Evans knocks Liddell cold at UFC 88

ATLANTA – Complete coverage of UFC 88 from Philips Arena:

Light heavyweights: Rashad Evans (17-0-1) def. Chuck Liddell (21-6)
How: TKO, 1:51 Round 2
Key moment: Evans, after not having landed many strikes, suddenly connected with a punishing overhand right that knocked Liddell out.
Analysis: Liddell made the same mistake he made when he lost his light heavyweight belt last year to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. He went to throw an uppercut and Evans caught him with a booming overhand right. The win will zoom Evans to the top of the division and places him squarely among the UFC’s elite at 205 pounds. Liddell has lost three of his last four and there at least has to be thought if he’s come to the end of the line of a spectacular career. – Kevin Iole


Light heavyweights: Rich Franklin (26-3) def. Matt Hamill (6-2)
How: Ref stoppage at 0:39 of Round 3
Key moment: Franklin’s ability to continually land kicks to the leg and body and keep Hamill from taking him down most of the way spelled the difference. The low kicks slowed Hamill’s movement and left him open for body kicks. In the third round, Hamill went down from a hard body kick and Franklin finished him with punches on the ground. Franklin has a nasty cut on the side of his right eye but Hamill wasn’t able to connect on it after early in the second round.
Analysis: Former middleweight champ Franklin, in his first light heavyweight fight in more than three years at light heavyweight, executed a good game plan on one of the stronger man in the division. But in moving up in weight, the question becomes how he can fare with the high-caliber strikers at the top of this division. What he showed is strong takedown defense and a good battle plan against someone is primarily a wrestler, something that was his strength as a middleweight. – Dave Meltzer


Middleweights: Dan Henderson (23-7) def. Rousimar Palhares (17-2)
Judges scores: Unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Yahoo! Sports score: Kevin Iole and Dave Meltzer each had it 29-28 for Henderson.
Key moment: Henderson used his savvy to escape a second-round leg lock from the Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert.
Analysis: Henderson got a much needed victory after losses to champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Anderson Silva, but it didn’t come easy. It was clear he respected Palhares’ jiu-jitsu and wanted no part of going to the ground. Palhares had difficulty taking the fight down and the result was that Henderson’s superior striking led him to a close win and kept alive his hopes for a rematch with Silva for the middleweight title. – Kevin Iole


Middleweights: Nathan Marquardt (30-8-2) def. Martin Kampmann (13-2)
How: Ref stoppage from punches in 1:22 of the first round.
Key moment: Marquardt put Kampmann down with a right high kick and Kampmann never fully recovered. The finishing flurry saw Marquardt throw a rapid series of punches against the cage, the key blows being an uppercut and a body punch.
Analysis: Marquardt rebounded from a loss to Thales Leitis on a controversial foul for a blow behind the head back at UFC 80 and handed Kampmann his first loss in UFC competition. Marquardt, who looked at his best here, remains one of UFC’s top middleweights, but he’s still part of the pack at the top who have all been stopped by Anderson Silva. – Dave Meltzer


Welterweights: Dong Hyun Kim (11-0-1) def. Matt Brown (10-7)
Judges scores: Split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Yahoo! Sports score: Kevin Iole and Dave Meltzer each had it 29-28 for Kim.
Key moment: Kim regained his conditioning in the third round and opened a cut under Brown’s eye with a vicious elbow that may have swung an extremely close fight his way.
Analysis: Kim is a highly regarded prospect and Brown did a good job of nullifying his offense. Brown’s Muay Thai skills are underrated and he landed a few solid knees. But Kim, who seemed to fatigue badly in the second round, appears to have more weapons and managed to pull out the win. Kim had several chokes in the first round that Brown fought out of. The loss shouldn’t hurt Brown too much, as he battled one of the UFC’s top welterweight hopes on nearly even terms. – Kevin Iole


Lightweights: Kurt Pellegrino (18-4) def. Thiago Tavares (17-3)
How: Unanimous decision on scores of 29-27, 29-27 and 29-28
Yahoo! Sports scores: Dave Meltzer and Kevin Iole each had it 29-27 for Pellegrino
Turning point: Pellegrino hurt Tavares early, stunning him with a punch and followed with two first round knockdowns and a ground-and- pound that would have finished most fighters. Tavares, who was bleeding badly from the left eye and ear, survived the round.
Analysis: In the second round, Tavares was on top most of the round but Pellegrino got an armbar and Tavares tapped, but ref Yves Lavigne missed it. Pellegrino didn’t know it either and said Tavares escaped the move rather than him letting go. In the third round, Tavares’ takedown attempts were stuffed by Pellegrino who got on top to win the round. Pellegrino’s improved striking combined with the wrestling he’s always had strengthens his standing in a deep lightweight division. The best match so far in the show. – Dave Meltzer


Welterweights: Tim Boetsch (8-2) def. Mike Patt (15-3)
How: TKO, 2:03 Round 1
Key moment: Boetsch landed a crunching right hand square on Patt’s chin.
Analysis: Boetsch is a wrestler who only recently learned to strike, but if he continues to punch like he did on Saturday, he’ll move to the upper levels of the 205-pound division. He already has excellent wrestling skills and is dangerous with his knees. His vulnerability appeared to be his standup, but that weakness seems to be dissipating. – Kevin Iole


Middleweights: Jason MacDonald (22-10) def. Jason Lambert (23-9).
How: Rear naked choke at 1:20 of the second round.
Key moment: After a double-leg takedown early in the second round, MacDonald got Lambert’s back and was able to finish him with the choke.
Analysis: MacDonald looked like he was saved at the bell as with 10 seconds left in the first round, Lambert got a tight guillotine. MacDonald after the fight admitted it was tight but he was aware there were only seconds left in the round and held his breath until time ran out. MacDonald got a takedown and was in control most of the first round until the late guillotine. Round two opened with a slugfest, at which point MacDonald went low with a strong takedown which led to the finish. – Dave Meltzer


Welterweights: Ryo Chonan (12-8) def. Roan Carneiro (14-9)
Judges scores: Split decision (29-28, 29-28, for Chonan; 29-28 for Carneiro)
Yahoo! Sports scores: Kevin Iole and Dave Meltzer each had it 29-28 for Carneiro
Key moment: Carneiro had a strong first round and nearly forced a submission when he got Chonan into an armbar along the cage.
Analysis: The crowd clearly disapproved, as the men grappled on the ground for position in the final two rounds. Carneiro, who has now lost two in a row, did little offensively after the first round, but it was a fight that didn’t help either man’s career. There are a lot of strong contenders at 170 pounds, and not many people will want to see these two after this performance as well as a recent string of up-and-down fights. – Kevin Iole

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Updated Saturday, Sep 6, 2008