by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
With the odds stacked against him and with just about everyone this side of Randy Couture picking the champion to defend his crown, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson defied the world and knocked out Chuck Liddell in the first round to win the UFC Light Heavyweight Title on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Coming into their rematch, the focus was on Liddell, who was trying to win back the last loss on his record, a 2nd round TKO defeat to Jackson in Pride in 2003. The media frenzy around UFC 71 showed Liddell on magazine covers and television interviews, while Rampage sat back and just commented with his normal flare whenever he was asked how the fight would end…”I’m gonna whoop Chuck’s ass.”
As the fight started, Rampage took the center of the Octagon as if to say that he was stepping into Liddell’s house and wasn’t afraid to trade with the champ. Liddell stayed tentative until Rampage stepped back and threw his hands down, inviting the Iceman to step in and trade with him. It was this challenge that led to Liddell’s downfall, as he swung with the former Pride fighter,, and Rampage was able to land a big right hook that sent Liddell crashing down to the canvas.
Rampage recognized the opportunity immediately and seized the moment by jumping on his opponent, landing a few punches and an elbow, causing Liddell’s body to go limp and referee Big John McCarthy to step in and stop the action declaring Quinton “Rampage” Jackson the winner and the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
After the fight, Rampage was vocal to the crowd, who was booing him earlier in the night and then met in the Octagon with his apparent next opponent, Pride’s 205-pound and 185-pound title-holder, Dan Henderson. Long seeking a title, Rampage pulled out an impressive victory over the most popular and well known fighter in the sport and secured himself a place in history as the only fighter to date to score two wins over Chuck Liddell.
Before their fight at UFC 71, both Karo Parisyan and Josh Burkman talked about their bout as a potential Fight of the Night candidate, and they did not disappoint the sold out crowd in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Parisyan, the favorite going in, showed up with better conditioning than he’s ever shown before, while his opponent displayed a lot of heart even in defeat. Parisyan came out swinging early in the first round and showed a much improved stand up game, which put Burkman on his heels. Karo did manage one very impressive judo sweep that put Burkman on his head, and after a very exciting round one the fighters prepared for the second session.
In the 2nd round, Parisyan continued his stand-up onslaught, while Burkman’s cardio seemed to drain as he paraded around the Octagon much at a much slower pace than he maintained in the first round. Karo again dominated the stand up, using a very effective jab and some good hooks that put Burkman on the defensive throughout. In the final round, Burkman looked much more energized, as he managed to slam Karo and put him on his back. Parisyan looked comfortable on his back, though, as he went first for a Kimura and then an armbar that forced Burkman to give up the position, which led to the fight returning to the stand up position. As the fight ended, Burkman looked exhausted, while Karo reveled in victory. The judges agreed and scored a unanimous decision in favor of Karo Parisyan, who proceeded to ask UFC President Dana White for a shot at the UFC Welterweight Title.
The upset streak in 2007 continued at UFC 71 as the largely unknown Houston Alexander came in and knocked out heavy favorite Keith Jardine in less than one minute. Both fighters came out and exchanged blows, and while it seemed like Alexander might have been stunned early, he recovered quickly and unleashed a barrage of punches on Jardine, who could not answer once pressed against the cage. Jardine was dropped a couple of times before Alexander landed a huge uppercut that put the Dean of Mean away for good, and Houston Alexander pulled off the upset special of the night.
Terry Martin proved that he could very well be a force at 185 pounds after a big win over the returning Ivan Salaverry on Saturday night. Martin looked heavy handed as always, pressing the action as Salaverry seemed to retreat away, but still landing some good leg kicks early on. With a clinch tight in place, Martin held onto Salaverry’s waist, attempting a few different takedowns. Salaverry tried to lock on a Kimura, but he held on for too long as Martin overpowered him and slammed him down. Salaverry was slammed straight onto the mat, landing head-first and giving Martin the TKO victory. Martin celebrated his second straight victory at middleweight and called out UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, saying he’d be more than happy to stand up with the title holder anytime.
Kalib Starnes picked up a unanimous decision victory in a very close fight with Chris Leben. In a back and forth fight throughout, Starnes seemed to tire early but did enough in the judges’ minds to pull off a victory, handing Leben his second loss in a row and 3rd in 4 fights.
In undercard action, Din Thomas picked up an impressive armbar submission victory over newcomer Jeremy Stephens and then called out boxers Floyd Mayweather and Kermit Cintron, saying he was the motherf***** to fight. Wilson Gouveia also pulled off a submission victory with a guillotine choke finishing off Carmelo Marrero, and a guillotine choke also put an end to the night for Sean Salmon. Salmon lost to Alan Belcher, who moved up to 205 pounds for this fight and took it on only about a week’s notice. A devastating injury befell heavy handed fighter James Irvin in his fight with Chute Boxe fighter Thiago Silva, as Irvin seemingly popped his knee out of socket and went down in obvious pain, causing the fight to be stopped in the first round.
For a card with so much attention focused on it from the mainstream media, the fighters at UFC 71 did not disappoint. Fighter of the Night has to go to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who managed to KO Chuck Liddell, something no one has ever done before, and picked up the UFC Light Heavyweight Title to boot. An honorable mention for Fighter of the Night has to go to Houston Alexander for his performance in his victory over Keith Jardine.
-Quinton Jackson def. Chuck Liddell by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 1:53 of Round 1
-Karo Parisyan def. Josh Burkman by unanimous decision
-Terry Martin def. Ivan Salaverry by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 2:04 of Round 1
-Houston Alexander def. Keith Jardine by TKO (referee stoppage due to strikes) at 0:48 of Round 1
-Kalib Starnes def. Chris Leben by unanimous decision
-Din Thomas def. Jeremy Stephens by submission (armbar) at 2:44 of Round 2
-Wilson Gouveia def. Carmelo Marrero by submission (guillotine choke) at 3:06 of Round 1
-Thiago Silva def. James Irvin by TKO due to knee injury at 1:06 of Round 1
-Alan Belcher def. Sean Salmon by submission (guillotine choke) at 0:53 of Round 1