In a memorable outburst during Season 7 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show on which both were coaches, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson screamed at Forrest Griffin that they wouldn’t need judges when they met in the octagon.
Jackson probably wishes that was the case.
Griffin became the new Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion with a unanimous-decision victory over Jackson in the main event of UFC 86 at Mandalay Bay on Saturday night.
“I didn’t want to leave it to the judges,” Jackson said. “But, you know what, I didn’t think Forrest could handle me. You’ve got to respect him.
“I think I won the fight.”
The decision came as a surprise to many in what was a difficult fight to score.
Griffin dominated the second round. He landed a pair of brutal kicks to Jackson’s legs and took the champion to the ground and then pounded him with elbows for 4:30. He won the round 10-8 on two of the three scorecards.
Griffin also had taken the first round on two of the three cards, though Jackson landed by far the biggest punch of the round, flooring Griffin with a huge right hand.
The third round went to Griffin on all three scorecards, though Jackson appeared to land the more damaging punches. All three judges gave the fourth round to Jackson.
Griffin then closed strong by winning the final round on two of the three cards to win the fight. He won 48-46 on two scorecards and 49-46 on the third to take the belt.
“I feel like if you’re the champ, someone has to beat the champ,” Jackson said. “But it was unanimous.”
Griffin, who was receiving stitches after the fight, was unavailable for comment.
The fight was fast-paced and action-packed throughout, in direct contrast to the bout that immediately preceded it.
In that contest, Patrick Cote ground out a split-decision victory over Ricardo Almeida in a fight that featured little action. Cote was the more aggressive fighter as Almeida, a ground specialist, tried to get the fight on the mat at every opportunity.
Before the fight, the UFC announced that the winner of the bout would have a shot at the middleweight belt later in the year after Anderson Silva defends the title against Yushin Okami.
Josh Koscheck won another fight but still didn’t win over the fans. The wrestling specialist won for the seventh time in his last eight fights, but the capacity crowd booed him as usual throughout his unanimous-decision victory over Chris Lytle.
“Come on,” he pleaded as he stood in the octagon for his post-victory interview to the displeasure of most in attendance.
The crowd already was on Lytle’s side when Koscheck opened a gaping cut above Lytle’s eye with an elbow in the second that eventually covered both fighters in blood.
Lytle’s ability to press on and even land a few damaging shots while not allowing Koscheck to finish got the crowd even more on his side.
Joe Stevenson was caught in a tough position for much of the first round but submitted Gleison Tibau with a guillotine in the second round.
Las Vegan Tyson Griffin won his fourth straight fight by earning a unanimous decision over Marcus Aurelio, but he continued a somewhat disturbing streak in the process.
It was the fifth fight in a row for Griffin that went the distance. He has lost just once in his career, but none of the first eight fights in his career had gone to the scorecards before the recent string.
“Marcus is a tough guy, and he’s never been finished,” Griffin said. “So I wanted to take my time and get the W.”
On the undercard, Cole Miller and Gabriel Gonzaga earned submission wins at vastly different times in their fights.
Miller finished Jorge Gurgel with a triangle choke in the final minute of their fight, while Gonzaga locked in a kimura to finish Justin McCully less than two minutes into their bout.
Melvin Guillard scored a 36-second knockout over Dennis Siver.
Justin Buchholz took a great deal of punches from the inexperienced Corey Hill, but Buchholz survived long enough to lock in a rear-naked choke in the second round and score the submission.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@ reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.