Being a big Rampage fan, and having followed his career closely since he made his debut in Pride, I was not surprised to see him beat Chuck Liddell a second time. To me, the match seemed like a tossup, though I would have given Liddell a slight edge. I was VERY surprised to see him KO the Iceman midway through the first round.
While Mike Goldberg did say "Rampage has KO power in both hands," I'm not sure I would have agreed with that until this fight was over. Sure, he KOd Randleman, and he did knock out Cyril Abidi in K-1, but he's usually not known as a KO puncher. Most of his TKO's came the same way he beat Chuck Liddell the first time - steady pressure, slams, and then a barrage of punches. Effective, brutal, but not the one-shot KO that Liddell is known for.
Rampage's movement looked awesome in this fight, making Liddell move, but not over-extending and exposing himself to the Iceman's counters. In retrospect it's easy to say Liddell was foolish for throwing that body-shot out of the blue, but the man's never been KO'd before, and he can usually take a punch. This one was right on the button though, and Rampage followed up beautifully.
I am confused, however, by the UFC's decision to bring in Dan Henderson as the next challenger. UFC fans are barely familiar with Rampage. A win over Henderson won't boost his image much in their eyes, and a loss could be devastating. And what about Pride? Is their plan to take all of the top talent away and leave Pride as a mostly-Japanese organization? I can see some benefit in that, vis-a-vis having the top fighters all compete for one belt, but Japan is a big market, and I can't imagine they wouldn't be miffed to have their organizatoin, which was once the undisputed top dog, relegated to second-class status.
Most of the other fights on the card last night were awesome as well. Houston Alexander absolutely crushed Keith Jardine, and it was just brutal the way he slumped head-first into the canvas after that uppercut. Another huge upset for 2007. Come to think of it, Terry Martin knocking out Sallavery with a slam was pretty surprising as well. What is it about this year that insists on turning all MMA expectations on their head. If I'm ever going to take on Fedor Emelianenko, this might be the time, cause who knows what can happen these days?