Fighting in his home country of Brazil for the first time since 2006, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida had seemingly made a triumphant return Saturday in the UFC 163 co-main event at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro. But that’s not how it went on the scorecards, as Phil Davis took the victory via a razor-thin unanimous decision.
All three judges saw it 29-28 for Davis, a decision that did not sit well with the fans in attendance.
With the crowd chanting for him, Belem's Machida opened the bout in his usual measured style. Davis fired off a couple front kicks that got Machida’s attention, but not enough to make “The Dragon” commit. As the round progressed, Machida got a little busier, putting Davis into a stick and move mode, and with 1:15 left, the Brazilian exploded with a flurry of strikes that got the crowd roaring. Davis shook off the attack well, responding with a takedown in the closing minute.
Surprisingly, Davis decided to keep the fight standing early in the second, especially given how easily he took Machida down in the first round. This allowed Machida to keep peppering him with pinpoint accurate strikes, even though Davis remained on the attack with his punches and kicks, none of which had any effect on the former champion. Davis did get a late takedown followed by ground strikes, but again, it was too late for him to truly capitalize.
After some evenly matched striking in the opening stages of the third, Machida greeted a Davis takedown attempt with a knee, putting an end to that try. Buoyed by his good fortune, Machida started attacking the body more intently with his kicks and also tossed away another two takedown attempts by Davis, and as “Mr. Wonderful” got more aggressive with his attack, Machida got more opportunities to counter, just the way he wanted to close out the three rounder. But apparently the judges didn’t concur, instead awarding Davis the biggest win of his career.
With the win, Davis improves to 12-1 with 1 NC; Machida falls to 19-4.
FERREIRA vs. SANTOS
In his first bout since winning the first season of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil in June of 2012, Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira was spectacular in dispatching Octagon newcomer Thiago “Marreta” Santos, submitting his foe 47 seconds into the first round of their middleweight bout.
The first significant shot Ferreira threw, a looping left hook, hurt Santos and staggered him. A left high kick followed, and as Santos tried to clear his head with a takedown, Ferreira locked in a guillotine choke and it was game over, with the tap coming at the 47 second mark.
With the win, Belo Horizonte’s Ferreira moves to 7-2; Rio’s Santos falls to 8-2.
Check out the post-fight interview for Cezar Ferreira.
LEITES vs. WATSON
Back in the UFC for the first time since 2009, former middleweight title challenger Thales Leites looked to be in prime form as he scored an exciting and dominant three round unanimous decision win over ultra-tough Tom Watson.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for the 31-year-old Rio de Janeiro native.
Firing off a solid combination that landed flush, Leites used his strikes to set up a takedown 30 seconds in, and he quickly took Watson’s back and went for the rear naked choke. When that submission didn’t present itself, Leites fired off strikes, bloodying Watson’s face. The Brit hung tough though, escaping and getting back to his feet with a minute left. Then it was time for him to go on the offensive, and he did just that, landing some punches and kicks before the bell.
Leites (21-4) again got Watson backing up from his striking attack early in round two, and with “Kong” paying too much attention to it, Leites smoothly got another takedown and transitioned into the mount. Watson (16-6) got out and up, but was sent back to the mat seconds later. This time Leites took the back and looked for the rear naked choke a second time before switching to an armbar attempt. But again, Watson found daylight and got new life in the fight, landing several hard shots as the round closed.
A left hook by Leites opened a cut on Watson’s face in the first minute of the third, and after locking up the Brit against the fence, Leites was able to control the action. Moments after the two broke free, Leites got two takedowns, and with less than two minutes left, he sunk in an arm triangle choke. Not surprisingly, Watson refused to go away, garnering plenty of respect for his gutsy effort, even though it was Leites who impressively took the victory.
Check out the post-fight interview for Thales Leites.
LINEKER vs. MARIA
Despite coming in overweight for his flyweight bout with Jose Maria and getting rocked by a spinning backfist in the first round, all ended well for John Lineker in the main card opener, as he notched his third consecutive victory with a second round finish of the Rio newcomer.
Lineker got his “Hands of Stone” in gear early, dropping Maria briefly with a right hand a minute in. The veteran Maria looked unsure of what his game plan was, but a spinning backfist solved that issue, badly hurting Lineker and sending him to the canvas moments later. Lineker got back to his feet, but his legs were still wobbly, allowing Maria to get a takedown. The 23-year-old Lineker made it back to his feet and locked up with Maria against the fence before a restart of the action by referee Leon Roberts due to a low blow that was shown on replay not to be low. By this time, Lineker’s head was clear and he was ready to get back to business.
Remaining on the attack in round two, Lineker marched forward and Maria stood in the pocket with him, but as the one minute mark approached, Maria fell to the canvas, apparently hurting his right leg. Lineker didn’t let his foe off the hook, firing off punches and hammerfists until Roberts stopped the fight at the 1:03 mark.
With the win, Lineker improves to 22-6; Maria falls to 33-4 with 2 NC.
Check out the post-fight interview for John Lineker.
The Fans Don’t Agree, but Davis Upsets The Dragon - UFC 163 Main Card Results
Read on for UFC 163 main card results...