LAS VEGAS — It wasn’t a title fight but Quentin “Rampage” Jackson’s first appearance for Ultimate Fighting Championship proved burdensome despite a knockout win over Marvin Eastman at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Saturday.
“I was never so nervous before a fight as this,” said Jackson who fought in front of more than 12,200 fans.
Jackson, a light heavyweight, had been starring in rival martial arts promotion located in Japan and was recently acquired for UFC. At the other side of the octagon was Eastman, the first man to ever defeat Jackson.
“I love Marvin like a brother but he hit me with a good punch,” said Jackson (26-6), who fights out of Irvine, California. “I had to put him out.”
Eastman is a smaller version of Jackson but his size disadvantage proved detrimental when he was caught with a right uppercut and seven more punches. Down went Eastman, forcing referee John McCarthy to stop the fight at 3:49 of the second round.
“Man, fighting for UFC is a lot of pressure,” said Jackson, who formerly fought for Japan’s Pride martial arts promoters. “I need to get some more sparring.”
Another new edition to UFC was Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (22-4-2) facing Temecula’s Eddie Sanchez (8-1) in a heavyweight bout. Though the former Croatian police officer was the heavy favorite, Sanchez’s undefeated record and his powerful right hand made some pause. But experience proved the difference.
Filipovic launched a left kick on Sanchez’s head and followed it with a straight left that floored Sanchez. The Croatian jumped on top of Sanchez and pounded him until the referee stopped it at 4:33 in the first round.
“I was surprised he was moving around,” said Filipovic. “But he did what he could.”
A middleweight contest that was supposed to be for Anderson Silva’s middleweight championship was downgraded to a mere non-title match because Travis Lutter (12-4) failed to make the required 185-pound limit.
“It’s unprofessional and a disgrace to the fans,” said Silva (18-4), from Brazil.
Silva was expected to win with his superior punching and kicking skills, but when Lutter forced the fight to the ground, the Brazilian manipulated the Texan and wrapped his leg around his neck. After about a minute Lutter tapped out at 2:11 of the second round.
“I’m a stand up fighter but my jujitsu skills can match up with anyone,” said Silva, who retains his title. “If anyone wants the belt here it is.”
Roger Huerta (18-1-1) scored a 19-second knockout of John Halverson in a lightweight contest. A take down of Halverson followed by Huerta getting on his back and raining blows on his head forced the referee to stop the bout as Halverson lay still.
Canada’s Patrick Cote (10-4) used his superior boxing to win a three-round unanimous decision over Steve Smith (12-3) of California in a middleweight bout. The crowd booed the tactical battle between the two knockout punchers. Cote caught Smith walking into a punch in the second round but decided not to pursue a knockout. Smith wobbled backward but when Cote did not advance, the Californian stepped into a Karate Kid crane stance.
“I did not want to get caught with a big right hand,” Cote said.
Middleweight Terry Martin (16-2) claimed none can withstand his punches – then needed only 14 seconds to prove it against New Jersey’s Jorge Rivera (14-6). An attempted leg kick by Rivera was caught by Martin who hit him with a right hand and down they went. Martin fired three successive punches that knocked out Rivera cold. Referee Herb Dean stopped the bout.
In a tightly fought lightweight bout New Jersey’s Frankie Edgar had a little more gas in the tank and beat California’s Tyson Griffin by unanimous decision. Edgar was able to withstand a leg lock at the closing 20 seconds of the contest. The judges scored it 30-27, 29-28 twice for Edgar.
Brazil’s Lyoto Machida (9-0) proved too quick for Alaska’s Sam Hogar (6-3) in a light heavyweight contest. Using his left-handed stance, he dropped Hogar with a counter left in the first round and was in control the remaining two rounds. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Machida.
Cincinnati’s Dustin Hazelett captured his first victory under the UFC banner with a convincing three-round performance over Atlanta’s Diego Saraiva in a lightweight bout. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Hazelett who hurt ground expert Saraiva several times with punishing combinations.