UFC 157: Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida Head-to-Toe Breakdown
It's a matchup that's going to pin one of the heaviest hitters of all time against quite possibly the most defensively potent light heavyweight in UFC history.
Coming in to this fight, both top contenders have something to prove. Henderson needs to regain divisional momentum after pulling out of UFC 151, which forced the UFC to cancel an event for the first time in promotional history.
Machida, on the other hand, needs one more victory against a high-level fighter to prove to UFC brass that he deserves a rematch with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
So before two fantastically talented women grace the Octagon for the very first time, tune in and watch two of the most relevant fighters go toe-to-toe. Here's how the fight breaks down.
There's no other light heavyweight in the world more technical on his feet than Lyoto Machida.
The Brazilian utilizes sharp precision, unfathomable counter-striking and an ability to attack from various angles to stop some of the very best fighters in their tracks.
In the past, Machida's natural tendency to let the fight come to him, then react, has really done wonders for his striking. As a karate-first type of athlete, "The Dragon" is at his best when he's forced to deal with aggressive pace-pushers.
Well, Dan Henderson is exactly that type of fighter.
If Henderson can't find holes when he charges in and wings his right hand for Machida's chin, Machida will have ultimate success when he once again utilizes falling-back strikes.
DISTINCT ADVANTAGE: MACHIDA
As good as Lyoto Machida is at picking his shots and making sure every punch is a calculated attack, Dan Henderson is just as formidable when it comes to natural knockout power.
Quite possibly the most dangerous one-punch strike in MMA history, Henderson's "H-Bomb" has the potential to turn off anyone's switch.
Taking that into consideration, Machida's elusiveness needs to be at its highest availability when the two meet this Saturday.
If the Brazilian gets a little too comfortable and closes the distance too quickly, Henderson could take immediate advantage of Machida's patented lunging strikes.
DISTINCT ADVANTAGE: DAN HENDERSON
Considering how offensively potent both of these fighters are, producing relevant defense all around could spell the difference between winning and losing.
When it comes to standing, Machida most certainly has the upper hand in defending strikes, countering and getting out of the way of his opponent's best weapon. This includes his potential ability to close the distance on Dan Henderson, clinch with him and take away his power.
As far as the ground game is concerned, Henderson's wrestling skills and raw strength could dictate Machida's inability to defend takedowns and secure them.
So with all of that said, both fighters have the ability to defend prominent strikes and positions. But as far as head-to-toe defense is concerned, Machida's all-around skill set to turn defense into offense takes the cake.
SLIGHT ADVANTAGE: MACHIDA
When it comes to taking an opponent down and inflicting some serious ground-and-pound, Dan Henderson is one of the best practitioners around.
So it should come as no surprise that he gets the nod over Lyoto Machida in the ground department. Now Machida is rarely taken down, but Henderson's ability to grapple along the cage, sweep legs and use his old man strength to drag opponents to the mat should be ample enough to secure at least two or three takedowns.
Once he's there, Henderson is able to posture up, stack opponents, find openings and drop his concrete fists into cheek bones, chins and temples.
Machida may be a good deflector on his feet, but Henderson's life long wrestling background could prove too much for the Brazilian when it comes to defending off his back.
Based on the ability to structure a fight around an opponent, know when to throw punches and know how to defend strikes and takedowns, Lyoto Machida is a world-class game planner.
Machida has utilized his intelligence in the past to beat some of the best fighters in the world, including winning the first round of his fight with UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (that should count for something, right?).
In any case, Machida is a true tactical mastermind. He can game-plan with the best of them, and considering Dan Henderson is the type of fighter to step inside the cage with winging fists, the Brazilian may find it easy to implement his strategy.
Not for nothing, but in today's MMA, when fighters are so skilled and athletically inclined, game-planning is usually the difference in getting your hand raised or not.
Both Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida are vying for yet another shot at UFC gold.
But considering Henderson is a 42-year-old veteran finally battling injury woes so late into his career, this is most certainly his last shot at a successful title run.
Now while that type of desperation, for the lack of a better word, usually fuels a fighter to victory, it's not something you want to hang your hat on against a historically precise fighter like Machida.
This matchup is going to be a classic showdown between a guy who loves to counter and use his technique against a powerful one-punch knockout artist who looks to finish his opponent.
Now while that type of contest is a fight fan's dream come true, it simply doesn't bode well for "Hendo."
So even though the toothless legend has enough left in the tank, his tendency to throw caution to the wind isn't a good trait to possess against a patient assassin like Machida.
VERDICT: MACHIDA VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION
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