UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida Predictions

November 20, 2010
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Detroit, Michigan

Main card:
Lyoto Machida vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

Rampage_machida_medium Luke Thomas: I just don't see it for Rampage. I see him chasing, but not with the linear drive and mobility Shogun demonstrated. An inability to check leg kicks only makes it worse. Rampage has enough tools to win, but the probability is not in his favor. Machida by decision.

Kid Nate: If this were Rampage 2.0 -- the version that perfected boxing for MMA while training with Juanito Ibarra -- or even Rampage 1.0 -- the fearsome wrestler-brawler who started with the slam and finished with the ground and pound -- I'd give him a good chance of beating Machida. But the older, slower and undermotivated Rampage 3.0 -- aka B.A. Baracus -- doesn't have a shot. Machida by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: What Shogun had that presented problems to Machida was speed and a diverse attack. Jackson has become a one trick pony. He's not going to take you down, he doesn't throw leg kicks and he doesn't have much speed. He's just going to try to walk Machida down and catch him. Everyone remembers that this is the exact gameplan Machida has fed on for his entire career, right? Lyoto Machida by decision.

Mike Fagan: Maybe Rampage's secret camp is great for him. Maybe the time he spends with his kids calms his mind. Maybe he brought in a bunch of top-secret, high-level talent to work with. But probably not. While Jackson's camp seems to think they just have to "cut off" Machida and wade through his strikes, Machida and his team are planning a legitimate game plan tailored to impede the rampage. Also, this should be five rounds. Lyoto Machida by decision.

Chris Nelson: Is Machida's head on straight after getting wrecked for the first time in his career? I'm not sure. I really want to go with "Rampage" here, but the more I think about it, the more I see Jackson chasing Machida down and getting picked apart. Machida via decision.

Nick Thomas: An unmotivated Rampage is too slow and plodding for Machida. Machida by decision.

Leland Roling: I think it's interesting to see some of the flack that Machida has garnered due to being knocked out by Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in his last fight, and that performance translates to the theory that Rampage's power will "obviously" produce the same results. Unfortunately, Rampage isn't a speedy fighter, and he has admitted that he really doesn't have the skills to chase down Machida. That's too bad. Machida via decision.

Jonathan Snowden: I thought Mike Fagan made a lot of great points last week, pointing out some of the reasons Rampage will lose. One he forgot? Machida is simply a better fighter. Machida by decision.

B.J. Penn vs. Matt Hughes

Penn_hughes_medium Luke Thomas: The idea that Hughes' "strength" is going to be a factor is not even worthy of a response. Ultimately this comes down to preparation. If Penn did enough homework there's no way he loses. Too many dimensions of the game where he is better against an older Hughes. Penn by TKO.

Kid Nate: Luke has said that given their respective skill-sets B.J. should never lose to Hughes. Unfortunately this is the main who didn't train conditioning adequately for two back-to-back losses to Frankie Edgar. Have to go with B.J. but I have serious reservations. B.J. Penn by submission.

Brent Brookhouse: I really wanted to pick Hughes here, figuring he could wear Penn down and take enough rounds. But then I remembered that this is only a three-round fight. I don't expect it to be pretty and I think Hughes will look better at the end, but he'll have won the first two rounds and that's enough. B.J. Penn by decision.

Mike Fagan: Matt Hughes nailed it: this will come down to which B.J. Penn steps into the cage. I have no clue how motivated he is, but he looks like he's in good shape. This should also be five rounds. B.J. Penn by submission, round two.

Chris Nelson: B.J. says Hughes has given him motivation to train and fight hard, but that's what he said about getting his belt back from Frank Edgar. Hughes comes with the middle-aged farmer strength and outlasts Penn. Hughes via TKO, round three.

Nick Thomas: Penn will gas in the third but will win the first two rounds. Penn by decision.

Leland Roling: Once again, training is the biggest question coming into a B.J. Penn fight. Big surprise, but Penn's striking and speed is a huge advantage on the feet. Furthermore, I think Penn can, at the very least, edge Hughes out through two rounds. Hughes probably finishes stronger, but I doubt he can finish Penn in the third once again. I'll take Penn via decision.

Jonathan Snowden: I can't wait for this one. Sure, both may have seen better days, but this is still the ultimate "wrestling versus jiu jitsu" matchup in MMA history. I see B.J. stalling after a strong start and Hughes moving on to a number one contenders match. Hughes by decision.

Gerald Harris vs. Maiquel Falcao

Harris_falcao_medium Luke Thomas: Wrestling should be the difference against even the absurdly heavy-handed Falcao. Harris by decision.

Kid Nate: They're really pushing Harris here by feeding him a Brazilian brawler who's untested in the big leagues on the main card. I expect Harris to dominate with wrestling and survive a scare or two from the hard hitting Falcao. Harris by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: Falcao's finish percentage is incredible, but Harris is just a tough task for your first UFC fight. Gerald Harris by decision.

Mike Fagan: No idea about Falcao outside of his association with Chute Boxe. No idea why this is on the main card when Karo and Tyson Griffin are in the prelims. Gerald Harris by decision.

Chris Nelson: Falcao hits so hard that it's tough for me to imagine anyone not folding when he puts hands on them, even if he hasn't been fighting anywhere near UFC-level competition in Brazil. Gimme the upset. Falcao via TKO, round one.

Nick Thomas: If Harris can beat David Branch, he can beat Falcao. Harris by decision.

Leland Roling: Dangerous fight here for Harris if he stays on the feet for any lengthy amount of time, but I imagine Harris will change levels quickly and punish Falcao on the ground. Gerald Harris via decision.

Jonathan Snowden: Gerald Harris did a great interview with us earlier this year. That should be worth points on the judge's scorecard. Harris by decision.

Phil Davis vs. Tim Boetsch

Davis_boetsch_medium Luke Thomas: Boetsch is a tough customer, but this is akin to having little brother fight big brother in terms of wrestling skill differential. Davis has his number in every way. Davis by TKO.

Kid Nate: Phil Davis will likely be Jon Jones' biggest rival in this division until Jones moves up to heavyweight. Davis will get to show off his NCAA championship wrestling and impressively improving BJJ skills against the brawling Boetsch. Davis by submission.

Brent Brookhouse: Tim Boetsch just is not as good as people wanted him to be. Davis, on the other hand, is really damn good. Phil Davis by TKO, round 1.

Mike Fagan: I will always love Tim Boetsch for ragdolling David Heath into the fence at UFC 81. People hype on Phil Davis for a reason though. Phil Davis by decision.

Chris Nelson: Tim Boetsch is good. Phil Davis is really, really good, and seems to add new elements to his game each time out. Davis via submission, round one.

Nick Thomas: I'm hoping Boetsch makes this fight competitive, but it's Davis by decision.

Leland Roling: Boetsch didn't look that great in regional action, despite beating all of his opposition. Davis' wrestling is unbelievable, and he's transitioned those skills well to MMA. Look for him to dominate here and win via submission. Davis via submission.

Jonathan Snowden: Phil Davis has a really skinny waist. I mean it's weird. Look for it in the few seconds it takes to run through Boetsch. Davis by TKO, Round 1.

George Sotiropoulos vs. Joe Lauzon

Sotiropoulos_lauzon_medium Luke Thomas: I would like to see Lauzon stick it to a guy who plays fast and loose with the grappling rules, but this is going to look like Joe Lauzon vs. Kenny Florian 2.0. Sotiropolous by decision.

Kid Nate: When he's on, Lauzon is a very formidable jack-of-all-trades unfortunately Sotiropoulos is better at every dimension of the game, particularly on the ground where I expect this fight to be decided. Sotiropoulos by submission.

Brent Brookhouse: I had high hopes for George Sotiropoulos coming off The Ultimate Fighter but even I'm shocked to see just how good he's become. And I think he's absolutely good enough to beat Lauzon. Sotiropoulos by decision.

Mike Fagan: I have Fight of the Year hopes for this one. These two fight at a quick pace, and both have a lot of all-around technique. I keep thinking Sotiropoulos is fighting over his head, but he keeps proving me wrong. George Sotiropoulos by decision.

Chris Nelson: There sure are some close fights on this card. I think I'm looking forward to this one the most, though. Sotiropoulos certainly has the technical skills to win this, but Lauzon looked like a beast last time out. I'm hoping that guy shows up again, because that was fun to watch. Lauzon via submission, round one.

Nick Thomas: Huge jump for Lauzon. Sotiropoulos by decision.

Leland Roling: Great fight on paper, but I think Sotiropoulos' reach and improved striking is the key to victory here. While I think his lengthy frame is a great asset on the ground, Lauzon is good enough to avoid being dominated in the grappling department. Sotiropoulos via decision.

Jonathan Snowden: I'm glad that Lauzon is bringing the issue of Sotiropolous's de facto grappling pants into the public eye. It's an issue we harped on at BE after the Stevenson fight. I personally believe grappling pants should be legal. But regardless of my beliefs, the rules need to be uniformally enforced. Lauzon in the upset special.

Preliminary Bouts (On Spike TV):

Mark Munoz vs. Aaron Simpson

Luke Thomas: Either guy is likely to crumble under any kind of sustained pressure. I bet Simpson folds first. Munoz by TKO.

Kid Nate: This should be a great fight. Wrestler plus wrestler usually equals lots of good scrambles, reversals and transitions with a big helping of brawling on the feet. Both of these guys hit hard. I think Simpson has the ability to apply wrestling to MMA and will be able to phase shift when he needs to. Simpson by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: This should be decided entirely on the feet and I think Simpson is the more dangerous man standing up. It's a very even fight but I just think he can outwork Munoz. Aaron Simpson by decision.

Mike Fagan: Both guys are getting a bad rap in their last fights. Munoz had trouble taking down Yushin Okami, who is a big, strong 185er with a great base. Simpson was handling Chris Leben before Leben out-Lebened him. I like Munoz with a slightly better track record and the more impressive wrestling pedigree. Mark Munoz by decision.

Chris Nelson: Close call, but I think Munoz outlasts Simpson. Munoz via decision.

Nick Thomas: Wrestler vs. wrestler here. Munoz wins a close fight with better cardio. Munoz by decision.

Leland Roling: Great battle here with a twist in that both men are long-time friends. I think Simpson's power in the stand-up game is the difference. Simpson via TKO.

Jonathan Snowden: This battle of the wrestlers will be decided by striking prowess. I've got Simpson. Simpson, TKO, Round 2.

Brian Foster vs. Matt Brown

Luke Thomas: Brown is an up from the boot straps type fighter and that should be enough for the talented but inconsistent Foster. Brown by TKO.

Kid Nate: Matt Brown is in trouble in this one. Foster is a really brutal grinder and I don't think Brown's technical edge in BJJ and kickboxing will be enough to overcome the power and wrestling of Foster.

Brent Brookhouse: Foster is good but I can't pick him over the always improving Brown. Matt Brown by submission, round 2.

Mike Fagan: Foster pounds until Brown grabs a limb. Matt Brown by submission, round two.

Chris Nelson: Can't decide, so I'm looking at records. Brown has never lost three in a row, while Foster can't win two straight in the UFC. Brown via TKO, round two.

Nick Thomas: I've always been a fan of Foster. This will be a close fight... but the fan in me is giving the edge to Foster. Foster by decision.

Leland Roling: Foster's quickness and diversity in his overall skill-set will punish Matt Brown. Brian Foster via TKO.

Jonathan Snowden: I didn't like UFC favorite Matt Brown against Rory MacDonald. Brian Foster is a different story all together.  Matt Brown by submission.


Preliminary Bouts (Non-Televised):

Karo Parisyan vs. Dennis Hallman

Luke Thomas: It's so hard to say where anyone is at. But since Hallman's man skill is guard play and that's not much of a test for Karo, I'll go with the Armenian here. Parisyan by decision.

Kid Nate: I so badly want the old Karo to come back, but he's trying to overcome a daunting blend of ring rust, a serious and untreated hamstring injury, problems with painkillers and a debilitating anxiety condition. Hallman has shown he's still crafty and formidable enough to rack up wins against mid-level UFC competition. Ah screw it I'm going with my heart here, Karo by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: The atmosphere in Australia overwhelmed Karo and he had to have the promoter change when his bout took place. That doesn't happen in the UFC. If he was overwhelmed in Australia, he's going to be completely overwhelmed by the UFC atmosphere. I just can't pick the guy, no matter how badly I want to. Dennis Hallman by decision.

Mike Fagan: It's nuts that Karo's only 28 years old. The man barely escaped Australia with a win over a local boy, though, and admits to feeling like he's going to die when he leaves the house. Excuse my skepticism. Dennis Hallman by decision.

Chris Nelson: If this fight happens, it's Hallman via decision.

Nick Thomas: Hallman has been impressive and I'm going to stop picking against him. Hallman by decision.

Leland Roling: I can't pick Karo here. I think he'll win, but his mental state is a huge question mark. Hallman has the ability to be controlling on the ground, and I think he can put Karo in enough danger to which Karo begins doubting himself. Hallman via decision.

Jonathan Snowden: I hope we see a gargantuan judo throw and a goony post fight interview. Karo needs this world. Why must you be so, so cruel? Karo by decision.

Mike Lullo vs. Edson Barboza

Luke Thomas: It would take a lot for Barboza to lose this one. Barboza by decision.

Kid Nate: Barboza is the Brazilian getting all the hype. Lullo's biggest claim to fame is being Maggie Hendricks' cousin. Could be that Lullo will out wrestle Barboza and surprise everyone. Nah. Barboza by TKO.

Brent Brookhouse: Barboza is the better fighter and has a better chance to finish the bout. Edson Barboza by TKO, round 2.

Mike Fagan: Sherdog tells me Barboza is a hot prospect. Good enough for me. Barboza by TKO, round one.

Chris Nelson: Barboza can end fights anywhere he wants. Barboza via TKO, round one.

Nick Thomas: If Barboza keeps this standing, it's Barboza by TKO.

Leland Roling: Lullo didn't impress me in some of the footage I looked at, and while Barboza could have problems if he's taken down -- he'll brutally kick Lullo's will to live before that happens. Barboza via TKO.

Jonathan Snowden: Who? Barboza because of his awesome name and limitless potential.

Paul Kelly vs. T.J. O'Brien

Luke Thomas: I guess Kelly. I guess. Kelly by decision.

Kid Nate: This looks like the end of somebody's UFC career. Kelly by TKO.

Brent Brookhouse: This is the only bout on the entire card that I just don't care about. Paul Kelly by TKO, round two.

Mike Fagan: Kelly doesn't have any oustanding wins, but his three losses have come to some legit UFC talent. O'Brien couldn't make it in the TUF house. Paul Kelly by TKO, round two.

Chris Nelson: Kelly is no doubt the better fighter, but I just smell upset here. O'Brien via submission, round one.

Nick Thomas: O'Brien not only has the height and reach advantage, he's a beast on the ground. O'Brien by submission.

Leland Roling: Marc Stevens bombed T.J. O'Brien quickly in the preliminary bout for this season of The Ultimate Fighter. That could be an indication as to how this fight will play out, but I won't count out O'Brien entirely. His jiu-jitsu is dangerous. Kelly via decision.

Jonathan Snowden: Paul Kelly was looking at a long night with Gabe Ruediger. Instead, he gets a TUF washout who was whacked by two time loser Marc Stevens and is most famous for jumping horses. I like Kelly's chances. If O'Brien does pull it out, it will be by triangle choke, jos favorite weapon. Kelly by decision.

Nik Lentz vs. Tyson Griffin

Luke Thomas: Griffin should have enough defensive wrestling, scrambling, athleticism and frankly, pace, to give the Carnie the L. Griffin by decision.

Kid Nate: How the mighty have fallen. Griffin is getting a tune up fight here and Lentz won't be able to stymie him against the cage. Griffin by decision.

Brent Brookhouse: Lentz is limited and not particularly good. Griffin has fallen quite a bit but he's still the much better fighter. Tyson Griffin by decision.

Mike Fagan: Rebound for Tyson Griffin. Tyson Griffin by decision.

Chris Nelson: Lentz won't be able to keep Griffin down, nor does he have the face-melting power of Gomi. Griffin should out-wrestle "The Carny" to a UD. Griffin via decision.

Nick Thomas: Lentz won't be able to wrestle a win here. Griffin by decision.

Leland Roling: Lentz won't have the striking game to compete with Griffin on the feet, but he'll hang around as Griffin isn't exactly a knockout threat. Griffin via decision.

Jonathan Snowden: Let this serve notice to fighters who think it is enough to simply wow the crowd. Tyson Griffin has won fight of the night five times. But with two losses in a row, Tyson Griffin finds himself as a curtain jerker. Score one for sport over spectacle. Griffin by decision.

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