Lyoto Machida is the most perplexing opponent anyone can have in MMA today. He uses a very unorthodox fighting style, one that allows him to stay out of the range of your attacks while being able to strike you anywhere he want.
When opponents try to close the gap he swiftly dodges away and counters. He is stronger and faster than he looks, and does not have any weaknesses in his overall game.
Lately the question has been who has the tools to launch an effective strategy against Machida and defeat him?
The Light Heavyweight division in the UFC is very rich in talent as well as diversity. No two fighters are alike and besides Machida no one else has appeared truly dominant in the weight class.
I am going to breakdown his potential opponents and tell you why no one will be able to beat Machida.
Mauricio Shogun Rua
Shogun is a very deadly striker. He is recently coming off wins over Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell. Most of the wins in his career come by way of KO of TKO and his victims include, Quinton Rampage Jackson, Akihoro Gono, Allistair Overeem, Ricardo Arona and Cyrille Diabate.
He is very versatile he has stopping power in both hands and has devastating kicks.
However when fighting Machida he has no advantages. Machida is faster and more accurate with his strikes. Not to mention that Shogun is a Muay Thai fighter and the only way he can close the gap would be lunging punches or jumping kicks. Those simply will not work on Machida.
Shogun does not possess the tools to take down Machida. There are also a lot of questions about Shogun's Conditioning. He had two knee surgeries so compared to the 100 percent healthy Machida this fight is not even a contest.
Quinton Rampage Jackson
Rampage is one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. He has the ability to KO anyone with almost any punches he lands. His wrestling is very underrated and he loves to ground and pound.
If you try to submit him with a triangle or armbar he ends up slamming you on your head. Rampage is ruthless and almost never stops coming forward.
Unfortunately fighting Machida would be a very bad matchup. Rampage is highly susceptible to kicks and knees. Machida excels at both.
Rampage's striking is mostly boxing. His only way to close the gap is lunging punches. Which Machida will easily slip past. He can try to fake a punch to the body and swing for the head but Machida will easily be three steps away by the time he starts swinging.
If he were to clinch with the Dragon, it will lead him to get taken down. When he fights Machida he has a punchers chance. However the longer the fight goes the chance will be diminished due to Machida's punishing leg and body kicks.
Rashad is a very overrated fighter. There are few fights where he dominated from start to finish. He gives away the first round to develop his strategy. He has decent wrestling skills. His boxing is good and he has a lot of explosive speed.
He also fought Machida before. Machida KO'd Rashad in the second round giving him his first loss in his career.
Rashad has the explosive speed necessary surprise Machida and land a few strikes on him. The reason he won't be able to use it effectively is because he telegraphs what he is about to do.
He will duck his head a second before he shoots for the takedown. His leg muscles twitch when he is about to lunge in to strike. Machida is an Eastern Martial Artist. Since he was four years old he was taught Clairvoyance. He will watch your body.
Subtle muscle twitches or movements give away what you are planning to do. Rashad is too crude of a fighter to be effective against Machida.
Forrest goes in to fight. He doesn't care who you are he will fight you the same way. He doesn't stop coming forward. He has great kicks and is great in the clinch. His ground game is decent and he has a pretty good chin.
We all saw what happened when he fought Anderson Silva. Rumors from Blackhouse is that during sparring sessions Lyoto Machida always comes out on top of Anderson Silva. Forrest also stated that he does not want to fight Machida.
Cane is a solid fighter with good stand up and a good ground game. His last win over Steve Cantwell was a solid effort but he looked like he had some conditioning issues.
He is another fighter that although as good as he is, will not be effective in closing the gap with Machida. He is a little to slow. Machida will dance around him and end up KO'ing him pretty easily.
So who can beat Lyoto Macida? Out of the whole division Jon Jones has the best chance. Jones is very unpredictable and has great wrestling. He is one of few fighters who uses a spinning back elbow effectively.
However he should not fight Machida. He needs a lot more experience and the UFC can actually hurt this guys career by rushing him into a title shot. He needs two solid years of fighting three fights a year against decent competition.
The reason I say this is because Machida needs to be beaten on his feet first. Once he is demoralized in the stand-up department he will look towards his jiu-jitsu. Which is his weak point.
Jon Jones' strong point is his ground game. Although he has effective striking it does not mean he has good striking. He loses his balance slightly when he kicks. His punches sometimes start from the wrong foot.
He swings too wildly and fighting like that against Machida will end in you getting KO'd.
Just ask Thiago Silva.
Two to three years from now Jones will be able to truly contend for the title. Anytime before then will be very bad for the future champion. Until then there is not a single person in the division that can seriously threaten Machida.