The Sunday Aftermath: UFC on Fox 15 – Rockhold vs. Machida

Jacare Rockhold

It was moving night on Saturday for the UFC’s middleweight division as three of the top five 185 lbs fighters in the world put it on the line in front of the MMA world at the Prudential Centre in New Jersey.

Solid Rockhold

The main event of the evening was the meeting of former champions as the past light heavyweight king Lyoto Machida took on the last ever Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. And it was Rockhold who took the centre of the cage early while Machida, as he always tends to do, stayed on the back foot and circled away from all the power shots. A counter overhand left from Machida was the first big shot of the fight and it was rapidly joined by a right hand which narrowly missed. Machida quickly followed that up with another well timed left/right combo but Rockhold struck on the counter and dropped the Brazilian with a short shot. Immediately, Rockhold dropped down and looked deep on a guillotine but Machida survived. Initially, Rockhold was kicked away from top position but he neatly transitioned to the back before Lyoto reestablished guard. Machida tried to get back to his feet but Rockhold stuck to him like glue and kept attached. As the seconds ticked down in the round, Rockhold again took the back and had a rear naked choke but let it go before landing some hard ground and pound, including a fight changing elbow which rocked Machida, as the round ended.

As he walked back to his corner, Machida looked in bad trouble after taking a serious amount of damage in the first and came out for the second with a swollen eye and on wobbly legs. To his credit, Machida did well to avoid the big shots of Rockhold early in the second but it was clear he was still in tremendous trouble. Eventually, Rockhold did manage to catch him though and a slip from Machida after eating a left hand put him on his backside again. Rockhold quickly jumped on the opportunity and took side control as Machida curled up for safety. A slick transition to the back from Rockhold looked to be ominous for Machida, and indeed it was, as Rockhold sunk in the rear naked choke and forced Machida to tap for the first time in his career. After the fight, Rockhold called out champion Chris Weidman and pronounced himself “The Best Around”. After that performance, it’s hard to argue with him.

Slick Souza

In the co-main event, the world’s number one ranked middleweight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza came up against Chris Camozzi for the second time after the American replaced Yoel Romero who was injured less than two weeks out. Despite it all being stacked against him, Camozzi came out and looked confident from the very beginning. The American struck first with a well timed leg kick and looked loose and relaxed in his movements.

Jacare soon took the centre of the Octagon, though, and had him backing up. Two right hands landed to the chin either side of a nice Camozzi jab were the first big shots of the fight as Jacare shook off the cobwebs of eight month outside of the cage. Within a minute, the fight was on the floor after a beautiful Souza double leg takedown had Camozzi on his back and in dire trouble. Jacare landed in guard but the former Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt world champion quickly transitioned to side control. From there he had knee on belly but Camozzi defended well and stopped the pass to mount before he got it back to the half guard. Jacare, though, is dangerous from everywhere and managed to slide himself into a spiderweb position as Camozzi entered full panic mode. It was just a matter of time from there and, although Camozzi tried his best, Jacare was able to free the arm. Before any damage was done via the armbar, Camozzi verbally tapped and gave the top ranked middleweight his 8th straight win . Although Luke Rockhold is probably favourite for next title shot, Jacare has more than a few claims.

The New Age Shine

Outside of the top two, there were a number of stand-out fights and performances. The best of those might just have been from Max Holloway who took on veteran Cub Swanson. The Hawaiian, who is the only man in the UFC to take Conor McGregor to a decision, had the better of Swanson from early in the fight as he looked unbelievably comfortable on his feet. Holloway pieced Swanson up with fast combinations and although the second was a little closer, Holloway upped the pace in the final round again and submitted Swanson with a majestic guillotine choke to put himself right in the title mix.

Another possible contender match-up opened the main card; and it was a massive display from Paige VanZant. The Nevada native was in against MMA veteran Felice Herrig and dominated from second one as she chewed up Herrig on the feet before taking her down to land a series of hurtful ground and pound over the three rounds. Herrig did well to defend off of her back and survive but that was about all she could do as PVZ took the gritty, but not so technically brilliant unanimous decision victory.

On the undercard there was a magnificent scrap between Beneil Dariush and Jim Miller which saw the former win a decision while Ovince St-Preux and Gian Villante got big knockouts just after uber-prospect Aljamain Sterling and Tim Means choked out Takeya Mizugaki and George Sullivan respectively. While the controversy of the night came in the first two bouts of the eventing as Chris Dempsey got a gift decision over Eddie Gordon and Diego Brandao got the TKO win when the doctor questionably stopped the fight after round one due to a cut on the ear of his opponent Jimy Hettes.

FULL RESULTS

Luke Rockhold def. Lyoto Machida via submission (rear-naked choke) – R2, 2:31
Ronaldo Souza def. Chris Camozzi via submission (armbar) – R1, 2:33
Max Holloway def. Cub Swanson via submission (guillotine) – R3, 3:58
Paige VanZant def. Felice Herrig via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)

Beneil Dariush def. Jim Miller via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Ovince Saint Preux def. Patrick Cummins via KO – R1, 4:54
Gian Villante def. Corey Anderson via TKO – R3, 4:18
Aljamain Sterling def. Takeya Mizugaki via submission (arm-triangle) – R3, 2:11

Tim Means def. George Sullivan via submission (arm-triangle) – R3, 3:41
Diego Brandao def. Jimy Hettes via TKO (doctor stoppage) – R1, 5:00
Chris Dempsey def. Eddie Gordon via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma