Monday's "UFC 123 Countdown: Rampage vs. Machida" took a look at the top three fights at Saturday's "UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida" card from The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich. We start out with the light-heavyweight bout between Quinton Jackson and Lyoto Machida, then move on to the welterweight clash between Matt Hughes and B.J. Penn and finish up with a lightweight tilt between George Sotiropoulos and Joe Lauzon
The show opens with, quite frankly, a real bad ass video montage highlighting the strengths of the four main event fighters. We are told right off the bat that being former light-heavyweight champions is the only thing Machida and Jackson have in common.
Jackson says he has 38 fights and he doesn't expect to be surprised by Machida. MMA legend Tiki notes we found out karate sucks years ago. Machida says he doesn't think Rampage can find him. Jackson says they have something for Machida.
Joe Rogan says Rampage needs a big win in this fight. Machida says the key will be finding out who can impose their game plan. Rampage says Machida needs to avoid even getting in the cage with him.
To read what happened during the rest of the show, follow us after the jump!
We get back from break and we're told Jackson is not training in England this time but instead in Orange County, California because he has kids he hasn't seen. He says his kids ask him in Japanese "are you my daddy?"
Machida is in San Diego at the Black House gym instead of Brazil because of the lack of quality training partners at his usual spot in Belem, Brazil. Machida's brother says Machida's confidence has risen.
Rampage says people don't pay him to be elusive, they pay him to fight, so he's going to fight. "It's Ultimate Fighting Championships, not Ultimate Elusive Guy," he says. We are told Machida's camp believes he is better on the ground. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira says Machida can take care of Rampage there. Machida emphasizes that just one area of the game isn't going to win him the fight.
Back to Tiki, who's comedy this time is that Machida is going to walk right through Machida and put him to sleep. And that's the last highlight of our main event segment.
We move forward to our co-main event of the evening between Hughes and Penn. Rogan is excited. Both men are feeling it, too.
Our initial focus is Hughes taking on his fourth straight BJJ black belt. Hughes says Penn is unorthodox and it'd be nice to have a Penn clone in camp, but that's just not possible.
We get the standard line of "an in-shape, motivated BJ Penn is a bad dude" from Rogan. We're told Penn has turned to Eastern medicine. He's seeing an acupuncturist.
We now get the tale of the two fights between the two. At UFC 46, Penn had only eight fights and Hughes, in his own words, "was the big man on campus." Penn says he looked up to Hughes and asked Dana White for the fight. Hughes says he was licking his chops when he got the call that a 155-pounder wanted to fight him.
Hughes said he thought he'd overwhelm Penn, "but it didn't happen that way."
Hughes said after that fight, he stayed three more days in Las Vegas despite not being a Vegas person to think about things because "it just wasn't supposed to happen that way."
After a break, we're told how Penn left the UFC after winning the title and how Hughes regained the belt. Hughes says he bided his time and waited for his rematch with Penn, which came at UFC 63 in September 2006.
Hughes talks about his difficulty taking Penn down and when he did get him down in the second round, Penn reversed him and locked in a triangle armbar. Hughes admits he was in a bad spot but knew there wasn't much time left in the round. Hughes says he actually prayed to God to get him to the third round.
Penn admits he was "pretty done already" heading into the third round. We see Hughes finish Penn and Hughes says that was one of his greatest victories.
Hughes says he doesn't expect this fight to be much different from the second one, but does admit it depends on which BJ comes to fight. Hughes says this fight means a lot more. Penn says he has a score to settle and is going to jump on him from the opening bell and won't stop until the job is done.
That's it for the co-main event, so we move on to the scrap between Sotiropoulos and Lauzon. Rogan calls them two of the most young and exciting 155-pound contenders out there.
We talk about Lauzon's domination of Gabe Ruediger in August and get some background on Lauzon, who says he gets his work ethic from his dad.
We hear about Lauzon's background in computers and video games and how he got into jiu-jitsu. He went pro in early 2004 and then came to the UFC to fight Jens Pulver at UFC 63, which of course he won. We see Lauzon's journey on "The Ultimate Fighter 5" where he was apart of Penn's team.
Lauzon went to Hawaii after the show where he was "destroyed" by Penn's team and really improved. We see Lauzon's rise through the division and back to the Ruediger fight.
Another break and we come back and it's Sotiropoulos time. He says his fascination began with UFC 1. He came from Australia to Los Angeles and then around the world, gaining all the experiences he could. He went through some interesting times to get to where he is.
After being on "The Ultimate Fighter 6," Sotiropoulos started in the UFC officially. He had a few fights before really bursting on the scene at UFC 110 in his home country against Joe Stevenson. He continued his run against Kurt Pellegrino at UFC 116 to move to 6-0 in the UFC.
Rogan says this is an outstanding matchup. Lauzon likes how he matches up with Sotiropoulos. Rogan puts Lauzon over. Sotiropoulos says he knows he has to be on his game.
Sotiropoulos says he's better than Lauzon in every aspect of the game. Lauzon says it's going to come to do who can push harder for longer. Rogan says he can't see this being anything other than a barnburner.