In a battle of former light-heavyweight champions, Quinton Jackson will meet Lyoto Machida in the main event of "UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida" at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich. Here is MMA For Real's preview of the fight:
Record: 30-8-0 overall, 5-2-0 UFC
Key wins: Ricardo Arona (PRIDE Critical Countdown 2004), Matt Lindland (WFA: King of the Streets), Chuck Liddell (UFC 71), Dan Henderson (UFC 75),
Key losses: Wanderlei Silva (PRIDE Final Conflict 2003, PRIDE 28), Mauricio Rua (PRIDE Total Elimination 2005), Forrest Griffin (UFC 86), Rashad Evans (UFC 114)
How he got here: A long-time standout in PRIDE, Rampage Jackson was a fighter who couldn't win the big one against top competition when it mattered most. Then he came to the United States and the UFC. In his second UFC fight, Jackson knocked out Chuck Liddell to become the UFC light-heavyweight champion. In his second fight, he unified both the UFC and PRIDE belts by decisioning Dan Henderson in a tremendous fight. But a 10-month layoff caused him to be rusty and he lost his belt to Forrest Griffin by decision at UFC 86. After some personal issues, Jackson returned at UFC 92 and knocked out rival Wanderlei Silva in the first round. He followed that up with a decision win against Keith Jardine and looked primed for a title shot against Rashad Evans, but a jaw injury prevented that and the shot when to his UFC 123 opponent, Lyoto Machida, instead. After coaching on "The Ultimate Fighter 10" opposite Evans and having a planned fight at UFC 107, Jackson took time off from fighting — even announcing his retirement at one point — to make "The A-Team" movie. He finally returned to action against Evans in the long-awaited clash at UFC 114, losing by decision. For Jackson to climb back to the top, this is an absolute must-win fight.
How he gets it done: Jackson is a boxer and a wrestler that combined both those skills well. Of his 30 wins, 14 have come by KO or TKO, nine by decision and seven by submission. Even though he has seven submissions on his record, they are not apart of his game. He hasn't had one since 2003 (due to strikes) and hasn't pulled off a true submission maneuver since 2001. To his credit, Jackson has only been submitted once, by Kazushi Sakuraba, and that was in his PRIDE debut. Jackson has the ability to do damage with his fists both standing and on the ground. Kicking, though, has never been much part of his game and we saw that exposed in a big way against Griffin.
Did you know: This UFC 123 fight will be Jackson's sixth main event fight in the UFC.
Record: 16-1-0 overall, 8-1 UFC
Key wins: Rich Franklin (Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003), Thiago Silva (UFC 94), Rashad Evans (UFC 98), Mauricio Rua (UFC 104)
Key loss: Mauricio Rua (UFC 113)
How he got here: For the first 15 fights of his career, Lyoto Machida looked invincible. He'd been hit less than any fighter in UFC history and seemed to be reaching his stride after dynamically knocking out both Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans. Then Mauricio "Shogun" Rua got in the way. The two met at UFC 104 and Machida won a close decision that many thought Machida won. The problem, though, was that, even in defeat, Shogun showed the world Machida wasn't invincible. In a rematch at UFC 113, Rua finished the job, knocking Machida into next year in the first round. Now Machida must put his first career loss behind him in a tough fight against another former world champion.
How he gets it done: A karate expert, Machida uses powerful and effective distance striking to his advantage. Machida is no slouch on the ground either, where he is a BJJ black belt, although he has rarely been forced to use those skills in a fight. Of his 16 wins, nine have come by decision, five by KO or TKO and two by decision.
Did you know: Both of Machida's UFC knockouts have earned "Knockout of the Night" honors.
Bottom line: This is an extremely interesting fight that could be won by either fighter. So far, only one man has had the answer for Machida's style. Can Rampage find the combination, and even if he does, is he going to have enough of a gas tank to do anything with it? Machida, though, has his own issues. How will he respond to being knocked out for the first time? Both men have the tools to win this fight, it's just going to be a matter of who can exert their will on the other. The saying always goes "styles make fights." I think Shogun was just a bad matchup for Machida and he'll rebound here with a decision win. Jackson has never been one to jump in, which is what he's going to have to do against Machida. We know Jackson has a good chin and it takes one hell of a beating to finish him with strikes, so all signs point to Machida on points.
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