The combination of a disappointing UFC 97 coupled with the loss of Chuck
Liddell as a major draw for the light heavyweight division means that Rashad
Evans and Lyoto Machida better "bring it" at UFC 98.
The UFC needs to bounce back from a highly criticized main event and find a
replacement for one of their biggest pay per view buy generators. UFC 98 is
the perfect place for both of these things to happen.
Two unbeaten light heavyweights will enter the octagon on May 23 but only
one of them can leave with the unblemished record and the belt. I'm hoping
that the importance of these circumstances doesn't result in an overly
Evans has four decision wins in nine UFC fights while Machida has the same
number in only six UFC fights. Not that all decisions are necessarily
boring, but a finish would go a long way to turning one of these two
fighters into superstars.
On the bright side if we look at recent history Evans beat Forrest Griffin by
TKO and Chuck Liddell by KO. Likewise an aggressive Machida dispatched
Thiago Silva by KO as well.
Another positive note is that the hype will likely be generated in the cage on fight night rather than being sold to us beforehand. Machida lacks the in your face style and bigger than life persona that Rampage Jackson would have brought to the fight. Evans has said multiple times that he'll do all his talking in the cage. I hope he does much more than talking.
While many are skeptical about an event headlined by Evans and Machida and backed up by Matt Hughes and Matt Serra I remain cautiously optimistic that Evans and Machida understand how big an exciting and entertaining fight will be to their careers.