LAS VEGAS -- Quinton Jackson upset Chuck Liddell to win the
UFC light-heavyweight title Saturday night at UFC 71, dethroning
the champion with a hard right to the chin in the first round.
Liddell toppled and Jackson jumped in to throw a couple of
punches for good measure before referee John McCarthy stepped in at
1:53 of the first round to protect the fallen champion. Only a few
punches were thrown before the one that tagged Liddell and at one
point Jackson, who had been stalking the champion, raised his hands
as if to ask what was going on.
The two traded blows and then Jackson nailed Liddell.
"I made a mistake and got caught," said Liddell, the reigning
rock star of mixed martial arts and the face of the UFC.
Jackson defeated Liddell by TKO in November 2003 at a Pride
Fighting Championships show in Tokyo. Liddell went on to win his
next seven fights, avenging previous losses to Randy Couture and
Jeremy Horn along the way. But Jackson remains his nemesis.
Liddell fell to 20-4, while Jackson improved to 27-6.
"Rampage" Jackson, 28, entered the MGM Grand Garden Arena
wearing his trademark rumble chain, howling like a wolf. But the
crowd roar was reserved for the 37-year-old "Iceman."
Jackson just waited in the ring from Liddell, ready to do
business. He was booed when introduced in the ring.
On the undercard, light-heavyweight Houston Alexander upset
Keith "The Dean of Mean" Jardine, crumpling the favorite with a
series of hammer-like blows to the head. The slugfest ended with a
knockout after just 48 seconds, with Alexander smashing Jardine
with an uppercut that sent his mouthpiece flying.
Alexander improved to 6-1, and Jardine dropped to 12-4-1.
Also, Karo "The Heat" Parisyan and Josh Burkman traded blows
in an entertaining welterweight contest. Parisyan, whose background
is in judo, showed good striking power and accuracy, wearing
Burkman down en route to a unanimous decision.
Canadian middleweight Kalib Starnes unanimously outpointed Chris
"The Crippler" Leben to raise his record to 10-2-1. Leben fell to
Brazil's Thiago Silva won his UFC debut when James "The
Sandman" Irvine injured his knee at 1:06 of the first round and
was unable to continue.