UFC 123 provided for an extremely entertaining fight card. The main card featured UFC legend Matt Hughes vs. former lightweight champion B.J. Penn as the co-main event and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Lyoto Machida. The event drew 16,404 people to The Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit. So after UFC 123, what is next for many of these UFC fighters? Many questions arise from Matt Hughes getting knocked out to the controversial decision given to Rampage Jackson.
Matt Hughes went into his fight with B.J. Penn with plenty of momentum behind him after winning three straight fights. B.J. Penn went in with two consecutive losses to Frankie Edgar. This was a must-win for both fighters. As Hughes said, “If I were to lose this fight with B.J., it’s losing three fights. But if I win this fight, it’s like winning three fights.” Unfortunately for Hughes, Penn came out on top by a flash knock out in the first round. Penn ended the fight in just 21 seconds.
For Penn the future is somewhat simple. He looked like the Penn who was a champion, not the Penn seen against Frankie Edgar. He is scheduled to face Jon Fitch in UFC 127. Penn will obviously be looking to get his lightweight belt back and show Dana White and the UFC he has not slowed down, even though Jon Fitch is fighting welterweight. His fight against Jon Fitch is another must win to prove his fights against Edgar did not display the fighter he currently is. These welterweight fights do raise the question if Penn is making another run to fight Georges St. Pierre (GSP) which would be very interesting, as there seems to be nobody who can stop GSP at this point of his career.
Hughes’ career is in jeopardy following his loss. The legitimacy of his three win streak can also be questioned now. He beat a Renzo Gracie who was in terrible cardiovascular shape and a Matt Serra, who has now lost 3 of his last 4 fights. After the fight Hughes was seen asking his corner “What happened?” He was completely out of it. After the fight he was quoted as saying “I had a lot on the line. This was a huge fight for me. To be honest, I don’t know what goes on now”, hinting at possible retirement. I can’t picture Hughes going on to fight any longer in the UFC.
As for the main event, with Machida and Jackson, this fight raised many questions. Not about the fighters, but the fight itself. Dana White has said that Jackson won the fight and there will not be a rematch, despite Jackson being surprised about the win and both fighters agreeing to a rematch immediately after the decision. Both the judges and White agreed Jackson won the first two rounds with Machida taking the third. But the problem I see with this is that Machida won the third round in a dominant fashion. Jackson did win the second round, but I feel that the first round could have gone either way, and in my head I gave it to Machida. For this reason I feel a rematch should have at least been considered.
For Jackson this means he will continue to fight opponents in the light heavyweight division and attempt to make another title run, but there are a few more questions for Machida. He has now lost two straight fights. I don’t see this loss being too much of a drawback for Machida though. I expect him to make a strong comeback from the controversial loss and continue to be a strong opponent for anyone he fights.
More MMA news for aftermath of UFC 123: Gerald Harris was released after his loss to Maiquel Falcao in a heavily booed, boring fight. Also Phil Davis remains undefeated at 8-0 and received an $80,000 bonus for submission of the night. I expect to see Davis fight a big name fighter next.