UFC 123 post-fight news, notes & quotes…
— 16,404 attendees piled into The Palace at Auburn Hills for a $2.1 million gate
— BJ Penn earned an extra $80,000 for flattening Matt Hughes 21 seconds into the first round. Meanwhile, Phil Davis was awarded the “Submission of the Night” for his “Mr. Wonderful” submission. George Sotiropoulos and Joe Lauzon earned “Fight of the Night” honors for their thrilling lightweight bout.
— Rampage Jackson looked fine in the cage last night, but little did we know, he almost didn’t even make it there. He caught a bug from his son earlier in the week and almost backed out of the fight.
“None of you guys know this, but this fight was almost canceled a few days ago because I caught a fever from my son and was throwing up and everything and had to cut weight,” he said. “I was like, ‘I almost didn’t make it to the fight.’ But I didn’t want to let my fans down. I really wanted to come in and do everything I had and give it my all since Detroit was so pumped for this fight.”
— If you’re an old PRIDE fan, your ears probably perked up during Rampage’s ring entrance as the PRIDE theme blasted over the arena’s loud speakers. Rampage said he felt a little sentimental after going on tour in Japan to promote The A-Team.
“I just recently went to Japan on the ‘The A-Team’ tour. One of the people interviewing me remembered me from Pride. Back in Pride I used to fight a different style, and he asked me why I didn’t fight like that anymore,” said Jackson. “When I first came to the UFC, I felt like an outsider. In Pride, everybody knew me and loved me. Honestly, I make more money now than I did in Pride. I think I kind of got greedy, so I wanted to come out with that old spirit. I almost slammed Machida, so I think it kind of worked.”
— As for the fight, Dana White wasn’t too happy with Rampage telling the crowd that Machida whooped his ass. He thought Rampage won the first two rounds and deserved the decision.
“‘Rampage’ and I are getting along, but he’s pissing me off again,” White said after the event. “I had ‘Rampage’ winning that fight two rounds to one. … I scored that fight for ‘Rampage.’ He is slumping down and holding up the other guy’s hand and acting like he lost. I thought he won.”
Rampage explained why he was surprised when Bruce Buffer announced him as the winner.
“My trainers are in there and told me I won the fight. But when I was in the fight, I just had a one-track mind to knock him out. In the third round, he came at me so much, I forget what happened in the first two rounds. … It’s one of those things where at the time I thought I was getting my ass whooped because I was just on the ground taking a flurry to my face.”
Dana White isn’t sure what’s next for Rampage, but it’s not going to be an immediate rematch with Lyoto Machida.
— It was a good night for BJ Penn in Detroit. He chalked up his explosive performance to wanting to prove he was still motivated to win in MMA.
“I wanted him to hit me, and I wanted to hit him,” said Penn, who moved up a weight class after losing his belt and a rematch to current champ Frankie Edgar earlier this year. “I was just in the mindset to fight like a kid. I got into this to fight, and I know a lot of people have been questioning if I was motivated or I wanted to do this. I really wanted to come out and show everyone my fighting spirit.”
That he did, and Dana White was impressed with what he saw.
“I think he looks good at 170 (pounds),” White said of Penn. “When he walked into the octagon tonight, he had that crazy, talking to himself, swearing to himself, hyped up (mentality). He had that energy, and he looked hyped up.”
Penn will stay at 170 for now and already has a big headlining fight lined up against Jon Fitch at UFC 127. Penn seems to be happy about it. He just wants to get back in the cage as soon as possible, and doesn’t care who stands across from him. He’s 31 now and plans to keep fighting until he’s 35 and maybe then, he’ll call it quits.
— Dana White wasn’t sure what the Penn loss meant for Matt Hughes’ future. As someone who helped build the company though, Dana doesn’t have any plans to let him go.
“Listen, there are guys I’ve talked about for years who helped build this company, and Matt is one of those guys,” said White. “We’ll talk and we’ll figure it out.”
— When Dana White said he was giving Karo Parisyan one last chance, he wasn’t just talking about Karo making it to the fight. Karo needed to win too.
“Karo Parisyan’s going to have to figure out the next chapter of his life,” White said in the post-fight press conference.
“People asked why I brought him back and everything else,” White said. “I get in these positions where I sit her telling you, ‘you’re fighting for your UFC life.’ Then I have guys like Karo Parisyan who have put on a lot of great fights for me over the years. And he falls upon hard times. I’m not going to sit here like a goof and pat myself on the back but I’ve done a lot of things for him. He’s texting me and calling me and I said, “Alright, I’ll give this guy one more chance.”
“I’d never put a guy in harm’s way,” he said. “I’d never put a guy in the UFC who I didn’t think could compete at this level. Karo came in tonight and proved that he can’t compete at this level anymore.”
Dana later clarified with Ariel Helwani that they will in fact let Karo go.
— Karo Parisyan may be cut after one loss, but Tyson Griffin, who lost his third consecutive fight last night, won’t be. The fight wasn’t shown on the broadcast, but apparently there was a bad decision. Griffin complained about it after the fight and Dana White said he got “f—–.”
“Tyson Griffin got [expletive] big time tonight,” White said.
“You know how I feel,” White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “I like guys who come in and fight. I’d rather keep a guy who lost a dogfight than keep a guy who ran around in circles for three rounds and won.”