It was as if Anderson Silva put Yushin Okami in a trance during their middleweight title fight Saturday night at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Silva controlled Okami in the first round, then overwhelmed him in the second en route to a TKO victory.
"I'm training hard; I'm training hard for my team," Silva said after extending his win streak to a UFC-record 14. "I came here to fight.
"I train hard for the best guys in the world. I pushed the fight."
The middleweight champion set the pace early in the first round, using his jab and kicks to keep Okami in a defensive posture.
By the middle of the round, Silva (31-4-1) began picking up the pace. He landed several right-left combinations. And when the fighters were against the cage, Silva connected with his knee and hurt his challenger.
But in the second, Silva decided to entertain. He dropped his hands in an effort to lure Okami (26-6-0) into attacking him.
The strategy worked. Okami saw Silva's open defense as a chance to deliver strikes of his own, but the champion's elusiveness made it impossible for him to be hit.
Silva avoided Okami's attack and floored him with a straight right jab. Shortly thereafter, Silva would drop Okami again with a hard right.
This time, he would not let the top-ranked middleweight off the hook. Silva delivered right hand after right hand, bloodying Okami's face.
Referee Herb Dean was forced to jump in and wave Silva off at 2:04 of the second round.
The win not only allowed Silva to defend his 185-pound belt for a UFC-best ninth time in a row, but he avenged a disqualification loss to Okami in January 2006.
Rua rebounds to knock out Griffin
There was talk that Rua was less than 100 percent when he first met Griffin on Sept. 22, 2007. Griffin won that battle by submission.
Rua had no ailments entering the rematch and he kept the pressure on Griffin until a hard right landed in the opening round. The punch sent Griffin to the canvas, and Rua pounced.
Griffin was unable to stop the assault, which forced the referee to step in at the 1:53 mark.
Rua looked solid against Griffin. He never allowed the former light heavyweight champion to get into a rhythm.
It was a much different performance for Rua than the one he displayed in March against Jon Jones. In that fight, Rua was dominated from the opening round until the finish at 2:37 of the third round.
Rua, who lost the 205-pound title to Jones, made certain there was no repeat of that nighmarish experience.
"I trained hard every day for this fight," said Rua, who is 20-5 as a pro. "Forrest is a very good fighter and I trained hard for him."
Griffin (18-7) is 2-3 in his past five bouts, but each of those losses came against current or former UFC titleholders.
Barboza edges Pearson, to stay unbeaten
Two judges scored the fight 29-28 for Barboza, while the third saw it in favor of Pearson, 29-28. ESPN.com had Barboza winning 29-28.
Barboza relied heavily on his speed and numerous striking techniques to counter the non-stop pressure Pearson applied throughout their lightweight bout.
Pearson would eat several hard right hands from Barboza in the contest. A right hand in the second round sent Pearson to the canvas.
"With each fight, we take a step up the ladder," Barboza said after improving to 9-0 and 3-0 in UFC.
Pearson (12-5) suffered his second defeat in three bouts.
Nogueira KOs Schaub in first
But the former UFC interim heavyweight champion wasn't about to let his doubters decide his fate in his home country.
Schaub got off to a fast start, landing several uppercuts that slowed Nogueira in his tracks. But the Brazil native continued to press Schaub.
The constant stalking would lead to a left-right combination that caught Schaub flush on his jaw. Schaub fell immediately and the fight would be stopped at 3:09 of the first round.
"I just had 3½ months to train for that fight," Nogueira said. "I had an injury, but I am fighting in Brazil."
Nogueira not only got back in the win column but for now has ended all talk of his demise.
He improves to 33-6-1, with one no contest. Schaub slipped to 8-2. Both of Schaub's loses have come by knockout.
Nedkov spoils Cane's homecoming
For the southpaw Cane to accomplish his goal he needed to keep Nedkov standing and utilize his striking advantage. On the ground, the edge would tilt toward Nedkov.
But someone forgot to tell Nedkov that he wasn't supposed to stand with the hard-hitting Cane. He hit Cane repeatedly with overhand rights. Nedkov would use his right hand to set up a left that stunned Cane. With his opponent unable to recover, Nedkov delivered several rights that forced the bout to be stopped at the 4:13 mark.
Nedkov had hoped to make his UFC debut some time ago, but each of his previous two bouts had to be called off due to injury.
"I've waited a very long time for this victory," said Nedkov, who improved to 12-0.
Rather than focusing on putting together a win streak, Cane turns his attention to avoiding a losing skid. He is now 11-4, with one no contest.
Cane is 1-3 in his past four fights.
Tavares stops Fisher in second round
Fisher never could prevent Tavares from taking it to the ground. Tavares kept Fisher on his back for much of the bout.
In the second round, Tavares made Fisher pay for his inability to prevent being taken down. He took Fisher down quickly in the round and began softening him up with punches.
Shortly thereafter, Tavares increased the power in his shots and Fisher was rendered defenseless. The referee had seen enough and called the bout off at the 2:51 mark of the second round.
Tavares (16-4-1) was so impressed with his own performance that he asked to get back in the cage in the near future.
"I want to fight soon," Tavares said. "I want to fight again in two months."
Fisher might have to wait a while before getting a chance to end his two-fight losing streak. He fell to 24-8.
Palhares punishes Miller
The judges scored the bout 29-27, 30-27 and 30-25. ESPN.com had it 29-27 for Pahares.
A right kick to the jaw dropped Miller in the opening round. Palhares jumped on him and began landing punches.
He ended his attack and began to celebrate, but referee Herb Dean never waived the fight off. When action resumed, it was Miller's turn to attack. He landed a left that hurt Palhares momentarily.
Palhares would dominate the second round and nearly finished Miller, but the New Jersey native refused to give in.
"It was a very, very hard fight, but God willing I was able to get the win," said Palhares, who won for the second time in a row.
No one fights harder than Miller, but there is a flaw in his stand-up that recent opponents have exploited. Palhares might not be known as a high-quality striker, but Miller dangled his left hand dangerously low at times, and Palhares took advantage of the hole in Miller's defense and dominated the action during the first two rounds of their middleweight fight en route to the decision.
Palhares improved to 13-3-0; Miller slid to 13-6, with one no contest.
Thiago snaps losing streak
Paulo Thiago had never experienced a losing streak in his mixed martial arts career, and he was looking to end his current two-fight skid at home in Brazil.
Being at home might have given Thiago a motivational edge, but he wasn't taking anything for granted. Thiago mixed up his attack beautifully with strikes and takedowns to earn a unanimous decision over David Mitchell.
All three judges scored the bout 30-37. ESPN.com also had Thiago winning all three rounds for a 30-27 edge.
"I trained a great deal for this," said Thiago, who improved to 14-3. "My opponent was very tough, but I was able to get the win."
Mitchell finds himself on the losing end of a fight for the second time in a row, and now has a pro mark of 11-2.
Assuncao wins bantamweight debut
Rafael Assuncao turned his striking game up, then brought the fight to the ground in earning a unanimous decision over Johnny Eduardo.
All three judges scored the fight 30-27, as did ESPN.com.
Assuncao was making his bantamweight debut having lost three of his previous four fights at featherweight.
But he struggled to find his rhythm early on against Muay Thai striker Eduardo. Assuncao also had difficulty getting Eduardo to the ground. But Assuncao soon found his range and began to control Eduardo in the stand-up. Assuncao eventually got Eduardo to the ground to impress all three judges and earn a unanimous decision.
"I'm just coming off my weight cut to 135," said Assuncao, who is now 17-4. "But I feel good at 135."
Eduardo, who was fighting in the Octagon for the first time, fell to 28-6.
Silva makes quick work of Ramos
Erick Silva went after Luis Ramos from the moment the opening horn sounded to make his UFC debut a successful one in Round 1.
Silva's aggression paid off as he connected with an overhand right that floored Ramos. Silva quickly jumped on his wounded opponent and the fight was stopped 40 seconds into the first round.
"This is an unbelievable dream to fight in UFC and in Brazil," said Silva, who improved to 13-1, with one no contest. "I always train on my punches and kicks."
Ramos fell to 19-7.
Alcantara spoils Arantes' homecoming
Felipe Arantes is a native of Brazil but trains out of Newark, N.J. He was hoping to return home with a winning performance in his UFC debut.
But fellow Brazilian Yuri Alcantara had other ideas for the outcome of this bantamweight showdown. Alcantara extended his win streak to 11 with an impressive unanimous decision.
The judges scored the bout 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Alcantara, who improved to 25-3. ESPN.com scored the fight for Alcantara 30-27.
Arantes is 13-4 with two no contests.
Jabouin beats Loveland by split decision
One judge scored the bout 30-27 for Loveland but the other two saw it 29-28 for Jabouin, who had lost three of his previous three fights under the Zuffa, LLC banner.
ESPN scored the fight 29-28 for Jabouin, who improved to 16-7-0. Loveland fell to 14-9-0.
Franklin McNeil covers mixed martial arts and boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.