This Saturday in Montreal is the rematch of one of the most disputed decisions of 2009. Lyoto Machida puts his title on the line against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua seven months after winning a very controversial decision. Does this fight have any chance of living up to the last one?
Most rematches in MMA look nothing like the first fight. Will Machida be more aggressive this time? Will Shogun take the title that he thinks is rightly his?
Only time will tell. Also on the card is a fight for the number one contenders spot in the welterweight division between Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley. This should be an interesting night of fights so let's break the card down:
Light Heavyweight Championship: Lyoto Machida (c) vs Shogun Rua
Machida is 16-0 with seven wins by stoppage. He is a karate practitioner with a black belt in BJJ. He has fought some of the best in the world and has come out almost completely unscathed.
Rua is 18-4 with 16 wins by stoppage. He is a muay thai fighter who also has a black belt in BJJ. He has fought many great fighters and won the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix 2005.
Don't expect this fight to hit the ground a lot much like the last fight. Both fighters love to strike and both have shown finishing power. Hopefully this fight will have a much more decisive finish.
Rua's attack is much more powerful but it is also slower and his defense is not as stout. Machida's striking is quicker and his defense is better but his finishing power is not as great. So even though both guys want to strike their styles couldn't be more different.
After how close the last fight was it's hard to see one guy running away with this fight no matter how much their game plans might change. Ultimately I think unless Rua lands the knockout blow I can't see Machida losing this fight. I'm picking Machida to win a much more definitive decision to retain his belt.
Josh Koscheck vs Paul Daley
Koscheck is 14-4 with nine wins by stoppage. He is an excellent grappler with improving kickboxing. He has fought a lot of tough fighters but can never seem to get over the hump for a title shot.
Daley is 23-8-2 with 19 wins by stoppage. He is a striker with a little BJJ and wrestling. Daley has fought some tough fighters intermittently throughout his career and is the hot new Brit in the UFC (aka Dan Hardy 2.0 or Michael Bisping 3.0 i.e. good striker with no ground game).
If Koscheck doesn't decide to be a mindless striking zombie and actually thinks a little during this fight he should take this pretty easily. His wrestling and jiu jitsu are far superior and if he's smart he'll prove it instead of trying to prove he's a better striker than Daley (which he's not).
Daley could always land a KO shot before Koscheck takes him down but those chances are slim if Koscheck implements what his game plan should be. So I'm picking Koscheck to win by submission in the second round.
Kimbo Slice vs Matt Mitrione
Slice is 4-1 with three wins by stoppage. He is a boxer. He is still in the infancy stage of his career.
Mitrione is 1-0 with that one win by KO. He is also a boxer. There isn't much to say about a guy with one professional fight.
Both these guys want to stand and bang. I love Slice and I despise "meat head" Mitrione, but unfortunately I'm not feeling good about Slice's chances in this fight. I think Mitrione is more athletic and more powerful and he'll prove it on Saturday.
I'm picking Mitrione to win by KO in the second round.
Sam Stout vs Jeremy Stephens
Stout is 15-5-1 with nine wins by stoppage. He is a striker. He has faced some tough fighters with mixed results.
Stephens is 17-5 with 15 wins by stoppage. He is a striker with some jiu jitsu. He hasn't had great success against better fighters.
Both guys are going to want to stand and trade which will make an exciting fight for fans just like Slice and Mitrione. However, this fight will exhibit much higher level technical striking which is good for real fans.
I think Stout is the better striker even if he's not the more complete fighter. Because of that I'm picking him to win a tough decision.
Patrick Cote vs Alan Belcher
Cote is 13-5 with nine wins by stoppage. He is a striker first with a grappling background. He has fought a lot of tough competition with mostly positive results.
Belcher is 15-6 with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a striker with a strong BJJ game. He has also fought some tough fighters with mixed results.
Cote is finally coming back off that gruesome injury suffered against Anderson Silva almost 20 months ago. There is going to be a lot of ring rust here no matter how good a camp he trains with.
Both fighters have very similar strengths and sort of mirror each other in terms of performance. I think Cote's striking is slightly better along with his wrestling while Belcher probably has the better jiu jitsu. So I'm giving Cote the slight edge even with the rust to pull of a decision victory.
Joe Doerksen vs Tom Lawlor
Doerksen wants this fight to go to the mat but I don't think it's going to help him much. I think Lawlor will take him down and pound him out in the second round for the TKO victory.
Marcus Davis vs Jonathan Goulet
This fight appears to be a make or break fight for Davis, but also one that is tailor made for him. His striking should be superior to Goulet's and the ground game difference is probably negligible. If Davis loses this fight he would probably be cut and he would deserve it.
However, I think Davis has the upper hand here, so I'm picking him to win by TKO in the first round allowing him to hang on to his UFC career a little longer.
TJ Grant vs Johny Hendricks
This fight is a tough one to call. Grant has the advantage in BJJ while Hendricks is the better wrestler. The striking is a tough one to call. However, I think Hendricks will sprawl and brawl his way to victory earning the decision.
Tim Hague vs Joey Beltran
Hague is desperately hanging on to his UFC career while showed lots of guts in his UFC debut. Hague is the more well rounded fighter but I'm not sure he can last against Beltran's striking. I'm picking Beltran to win by TKO in the second round.
Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs Mike Guymon
Both fighters offer a well-rounded MMA game. However, I think Yoshida's skill set is greater and he's also faced much better competition. I'm picking Yoshida to get the win by submission in the first round.
Jason MacDonald vs John Salter
Salter is an up and comer and MacDonald is the definition of a grinder. Both guys are strong in their grappling but I think MacDonald is probably better and I'm guessing his stand up game is more advanced as well.
MacDonald gets the nod here for the reasons above along with his vast wealth of experience against an inexperienced fighter. I'm picking MacDonald to win by submission in the first round.