It's been a busy few weeks in the world of MMA, and particularly the UFC, and now it comes to it's dramatic conclusion, at least for now. UFC 123: "Rampage vs Machida" is finally upon us and we're back with another head to head predictions column. Last time I went up against my younger brother and this time, mostly due to short notice, I'll be going up against my older brother Adam. Let's jump right in.
Geno - I've been taking crap for this for a while now but I firmly believe "Rampage" has the right style to beat the elusive "Dragon." No, he probably doesn't have the same discipline that "Shogun" demonstrated when he took out Machida but he's a counter striker with decent speed and a ton of power. Machida will undoubtedly use his kicks but he'll also be jumping in and out of range so as to score points in his attempt to play it safe and cruise to a unanimous decision. I don't doubt that, that is a winning strategy and he's smart to employ it. But I also believe that's when Jackson will catch him with a big counter left hook and he'll put him out. Jackson via KO in round 3.
Adam - "Rampage", "Rampage", where for art thou "Rampage." Quinton Jackson has been MIA from the relevancy scene ever since his leg kick loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86. His wins since that fight have led him back into the top of the division but the loss to Rashad Evans at UFC 114 knocked him back a notch. He could use this fight to propel him back into the title picture. Too bad for him he is fighting an opponent that is much better than he is. The only way I could see Jackson winning this fight is with a one punch knockout. This brings me to his opponent, the always tricky Lyoto Machida. The elusive karate master has always set up his attack based around not getting hit. My big question mark for Machida's return fight is how he would handle getting punched again. Some people become tentative and don't want to commit to attacking after they've been knocked out. Luckily for Machida he has fought exactly that way since he started fighting. Easy pick here, "Rampage" will stalk Machida just like he always does, just like Thiago Silva did, just like Machida wants him to. No doubt in my mind Machida wins this fight, the only question now is when. Machida via unanimous decision.
Geno - There is no way, I repeat, no way that Matt Hughes wins this fight. It's shocking to me that so many actually believe he stands a chance. What is it that he can do that will stop Penn? If he picks him up and slams him and works top control for three rounds, he might, and I stress that word, have a shot at taking a decision. I can't see him doing that without getting submitted and I can't see him even taking down the flexible and notoriously tough to drop Penn. There are just way too many ways for B.J. to win here and far too few for Hughes. Anything is possible, like Penn breaking a rib and gassing because of it, but I'm not counting on that happening. Penn via TKO in round 2.
Adam - Where to start.... Really? These guys are fighting again? Why? Didn't B.J. work him over twice? Wait, What? Crucifix? Gassed out? No way, not B.J. he would never do that. So B.J. "the gas master" Penn is fighting Matt "wrestle or die" Hughes. This fight hinges on one question, can B.J. finish Hughes within the first two rounds? If this fight goes to a third round I got Hughes but if Penn is on watch out. Not really much going on here other than the cardio of these two. Penn is better at every discipline of fighting. The only chance that Hughes has is by simply outlasting B.J. Penn via submission in the second round.
Geno - The lack of coverage for this fight is almost sad until you think about why that probably is. I'm sure the WEC-UFC merger has created enough new matchups that these two probably aren't fighting for anything even close to a title shot. Even though "Sots" has won six in a row and never lost in the UFC, he's going to have a take a step back, even with yet another win, to guys like Ben Henderson or Anthony Pettis. That's all well and good for us fans but it really sucks for these two. That said, I'm not inclined to think Sotiropoulos is going to win tonight anyway. Lauzon is motivated and totally healthy and after what he did to Gabe Ruedigar at UFC 118, I just can't pick against him. Lauzon via split decision.
Adam - Let me start this by saying that Joe Lauzon is a beast. When he is at his best he can do some amazing things and simply dominate his opponent. That being said, I don't think he stands a chance against Sotiropoulos. When someone has Jiu-Jitsu on the level that George does the way to beat them is with really good wresting or takedown defense and good striking. I don't think that Lauzon is a master at either one of these things. I expect Sotiropoulos to take him down, or even pull guard, and work that amazing BJJ. Sotiropoulos via first round submission.
Geno - It seems clear to me what this fight is. It's a tough(er) test for Davis but not a fight he should lose in any way, shape or form. That's not to take away from Boestsch, he's a very good fighter. But will he be able to withstand the relentless takedowns and control from "Mr. Wonderful?" I sincerely doubt it and you should too. Davis via submission in round 2.
Adam - How "wonderful" would it be to see some skills outside of wrestling from Phil Davis. Alas, it is not to be. Tim Boetsch is the much more rounded fighter but that will not help him against the amazing wrestling of "Mr. Wonderful." I think Davis will dominate this fight from start to finish. Unfortunately the style Phil Davis has will likely put the crowd to sleep. Unlike the crowd at the event I have actually timed my nap for the day to coincide with this fight so I should be good. Sleep tight everyone. Davis by unanimous decision.
Geno - "Big Rig" is not a fighter to take lightly if you're Gerald Harris. From what I understand, Falcao has really heavy hands and is a bit of a brawler. While Harris isn't immune to fighting that way, the smart thing for him to do will always be to use his wrestling. He's finished his last five fights by KO or TKO and who doesn't remember that unbelievable knockout slam he delivered to Dave Branch at UFC 116? I certainly don't. Harris via unanimous decision.
Adam - How many names does Maiquel Jose "Big Rig" Falcao Goncalves need. I'm pulling for Harris here because in order to cheer "Big Rig" on I would have to draw in the worlds largest breath. In all seriousness though the UFC newcomer may be an unknown to UFC fans but he should bring an exciting style to the big show. Through his 29 career fights only one has gone to a decision. The blood thirsty public should enjoy this match up. I expect big strikes from "Big Rig" followed by big takedowns from Harris. Despite his last big knockout, I think he will fight smart and attempt to outwrestle his double named opponent. Harris by unanimous decision.
Geno - Always liked Matt Brown and he's always brought fire to his fights inside the cage. I just wonder if he'll handle the pressure Foster will bring to the table in this fight. I'm thinking this is the exact kind of potential borefest you would think Spike would like to avoid. Foster will push him against the cage in attempts to take him down and if he gets him there, Brown will go balls out trying to grab a limb. Will he get the submission? Sure. Brown via submission in round 3.
Adam - What do these two have in common? They were both recently tapped out by Chris Lytle, a fighter known for his stand and bang style. These guys both got tapped by a banger? Wow, expect these two to stand toe to toe and slug for a finish. Going on a hunch because I don't know either guy particularly well but I am going with Foster here. Foster by second round TKO.
Geno - You know, based on the two fights set to air on Spike, the UFC could kill some potential buys for the show. These two have some serious potential to be the kind of plodding decisions not even the most hardcore of fans will put up with. Munoz has looked thoroughly unimpressive as of late and his gas tank is a serious issue. Simpson is a wrestler who will pressure him and I'm inclined to think Munoz will fall yet again. Simpson via unanimous decision.
Adam - Two wrestlers going at it here. I loved what I saw out of Simpson during the Leben fight even though he got stopped in the second round. He seems to have the skills to succeed long term in this sport. That being said I think he is running into a guy just like him yet further along in the fight game. I have trouble figuring out where Simpson can win this fight. It is a shame I hope he can rebound from two straight losses. Munoz via unanimous decision
Quick picks for the undercard after the jump.
Dennis Hallman vs Karo Parisyan
Geno - I really want Karo to beat his anxiety. Parisyan via TKO in round 2.
Adam - Parisyan via TKO in round 2.
Nik Lentz vs Tyson Griffin
Geno - Please use your takedown defense Tyson. Griffin via unanimous decision.
Adam - Griffin via decision.
Mike Lullo vs Edson Barboza
Geno - Maggie Hendricks FTW. Lullo via unanimous decision.
Adam - Barboza via decision.