Heavy.com is live in Auburn Hills, Michigan for “UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida” this evening.
Preliminary card action begins at approximately 7:20 p.m. ET and kicks off with a lightweight bout between Tyson Griffin and Nik Lentz. Following the opener, Paul Kelly and T.J. O’Brien face off prior the Edson Barboza and Mike Lullo’s bout. Longtime MMA veterans Karo Parisyan and Dennis Hallman will be the last to face off before the Spike “UFC Prelims” special takes over at 9 p.m. ET.
On the televised preliminary special, middleweights Mark Munoz and Aaron Simpson battle for redemption after disappointment in each fighter’s previous outing, while a welterweight tilt between Matt Brown and Brian Foster leads in to the Pay-Per-View main card.
Follow along beginning at 7:20 p.m. ET for live results from this evening’s preliminary card.
Tyson Griffin vs. Nik Lentz
Lentz came out strong to get this bout started, landing a leg kick followed by a takedown. Griffin struggled back to his feet after taking a few elbows and reversed to top position. Lentz attempted to work back to the standing position and, after getting slammed on his first attempt, managed to stand back up. The remainder of the opening frame saw Griffin and Lentz clinching, with the former pressing for a takedown. The crowd was displeased as the uneventful round featured a lengthy clinch battle with neither fighter really pulling ahead with anything significant.
If the fans thought round one was less than entertaining, then they were equally as displeased with the second. The fighters spent the majority of the frame circling when they were on the feet, with combinations being thrown here and there. The remainder of the fight once again saw stalemates on the ground and in the clinch, as the two wrestlers simply could not get an edge in the grappling department. The round ended with Griffin on top, slamming Lentz to the floor, but that did little to sway the crowds opinion of the contest.
When the two fighters entered the final frame of the tilt, it was quite obvious that the fans pretty much realized there was little hope for any entertainment coming out of this contest. The action was underway and Lentz elected to throw another leg kick, which was countered by a solid shot from Griffin. The exact same scenario replays itself, except Griffin elected to finish with a head kick, and Lentz was stunned. The fighters engaged in another battle for supremacy in the wrestling department, and Griffin ended up on top. Lentz scrambled to his feet, urgently trying to sway the momentum in the round and, after a failed guillotine attempt from Griffin, Lentz landed in top position. With very little time left, Griffin worked back to his feet, but was once again taken down with moments to go in the final round of what was, shall we say, a very uneventful contest.
Official Decision: Lentz d. Griffin by split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Paul Kelly vs. T.J. O’Brien
The fans were not pleased with the first bout, but O’Brien and Kelly certainly provided some action in this opening frame. Kelly made it known early that he was the aggressor, looking to get in on his taller opponent and land some wild combinations. O’Brien attempted to slow the pace through leg kicks, but the fast-paced Kelly was not planning on slowing down in the least. O’Brien would attempt to create some offense, but Kelly’s wild and heavy hands would consistently force him up against the cage. The round ended with a takedown from Kelly, followed by a brief exchange when the fight moved back to the feet for the final seconds.
While the first round was so much more entertaining than the best moments of the first fight combined, the second round was even better. Almost immediately after the start of the frame, Kelly dropped O’Brien with an enormous hook. Kelly elected to let his opponent stand up like he had throughout the first. O’Brien looked to change the pace of the round with a takedown, which he earned, and quickly moved to Kelly’s bacl. Unfortunately for O’Brien, Kelly slipped through the back and it all began to unravel. From side control, Kelly shot of several elbows and punches that led to the stoppage of the contest. The fans seemed pleased, as they should be.
Official Decision: Kelly d. O’Brien by technical knockout, round 2
Edson Barboza vs. Mike Lullo
The two undefeated lightweights got to work rather quickly in this three round affair with a little back-and-forth action to begin the fight. Lullo, however, quickly bowed out of the striking match looking for a takedown. Suprisingly, it was Barboza, a muay-thai specialist, who reversed him and earned a takedown of his own. He wisely elected to stand back up, but the next time Lullo shot in, the same result occurred. Only this time, Lullo went to work quickly off of his back, utilizing a rubber guard and working toward a gogoplata. After nearly scoring the difficult submission, Lullo was called back to his feet after Barboza pulled out. Edson spent the remainder of the round putting on a kicking clinic, which included a spinning back kick that landed square to the mid-section of Lullo. Somewhere, David Loiseau was grinning.
It was evident early in the second frame that Lullo was simply fed up with the punishment he was taking on the feet. However, after he missed with his next takedown, Barboza scored a vicious right hook before taking Lullo back to the mat once again. And, once again, the fighters found themselves in a similar situation as the first round. Lullo fell back to the rubber guard technique, but Barboza quickly stood up, wanting nothing of the ground game apparently. This only meant more punishment for Lullo, who took a few leg kicks and began limping. Another vicious leg kick dropped him to the floor before the round mercifully came to an end. The only bad part was that Lullo, who could barely walk, had potentially five more minutes to endure.
Unsurprisingly, this round was quite short. And by quite short, I mean 26 seconds. Lullo’s leg was immediately attacked yet again, as Barboza dropped him to the floor. He courageously stood back up to take what would be the last leg kick before the stoppage of the fight. Barboza put on an absolute clinic on the feet, taking out Lullo’s legs in a devastating manner.
Official Decision: Barboza d. Lullo by technical knockout, round 3
Karo Parisyan vs. Dennis Hallman
In his return to the UFC, Parisyan came out fast, looking for an early takedown and a throw. He succeeded with neither and moved Hallman to the clinch up against the cage. Hallman came back with a choke, but his opponent slipped out, and the referee abruptly restarted the action in the center of the Octagon. Merely a few moments later, Hallman scored a left hook that floored Parisyan. He went in for the kill, and the fight was stopped by the referee, much to the dismay of Parisyan. The stoppage could probably be described as premature, but the outcome would have likely been the same regardless. Definitely a big win for Hallman, but, at the same time, a devastating loss for Karo.
Official Decision: Hallman d. Parisyan by technical knockout, round 1
Mark Munoz vs. Aaron Simpson
The two stellar wrestlers began this fight with a brief exchange before heading into the clinch, where they traded knees. They separated just briefly, but, unsurprisingly, moved straight back to the clinch. Simpson got the better of that one, exiting with a knee to the head of Munoz, who then moved for a takedown. He failed and the two separated once again in the center of the cage. Another brief exchange and the fighters moved back to the clinch, when Simpson slammed Munoz to the floor. Back to the feet, they clinched yet again, with Munoz pressing his opponent up against the cage. He pushed away and landed several big shots, but Simpson turned him around and locked on a guillotine. He let go and the two went right back to the clinch with one minute to go. They separated after no action, and Simpson landed a knee, while Munoz missed with a head kick. The final seconds passed with no action.
The fighters touched gloves to kick off the second, and immediately fell back into their fast-paced style. Simpson worked the fight to the ground, but lost the position when he moved to the back. On the feet, Munoz started to really go after it, swinging wildly and landing before electing to go for a takedown. Simpson rolled over on the floor, giving up his back, but was able to stand up. A brief pause in the action due to a groin shot then lasted a few moments, but the two were restarted almost immediately. Blood trickled from the forehead of Munoz, yet he continued to press forward. A vicious head kick landed across the face of Simpson, who then worked for the takedown. He earned it, but the referee quickly stood the two back up. Shortly after, the fight was paused again due to a groin shot to Simpson, but a minute later they were back at it. With one minute to go, Simpson earned a takedown, but Munoz quickly scrambled out. The two exchanged blows with nothing significant landing, but worked back to the clinch with 20 seconds to go. The round ended with no action, just like the first.
In the third and final round, the two started out with a hug of appreciation. Simpson then caught the kick of Munoz, but immediately reversed and worked a vicious bit of ground and pound. Simpson turned to evade once back on the feet, but the fight was paused once again after an alleged eye-poke. Unfortunately, it was the result of the punch, making it legal, but the fight was then restarted. Munoz threw another kick, which again was caught, but pulled away and pushed Simpson against the cage. The referee broke them up once again, and the two moved back to the center of the cage. Munoz once again pressed his opponent up against the cage, scoring brutal knees to the thigh. The pace slowed for a moment, and a restart seemed inevitable. However, Munoz elected to exit first, scoring a nice combination, before having to stuff a Simpson takedown attempt.
With two minutes to go, Simpson was the one moving forward, though he seemed to be losing steam at this point. They separated from another clinch and Munoz immediately landed another leg kick. Simpson worked for a takedown and earned it, but Munoz once again slid out. Back on the feet, the two began to throw with reckless abandon, each fighter scoring big shots. With 20 seconds to go, they moved back to the clinch, but elected to strike for the remaining 10 seconds. A nice flurry sent the fighters to the judges’ scorecards, and took home the decision victory.
Official Decision: Munoz d. Simpson by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Matt Brown vs. Brian Foster
The fighters touched gloves to get this match up started, and Matt Brown was noticeably light on his feet, bouncing around the cage. But when Foster got his hands on him, Brown was slammed down to the mat. Foster let him up after missing with some ground and pound, and Brown was the next one to score a takedown. Brown moved between north-south and side control, but was reversed and gave up his back. However, Foster became careless and missed with a decent armbar attempt. Back to the stand up, Brown was brutally thrown back to the mat by Foster for the second time that round. However, Foster’s grappling game proved no match, as Brown effortlessly reversed. He moved to the back and worked for an armbar when he was shaken off. Foster barely avoided the submission and ended up on top with 30 seconds to go. Foster rained down punches, but pulled out of Brown’s guard as the round ended.
Brown pressed forward to begin the second, but that only resulted in a groin shot to Foster. Herb Dean paused the action, but we quickly restarted. Foster then threw a kick and grimaced in pain. Herb Dean once again paused the fight, asking Foster if he wanted to fight. He said yes, and we restarted once again. Back on the feet, Foster pummeled Brown to the ground, landing several big shots. He entered Brown’s guard, landing several more big shots before exiting once again. Brown reversed and immediately fell into a guillotine. Foster fell to his back and torqued on his opponent’s neck, forcing the submission.
Official Decision: Foster d. Brown by submission, round 2