UFC 98 Breakdown: Evans Vs. Machida

Jaime MorenoCorrespondent IMay 21, 2009

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 21: Lyoto Machida of Brazil and David Heath of England in action during a Welterweight bout of the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the Manchester Evening News Arena on April 21, 2007 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images).

If you don’t already know, I picked who is going to win this fight in a previous article, but I wanted to further break down this fight to explain my pick. 

This fight, or I should say, who you pick as the winner is really nothing more than a toss-up. They are very similar, both of them have similar strengths and both have very little weaknesses. Again, it’s a toss-up on who wins and who loses.   

I’m going to break this fight down into three categories: stand-up game, ground game, and the extras.  So with that said, here we go.


Both fighters have developed into top-notch strikers with their hands and legs.  Both are unorthodox fighters, with different movements that aren’t normally seen at this weight class. 

Rashad Evans was once considered a one dimensional fighter with great wrestling skills but since his TKO of Jason Lambert that thought has changed. Since that ground and pound TKO, he nearly decapitated Sean Salmon, all but ended Chuck Liddell’s career with a perfect overhand right and made Forrest Griffin flail around like a rag doll. 

His hands are fast and on the ground he is a killer when it comes to the ground and pound. 

Machida, like Evans, is a very good striker with solid one-punch power and some of the most technical kicks in the MMA game.  He is an elusive fighter who has some great footwork which allows him to hit people without ever getting hit. 

The one plus that Machida has on Evans is his kicks which are used to not only hurt his opponents, but to cause timing issues which make his opponents cautious. Because of his kicks it makes his strikes seem to come from everywhere.     

The big difference on the standup is the vastly superior defensive of Machida. Some would argue that Evans has good footwork and good head movement and I agree, but Machida uses his Shotokan Karate to move laterally better than any fighter we have ever seen. 

Secondly Machida is a counter striker and will not move away from that mindset, which will make Evans have to go forward in order to get points which is what Machida wants. If Evans goes in a straight line and not at angles it’s gonna be a long night for him.

Machida wins the stand-up game


This category is where most of the arguing from fans has been vocalized.  No one can argue that both men have great striking skills, but many either give too much or not enough credit to the fighters in the ground department. 

As I’ve stated before Rashad has top level ground and pound along with some top level takedowns.  The one aspect of the ground game we haven’t seen is his submission game.  The only two submission victories in his career were by strikes so who knows if he could even get a submission on Machida. 

Evans’s wrestling background will serve him well in this fight if he chooses to take the fight to the ground, because in all reality the ground game is the only place we haven’t seen a lot of Machida.   

Machida has a black belt in Sumo and BJJ but as I’ve stated, we haven’t seen a lot of that game from him. What we have seen however is his takedown defense and some very good leg trips and throws to get the fight on the ground if he so chooses. He has only two wins by submission, most recently an arm triangle against Sokoudjou at UFC 79. 

His biggest advantage here is his takedown defense which in the UFC has been stellar. To my recollection Sokoudjou was able to get him to the ground once and Machida was quickly able to get the fight back on its feet. Tito wasn’t able to take him down and Thiago Silva wasn’t either.

This one is hard to give to any of the fighter, but if I had to choose one fighter to give the advantage to its Evans. His wrestling background is legit and he should be able to get Machida off his feet to try and land some punches. 

Because I feel that Machida will win the stand up battle this is the area that Evans has to win to get the victory. If he isn’t able to get the fight to the ground then it could be a long night for him.

Rashad Evans wins the ground game

The Extras

Evans has without a doubt on of the best game planners in the world in Greg Jackson.  If I know anything it’s that Jackson and his team is hard at work studying tape after tape of Machida.  If there is a whole in Machida’s game they should be able to find it. 

Machida for his part is without question the smartest fighter in MMA.  He will be playing chess that night and will have an extremely level head about him which is a huge advantage. He doesn’t seem to let the moment get to him and seems very knowledgeable in his art.

MMAth doesn’t work for this fight, and saying one or the other has faced better competition doesn’t either. 

Body of work is more important and the fact that Machida has never been close to losing a single fight or a single round makes a big difference.  Evans on the other hand had trouble with Ortiz and Bisping which were two fights he should have won with ease. 

The extras for me go to Machida.

For me I see this fight as a five round fight with some great moments on the ground and some great moments standing. I can’t see either fighter winning by TKO or submission but it wouldn’t surprise me. I see Machida controlling the fight and dictating where it goes, which will give him the win buy simply our pointing Rashad. 

Your Winner is Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.


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