UFC 163 will feature a light heavyweight contender showdown in its co-main event.
No. 1 ranked Lyoto Machida battles No. 7 ranked Phil Davis.
Machida has won back-to-back fights since failing to re-capture the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, and both fights were supposed to earn him the next title shot. For various reasons, that shot at gold has not come to pass. Now, he has to take on a very dangerous Davis.
Davis has put together two wins in a row since failing in his contenders bout against Rashad Evans. That fight was a lesson for the young light heavyweight. On Saturday, he gets his chance to show the world he is ready for a title shot.
This important light heavyweight tilt is an intriguing matchup, and this is the head-to-toe breakdown heading in to Saturday.
Phil Davis has continuously worked on improving his striking throughout his MMA career, but it has not evolved enough to match "The Dragon."
Lyoto Machida's stand-up is some of the very best in MMA today. Offensively and, perhaps even more impressively, defensively. Elusive is typically the adjective used to describe him on the feet.
Machida's best ability on the feet is his knack for closing distance in a hurry and getting out of the way just as fast. Davis is not quick enough to combat that. He will have to corner Machida in order to compete on the feet.
The former champion's footwork and ability to leap in with precision strikes give him the edge standing.
The grappling category is by far the most intriguing in this fight.
Davis brings excellent wrestling credentials, and he has shown fantastic skills in the clinch and on top. The Evans fight went a long way to show Davis what works and what doesn't inside the Octagon. It no doubt helped him tailor his wrestling for MMA even more.
Machida is no slouch, especially in the clinch. He utilizes good control, and he has fantastic trip techniques to go along with it.
This is very much an even category, but Davis gets a slight edge. Machida will be looking to avoid the ground in this fight. Davis has a better chance of taking this fight to the mat, but only a slightly better chance.
This will shock many of you—it even shocked me. Davis has the advantage in submissions.
Machida is a very skilled jiu-jitsu practitioner, but he has shown lapses in his defense a few times throughout his UFC career. And that is why Davis earns the advantage—submission defense.
Davis has double the amount of submission finishes of Machida with four, but his defense was on display against one of the best jiu-jitsu artists in the world in Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 159. His best offensive technique seems to be the anaconda choke. It caught both Alexander Gustafsson and Wagner Prado.
Offensively, Machida may have a slight edge. However, positioning and defense goes to Davis. It is unlikely this fight gets finished via by submission, but Davis has the better odds of forcing a tapout.
Davis' X-Factor: Cutting Off the Cage
Machida's movement is one of his best attributes. It gives his opponents fits.
Davis has to cut off the cage. He needs to put Machida in front of him so that he can chose to strike or go for the takedown. If he allows Machida to circle away he will never catch him. He will be chasing him for the entire fight and force himself in to a desperate situation.
When that happens, Machida responds with a counter-strike that can finish the fight. He wants to frustrate his opposition. Davis has to avoid that by keeping him in front of him.
Machida's X-Factor: Experience
Davis has headlined two fight cards. He defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and then was dwarfed by the moment against Rashad Evans.
Machida is used to the bright lights and pressure of the elite levels of the light heavyweight division. Davis is the one with something prove.
His experience of high-level fights will make the home crowd an advantage. He knows how to handle any situation. It is his biggest advantage over a hungry up-and-comer in Davis.
This is an interesting stylistic matchup, but it is hard to envision how Davis picks up the win.
Can he cut off the cage? Doubtful.
Machida's movement will win him the fight like it has done numerous times before. It also may not endear this fight to the casual fan. This will be yet another technical display from the Brazilian. Will it be enough to earn him the next title shot?
Machida will pick his shots and take the judges' scorecards in a clean sweep. They will read 30-27 across the board, and it will send Davis back to the end of the line.
Prediction: Machida defeats Davis by unanimous decision