Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida: Head to Toe Breakdown
Lyoto Machida effectively earned himself a title shot by taking out Ryan Bader in the second round. Dana White let it be known that Machida was the more impressive victor following the fights, and now Machida will watch as Jon Jones defends his title against Dan Henderson.
Although Henderson will likely be given no chance just as the last handful of opponents for Jones, there's still the possibility that Machida will face him instead of Jones.
We already know how Machida and Jones stack up against one another, but how would Machida fare against Henderson?
A striking battle between Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson is likely to be an interesting chess match between the two combatants.
Henderson possesses one of the greatest weapons in MMA, his trademark "H-Bomb." Henderson has put a number of opponents to sleep with his right hand, and there's no question he could put Machida out with just a single punch.
The question is can Henderson put his hands on Machida's chin?
That will be the million dollar question going into a potential bout between Henderson and Machida. The Brazilian is one of the best at controlling the distance and utilizing his karate style to throw opponents off their game. He's able to jump in and attack before his opponent has a chance to respond.
Although avoiding Henderson's right hand will no doubt be key for Machida, he will need to avoid Henderson's left as well. Hendo's right hand gets a lot of attention, but as Wanderlei Silva can tell you, Hendo has power in both hands.
The best tool outside of footwork for Machida to use will be his kicks. Henderson doesn't use a lot of kicks in his offense so Machida should be able to use his legs to keep Hendo at bay.
A forgotten aspect of both men's games is their grappling prowess. Fans are quick to note Dan Henderson's amateur wrestling career, but it's not an item that we look at when examining fights he is in.
The same can be said of Lyoto Machida as well. Fans and analysts are quick to point out Machida's karate style, but often forget he's proficient with a number of martial arts. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and also great in the art of Sumo, Machida is a master of many styles.
Those many grappling styles will come in handy as Machida will need to fend off Henderson's takedowns at one point in the fight. Machida has proven difficult to take down in the past, and it will no doubt be a tough task for Henderson to undertake.
Of course that would require Henderson to close the distance to engage in the clinch or close enough for a power double.
We may see Henderson use his wrestling as a counter to Machida's trademark trip as well. We saw it against Rafael Cavalcante, where Henderson used his wrestling to reverse the trip attempts of Cavalcante.
In a potential showdown between these two men, the grappling would likely cancel one another out and fans would watch the chess match of styles play out on the feet instead.
A prediction for this fight weighs heavily upon Dan Henderson's performance in his title match with Jon Jones.
If Hendo were to square off against Lyoto Machida, the biggest question mark coming into the fight would be Henderson's ability to close the distance; something that has become near impossible for almost anyone in the 205-pound division.
If Henderson can negate the reach advantage of Jones in their contest, you'd have to believe he can do it against Machida. And as anyone who's been in the cage with Hendo can tell you, having him within punching range is not a fun place to be.
Just as fans would believe Henderson could close the distance to land his thunderous punches, just as many fans would believe Machida could create space and control the distance. Outside of Jones, Mauricio Rua and to a certain extent "Rampage" Jackson, nobody at 205 pounds has been able to close the distance with Machida.
Henderson would need to take his time to get within punching range and not get impatient. Ryan Bader heard the crowd's boos and got impatient. His impatience cost him the bout, as he was KO'ed with a single punch.
A potential showdown between Henderson and Machida would play out like a chess match on the feet with a KO becoming the checkmate move for either man.