UFC Fight Night 30: 5 Questions We Have About Lyoto Machida
The matchup will feature one of the best counter-striking practitioners the promotion has ever seen dropping down to make his divisional debut opposite an unparalleled wrestler.
Now while it seems as if a potent threat like "The Dragon" would have an immediate edge over a guy like Munoz, nothing is for certain.
The Brazilian had to cut weight, hasn't looked like his dominate self in almost a year and is always susceptible to defeat if he's brought to the ground in succession.
So to prolong a fresh future in a rapidly growing weight class, Machida needs to answer these five questions this weekend in England.
Will He Be Affected by the Weight Cut?
It doesn't matter how well of a striker or elusive defender a fighter is, if he doesn't cut weight properly, than he's already losing the battle.
In today's MMA, when weight cutting is becoming more dangerous than ever, the effects of losing valuable mass just a few weeks before a bout can ultimately spell the difference between winning impressively or losing dramatically.
In Machida's case, a guy who is used to fighting at light heavyweight, dropping down to 185 lbs may cost him more than he thinks.
His conditioning will be in danger; his quickness will lose some gusto, and his overall athleticism will take a hit by competing against more versatile fighters.
It's going to be interesting to see how Machida looks come fight night and what effects a serious weight cut will produce.
What Kind of Power Will He Bring to the Division?
Machida was already one of the best knockout specialists in the light heavyweight division before he made his jump to middleweight.
He never really looked for that one-punch finish, but when presented an opportunity to rush an overzealous opponent trying to hit him, the Brazilian flourished above all.
So it's likely that "The Dragon" will bring chin-snapping power with him as he makes his move to a smaller weight class.
However, Machida's legendary ability to overwhelm opponents with quickness and elusiveness may cease to exist as he enters an environment where most respectable strikers incorporate a faster standup game than he's used to.
We'll find out for sure when the Brazilian takes on a respectable puncher like Munoz this Saturday.
Can He Defend the Wrestling of Mark Munoz?
Since dropping down to middleweight back in 2009, Munoz has only been defeated twice—once by split-decision to Yushin Okami and the other time to Chris Weidman coming off of a huge layoff.
So even though his name doesn't carry the weight it once did since coming over from the WEC, Munoz still performs at the level of other elite contenders.
And it just so happens that his bread and butter, world-class wrestling, is the needed recipe in defeating an elusive striker like Machida. The only problem for "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" is catching the slippery Brazilian.
For Machida to truly impress in his division debut and create waves with his Octagon actions, he'll have to defend each and every takedown attempted by his opponent.
If he fails to do so, Munoz could find his hand raised on the right end of a unanimous decision.
What Does He Have Left in the Tank?
As a 35-year-old counter striker who prides himself in standing up and confusing opponents, Machida might have more left in the tank than the usual aging vet.
But moving to a quicker and more wrestling-based division could spark his inevitable career decline more quickly than if he stayed at light heavyweight.
In any case, a fighter is always as good as his last fight. That means that Machida has to win in order to restore the momentum he lost against Phil Davis at UFC 163.
Now while Munoz isn't a legendary name in the sport, he's still one of the better contenders at middleweight. Beating him will give Machida the key victory he needs to prove that he still has it.
If he loses, the word "gatekeeper" will begin to rear its ugly head.
Can He Make a Run at the Title?
Strictly based on skill and Octagon prowess, Machida is still one of the best fighters in the world.
His striking is second to none. His takedown defense is more than suitable for a fighter of his style, and he never seems to give in to his opponent's game plan.
With that said, the Brazilian has struggled to produce like his normal self in his last two bouts. He's been unable to utilize a usually potent in-and-out game, and he's been unable to counter power with precision, failing to produce any memorable moments.
But through one of the toughest stretches of his career, Machida is still the fighter he once was. Dropping down to middleweight is only going to refresh his chances of fighting for a UFC title.
Beating a guy like Munoz is going to catapult him to the top of a division that may or may not be run by fellow-Brazilian Anderson Silva by the end of the year.
Either way, from what we've seen in the past, it would be crazy to count this guy out when all the chips are on the table.
Simply said—a win is all he needs.
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