Ben Fowlkes
Sunday May 24th, 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Lyoto Machida proved to be both precise and extremely efficient as he used his unorthodox fighting style to dismantle Rashad Evans and claim the UFC light heavyweight title on Saturday night. With no wasted movement and a patient, minimalist attack, Machida devastated Evans with a second-round knockout that made an indelible impression on the 12,606 fans in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

"I try all my life to be champion, and I am very, very, very happy," said an emotional Machida after the victory. "Now I'm going to keep this belt for a long time."

Machida began the bout in typical fashion, picking his spots to engage and avoiding any damage in the process. Evans relied on feints and counterattacks but was unable to find any answer for Machida's offense.

The Brazilian dropped the former champ with a body kick-short left combo late in the first, and only intensified his assault in the second frame. A game Evans struggled back to his feet after hitting the mat for a second time midway through round 2, but a picture perfect left hook at the end of flurry found its mark and knocked Evans out cold at the 3:57 mark.

The one-sided victory left little doubt that Machida deserves to be called the best light heavyweight in the world, as much for the ease with which he dispatched the former champ as well as the complete lack of punishment that he absorbed in the nearly nine minutes of action.

Machida's victory also served as proof that his beloved art of Shotokan karate isn't obsolete in MMA after all. Just in case that point wasn't clear enough, "The Dragon" drew attention to it in his post-fight interview, shouting, "Karate's back!" to cheers from a supportive crowd.

In the night's co-main event, former UFC welterweight champ Matt Hughes survived an early knockdown to win a unanimous decision victory over Matt Serra in a much-hyped grudge match. It was Hughes' takedowns and ground control that made the difference even after an accidental headbutt floored him in the bout's opening moments.

"I didn't know exactly what hit me," said Hughes. "He obviously hit me pretty good."

While it might be too much of a stretch to say the two men went from enemies to friends over the course of the three-round bout, they ended the fight with a show of mutual respect and sportsmanship that seemed sincere enough to make you think that the bitter rivalry might finally be a thing of the past.

"As a fighter, regardless of what I thought about him personally, I always kept him in high regard," Serra said. "He's a hall of famer."

In other action ...

• Former UFC lightweight champ Sean Sherk seemed determine to show off his striking skills against Frankie Edgar, though it might have been smarter to revert to the wrestling attack that once made him such a dominant force. Edgar picked Sherk apart on the feet and did well enough at defending the few takedown attempts en route to a decision victory.

• After nearly ending his night early thanks to a guillotine choke off a double-leg takedown in the first round, Chael Sonnen gutted it out and used his proficiency as a ground-and-pound technician to take a unanimous decision victory over Dan Miller. Several times Miller seemed close to pulling off a submission, but those chances became fewer and farther between as the fight wore on and Sonnen's ground control began to wear him down.

Drew McFedries came out fast against Xavier Foupa-Pokam, dropping the Frenchman with a hard right early on and finishing with a relentless barrage of strikes just 37seconds into the opening frame.

Brock Larson wasted little time taking Mike Pyle down and locking in an arm triangle choke to force Pyle to submit at the 3:06 mark of round one. A late replacement, Pyle seemed to holding his own on the mat before Larson exploited the opening and finished the fight in convincing fashion.

Former K-1 kickboxer Pat Barry looked as good on his feet as he was awful on the ground, losing via guillotine choke submission to Tim Hague after rocking him with a head kick and an aggressive striking attack early on. Hague and his camp were overcome with emotion in the Octagon after the win, which came 1:42 into the first round.

Krzysztof Soszynski continued his ascent up the light heavyweight ranks with a first round knockout of Andre Gusmao after a right hand put the Brazilian on the mat at the 3:17 mark.

Yoshiyuki Yoshida rebounded from his brutal knockout loss to Josh Koscheck and used a guillotine choke to submit Brandon Wolff 2:24 into Round 1.

Kyle Bradley got a somewhat controversial win over "Ultimate Fighter" finalist Phillipe Nover due to a questionable stoppage by referee Yves Lavigne following a hard right from Bradley that dropped Nover and lead to the fight being halted perhaps a bit too soon at the 1:03 mark.

George Roop outpointed Dave Kaplan over the course of three rounds to take a split decision victory after a closely contested bout.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.