UFC 123 Predictions
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Saturday night’s UFC 123 matches up two of the best light heavyweights in MMA—Rampage Jackson and Lyoto Machida—against each other. The complete main card features both MMA legends and strong up-and-comers looking to work their way to a title shot, and overall it should be an exciting night of fights.
Lightweight bout: George Sotiropoulos vs. Joe Lauzon
This fight features two of the best submission fighters in the lightweight division, although I am going to go out on a limb and predict a striking battle. Sotiropoulos is coming into this fight on a seven fight win streak, six of those wins in the UFC. Only two of his UFC fights have gone the distance—against tough opponents Kurt Pellegrino and Joe Stevenson, but he outfought each competitor to earn the unanimous decision. Although he is not known for his KO power, Sotiropoulos has shown much improvement with his hands which has only strengthened his ground game.
Joe Lauzon has been making noise in the lightweight division ever since he won KO of the night in his UFC debut against Jens Pulber back in 2006. In each of his UFC victories he has won by way of KO or submission, and although he has lost twice (Kenny Florian, Sam Stout), both times he was awarded ‘Fight of the Night” honors. One thing is for certain each time Lauzon steps into the cage—he is prepared for war. And impressively, he has finished his opponent in all of his 19 victories (15 submissions, 4 KO).
Expect Lauzon to look to set the pace of the fight early by using his hands to keep Sotiropoulos off guard and uncertain. Sotiropoulos has a strong chin, so if Lauzon feels he is unable to stop him with his hands, he may resort to his ground game.
On the ground I have to give the advantage to Louzon. Although both fighters are well versed in BJJ, Louzon is more explosive and has been able to overpower his opponents in recent fights.
From the start of the first round this is going to be an action packed fight, but in the end, only one man can be victorious.
Prediction— Louzon wins in Round 2 via TKO (Referee stoppage due to strikes).
Light Heavyweight bout: Phil Davis vs. Tim Boetsch
Phil Davis is coming into this fight 7-0 and will be facing his toughest test to date. In each of his previous fights Davis has shown his well rounded skills as an MMA fighter, winning twice by KO, twice by submission, and three times via decision.
In Boetsch’s UFC debut, he was originally scheduled to fight Thiago Silva, but due to an injury, he ended up facing Todd Brown, who he defeated via unanimous decision. Boetsch brings heavier hands and more experience into the octagon Saturday night, and will be looking to derail Davis’s bid at staying undefeated.
This is a crucial fight for both fighters as the light heavyweight division contains many good fighters, and a loss can drop you down big time in the ranks.
Expect this fight to be fought cautiously, as both men will look to avoid making the big mistake that will leave them vulnerable for the counter attack.
In the end I think Boetsch is going to force the fight and bring the action to Davis, knocking him off his game and putting him on the defense most of the fight.
Prediction— Boetsch wins via unanimous decision.
Middleweight bout: Gerald Harris vs. Maiquel Falcao
Gerald Harris’ path to making his UFC debut was an interesting one. He was originally on The Ultimate Fighter but lost in the second round. He then called into MMAJunkie Radio when Dana White was a special guest on the show and changing his voice, praised himself, his recent accomplishments in the cage and promoted why he should fight in the UFC. Eventually Harris identified his true self, and White was so impressed with what he had to say, he gave the kid a shot.
And the rest is history. Harris has gone 3-0 in the octagon, winning each fight by KO. More impressively, two of his three wins earned him ‘KO of the Night.’ He is an explosive fighter that shows why he belongs in the UFC each time he steps into the cage.
At UFC 123 he faces Maiquel Falcao, who will be making his UFC debut. Falcao holds a professional record of 25-3 with 21 KO’s. Although his level of competition hasn’t been world class, he has dismissed opponents easily as he earned his shot at fighting in the UFC.
This fight is huge for both men; for Harris it is the final fight of his four fight contract with the UFC, so an impressive victory will most certainly earn him a nice extension. For Falcao, this is what he’s worked his whole career for, the big show. It isn’t a must win fight for him, but if he wants an invitation back into the octagon, he’s got to prove that he belongs there and fight his heart out.
With two dangerous strikers as these two men are, fireworks are going to be flying from the onset of round 1. It will be a war no doubt.
Prediction— Harris wins via TKO in Round 1.
Welterweight bout: Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn
Both of these warriors are future UFC hall-of-famers. Their resumes speak for themselves; Hughes owned the welterweight division for so long, and Penn did the same as a lightweight.
But oh how the times have changed.
This time last year BJ Penn appeared to be unstoppable as the lightweight champion of the world, and it seemed he would reign supreme for years to come. But following two consecutive losses to current lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, he has moved back up to the welterweight division where he will face Hughes in what will be a rubber match of their two previous battles—UFC 46 and UFC 63.
Just as it appeared Matt Hughes should hang the gloves up following losses to Georges St. Pierre and Thiago Alves, he has come back strong and won three straight fights against some of the best fighters in MMA—Matt Serra, Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida.
Although this fight may not have much implication on an immediate contention bout, this is about pride and showing off who is the top dog.
While Hughes has had the ability of pulling off some of the best takedowns in MMA, Penn has been known for his ultimate takedown defense.
One thing that stands out, which may be a factor, is that Penn looked a bit sluggish against Edgar as a lightweight. With the weight increase, I am curious to see how he comes out and if his conditioning will be up to par against an opponent such as Hughes.
Prediction—Matt Hughes wins via unanimous decision. The fight is named as “Fight of the Night.”
Light Heavyweight bout: Rampage Jackson vs. Lyoto Machida
This matchup could’ve easily been for the title if things went a bit different earlier this year. In a close battle with Rashad Evans, Rampage was ousted via unanimous decision. While Shogun shocked the world and not only handed Machida his first loss, but stripped him of the light heavyweight belt.
Both men have been atop their weight class before and in the spotlight and are eager to get back to their winning ways to work their way back towards a title fight. They have both fought wars in the ring and cage, and have devastated some of the biggest names in MMA.
Although Machida is the better rounded fighter, Rampage has the advantage in power. But his power will be futile unless he is able to cleanly land his strikes.
Machida has unorthodox striking skills and can throw his hands or feet from a variety of angles, so it will be key for Rampage to get in close to avoid any punishing blows.
If this fight goes the distance Rampage is going to get winded and lose his ferocity. Expect Machida to fight patiently and slowly pick Rampage apart, which will in turn frustrate Rampage and make him start swinging for the home run punch.
Both men match up well, but in the end, I give the advantage to Machida. Why you ask? It’s simple—he trained with Steven Seagal to get ready for this fight, and that’s bad ass.
Prediction—Machida wins via unanimous decision.