Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson: How Good (Or Bad) Will This Fight Be?
The buzz is understandable: “The Dragon” and “Hendo” are among the most popular and exciting fighters in MMA, and the outcome of their clash will leave an indelible and momentous impact on the legacy of each fighter and the future of their division.
The excitement surrounding Machida vs. Henderson, however, is tempered by the probability that their fight won't be extremely exciting. Or will it?
Here is a breakdown of the factors that could make Henderson-Machida either scintillating or drab. Feel free to post your expectations for the fight in the comments section below!
Why This Fight Might Suck
The fight may seem to be a glittering attraction, but it's not farfetched to predict that Henderson vs. Machida won't be exciting. In fact, in the likely event that Machida employs a tactical, conservative gameplan against “Hendo,” their confrontation may yield more boos than cheers.
Machida's style isn't inherently boring; on the contrary. In recent memory, however, the expert eluder has been hesitant to engage power punchers. A salient example was Machida vs. Rampage Jackson, a fight in which Machida was rendered stiff for two whole rounds by the fearful prospect of tasting Rampage's power.
Although he dominated the third round, “The Dragon” landed just three head punches in the first two rounds combined. If Rampage's power disarmed Machida, Henderson's monstrous punches could easily pacify the karate master, thereby creating a defensive battle of attrition.
Expect Machida to devise a tactful gameplan to hex the chances of brawling with Henderson.
While Henderson vs. Machida has potential to be a masterpiece, it's not a strain to imagine the fight being ho-hum, too. A reasonable outcome is: Machida will pay befitting respect to Henderson's punching power by withdrawing from punching range.
From very safe kicking range, Machida will pepper the slower man with kicks without taking needless risks, lest “the H-bomb” expunge Machida's mortal soul.
Like his first round against Ryan Bader, Machida will probe, move, and strike sparingly without getting hit, leading to a tame, clinical unanimous decision for Machida. Groans and jeers follow.
Why This Fight Might Rock
Don't trip. There are some reasons to believe that Henderson and Machida will deliver an awesome fight.
Firstly, their fight is scheduled for only three rounds, which will entice Machida and Henderson to betray thoughts of conservative pacing.
While this fight deserves to be a five-round attraction, restricting it to three rounds should be more conducive to urgent action. Time restraints don't reward timidity, as Machida learned from the failure of his passive strategy against Rampage Jackson.
Furthermore, in a three-round fight, Henderson's gas tank won't be given a chance to sputter in the “championship rounds,” a deficiency of Henderson's that enabled Shogun Rua to keep Dan under his thumb in the fourth and fifth rounds of their fight. Machida and Henderson should be fresh throughout the fight.
Moreover, Henderson vs. Machida could easily supply a violent finish because each man possesses the ability to finish a fight instantly...with flair, too. The tension will be palpable knowing that either legend, in a flash, could dispatch the other with a single strike.
Their contrasting styles and personalities will also provide an intriguing spectacle: Hendo, the heroic brawler with hellacious raw power, squaring off with Machida, the nimble wizard with unerring accuracy. The juxtaposition of their styles will be a marvel in and of itself.
Yet another reason to invest hope in this fight is that both fighters will enter the Octagon on Feb. 23 with wills ignited by desperation. In fact, the implications of this fight are enormous for both.
Age is creeping on Henderson, whose contendership will be waived if he can't beat Machida. The cementation of Dan's legacy and his title hopes rely on beating Machida at UFC 157. He's running out of time to capture the strap; he has to fight like a man without time to waste.
Machida's desperation is also dire. He must win in order to guard his revered status in the light-heavyweight division and to remain in contention for the belt.
If he loses, however, Machida will be far-removed from his desired rematch with Jon Jones, thus he will have to reinvent his identity in the UFC.
Oh yes, both men have powerful motivations to help inspire them to a command performance on Feb. 23.