UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida Preview

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (30-8-0) vs. Lyoto Machida (16-1-0)

These two former light heavyweight champions collide off dramatic losses. Though neither has fallen far from the top of the division, they also have limited time to return to the pinnacle, as guys like Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin will soon be joined by emerging stars Jon Jones, Ryan Bader and Phil Davis in the chase for “Shogun” Rua’s crown.

Stylistically, this is a very interesting pairing, as the raw power of Jackson is capable of ending anyone’s night, including Machida. The problem – and hook here – is that you have to connect for that power to mean anything, and no one is better at avoiding danger than “The Dragon.” Machida is the quicker of the two, and probably the more well-rounded on the ground should the fight happen to find its way there, so it will be on Jackson to make his own opportunities. All that depends on what kind of shape Jackson shows up in.

If “Rampage” really has been as focused on this fight as reports have indicated, than the former Pride champion has a legitimate chance of getting back in the win column. Rua showed that Machida is capable of being put to sleep with a well-placed punch, and Jackson has thrown a few of his own over the years. Out of shape, however, Machida will be able to stick-and-move, scoring points at will while handing Jackson a second-consecutive loss.

The outlook for Machida is much more simplistic; if he can avoid getting dropped, he should earn his 17th win in 18 attempts. Depending on who emerges from next year’s title fight between Evans and Rua, a win could also earn Machida a title shot if Evans manages to wrest the belt away from the injured current champion.

Machida is still the elusive and dangerous fighter who inspired Joe Rogan to proclaim the beginning of “The Machida Era” when he earned the light heavyweight title, so while the belt is no longer around his waist and the almost untouchable aura that once existed is gone, he’s still one of the most talent fighters in the world, regardless of weight class.

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