The Official Scorecard - UFC 98 - Evans vs. Machida
The enigma and the battle of the Matts. Those were the two main story lines taking up all the ink heading into UFC 98 – Evans vs. Machida.
If the UFC had their way, the main event for UFC 98 would’ve seen Rashad Evans defend his newly won light heavyweight crown against former undisputed champ, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who was coming off a close decision win over Evans’ teammate Keith Jardine at UFC 96 – a fight which was immediately followed by a most excellent Evans and Jackson trash talk jam session.
Jackson, understandably, wanted a bit more time off between bouts, so Evans faced the undefeated Lyoto Machida instead. Though both entered into the title fight undefeated, it was Machida who was favored by most, if not all, of the odds makers.
Matt Serra and Matt Hughes were supposed to have faced off against one another long ago at a UFC back in the mid-late 70s. In hindsight, the multiple postponements helped turn a fight that was your run of the mill grudge match into a battle between two fighters who seemed to lose more respect for the other (personally, that is) by the minute.
Bolstered by a solid, if not spectacular undercard, the battle of former welterweight kings and the light heavyweight title bout anchored a night of action with several fighters making a case to separate themselves from their divisional packs.
George Roop (8-4) vs. Dave Kaplan (3-2)
Both fighters came into the fight after losing at the TUF 8 Finale and needed a win to keep a home in the UFC, let alone begin the herculean task of carving a place in the deep lightweight division. The first round saw Roop start to find his range as he targeted a pre-existing cut on Kaplan’s nose with front kicks and jabs. Kaplan scored a few takedowns in the fight, but neither fighter did much on the ground. After three rounds, Roop squeezed out a split decision in a fight where no one came close to finishing their opponent.
George Roop wins via Split Decision
Fight Score: 5.5 out of 10
Yoshiyuki Yoshida (10-3) vs. Brandon Wolff (7-3)
A quick battle between two guys who were both turned into highlight reels for Josh Koscheck and Ben Saunders, respectively, at UFC – Fight for The Troops. Most of the fight was spent in the clinch and when that happens, you can count on the Judo player to take home the winner’s purse, which Yoshida earned with a Guillotine Choke.
Yoshiyuki Yoshida wins via submission (Guillotine Choke) - Round 1, 2:24
Fight Score: 6 out of 10
Light Heavyweight Fight
Krzysztof Soszynski (22-9-1) vs. Andre Gusmao (5-1)
Soszynski came into this fight looking for a third straight UFC win via kimura, while Gusmao was making his second trip into the cage after decision loss to Jon Jones at UFC 87. The former IFL standouts kept this fight standing, with Gusmao landing some strong inside leg kicks as Krzysztof tried to close the distance and force Gusmao into an exchange. In just over three minutes Krzysztof was successful and crumbled Gusmao with a straight right hand, leaving him out cold against the fence.
Krzysztof Soszynski wins via KO – Round 1, 3:17
Fight Score: 6.5 out o f 10
Kyle Bradley (13-6) vs. Phillipe Nover (4-2-1)
After dropping a decision to Efrain Escudero at The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale, Phillipe Nover was looking to make another attempt at living up to the early hype heaped on him by Dana White. Unfortunately, a lousy referee stoppage put a halt to this fight before it really ever got started and Nover will have to wait for another day to be the next Anderson Silva and/or GSP.
Kyle Bradley wins via TKO – Round 1, 1:03
Fight Score: 2 out of 10
Pat Berry (4-0) vs. Tim Hague (9-1)
This was shaping up to be another good performance by the undersized, by heavyweight standards, Berry. All was well for Berry, but then he got lazy. Hague found an opening and was able to snatch up a guillotine choke for the come from behind win in his UFC debut. Little too quick to warrant a higher score, but an entertaining clash while it lasted.
Tim Hague wins via Submission (Guillotine Choke) Round 1, 1:42
Fight Score: 6.5 out of 10
Brock Larson (26-2) vs. Mike Pyle (17-5)
Pyle makes his long-awaited UFC debut by filling in for an injured Chris Wilson in this matchup of two outstanding submission artists. Larson took the fight to the ground early and Pyle was immediately aggressive with a varied submission attack off his back, but it was Larson who muscled his way into a tight mid-round arm-triangle. A very good ground fight that I wish could have gone longer.
Brock Larson wins via Submission (Arm-Triangle) – Round 1, 3:06
Fight Score: 7 out of 10
Frankie Edgar (9-1) vs. Sean Sherk (32-3)
Just about every pundit and expert counted Edgar out of this. He’s too small. Sherk’s too experienced. Sherk’s better at everything Edgar does well. But as the cliché goes, “that’s why they fight.” Edgar came into the lightweight battle with a perfect game plan of combinations on the feet while using his footwork to keep Sherk frustrated and never allowed him to get situated to mount any offense. Edgar fought a perfect fight and it was a joy to watch.
Frankie Edgar wins via Unanimous Decision
Fight Score: 8 out of 10
Dan Miller (11-1) vs. Chael Sonnen (22-10-1)
As a late-minute replacement for Yushin Okami, Chael Sonnen made the most of his opportunity in a fight where many suspected he’d fall into another submission loss. Instead, Sonnen spent three rounds doing what he does better than anyone else in the middleweight division: taking his opponent down and grinding away towards an impressive, if not thrilling, decision win. Miller was able to threaten with subs for the first two rounds, but couldn’t do much to nullify the Team Quest middleweight in the final minutes.
Chael Sonnen wins via Unanimous Decision
Fight Score: 5.5 out of 10
Drew McFedries (7-5) vs. Xavier Foupa-Pokam (20-10)
McFedries has fought seven times in the UFC and has never seen the second round, a figure that would no doubt extend to eight for better or worse going to his fight with Professor X. Forget the second round, this fight didn’t make the second minute and with plenty of time to spare. It was exciting while it lasted, but was over in the blink of an eye.
Drew McFedries wins via TKO – Round 1, 0:37
Fight Score: 4 out of 10
Matt Hughes (42-7) vs. Matt Serra (10-5)
This was the grudge match of TUF Season Six coaches, and former welterweight champions, that finally happened in a case of better late than never. Stylistically, this fight was never going to be the slugfest that all the hype and trash-talking suggested. If you were able to buy into the hype while expecting both fighters to stick to their game plans, then the fight delivered. Hughes’ wrestling was the ultimate deciding factor and he used it to shore up a unanimous decision. Serra made it competitive at points throughout the fight and threatened with an early bomb on Hughes and a late takedown, but he really couldn’t win the positional battle with Hughes.
Matt Hughes wins via Unanimous Decision
Fight Score: 7.5 out of 10
Light Heavyweight Championship
Rashad Evans, Champion (13-0-1) vs. Lyoto Machida (14-0)
The question going into this title fight was if Evans and his coach/MMA guru, Greg Jackson, could solve the problem that is Lyoto Machida. Simply put, no. And they weren’t even close to deciphering the Machida code, as Machida turned in his most dominant performance in the most important fight of his career. Evans was never able to get into the groove to implement any type of game plan at all. While not the most competitive title fight, it was thrilling to watch Machida execute another flawless performance, announcing what could be a new era in the light heavyweight division, which has been playing a tune of musical champions since Jackson unified the title. By the way, do people still think Machida is boring?
Lyoto Machida wins the UFC Light Heavyweight Title via KO – Round 2, 3:57
Fight Score: 8.5 out of 10
UFC 98 was a card that weighed heavily on the co-main events and those two fights delivered so one has to consider the event a success. While neither main event will go down as an all time classic, they were entertaining bouts that strengthened a well-matched card, but not necessarily stacked with star power outside of the co-main events.
Total: 67 out of 110
Average Fight Score: 6.09