On Saturday, we look to Detroit for UFC 123, where the main will feature two strikers that could not be more opposite in Lyoto Machida and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Both former title-holders will be looking to get back to their winning ways after May losses to the current champion Mauricio Rua and upcoming challenger Rashad Evans respectively.
Lyoto will look to avoid the vicious counter hook of Rampage and pick apart the Wolfslair product over the course of the three round bout. Rampage will most likely be looking to force a firefight against Machida where he can use the cage to corner the elusive Brazilian.
The x-factors in this fight will be the cardio and wrestling of Rampage. While unlikely, if Rampage picks his spot for a solid takedown on an advancing Machida, he could finish the fight with his vicious ground and pound. It is more likely that he will try to force striking exchanges with the “Dragon,” which honestly could go either way.
The UFC 123 co-headliner promises to be another entertaining bout as former UFC welterweight titleholders BJ Penn and Matt Hughes square off for the third time. Penn will be looking to end his two fight skid, while Hughes looks to continue his three fight win streak by utilizing the same skill set he’s used effectively for years.
This fight breaks down to a few things: Penn’s mindset and conditioning, how much Hughes has left in the tank, and Penn’s improved boxing. Coming off consecutive losses for the second time in his career, Penn will need to erase his recent losses to lightweight champ Frankie Edgar from memory and remember what makes him great, which is solid boxing, amazing takedown defense, and world class BJJ. Penn appears to be in good shape for the fight as he is reportedly walking around under the 171lbs. limit for Saturday’s bout, so it is really going to depend on the mindset of the Hawaiian. Penn’s only disadvantage (other than weight) in this fight will be wrestling,. If he can stuff the takedowns of Hughes this fight could turn into a rout as Penn’s boxing is much better than it was in their previous fights.
In other action, fast rising middleweight Gerald Harris looks to follow up on his devastating slam of Dave Branch when he squares off against Brazilian Maiquel Falcao, former Penn State wrestler Phil Davis will look to improve to 8-0 when he faces off against the dangerous Tim Boetsch, and lightweight contender George Sotiropoulos battles fellow TUF alum Joe Lauzon.
The card will also kick-off on Spike with two fighters coming off their first losses at middleweight in Mark Munoz and Aaron Simpson. This bout will likely come down to whomever wins the wrestling battle in what should be a close fight. Also on the televised prelims will be fan favorite Matt Brown against Brian Foster as both fighters will presumably be fighting for their jobs in what promises to be an exciting fight.
Saturday also marks the return of Karo Parysian in what will likely be a “loser goes home” scenario with long-time MMA veteran Dennis Hallman. Both fighters bring high level grappling into the octagon but the true factor in this will be Parysian versus himself. Until the door closes on Saturday, this fight could very well not happen.
UFC 123 takes place on Saturday with the televised prelims starting at 9PM ET on Spike TV before the pay-per-view main card gets underway at 10pm ET.