With UFC 123 only a matter of hours away, most factors have been taken into consideration and there is no better time than now to make some bets, or predictions. Join me as I take a look at tonight’s card and give you a breakdown of who I would put money on, and why.
George Sotiropoulos is walking into this bout as the superior grappler, as well as an advantage in size and strength. Even though Joe Lauzon has the upper hand in terms of striking, this fight will likely end up on the ground. Everywhere I read, people are saying “don’t underestimate Lauzon’s knockout power”. I don’t believe anybody is underestimating it, and I think the last person to do so is Sotiropoulos. He’s been training for this fight for well over two months now and the game plan he has going into tonight is likely to avoid Lauzon’s superior striking and to take the fight to the ground. Sotiropoulos will utilize his 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu skills to outclass Lauzon on the ground and will win the bout by submission.
In what should be the fight of the night AND the deserving main-event of the evening, both BJ Penn and Matt Hughes have something to prove. For BJ Penn, it’s to prove that his career as a title contender is not over. After suffering from two straight losses against Frankie Edgar, he made the move to the welterweight division and is looking to get right back on top tonight in attempting to defeat Matt Hughes. If BJ Penn can win, he is once again a money making name and is back in the UFC Elite. For Matt Hughes, it’s the opportunity to once again be mentioned with the UFC Elite. On a three fight win streak, Hughes is on his way to the top of the welterweight division with his most important and impressive win being over Ricardo Almeida. Almeida is no slouch and is a threat to the UFC Welterweight division and the fact that Hughes handled him so calm is scary. A win for both men means that they are in the run for a UFC title shot.
Walking into the octagon as the heavier man, Matt Hughes will look to use that to his advantage throughout the fight. With it being documented that Penn is walking into the fight very light, this will give him a disadvantage in the grappling contest. Hughes will use his body weight and pressure on top to stop Penn from sweeping him and making transitions into a dominant position. On the feet however, BJ Penn is the superior striker as Hughes often likes to think he is something he’s not: a solid striker. Penn often shows more killer instinct on the feet, with his best example being against Diego Sanchez. Tonight, I believe Matt Hughes will use nice and simple combinations to set up takedowns and will squeeze out a decision victory.
In the main event, we have two fighters looking to re-establish themselves as threats in the light heavyweight division. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has gone on record saying that he believes Lyoto Machida‘s style is “boring and puts me to sleep”. For the pure entertainment of the crowd, Rampage has also gone on record saying that he will be the aggressor this fight and will attack Machida from the opening horn for the pure entertainment of the crowd.
The last time someone was the aggressor against Lyoto Machida was Thiago Silva at UFC 94. Thiago Silva’s approach was that if he backs Machida into the corner of the octagon, there will be nowhere for him to go. Machida was 100% prepared for Silva’s aggressive mindset and repeatedly took him down with trips, throws and takedowns in the first round. Whenever Silva tried to stand and bang, Machida would dodge his strike and knock him down with a vicious counter punch. The fight eventually ended with Machida knocking Silva out. My point is if Rampage opts to pressure Machida from jumpstreet, it will once again be Machida’s style that puts Rampage to sleep.
Lyoto Machida (-250) will defeat Rampage Jackson (+200) (KO) ($10 will win you $4.00)
Matt Hughes (+140) will defeat BJ Penn (-170) (Decision) ($10 will win you $14.00)
George Sotiropoulos will defeat Joe Lauzon (Submission) ($10 will win you $4.65)
FOTN will go to Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn (+335) ($10 will win you $33.50)
Tags: B.J. Penn, Bettor Breakdown, George Sotiropoulos, Joe Lauzon, Lyoto Machida, Matt Hughes, Mixed Martial Arts, quinton rampage jackson, UFC 123