UFC 123 Breakdown
The UFC finally makes it’s long, long, long awaited return to the Great Lakes State. And they will return with a bang. UFC 123 is a star studded card with a lot of matchups expected to produce title contenders. Jackson vs. Machida could determine who faces the winner of Rua vs. Evans. If Sotiropoulos gets his hand raised, he moves into title contention. Even Huges could see one last title shot down the road if he puts away Penn. All in all some of Joe Silva’s best work. This is how TopMMAnews sees the card going down.
Quinton Jackson (+210) vs. Lyoto Machida (-312)
This bout has huge ramifications in the UFC’s Light-Heavyweight division. Two former champions go to war and the winner will be one step away from another title shot, while the loser will all but drop off the title contention picture. This bout comes down to power versus speed. Can Jackson clinch, control and power punch his way to victory or will Machida use his speed and range to pick away and grind out the decision. Going off past fights, Jackson has delivered poor performances against strikers who use a lot of movement and move in and out of range like Rashad Evans and Forest Griffin. For his part, Machida has actually done well against power punchers such as Thiago Silva and Sokoudjou by finishing them both between the bells. The big question here is Machida is coming off a knock out loss to Mauricio Rua and you never know how a fighter will bounce back after being knocked out cold. Sadly, I do not see any reason to think Jackson has changed his game up too much and will come out looking for that punch to put Machida back to sleep. While Machida’s in and out movement will be too much for Jackson and even if Jackson can land the takedown, Machida has better jits and should easily be able to make it back to his feet.
Prediction: Machida via Unanimous Decision
Matt Hughes (+120) vs. BJ Penn (-167)
This is a hard match to call. These men are not fighting for title contention, they are fighting for pride. These two have already battled twice before with Penn picking up the first win via RNC at UFC 46 while Hughes returned the favour by pounding Penn out via TKO at UFC 63.
We have all seen Penn’s conditioning problems at 170 lbs and that could be his achilles heel in this fight. After two straight fights against Frankie Edgar in which Penn seemed to have trouble pulling the trigger on his offence, it is hard to see how moving back up a weight class could solve his problem. Now it is possible the weight cut to lightweight sapped some of Penn’s energy but it never seemed to bother him in his five previous 155 lb outings.
Since losing viciously to Thiago Alves at UFC 85, Hughes took a year off from the sport and seems to have returned with a new vigor. He returned against Matt Serra and ground out a decision victory. He then outboxed Renzo Gracie in an unappealing fight and submitted jiu jitsu ace Ricardo Almeida. Hughes new sense of fighting for the love of the game instead of providing pay cheques definitely has lit a fire under his ass.
Prediction: Hughes via TKO (strikes) in Round 3
Maiquel Falcao (+220) vs. Gerald Harris (-333)
Both men have been on a tear in their last few fights. Harris has won his last ten fights and has gone 3-0 in the UFC. On the other hand, Falcao has won his last seven fights and finished all seven opponents between the buzzers. However, those seven opponents were not UFC caliber fighters. Falcao will be making his UFC debut and will take a big step up from the regional Brazilian cards. Harris has looked phenominal in his past three outings and should easily be able to use his wrestling to put Falcao on the canvas and pound him out.
Prediction: Harris via TKO (strikes) in Round 1
Phil Davis (-769) vs. Tim Boetsch (+405)
Boetsch is a good wrestler, Davis is a great wrestler and that’s pretty much how the fight will go down. Boetsch has heavy hands and it is possible he could clip Davis with those big paws of his, but the smart money is on Davis. Davis should have no trouble changing levels on Tim landing the big takedown and pounding him out.
Prediction: Davis via TKO (strikes) in Round 1
Joe Lauzon (+175) vs. George Sotiropoulos (-250)
Sotiropoulos is quietly putting himself into title contention with his 6-0 run in the UFC. In contrast, Lauzon is trying to put himself back on the Lightweight map as he is 5-2 in his last seven fights. This fight means a lot to both fighters in terms of their future in the Lightweight division. This fight will really come down to who can keep the other from implementing their game plan and momentum. Sotiropoulos has shown great game planning as of late and carries the momentum into this contest. Lauzon should be able to win the fight while on the feet but will not be able to hold off Sotiropoulos’ takedown attempts for long and this will spell disaster for J-Lau.
Prediction: Sotiropoulos via Rear Naked Choke in Round 3
Mark Munoz (-200) vs. Aaron Simpson (+140)
Who cares about who wins this one, this is posed to be fight of the night. Two great durable wrestlers will go to war and provide spectators with a stand up slobber knocker. Out of the two, Munoz is the only one who’s seen stars in a contest, so expect him to star gaze again.
Prediction: Simpson via KO (punch) in Round 2
Matt Brown (+125) vs. Brian Foster (-175)
This fight will dictate the future of each fighter, as a win will put them back in the game while a loss could see them cut. Brown has lost two straight and Foster has had a problem with consistency during his time in the octagon. Brown will use his reach to keep Foster at bay and try to clip that chin for a knock put. Foster will look to get inside and take Brown to the mat and either pound him out submit him. Brown is no slouch off his back and should neutralize Foster’s submission game. Brown’s solid takedown defence should be enough to keep this fight on the feet where he has the decided advantage.
Prediction: Brown via TKO (punches) in Round 2
Dennis Hallman vs. Karo Parisyan
Hallman is a durable tough veteran. That being said, he has yet to prove he is a upper echelon Welterweight. On the other hand, Parisyan has proved time and time again that he belongs in the cage with the world’s best. Parisyan has the advantage in almost every aspect in the cage – he’s more proficient in striking and transitions and on the ground. As long as Parisyan has over come his anxiety problems this his his fight to lose. Being that Hallman is durable as hell and Parisyan seems to have a problem finishing opponents, expect this to go all three rounds with Karo getting his hand raised in the end.
Prediction: Parisyan via Unanimous Decision
Mike Lullo vs. Edson Barboza
Barboza is a violent muay Thai striker and Lullo is a wrestler that likes to strike. Expect a violent finish in this fight. If Lullo keeps this on the feet for more then a minute, he’s in for a world of hurt. Lullo could control the pace with his wrestling if he decides to use it, but with Barboza’s impressive speed and great angles expect to see Lullo eating canvas.
Prediction: Barboza via KO (head kick) in Round 1
Nik Lentz vs. Tyson Griffin
This match up is basically Lentz’ punishment for his snore fest against Andre Winner at UFC 118. Griffin needs this win to turn around his career after an 0-2 skid. Both men have a penchant for going the distance so do not expect an exciting finish in this one. Look to see Griffin stay inside the pocket and pick away at Lentz and win the round at the end with a takedown. Lentz has good wrestling but Griffin’s balance should be enough to neutralize that weapon.
Prediction: Griffin via Unanimous Decision
Paul Kelly vs. TJ O’Brien
What can you say about this tilt, Kelly is a certified UFC fighter and O’Brien could not even make it into the Ultimate Fighter house. This should be an easy win for Kelly, no matter where the fight goes Kelly has the advantage. Expect to Kelly to wear down O’Brien on the feet, take him down, soften him up and take the W with a submission.
Prediction: Kelly via Arm Bar in Round 1
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