We already had our UFC 123 mailbag, but you’d better believe that there is still a lot more to discuss regarding last Saturday’s event. Between what happened that night and what’s happened since, I have plenty to say on everything from a surprise cut from the UFC roster to whether Rampage will be next for a title shot.
What’s next for Rampage, Machida?
So, like it or not, there’s an extra tally in the “W” column for Quinton “Rampage” Jackson after his fight with Lyoto Machida. Also, if UFC matchmaking in the past has shown us anything, it’s that Rampage’s immediate future will pan out as if he had legitimately beaten Machida, whether or not the fans (or he himself) believe that that’s the case.
The thing is, I don’t know that he’s a clear number one contender. According to where I and many others had him and Machida ranked, it was clear that they were the best UFC light heavyweights besides Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Rashad Evans. However, those two won’t face off until later next year, and it’s unclear whether Rampage would face the winner for the title. My gut tells me that if Rashad was to win the fight, the UFC would be hesitant to put Evans and Rampage against one another right away again, but who knows?
In Machida’s case, the UFC could really go in just about any direction. There are plenty of interesting matchups to be made in the light heavyweight division for Machida, including fights against Forrest Griffin, Rich Franklin, Ryan Bader, Jon Jones, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and so on. Most of those fighters have their next opponents planned, but Machida could meet any one of them next year in what would be very compelling fights no matter what.
Don’t write Machida off already. Only a couple of fights ago, he was seen as an unbeatable champ, after all. While that assessment obviously wasn’t true (and it isn’t true for anyone, since everyone can be beaten), there’s a reason why he was so heavily hyped, and he’ll be back.
Time-keeping error robs Maiquel Falcao of a submission
It was pretty clear that Gerald Harris was in deep trouble in the closing seconds of his fight against UFC newcomer Maiquel Falcao at UFC 123. Falcao took his back and sunk in a rear naked choke with just a couple of seconds remaining, and then seemed to hold the choke in for a second or two after the round ended. That alone left Harris looking a little loopy, but imagine if he had been stuck in the choke for five or six extra seconds beyond that?
Well, apparently that should have been the case, as observant viewers have noted that the round was cut off several seconds too short, an error that has been acknowledged by both UFC employee Marc Ratner and Dana White himself. Ratner used to work with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, of course, and says that mistakes such as this one happen regularly. White agrees, and sympathized with Falcao, who definitely would have had a submission if the round had lasted as long as it should have.
Harris is the latest nonsensical cut from the UFC
Even worse yet, it seems that perhaps Harris would still have a spot on the UFC roster if he had been choked out in the first round instead of having lost a decision. After the fight, White commented that referees need to do a better job of keeping the action moving, even by penalizing fighters, if necessary. He seemed to be talking about the third round of the Harris-Falcao fight, which slowed down considerably for the third round and was met with plenty of boos.
Now, Harris had won his previous three fights in the UFC, and had been twice awarded with “Knockout of the Night” bonuses. Meanwhile, he was making his most high-profile appearance yet, fighting right in the middle of the main card. Why in the world would he be cut for losing his first UFC fight in four appearances? Just as with other head-scratching decisions like when Todd Duffee or Efrain Escudero were cut, you have to assume that it had to do with more than just the loss.
Plenty of fighters lose two or even more fights in a row and keep their jobs, after all. Alessio Sakara lost four out of six at one point, and he didn’t get cut. Between the strange and abrupt decision and White’s rant about fighters not fighting hard enough, you’d have to think that Harris’ inactivity cost him his job. Again, though, this is strange because plenty of fighters have gone out there and laid an egg without being tossed out of the organization.
Perhaps if White or anyone else in the UFC would start explaining why these fighters are being cut while others with worse records are being retained, we would be able to stop speculating. I’m sure White gets annoyed with writers and fans assuming reasons as to why good fighters are being cut, but if he isn’t going to be forthcoming about the decisions, what else are we to do?
–I hope that we see George Sotiropoulos and Joe Lauzon fight at least one more at some point, because it was a great bout while it lasted. Both fighters have been very impressive, and the best thing I can say about Sotiropoulos at this point is that it is very hard to assess his ceiling right now. He’s looked so dominant in the majority of his fights that he deserves a serious step up in competition, and soon.
–Along those lines, what else can be said about Phil Davis right now? He’s developing at the speed that he should be, but it is definitely hard to resist wanting to see him thrown into deeper waters right away, just so we can see him get a real test. He’s going to be very, very good.
–You have to feel for Tyson Griffin right now. He’s curtain-jerking now on the first fight of the prelims in front of a half-empty arena after winning roughly two dozen performance bonuses for putting on exciting fights, and even then he can’t even get a fair shake on a decision. Everyone was talking about Rampage-Machida, but by most accounts, Griffin was the real robbery victim on Saturday night. Sadly, there’s one on just about every MMA show nowadays.
Tags: Alessio Sakara, Dana White, Efrain Escudero, George Sotiropoulos, Gerald Harris, Joe Lauzon, Lyoto Machida, Maiquel Falcao, Nik Lentz, Phil Davis, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson, Todd Duffee, Tyson Griffin, UFC, UFC 123