The FightLockdown Forecast - UFC: 123: Rampage vs. MachidaAuthor : Miles Hackett
Friday, 19 November 2010 18:59
Tomorrow night on PPV, ZUFFA will be broadcasting UFC 123 to the masses. This card contains a number of intriguing match-ups, particularly the main event which pits two former LHW champions against one another; Lyoto Machida and Quinton Jackson. Breaking down the fights for you are FLD faithful Jack Barrington, Matt Bremner, Brad Taschuk, Joshua Taylor, and Miles Hackett. Check out your forecast, after the break!
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida
Jack Barrington: This fight makes a lot of sense in terms of clearing up the title picture – and the division in general – but looking at the styles of each fighter, it hardly has the makings of a classic. Machida’s aim is to stay away from Rampage’s power and outpoint him, while Rampage’s is to cut off the cage, close the distance and land some hard shots on a fighter who clearly doesn’t like being hit. Rampage has looked plodding of late, and doesn’t have the ability to land kicks to Machida’s legs and body in the way that Shogun did in order to slow him. Rampage could catch Machida moving backwards, as he has a tendency to leap in and out, and as yet hasn’t shown the ability to really flourish when striking from mid-range, but I don’t see it. Machida circles Rampage for three rounds, using superior footwork and speed to outpoint him. Winner via Unanimous Decision: Lyoto Machida.
Matt Bremner: Quinton Jackson says that he has two personalities: Rampage and Quiton Jackson. Quinton jackson is the affable, somewhat goofy guy that fans have adored since before he even crossed the globe to fight in the UFC. Rampage is the badass, chain wearing fighter who shows up to lay beat downs on people. Unfortunately, the Rampage we all know hasn't really been around in a while. Yes, he KO'd Wanderlei, but that was during a streak where that was more popular (and unfortunate) than skinny jeans. All that said, he also faces someone who seems like kryptonite to his slow, methodical style. Lyoto Machida is [insert witty remark about his elusiveness]. Machida is going to look to do what he's done to everyone except Shogun, leg kick, move away, find your timing and then crack you with something serious. Jackson is going to have get gritty in this fight and cut off the cage as much as he can and do everything he can to land savage hooks to Machida. Despite all the talk of Rampage being reborn, Machida has been the far more reliable, and unless Shogun shattered his confidence with that hook that lost Machida the belt, I expect him to win. Winner via Unanimous Decision: Lyoto Machida.
Brad Taschuk: What can I say about this fight that hasn't been said already? I guess I can remind everyone that legs can strike somebody from further away than arms, and that quick, straight punches can connect from further away than looping ones. In case you were confused, Machida possesses the two superior qualities that I just mentioned. In addition, his movement makes Rampage look like he's fighting in slow motion. As long as Machida "uses his allusion" (I wonder if the UFC will ever live down letting that slip onto a broadcast) and mixes up his strikes like he's capable of, he takes this fight in another anti-climatic Jackson main event. Winner via Unanimous Decision: Lyoto Machida.
Joshua Taylor: I really don’t think we will see much change in Machida’s game after his KO loss to Shogun because his style already keeps him about as safe as you can get. Obviously the danger of Rampage is getting in too close and having him land one of his hooks and putting you to sleep. Machida is just a nightmare match-up for that style. If Rampage couldn’t chase down Forrest, Jardine, or Rashad and land on them, I really don’t see him catching Machida. I believe cardio will play a factor as well with Lyoto being capable of jumping in and out for three rounds while Jackson will slow noticeably in the late second and third. Machida does not have the overwhelming style of a Chute Boxe fighter though so I see this heading to a decision. Winner via Unanimous Decision: Lyoto Machida.
Miles Hackett: This fight may not really appeal to many people, but it does interest me. Rampage Jackson’s defense is actually quite good and Machida’s attacks come in calculated bursts after establishing range with probing kicks. Rampage has shown vulnerability to leg kicks and lateral movement in the past, but I think he will try to cut off the cage and aggressively pursue Machida, without real fear of being knocked out. Machida, I think, will strike to keep the distance and actually look for a takedown as Jackson aggressively pursues him. Rampage’s ground defense isn’t anything special and the best way to neutralize a standing threat is to put it on its back. Definitely an intriguing clash of styles and instinct versus conditioning, but expect Machida to outsmart the game Jackson. Winner via Unanimous Decision: Lyoto Machida.
The Final Forecast: Machida re-places himself on the contender’s path with a win over another former champion.
Matt Hughes vs. B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn
Jack: While a lot of Penn fans seem apprehensive about BJ heading into this bout, there’s no doubt that it’s a matchup which favours him stylistically. My pick in this fight essentially comes down to whether or not I believe Penn is coming into the fight in shape, and I think he is. An in shape BJ stuffs Hughes’ takedowns (much like we saw the first two rounds of their second fight), and uses his excellent control of distance to outbox Hughes from the outside. Outwrestling Matt Serra and landing a decent shot on Ricardo Almeida’s chin is all well and good, but Hughes just hasn’t shown me that he still possesses the skill set needed to beat a fighter as talented and technically savvy as Penn. Winner via Unanimous Decision: B.J. Penn.
Matt: Matt Hughes seems to be having a career renaissance, after back-to-back losses to top fighters, it seemed like the curtain had finally come down on Hughes' career. However, he has since reeled off wins against Matt Serra, Renzo Gracie (the less said about that, the better) and Ricardo Almeida, who had looked stellar in his previous performance at 170. Hughes now runs up against a far sterner test in BJ Penn, a man who has beaten him once and nearly beat him a second time. The win by BJ left no doubt in anyone's mind who the better fighter was. The second was BJ beating Hughes up and then BJ either gassing or getting hurt, whichever you want to believe. After a pitter-pattering of strikes, Hughes got the stoppage, in a fight that was anything but impressive. In a 3-round fight, I simply don't see what Hughes has for BJ. Size will play a role, but not big enough like it did for BJ against GSP. Matt Hughes can no longer explode for takedowns, his boxing is still awful, and clocking Almeida and Gracie does not make you qualified to throw hands with The Prodigy. I don't see why this fight will differ from the first 3 rounds of their 2006 fight. BJ was 28 then, now 31, Hughes was 33 then, now 37. I just don't see it for Hughes, he may steal a late round if for some reason BJ gasses, but I don't see that either. Winner via Unanimous Decision: B.J. Penn.
Brad: So Matt Hughes caught Ricardo Almeida with a punch? Good for him, but irrelevant. BJ has far better head movement, defensive boxing, and chin than Almeida. Hughes also outwrestled Matt Serra to beat him. Once again, that's great, and once again it's irrelevant, as BJ's takedown defense is still elite - - specifically against a more plodding style of wrestler like Hughes, as opposed to a quick, technical one like Frankie Edgar. Does Hughes really have any other avenues to win this fight? If he does, I don't see them. What I do see, or expect to see (regardless of BJ's shape entering the fight), is BJ Penn showing off his superior striking skills for three full rounds, coupled with Hughes ineffectually attempting takedowns. Winner via Unanimous Decision: B.J. Penn.
Joshua: I think no matter how well BJ fights the question will always arise heading into his fights of “will a focused B.J. show up?” In this fight though, I don’t think it really matters. While Hughes has won a few fights recently it hasn’t been against top of the heap fighters and he doesn’t have the striking or the explosive wrestling to really put BJ in danger. I believe we will see B.J. controlling the striking game for three rounds to earn a clear decision win. Winner via Unanimous Decision: B.J. Penn.
Miles: I always hoped this series would become a trilogy, as these two produce excellent drama when paired together. Both fighters are in divisional limbo, so this makes a ton of a sense, and couldn’t be better timed. I think Hughes has shown serious development in his striking, but his prerogative will be to put Penn on his back and give him the GSP-2 treatment, minus Vaseline. I think BJ will sprawl and brawl, aiming to hurt Hughes and follow up on the ground with a submission, a la their first meeting. I think size won’t be a factor and I don’t think we’ll be questioning BJ’s conditioning/health in this fight, which makes him the odds on favourite to win, as Hughes only came back in their second affair when BJ began to fade. I foresee a back and forth affair that ends with Penn’s fist being raised. Winner via 3rd round Submission: B.J. Penn.
The Final Forecast: Penn shows that he’s far from finished, while Hughes reminds everyone that he’s still a stern test for anyone.
Gerald Harris vs. Maiquel Falcão
Jack: I like Falcão, and will be rooting for him in this fight, but he just hasn’t faced good enough competition for me to confidently pick him here. Harris, despite a relatively unimposing TUF stint, has turned into a legitimately good fighter, and I think he has enough wrestling to get the win here. He’s had trouble with knees in the past, so will obviously have to be careful in tight against the dangerous Falcão, but I see Harris gaining and maintaining top position early, before stopping a tired Falcão with strikes midway through the second. Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Gerald Harris.
Matt: Gerald Harris is what wrecking balls want to be when they grow up. Since coming to the UFC he was 10 straight, with nine of those being stoppages. However, his opponent is unknown, but absolutely no joke. Maiquel Falcao is a knockout machine 21 of his 24 wins have come from putting guys away with his hands. However, We know Harris can hang with UFC-level fighters, even though he hasn't had the sternest of tests. I expect him to use his solid wrestling to grind on Faiquao, taking him into deep waters that he's not used to. With a guy like Falcao, it's always possible that he lands a big shot like Houston Alexander did in his debut, but the smart money is on Harris throwing his weight around and taking a win home. Winner via Unanimous Decision: Gerald Harris.
Brad: For a guy who has nearly 30 fights to his name, Falcao lacks any semblance of quality opposition. The only guy who even comes to to being a good fighter on Falcao's resume is blown up Middleweight Fabio Maldonado, who beat Maiquel... twice. Gerald Harris hasn't faced the best competition in the world either, but he's shown significant improvement in nearly every aspect of his game since his stint on TUF. I expect to see Harris using his wrestling early in an effort to drag Falcao into deep water, and then putting the Brazilian away in the second round. Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Gerald Harris.
Joshua: Interesting battle of two guys with good power in their strikes. The difference will be the Octagon experience and wrestling of Harris. Harris should be the more composed of the two and I see him being able to work this fight to the ground where he can use his ground and pound to earn a stoppage victory. Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Gerald Harris.
Miles: Gerald Harris will continue his impressive win streak, using his awkwardly low striking stance to frustrate Falcao into coming forward, which will leave him wide open to being taken down -- or slammed through the mat. Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Gerald Harris.
The Final Forecast: Harris stops Falcao with a “FALCAO-N PUNCH!!”, in a tilt that should really be on the prelims.
Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis vs. Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch
Jack: Does anybody see Boetsch winning this fight? No? Good. I actually see Davis as a brighter prospect than Jon Jones –I’d definitely say he’s more athletic – so am glad to see him being brought up through the organisation the right way. Boetsch’s tough, and is sure to put up a fight in this, but I just don’t see him having any answers to Davis’ wrestling and sheer explosiveness. I’m going to give Boetsch credit where I feel credit is due, and say he guts it out and goes the distance, but it won’t be close. Winner via Unanimous Decision: Phil Davis.
Matt: Tim Boetsch is an interesting fighter, almost unstoppable on the lower circuits, but a .500 fighter when it comes to UFC level talent. Considering he had serious trouble with Matt Hammill, who isn't nearly as good a wrestler as Phil Davis, I don't think this fight has a happy ending. Boetsch does have a wrestling background, but Jorge Gurgel has a blackbelt, and we've all seen the difference that can make. Davis was a wrestler like you read about, at the top level at a Division I school. As long as he remembers that, he'll take Boetsch down, hammer on him and eventually stop him. Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Phil Davis.
Brad: I've been following Phil Davis since he transitioned to MMA, because the guy was a freak athlete during his NCAA career (in addition to his serious, serious wrestling chops), and I always find those are the wrestlers who seem to have the best success moving to MMA. He has not disappointed thus far, acclimating himself to the other facets of grappling extremely well. Davis is also the type of fighter who seems to know exactly where his strengths lay, and he sticks to them. Tim Boetsch is a solid fighter, but he's outgunned once this hits the mat, and even more outmatched when it comes to controlling where this fight will take place. Winner via 1st round Submission: Phil Davis.
Joshua: This seems like a showcase fight of the Jones/Matyushenko –type to me. Davis is a very skilled and athletic up-and-comer and Boetsch is a tough and physical but not extremely talented fighter. I don’t think Phil will mess around much with the striking game but will look to immediately take Tim to the ground and grind on him with strikes while controlling each round. Winner via Unanimous Decision: Phil Davis.
Miles: Another showcase fight for Mr. Wonderful to show off his grappling prowess without being at too much of a risk on the feet. Tim Boetsch is well-rounded, but aside from ragdolling David Heath into performing a faceplant, he hasn’t shown a consistent enough ability to finish in any particular discipline. Davis is obviously going to be the superior wrestler and I think that after he asserts himself as the pace dictator in this fight, he will grind Boetsch with methodical ground and pound, softening him up for a late submission. Winner via 3rd round Submission: Phil Davis.
The Final Forecast: Mr Wonderful hands Boetsch a one-sided beatdown.
George Sotiropoulos vs. Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon
Jack: George is the favourite here, and I feel that’s deserved as I’m not sure Lauzon has a style that troubles him. Yes, Joe’s an aggressive grappler, but I feel that George is more technical savvy both standing and on the ground, with neither man having much in the way of explosiveness. Hopefully we get a fun ground battle, but I see it being fought mainly standing where George makes use of his effective, if basic boxing game to “one-two” his way to a decision win. Winner via Unanimous Decision: George Sotiropoulos.
Matt: For me, this was the hardest fight on the card to pick. Joe Lauzon is great on the ground, so is Sotiropolous. Neither are superstars on the feet, nor are they top notch wrestlers. However, both want this to go to the same place, and it becomes a battle of who makes the first mistake. I'm thinking that both of this guys are so savvy on the ground that it's really unlikely that someone hangs an arm and gets it broken off. My gut says Sotiropolous' size will be the biggest factor in this fight and that it's going to allow him to grind on Lauzon just a little harder and get a nip and tuck decision. For me, this fight is just a bunch of coin flips, and it was really Sotirpolous' win over Stevenson that tipped me ever so slightly in his direction. Winner via Unanimous Decision: George Sotiropolous.
Brad: Enough with the mid-level opponents, I want to see if Sotiropoulos has what it takes to be a top Lightweight. And yes, I consider Joe Lauzon a mid-level opponent. That's not to say that George will walk through Joe, but I just see him doing everything better. He's a better striker, has better BJJ, stronger wrestling, superior cardio, and he's a much bigger fighter than Lauzon. That may seem like this fight is going to be a runaway, but I think it will actually be quite competitive for the first round and a half. Once Lauzon loses a bit of steam and the Aussie keeps things moving along at the same pace is when we'll see George shine. Winner via Unanimous Decision: George Sotiropoulos.
Joshua: I really don’t see much way for Lauzon to win this fight. Sotiropoulos has been fighting better competition than J-Lau as of late and has been beating them soundly. I believe that G-Sot will have an advantage in the striking, the wrestling, and the ground game so as long as he doesn’t get stupid on the ground and allow himself to be caught, I see him winning this. I doubt we will see Sotiropoulos get a submission however with Lauzon’s solid grappling skills so it will likely be a decision victory. Winner via Unanimous Decision: George Sotiropoulos.
Miles: Pretty straight-forward, if Sotiropoulos can suck Lauzon into a grappling match he will control his way to a unanimous decision. If he chooses to stand-and-bang, he could be in for a very bad night as G-Sot tends to get clipped far too often for my liking. I’ll go with consistency and select Sotiropoulos to stick to Lauzon like my balls to my leg on a hot summer’s day. Winner via Unanimous Decision: George Sotiropoulos.
The Final Forecast: G-Sot continues his title-run with a clear decision win over J-Lau.
Matt “The Immortal” Brown vs. Brian Foster
Jack: Winner via 2nd round Submission: Matt Brown.
Matt: Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Matt Brown.
Brad: Winner via 1st round (T)KO: Brian Foster.
Joshua: Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Brian Foster.
Miles: Winner via 1st round (T)KO: Brian Foster.
The Final Forecast: In a fight that screams “bad intentions”, Brian Foster trumps the Immortal.
Aaron “A-Train” Simpson vs. Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Muñoz
Jack: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Mark Muñoz.
Matt: Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Mark Muñoz.
Brad: Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Aaron Simpson.
Joshua: Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Aaron Simpson.
Miles: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Mark Muñoz.
The Final Forecast: Munoz halts the A-Train's attempt at a successful return.
Karo “The Heat” Parisyan vs. Dennis "Superman" Hallman
Jack: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Karo Parisyan.
Matt: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Karo Parisyan.
Brad: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Karo Parisyan.
Joshua: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Karo Parisyan.
Miles: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Karo Parisyan.
The Final Forecast: Barring a panic attack or blood-test failure, Karo Parisyan brings back “The Heat” inside the Octagon.
Edson Barboza vs. Mike Lullo
Jack: Winner via 1st round (T)KO: Edson Barboza.
Matt: Winner via 2nd round (T)KO: Edson Barboza.
Brad: Winner via 1st round (T)KO: Edson Barboza.
Joshua: Winner via 1st round (T)KO: Edson Barboza.
Miles: Winner via 1st round (T)KO: Edson Barboza.
The Final Forecast: Barboza impressively debuts with a stoppage of fellow debutant, Mike Lullo.
Paul “Telys” Kelly vs. T.J. O'Brien
Jack: Winner via 2nd round Submission: T.J. O’Brien.
Matt: Winner via 1st round (T)KO: Paul Kelly.
Brad: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Paul Kelly.
Joshua: Winner via 1st round Submission: T.J. O’Brien.
Miles: Winner via Split Decision: Paul Kelly.
The Final Forecast: Paul Kelly saves his UFC career by decisioning T.J. O’Brien.
Tyson Griffin vs. Nik “The Carney” Lentz
Jack: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Tyson Griffin.
Matt: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Tyson Griffin.
Brad: Winner via Split Decision: Tyson Griffin.
Joshua: Winner via Split Decision: Tyson Griffin.
Miles: Winner via Unanimous Decision: Tyson Griffin.
The Final Forecast: The Fireball Kid’s hands light a flame under Tyson Griffin’s ass, motivating him to beat-up the Carney for three rounds.