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Jackson, Filipovic deliver on new stage

Both mixed martial arts fighters win UFC debuts. But Lutter fails to make weight, then is beaten by Silva in bout downgraded to nontitle status.

February 04, 2007|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS — On a night surprisingly devoid of title implications, Irvine's Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Croatia's Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic took to the Ultimate Fighting Championship stage for the first time Saturday and won by knockouts.

Those performances cushioned the stripped title implications of the main event, which featured middleweight champion Anderson Silva and challenger Travis Lutter.

Lutter couldn't make weight Friday, and he didn't make it through the second round Saturday, when Silva (18-4) stomped him in the head as they wrestled, then made the aching worse by hammering him with elbows and punches until Lutter tapped out, ending the fight before 11,001 at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Jackson, 28, avenged his first mixed martial arts loss (in 2000) by pounding Marvin Eastman with a barrage of second-round right uppercuts, dropping him to the octagon canvas. Jackson pounced, landing two more punches that caused referee John McCarthy to stop the light-heavyweight fight with 1:11 remaining.

Filipovic, 32, put on the most dominating show, flashing thunderous high left kicks and superior striking ability that startled previously unbeaten challenger Eddie Sanchez (8-1) of Temecula.

Seconds after absorbing one of the kicks, Sanchez found himself on the canvas. Filipovic soon straddled Sanchez and pummeled him with a combination of punches. The fight was stopped with 27 seconds remaining in the first round.

Filipovic, a fighter so popular in his native country that he sits in the Croatian parliament, signed last year with the UFC after fighting for the mixed martial arts circuit PRIDE Fighting Championships. He is expected to challenge for the UFC heavyweight title by the end of 2007, UFC officials have said.

"It depends on the UFC," Filipovic said when asked in the ring when he will fight for the belt.

In front of a crowd that included UFC light-heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, Jackson (26-6) appeared to be positioning for one of his trademark slams in the first round. The result was an abundance of upright posturing and clutching. Jackson later apologized to a crowd that occasionally booed the lack of action.

He gave them what they came for in the second round, jarring Eastman with the second of six right-handed punches.

As Eastman slumped after one hook, Jackson held up the back of his opponent's neck and continued to inflict damage before Eastman fell.

"Tonight was the most I've ever been nervous," Jackson said of a UFC debut made possible by the fight organization's December purchase of the World Fight Alliance, which had Jackson under contract.

Meanwhile, Lutter, who won UFC's reality television show "The Ultimate Fighter 4" to earn a title shot, failed to meet the 185-pound weight limit Friday. He first weighed in at 187 pounds, then was given two hours by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to shed two pounds. He couldn't do it, weighing in at 186.5 pounds.

That failure erased the title implications, and Silva-Lutter became a fight scheduled for three rounds, not five.

UFC officials said they were "disappointed" by Lutter's weight problem. He was fined 10% of his purse, 5% of which will go to Silva.

Lutter acknowledged that he had made a serious mistake. "I may never get another opportunity to fight for a title," he said.

Silva said Lutter "disrespected the title, the fans and everyone involved with the event."

But the champion rejoiced afterward, holding the belt aloft and claiming the poor dieting by Lutter "didn't matter."

Saturday's card was originally scheduled last year as a double title show, but welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre injured his knee and his first title defense against Matt Serra was delayed until UFC 69, which will be fought April 7 in Houston.

Saturday's undercard featured a 14-second knockout by middleweight Terry Martin (17-2) over opponent Jorge Rivera.


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