By Jason Kelly
Knockouts to submissions, upsets to the inevitable controversial judging, UFC 123 was a remarkable night of fights that should leave many of the losers even being proud of their performances. Even though the fights were spectacular, some winners won more than others.
BJ Penn knocked Matt Hughes out of reality in a mere 21 seconds. It was a win BJ needed desperately, and Penn wasted no time getting after it. The win was great for Penn but, the duration of the fight was short lived therefore, it gave no indication of how BJ has changed as a fighter. BJ expressed that he wants to fight as soon as possible after he defeated Hughes and Dana White conceded. Penn’s next fight will be at UFC 127 against Jon Fitch. If Penn beats Fitch that will put him in title contention and Jake Shields risks being railroaded. That could set up a Shields vs. Penn bout, or relinquish Shields’ title shot to set up BJ vs. Georges St. Pierre/ Josh Koscheck winner. There is no predicting what Dana White will do. Regardless, Penn has a big fight against Fitch next and the questions will remain, Is BJ motivated and in shape?, Is BJ training hard enough?, and so on. The most significant question is; can BJ stop the grind of Fitch? We will have to wait and see, not only see the fight but, see the fighter BJ Penn has became, again.
The main event hosted two former world champions in Quinton “rampage” Jackson and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. I thought the fight was fantastic but, as for the judging, I will let you debate amongst yourselves about that topic. No matter how many fans think Rampage did not win, according to the scorecards he did, which opens a lot of doors for Rampage. The obvious opportunity of a title fight for the light heavyweight belt is in discussion but, there has been no mention of it from UFC president Dana White. I would not be surprised if Rampage was matched up with the winner of Jon Jones vs. Ryan Bader, and that’s a match up I would take pleasure in seeing. I think anytime there is a possibility of seeing Jon Jones fight, people become excited and if Jones got a chance to fight a legend like Rampage, you can guarantee fireworks. Rampage looked incredible against Machida and if he continues his ways of old, Rampage will be a great opponent for any top 205 pound fighter.
Gerald Harris has been tearing opponents apart and slamming them to unconsciousness which made Harris a sure fire favorite in his battle against new comer Maiquel Jose Falcao. Man, did Falcao spoil Harris’ night. The Chute Box fighter came out aggressive and fast against Harris, Falcao showed a great ground game as well and avoided a potential fight ending slam from Harris. Falcao did show signs of confusion and safe playing in the third round which may have been for that exact reason, to play it safe or, it could have been UFC jitters from his first fight in the famed Octagon. Either way Falcao was outstanding and destroyed a great opponent in Harris. A win like this definitely kick starts Falcao’s UFC career and has fans wanting to see him fight again.
Every win is a big win for a fighter but, sometimes a fighter gains a little extra with a win. All the winners from UFC 123 have much to be proud of and will return to the cage against tougher opponents. And I look forward to seeing all of them.