Last night’s UFC matches were a borefest on pay-per-view until Forrest Griffin and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson entered the octagon.
There wasn’t much buzz for the fight, as both Jackson and Griffin are regarded as . . . well, nice guys who don’t trash talk.
Furthermore, Jackson is a guy who walked through Chuck Liddell not once, but twice.
One they started swinging Griffin more than held his own.
Griffin came out more aggressive in the first round, quickly establishing a game plan grounded on constant kicks to Jackson’s left leg.
Jackson, however, landed a vicious right upper cut in the waning moments of the first round, nearly knocking Griffin out.
The second round, though, was all Griffin.
The constant leg kicks injured Jackson, who spent most of the second round on his back eating elbows and punches while trying to stave off repeated submission attempts by Griffin.
In between round two and three Jackson asked his corner man to put an ice pack on his battered right knee.
Round three started with Jackson landing a solid left — all the while trying to protect that injured knee.
Griffin, who appeared to be in better condition than Jackson, took his time, kept going for Jackson’s leg — and got peppered a few times by Jackson’s spot-on left hooks. The pace slowed considerably and fell into a pattern of Griffin coming in, then getting caught with a hook.
Jackson looked gassed by the end of round three.
Round four started with Rampage landing a series of solid combinations, opening a cut above Griffin’s right eye. The fight went to the ground, with Rampage on top. Griffin managed to slip Rampage’s head into a triangle choke, with his knees ending up on either side of Rampage’s head.
Rampage broke the hold by lifting the larger Griffin up, off the mat for about three seconds. Griffin was clearly the better fighter on the ground, but Rampage managed to catch Griffin with a straight left as the two stood up.
Round four came to a close with Rampage, swinging at Griffin Chuck Liddell style, looking for a one-punch knockout.
At this point, I had Griffin ahead three rounds to one.
The fifth and final round started with a showcase of Rampage’s uncanny ability to avoid punches. The guy’s head is quick. Griffin returned to his first round strategy of targeting the thigh with leg kicks. Griffin was the aggressor for the first two minutes, backing Rampage up several times.
Rampage had much trouble getting through Griffin’s jabs and Griffin wisely used his reach advantage to keep Rampage at bay.
Rampage seemed to have trouble putting weight on his right leg, which hampered his ability to deliver punches.
The fight went the distance, with both guys looking like they could have went another round.
I had Griffin winning by decision without question, with Rampage winning the first round only.
The judges’ watched the same fight and Forrest Griffin is the new UFC lighweight champ.
In a unanimous decision, the judges scored the fight:
When the audience started to boo during his post-fight interview, Griffin, always a character, said “What? Hey? What? Are you kidding me?”
Jackson, showing the humility that has become a UFC hallmark, said: “I ain’t no stranger to gettin’ my ass whooped. I get my ass whooped sometimes.”