Just a few years ago, Lyoto Machida was that up-and-coming fighter that was the puzzle that no one could solve. His elusive style and random attacks made fighters scratch their heads.
Of all of his opponents, the only fighter that was truly able to figure him out was former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Machida also suffered a loss to Quinton Jackson, and while Jackson indeed won the fight, he hardly figured Machida out, rather he just worked with his strengths.
Machida is a hard fighter to take down, and once taken down he always gets up fast. The best way to counter his style is to pressure him to fight, but when doing so, there opens an opportunity for Machida to finish the fight.
In this fight with Jon Jones, many questions come to mind. The first question is, what round will Jones finish Machida in? The other is, both men are defensive fighters, who will connect first, and will this be a fight that goes to decision?
This is the example of a fight in which the challenger is heavily overlooked, but in all actuality has a better chance of winning than most men in the division. At the end of the day, it isn't about who you beat or who beat you.
Styles make fights and this is a fight where Jones will truly be tested.
Machida has very good cardio, and him getting tired is not expected. Jones is such a big athlete that he does tire out. In his last two fights, Jones did tire out, which was reported by his camp. In his fight with Shogun, they said he was gassed before going into the last round.
Machida is good at making his opponents tire out, then attacking. This is that situation where after the event we could indeed have a new champion.
Now, what are the odds in Machida winning the title?
Originally, his chances would've been slim. The way many would've assumed is that it would be the same Machida that shows up each fight. While that Machida is a good fighter, there is a good chance that it wouldn't be enough.
For this fight, Machida has made some smart decisions. He added on 20 lbs. of muscle, because one thing is certain: If you are fighting Jones, you need all of the strength that you can get.
His other smart decision was to bring in one of the best wrestlers to cross over to MMA: King Mo Lawal. Mo is one of the most knowledgeable fighters that you will ever hear discuss the sport, and Machida having him part of his camp truly helps him not only improve his excellent take down defense, but also improve on his wrestling enough to be ready for all that Jones has to offer.
At the end of the day, it is hard to pick against Jones. He always impresses, and like many have said before, this is the fight where it will truly apply. If there is a fight that Jones can lose at Light Heavyweight, this is the one.
At the end of the day, expect a very strategic fight. The odds of Machida winning this fight are not as slim as you think.
Watch out, because this Saturday night, the Dragon may reign supreme.