside. As Jones broke free, Bonnar still scored well in between sporadic bursts from the tiring Jones, who took the fight to the mat midway through the round. On the ground, Bonnar tried for a submission from his back, but was unsuccessful, and the two soon rose to their feet. With the seconds ticking away, Bonnar tried to press, but he just didn’t have enough left in the tank to catch Jones, who entered the Octagon as a virtual unknown, but left it a star.
Welterweight contender Karo Parisyan returned to the Octagon for the first time since April of 2008 and handed Dong Hyun Kim his first pro loss via a closely contested but less than compelling three round split decision.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Parisyan.
The action was fast-paced at the start, with Parisyan (27-5) landing a nice right hand before Kim (11-1-1) took control on the mat and got the Armenia native’s back. Parisyan stood up with Kim locked on to his back, and though he tried to throw him off, it was to no avail, and Kim put points on the board with strikes to the head before almost catching Parisyan’s arm. The escape from the armbar provided ‘The Heat’ with the opening he needed to get free and into a better position, but as he tried to work from the feet, Kim again took his back. With 40 seconds left, Parisyan broke free from that position, but was still locked up against the fence by Kim until the bell sounded.
Kim opened the second round with a kick to the head, prompting Parisyan to wave his foe on to battle. Stalemates on the fence and on the mat ensued, with neither man willing to give ground. Midway through the round, Parisyan exploded with one of his patented throws, and now he was holding the upper hand as the two battled at close range. After a brief break to re-insert Parisyan’s lost mouthpiece, the action slowed until the bell, with a 1-2 by Parisyan being the only late offense of note.
Parisyan received a warning for an illegal kick to the head on the ground by referee Josh Rosenthal in round three, and after that the pattern of the previous rounds remained unchanged as both fighters locked up against the fence and tried to impose their will on each other, with neither able to pull away and make a definitive statement.
In the main card opener, Clay Guida halted the Octagon unbeaten streak of Nate Diaz, drilling out a workmanlike three round split decision in their lightweight contest.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Guida.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a win and I’m coming up to the top of the lightweight division so get ready for me,” said Guida.
Guida went on the attack at the opening bell, and while he was able to work effectively on the inside, at distance, it was the taller Diaz who controlled the action with his long jabs and quick 1-2s. Midway through the round, Diaz went for his first takedown, but Guida was able to turn the tables and wind on top of Diaz before taking the Ultimate Fighter 5 winner’s back. Diaz tried to roll his way out of trouble, but Guida kept him locked up, even as the two stood, and he drew a roar from the crowd as he slammed Diaz to the deck moments later. The round ended with a standup exchange and Diaz raising his fist triumphantly at the bell.
Diaz went back to peppering Guida with strikes as round two began, but when the two locked up against the fence, the strength of ‘The Carpenter’ was evident as he kept his opponent unable to get untracked offensively. With 1:30 left, the fight hit the canvas, with Guida unwilling to give up position. In response, Diaz worked on his foe’s arm, but he wasn’t able to do anything more offensively until a late round triangle choke attempt that Guida easily defended.
The two combatants traded on the feet in the final round, with Diaz starting to land more and more shots as the round progressed. Eventually, Guida tied the Stockton native up and pushed him against the fence in a successful effort to stop Diaz’ rally. At the three minute mark, with Guida on his back, Diaz tripped his foe to the canvas, but again, Guida refused to let his grip go until the final bell rang.
With the victory, Guida ups his record to 25-6; Diaz falls to 10-3.
Unlucky 14th for Silva, as Machida Scores Spectacular First Round KO
Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Criticized in the past for his unorthodox countering style, Lyoto Machida silenced the critics in the co-main event of UFC 94 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, walking through previously unbeaten Thiago Silva en route to a first round knockout win that solidified his case for a light heavyweight title shot.