MAIN EVENT: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Lyoto Machida
This matchup pits two former champions in the light-heavyweight division against each other. Both fighters are desperately in need of a win, and it just so happens that the winner should be in line for the next shot at the title.
Machida is coming off of an embarrassing knockout loss to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. The dominant performance by Rua earned him the light-heavyweight title and gave Machida his first loss, causing Machida to contemplate retirement.
Rampage is 5-2 in the UFC, but his two losses came at the worst possible time. He lost to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86, thus dropping his 205-pound title, and he then lost to archrival Rashad Evans after a lengthy buildup and years of trash talk.
Rampage has knockout power, but I don't see him being quick enough to locate Machida's head with his fist on a consistent basis. Machida's takedown defense is amazing and will neutralize Jackson's wrestling skills. I do, however, think the fight will go to the judges.
MACHIDA by Decision (Parrino)
Rampage is not what he was in his prime and Machida will take control of the fight from the opening bell. Jackson will have his outbursts in the stand-up game, but he will eventually succumb to Machida on the mat.
MACHIDA by Submission (Carr)
Co-MAIN EVENT: Matt Hughes vs. B.J. Penn
This deciding match in a historic trilogy is a great secondary main event.
Penn, labeled the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world before two straight loses to current lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, is in desperate need of something positive. The last time Penn met Hughes, he got crucifixed and punched in the face until "Big" Jon McCarthy stepped in to stop the fight.
Hughes has won three straight fights, but the competition has been somewhat of a joke. His last two challenges came against Thiago Alves and UFC welterweight champion George St. Pierre. Both of those fights were losses for Hughes. Penn is going to test Hughes, and we will all find out if Hughes can still be a factor at 170 pounds.
Hughes obviously poses a threat to Penn in this fight. Penn has struggled with bigger fighters historically, but this, in my opinion, is a different B.J. Penn. He is coming off of two embarrassing losses, and he is motivated to send a message to the MMA world. He will find a way, on the ground or standing, to finish this fight.
PENN by Submission (Parrino)
Hughes' age will be exposed by a motivated B.J. Penn. Penn is fresh off of two losses to Frankie Edgar and will come out ready to take the fight to the ground. Hughes, while very skilled and physical on the ground, will fall into one of Penn's "traps" and end up tapping the mat.
PENN by Submission (Carr)
Gerald Harris vs. Maiquel Falcao
Harris looks to improve on his undefeated record in the UFC against a relative unknown in Falcao. Falcao reportedly has some power and looks to be ready to burst onto the MMA scene. Look for a knockout in this fight unless Harris can get the newcomer to the ground.
PREDICTION: FALCAO by Knockout (Parrino and Carr)
Phil Davis vs. Tim Boetsch
Davis is 7-0 in his career and 3-0 in the UFC, and he has been a nightmare for opponents on the ground. Boetsch has won four straight fights, but this will be a step up in competition. Look for Davis to get this fight to the ground and finish Boetsch via punches.
PREDICTION: DAVIS by TKO (Parrino and Carr)
George Sotiropoulos vs. Joe Lauzon
This battle of former Ultimate Fighter participants could win fight-of-the-night honors. The winner will elevate his name into the top contenders at 155 pounds. Sotiropoulos has won seven straight fights and hasn't lost since leaving the show. If he takes Lauzon lightly, he'll be in big trouble Saturday night.
PREDICTION: LAUZON by TKO (Parrino) SOTIROPOULOS by Knockout (Carr)