UFC 123 was a very solid card on paper and other than a few disappointing moments turned out to be just as solid an event in action. From the preliminary bouts through the main event there was something redeeming and positive in every bout. Let's take a look at the key takeaways from the event:
- Quinton Jackson and Lyoto Machida met in the main event that was decided by a split decision. There are certain obvious limitations to the 10-point must system but it isn't going to change any time soon. So when neither fighter is able to make a clear case for two rounds it's hard to argue that a decision is a "robbery." When the decision went Jackson's way there really was no way to feel sorry for Machida. Lyoto simply did not make his case in the first two rounds, regardless of how impressive his performance in the third round was.
- The real issue with the fight wasn't the judging, it's that two former champions are meeting in a three round fight. These are two men who have proved that they're capable of fighting at the highest level in the sport and have fought in five rounders in the past. There is no excuse for not having this as a five round fight. Two more rounds and there would have been much more chance for there to be a clear victor. Something needs to change where the UFC is willing to feature high level fighters in five rounders regardless of if a belt is on the line.
- As I talked to various media members this week most seemed interested in talking about B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes finishing their trilogy that started way back at UFC 46. Hughes had picked up three wins in a row, Penn had been dominant for years against everyone but Georges St. Pierre and Frankie Edgar. The fight still felt relevant and it was absolutely a historic moment as a major chapter in MMA history was going to be completed. And then Penn came out and blitzed Hughes, knocking him out in just over twenty seconds. It was shockingly quick, but strangely satisfying.
- Heavy MMA reported that Dana White said Penn would face Jon Fitch at UFC 127 in Australia in the main event. I assume that would be a title eliminator but after what we saw the last time both Penn and Fitch got a shot at Georges St. Pierre, there isn't a lot of doubt regarding how that fight plays out.
- Maiquel Falcao made an impressive debut against Gerald Harris but sadly decided to sit back and coast for the third round knowing he'd already built a lead. It ruined an impressive performance by turning an aggressive fighter into a play-it-safe guy who went from someone who you couldn't miss his next fight to someone who will likely see the untelevised undercard next time out.
- Phil Davis is really, really damn good. I wish I had more to offer than that but it's hard to say anything beyond that he is an amazing athlete who has improved his game every time out. Jon Jones vs. Phil Davis is just an incredible fight that is going to happen somewhere down the road.
- George Sotiropoulos may end up being the ultimate answer to questions of what top quality fighters were produced after season three of The Ultimate Fighter. He has proven utterly dominant even as his quality of opposition has increased. In Joe Lauzon he faced a quality fighter skilled in multiple areas of the sport. Lauzon came out hard and did his best to use pressure and accurate striking to disrupt Sotiropoulos but in the end it only served to tire out Lauzon and open the door for George to take over in round 2 and get the finish.
We will continue to have much more on the fallout from this event over the next few days.
Photo via Tracy Lee for Yahoo! Sports