Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida: An Early Head-to-Toe Breakdown
UFC 175 will play host to the first UFC Middleweight Championship bout not featuring Anderson Silva since 2006.
Champion Chris Weidman will defend the gold against Silva's teammate Lyoto Machida in the five-round main event on July 4th weekend. Insert fireworks pun here.
Weidman has shocked the world twice by beating Silva, and now he seeks new challenges as he makes his mark as world champion. Machida has dropped to 185 pounds, looking spectacular in his two bouts at the weight.
The championship match will be highly anticipated, and the UFC has a fight that it can market well. Machida vs. Weidman is the kind of fight that fans are clamoring for in 2014. It features two high-level athletes who can make for an exciting championship scrap.
Here is an early look into the championship matchup featuring Machida and Weidman.
Yes, Weidman did knock out Anderson Silva. And yes, Weidman did break Silva's leg by checking one of his leg kicks. These two instances have shown the growth of the champion's offensive and defensive striking, but he is still behind the eightball in this category.
Machida is the more diverse and technically skilled striker.
The distance game will be interesting to watch when the two meet in July. Machida is known for springing in and out with his strikes. Weidman will need to cut off the cage and close the distance.
The unorthodox, and more diverse, striking of Machida gives him the advantage.
Machida is one of the finest takedown defense artists in the UFC, but Weidman will have the grappling edge.
He is a Division I All-American who has transitioned his wrestling into the cage. He has dominated the likes of Demian Maia and NCAA champion Mark Munoz on the mat. That speaks volumes as to the level of his MMA grappling.
The challenger has great leg trips, and catching the champion off-guard may be his only bet to take this one to the mat. Thus, it is likely that Machida will be using his grappling defense much more than his offense. He will want to contest this bout on the feet.
Expect more grappling supremacy from the champion.
Of the standard areas of MMA, this is the closest matchup between Machida and Weidman. Both have excellent submissions and submission defense.
When it comes down to who has the edge, it is decided by who will likely have the better positions throughout the fight. That is the champion.
Machida will have to be more defensive in this bout. It is likely that he will be fighting off his back. Weidman's submission grappling credentials are top-notch. He can submit anybody, and Machida has been caught off-guard before.
Position before submission is the old adage, and Weidman will hold the better positions for submission offense in this bout.
Machida's X-Factor: Anderson Silva
Knowledge is power, and Machida's teammate has been in the cage with Weidman most recently...twice.
Silva has firsthand knowledge of Weidman, and there is little question that the two Brazilians have discussed this matchup a time or two. It is only natural.
Watching tape and preparing is one thing, but firsthand knowledge is much more valuable. Machida has that edge heading into the fight. He has a bit more to draw on thanks to his teammate's experience inside the cage against the champion.
Time will tell how valuable that information will become.
Weidman's X-Factor: Knee Surgery
The champion underwent minor knee surgery on both knees, which pushed the date for this fight back to July.
Thankfully, the key word was minor. Regardless, he still had surgery on both knees. How will this affect him? Will it make him better, or will his abilities have diminished just a fraction, letting the challenger steal his title?
Only Weidman knows the answer to these questions now, and we will not know until he steps inside the Octagon at UFC 175.
This could be the most intriguing championship matchup of 2014.
Machida has looked phenomenal since the drop to 185 pounds, but Weidman defeated Anderson Silva twice. Both men are well-rounded fighters who have multiple ways to win, and that makes it a very hard bout to predict.
In close bouts, it is best to side with the champion.
Weidman has the ability to win the positional battles in the clinch and on the mat to win a narrow decision, if Machida gets the better end of the striking. That gives the champion a small edge in this fight. I don't think either man will find an easy finish.
The grappling advantage will be the difference over the 25-minute encounter. Weidman will take at least three rounds to retain his world title.
Prediction: Chris Weidman defeats Lyoto Machida by unanimous decision.
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