Two big names don't always equate to an epic fight. We learned that at UFC on Fox 8 when Rory MacDonald and Jake Ellenberger bored us into submission.
We could be headed for a similar feeling when Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida takes on "Mr. Wonderful" Phil Davis at UFC 163 in Rio de Janeiro. There is no disputing the resumes of both of these light heavyweights, but the fighting prowess of both men could be the reason we're put to sleep by another co-feature bout.
Machida and Davis have different styles, but both men are very cerebral. Machida will rarely put himself in harm's way and genuinely sticks to his game plan meticulously. This tendency has increased since suffering stoppage/submission defeats to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Jon "Bones" Jones.
Against Dan Henderson, Machida wisely took Hendo to the ground and kept him there to easily take a unanimous decision win. It was the right game plan, but it wasn't exciting to watch.
Davis is not an exceptionally strong striker, despite his 79" reach and bodybuilder-like frame. He's only had two KO wins in his career and those came in 2009 before he joined the UFC.
To beat Machida, he needs to take him to the mat. While the Dragon is no amateur on the ground, he's no match for Davis, a former All-American wrestler at Penn State University.
So the question is, does Machida strike from the outside exclusively because he is wary of any takedown attempt from Mr. Wonderful? He could possibly win a rather uneventful decision with this strategy.
It is more likely than Davis gaining top position at multiple points during the fight which would send Machida into the guard and on the defensive.
What word will best describe Machida-Davis?
His defensive ground game is probably good enough to survive for stretches, but Davis will likely rack up rounds based on takedowns and top control.
Still, this potential sequence of events doesn't lend itself to a ton of excitement either.
There is the possibility that Machida catches Davis with something dynamic as Davis attempts to close the distance. But considering Davis is the second-toughest man to hit in UFC history with a strikes absorbed per minute average of 1.08, per FightMetric.com, the odds are slim on that happening.
This fight has lackluster written all over it, but I'd love to be wrong.
Sometimes the most exciting fights are made with two less-calculated fighters who are overly confident. Then again, who am I to pick. I'm not the one getting hit or choked out.
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