A look at the five fights that interest us the most heading into UFC 123 in Detroit this Saturday.
5) George Sotiropoulos vs. Joe Lauzon
Sotiropoulos is on a six-fight winning streak and has looked impressive in recent bouts. A win here and it's conceivable that he could fight for the lightweight title at some point in 2011, even with the influx of WEC lightweights coming in January. Or, at least a No. 1 contender bout. Lauzon was the darling of UFC 118 in Boston, his hometown, and a win here moves him up the ladder.
4) Phil Davis vs. Tim Boetsch
Davis, aka "Mr. Wonderful," is 7-0 and one of the rising stars at 205. At some point, his path should intersect with Jon Jones. When it does, it will be a delightful evening of fighting.
3) Edson Barboza vs. Mike Lullo
It's just a prelim bout that we likely won't even see, unless the bouts on the main card finish early. Even then, it would take a spectacular fight to get this one on TV. Having seen Barboza, a UFC newcomer, fight before, the guess is he can pull it off. With some seasoning, he's the next Jose Aldo.
As great a game as he talks, I still can't figure out what type of fighter he is at this point. He has power, this we know. And he's a good striker. But with the unorthodox style of Machida, how will that play out? An even better question is how will Machida reinvent himself after his first career loss in the rematch with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua? In their first bout, Rua appeared to have solved Machida's style. Let's see if it's changed since.
Two former champions fight here in the rubber match. After two losses in a row to Frankie Edgar, Penn moves up 15 pounds to fight a UFC Hall of Famer. Three straight wins have us wondering what Matt Hughes is these days. A title contender or just a guy who's fighting for some nice paychecks as an attraction?