JARAGUA DO SU, SANTA CATARINA, Brazil - In a battle of technical strikers, Lyoto Machida (21-4) outpointed Gegard Mousasi (34-4-2) and may soon challenge for the UFC's middleweight title.
Machida's five-round win over Mousasi served as the main event of Saturday's "UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Mousasi" event, in Jaragua do Su, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Machida, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, was the faster fighter from the start, darting in and out of range while delivering rapid-fire punches and a few impressive high kicks. The patient Mousasi began to increase his pressure as the fight wore on, but he struggled to pin down the elusive Machida and consistently found it impossible to hit the target.
Mousasi was never out of the fight, and his power punches left him as a danger through all 25 minutes of the bout, but Machida simply proved to be a little too fast and too tricky, and was awarded a unanimous-decision win with scored of 49-46, 50-45 and 50-45.
"I always want to score a knockout or a submission," Machida said after the win. "Mousasi is a hard fighter, and every detail makes difference. I'm already thinking about the belt, but this is something UFC has to decide."
In the night's co-feature, Brazilian submission ace Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (20-3) won his third consecutive UFC fight with an impressive decision win over Francis Carmont (22-8), a transplanted Frenchman who trains at Montreal's Tristar Gym.
Souza, a former Strikeforce champion who now has his eye on UFC gold, controlled the action from the start, taking the fight to the floor and keeping the superior position throughout much of the 15-minute fight. Carmont displayed ample defensive skills, shrugging off multiple submission attempts in hopes of mounting a counterattack. However, he was never able to shake free and find the space he needed to operate, and Souza cruised to the decision win.
Afterward, the top-ranked Souza called for a title shot but insisted he'll keep knocking off fellow contenders if necessary to get there.
"I want the champ," Souza said through a translator. "I want whoever has the belt. And if the UFC doesn't think I'm ready for that, just put anyone ahead of me and I'll get over them."
In additional main-card action, Brazilian welterweight Erick Silva (16-4) made quick work of late replacement Takenori Sato (17-9-7). The 29-year-old Silva needed just 52 seconds to dispatch of his overmatched opponent, stopping an early takedown and then unloading a barrage of massive punches as Sato refused to let go of a single-leg attempt.
Silva, long considered a top prospect at 170 pounds, said his surprising loss to Dong Hyun Kim this past October served as motivation for the spectacular performance.
"I needed a win, but at no point did I feel pressured," Silva said. "Losing my last fight served as motivation, not as pressure. I trained very hard, and it was the best camp of my life. I was the first to arrive in the gym and the last one to leave.
"I was very hungry for the win. The result couldn't have been different."
Brazilian welterweight Viscardi Andrade nearly earned a first-round knockout win over Swedish fighter Nicholas Musoke (12-2). Instead, he left the octagon with a loss by decision.
In the first round, Andrade delivered a crushing right hand that sent Musoke to the floor. But Andrade celebrated too soon, raising his hands in the air rather than pushing forward to seal the result. Musoke somehow recovered from the thunderous blow and seized momentum back for the rest of the contest, using technical striking and superior grappling to claims rounds two and three on the judges' scorecards and taking home a unanimous decision, 29-28 on all three cards.
"It's never the plan to get hit that hard in the beginning," Musoke said. "All in all, happy with the win, but not at all with my performance, especially with the way the fight started. I knew he'd come out hard, although I did think I'd be able to avoid his punches a bit better."
In the night's first main-card contest, Brazilian featherweight Charles Oliveira earned a third-round submission win over Englishman Andy Ogle.
At the evening's post-event news conference, Machida and Mousasi were each awarded $50,000 for the evening's "Fight of the Night" bonus. Meanwhile, Silva and Oliveira each earned $50,000 bonuses in the UFC's new "Performance Bonus" awards, which replace the long-customary "Knockout of the Night" and "Submission of the Night" awards.