AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Quinton "Rampage" Jackson beat Lyoto Machida in a 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 decision in the main event at UFC 123 in front of a loud crowd at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Jackson won the with aggressiveness, and escaped a close call in the final round.
The first round began just as expected, with Rampage immediately stalking, and Machida immediately being elusive. Machida used leg kicks, movement and misdirection to keep the distance, until Jackson finally chased him and was able to land combinations. After the second flurry of punches, Machida clinched with Rampage. They broke apart, and Machida again the clinch to defend against Jackson's aggressiveness.
The clinching continued in the second round, with little action coming from it until two minutes in, when Jackson completed a takedown. They returned to their feet and the clinch. Machida landed a knee again, followed by Jackson breaking free and then landing a huge uppercut that Machida survived. Machida's elusiveness continued to frustrate Jackson, who did everything he could to get into punching distance of Machida.
Machida finally exploded with offense in the third round, throwing a flurry of punches and then a headkick. Jackson appeared in trouble, then roared back with a few punches of his own until Machida took him down. Then, the two were immobile again. Machida passed guard into full mount and tried to get an arm bar, but Jackson's strength won out. He picked up Machida for a slam, but Machida popped out before he could finish it. Back on their feet, they clinched again for another takedown attempt. Machida tried for one more submission before the fight was over, but the round ended before he could complete it.
"Machida is hard to hit. He's going to be around for a long time," Jackson said after the fight. "Even though I don't want to, I think it would be fair to have an immediate rematch."
Both fighters held and successfully defended the UFC light heavyweight belt and desperately want to get back into the title mix. Both were also coming off losses. Machida lost the belt to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in May. Later that month, Rashad Evans decisioned Jackson in a grudge match between the two.