UFC 123 Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs Lyoto Machida: Beyond the Controversy
In the wake of UFC 123, most of the talk has been centered on BJ Penn, or the controversy over the decision in the main event between Lyoto Machida and Rampage Jackson.
Very little has yet been said about the main event fight itself, aside from how to judge it, or what it all means going forward. Let's take a look.
When Jackson entered the cage to the music of Pride FC, many Pride fans felt a surge of emotion in remembrance. By the way Jackson fought, it seems like he himself might also still have some passion for the sport.
During the build-up to UFC 123 it appeared as if Jackson was doing little more than coming to collect a paycheck. It should have been a pleasant surprise to see that Jackson looked much better in this fight than he did against either Rashad Evans or Keith Jardine.
He also fought with a good gameplan, cutting off the cage, and effectively stopping Machida from being able to pick him apart at range, which contrasted from the prefight talk where Jackson spoke as if he'd already resigned himself to losing.
Jackson may not be as focused as some of the other contenders in the division, but because of his physical gifts, he's still very dangerous at this stage, and is still a threat to almost anybody in the UFC's light heavyweight division.
Jackson's postfight admission that he thought he lost the fight was not exactly something new for the man who once tried to give his winner's trophy away following a controversial win over Murilo Rua. Still, it's nice to see that kind of display of honesty and sportsmanship.
After the way Machida was knocked out by Mauricio Rua, there was a lot of talk about how well Machida would react to suck a violent defeat.
Despite losing the decision, there should be a ton of positives to take out of Machida's performance.
Many people thought that Rua had solved Machida's elusive style, and that others could now take advantage. Even though Machida lost to Jackson, he still proved to be pretty elusive. According to Fightmetric.com, Jackson landed a total of 6 strikes (3 power strikes), from striking distance, as compared to 26 strikes (20 power strikes) landed by Machida from range.
When Machida was hit though, it was also good to see that he was able to take Jackson's best shots clean on the chin without seeming too much worse for it. That should silence some of the critics who doubted Machida's chin.
Aside from the striking, people should also come away from UFC 123 finally giving Machida some respect for his grappling. Although Jackson was able to get a takedown, Machida effectively neutralized him. When Machida took Jackson down, he was able to control him with ease.
Had Machida not taken the risk of going for the armbar, he probably could have remained on top of Jackson as long as he wanted. At the end of the fight, Machida also displayed some nice BJJ skills from the bottom, transitioning from a leglock attempt to a nice control position from guard.
Hopefully people start realizing that Machida isn't just some anomaly, and aside from having an interesting style, he's also one of the most well-rounded guys in the division.
When the decision was read and Machida found out he lost, he looked disappointed, but he also looked relieved.
Machida had talked previously of feeling a lot of pressure in recent fights. Hopefully coming away with a good performance in a loss will take away some of the pressure, even though back-to-back losses leaves him in somewhat of a dangerous position within the UFC.
Beyond The Decision
If we're willing to accept that if we split enough hairs, Jackson may have "won" two rounds to Machida's one, I still don't believe that Jackson truly did enough to earn a 10-9 margin in either of his rounds.
At least one 10-10 round would have been more suitable.
Unfortunately, even though it is possible for a judge to score a 10-10 round, they're heavily discouraged from doing so by UFC brass like UFC VP Marc Ratner.
In order to score a fight like last weekend's Rampage vs. Machida properly, judges need to have the best possible tools at their disposal. The current judging system, combined with the discouraging of 10-10 rounds, made this nearly impossible.
Many people have advocated a 0.5 point scoring system, while others have just encouraged a more liberal use of 10-8 and 10-7 rounds. While the judges themselves are often to blame for poor decisions, the system itself still needs improvement. The UFC's contempt for 10-10 round scoring is also not helping matters.
The other thought coming out of the fight is that a fight of this caliber should be contested over five full rounds. I completely agree with this sentiment.
It's no accident that many of the greatest fights in MMA history have been contested over five rounds. The extra rounds allow for far more drama than can develop over three rounds. Thus, having more five round fights can only lead to having more great fights.
Nearly everyone thought that a rematch between Jackson and Machida would be a good idea.
With nearly every other elite light-heavyweight already scheduled to fight in the early months of the new year, a rematch between Jackson and Machida seems to make a ton of sense.
Unless your name is Dana White.
Dana White On The Rematch
Sometimes White likes a rematch, and sometimes he doesn't. In this particular case, he chose to back up his opinion by saying that he thought that Jackson 100% won the fight, and that no rematch was necessary to settle the score, and even went so far as to back the opinions of two of the judges.
I can't read White's mind, but whenever it comes time to analyze what he says, you may as well throw out his argument, and go straight to his motives.
When it comes to Dana White, the key motivating factor is almost always business. If White thought that a rematch between Jackson and Machida was the most marketable option, then that's the road he would have taken.
Instead, because White does not favor a rematch, it's safe to say that either he doesn't think a rematch is marketable, or, he already has a plan lined up for Jackson that he thinks is more marketable.
Jackson vs. Evans II?