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Falling Action: Best and Worst from UFC 123

If nothing else, you have to respect "Rampage" Jackson's honesty at UFC 123. He thought he took something resembling a butt-whoopin' from Lyoto Machida, at least in the final round, and he had no problem saying so.

That's refreshing, I have to admit. The suggestion that the two should have an immediate rematch? That just makes my head hurt.

The fight was interesting, in a way, though not exactly thrilling. Seeing them do it again wouldn't help pay-per-view sales or the crowded light heavyweight division, which is probably why UFC president Dana White mercifully intervened with other ideas. It just goes to show that sometimes it's a good thing to have an opinionated guy at the top with veto power and the will to use it. Sometimes.

Now on to the winners, losers, and everything else in between after UFC 123.

Biggest Winner: B.J. Penn
That's the B.J. we've been waiting for. The one who's so fired up he stands in the cage before the fight muttering to himself like a madman at the bus stop. The one who's so pumped, he knocks his opponent out and then sprints off into the darkness before he can be corralled by his cornermen, who explain that he needs to come back into the cage to shout some vague statements into the microphone. I don't know where that B.J. has been for the last couple of fights, but I'm glad he's back. Now let's see if he can keep the fire going even when he's fighting someone who he doesn't have a long history with.

Biggest Loser: Matt Hughes
If your heart didn't break a little when you saw Hughes standing the cage and playing with the tape on his gloves like a disappointed Little Leaguer while Joe Rogan attempted to ask him what in the world just happened to him, then maybe you don't have one. Hughes hasn't always come off as the most compassionate guy, but it's always sad to see a legend so quickly and thoroughly reduced in front of our eyes. I don't know if one knockout means he should quit, at least not if he really doesn't want to. If he does decide to stick around though, it seems clear that he'll just be treading water.

Worst Poker Face: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
When Bruce Buffer announces that you've just won a split decision and the look on your face can only be described as 'utter shock,' that tells us something. It wasn't a spectacular win for Jackson. He was slightly more aggressive in the opening rounds, but without much noticeable effect. Ending the fight on the business end of an all-out assault isn't a great memory to linger on, so maybe it will prompt Jackson to get back in the cage and continue his career rehabilitation sooner rather than later. Unless he gets another movie offer...

Most Impressive in Defeat: Lyoto Machida
He wasn't quite as difficult to find as he has been in the past, but he still avoided most of Jackson's offense and absorbed very little damage. You could argue that he waited too long to go on the attack himself, or that giving up the mount for an armbar attempt in the third was a serious tactical error. In the end, he stood up to Jackson's power and proved that he's not damaged goods after the knockout loss to "Shogun" Rua. He's still got time to build himself back up. He just needs to win a fight so he can start the process in earnest.

Least Impressive in Victory: Maiquel Falcao
Finishing your UFC debut with a five-minute staring contest isn't the best way to ingratiate yourself to your new boss, even if you get your hand raised at the end. It's a shame, too. Falcao looked so promising in the early going, but fans aren't likely to remember it after his firm commitment to non-violent resistance in the third. He'll get another chance and a stern talking to from the UFC, so maybe this is just a minor hitch in his UFC career. Let's hope so anyway, because he didn't make many friends on Saturday night.

Best New Submission: Phil Davis' "Mr. Wonderful"
Making Joe Rogan completely freak out over your submission finish is a good way to get some attention in the UFC, and Davis is going to get his share after his fourth straight victory in the Octagon. The modified kimura showed his creative side and his confidence in the ground game, even if it came in a fight that was largely considered to be a serious mismatch. Davis is yet another bright prospect for the UFC at light heavyweight, but it's time to give him a tougher challenge and find out what he's capable of. Lots of guys look "wonderful" against 4-1 underdogs, after all.

Most Disappointing, Yet Not Surprising: Karo Parisyan
Nothing about "The Heat" looked good in his first-round TKO loss to Hallman. Not that he's ever had an amazing physique, but he looked soggy even by his own standards, and he fought like it too. Why anyone expected anything different, I have no idea. Parisyan's problems are serious and rooted deep in his psyche. That's not going to be something you sweep under the rug in a matter of months. It's nice of the UFC to give him another chance, but he needs more than that. I just hope he gets it.

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