It was just announced that Rashad Evans would no longer be fighting Jon Jones due to his hand injury. This has led to Lyoto Machida becoming the new challenger for Jones at UFC 140. Jon Jones has been dominant in the UFC, with no one even coming close to beating him (Hamill doesn't count). But Lyoto Machida is a different type of fighter whose extremely unorthodox karate style can give his opponents fits. And even though Jones will be the heavy favorite, here are five reasons why Machida could win this fight.
Jon Jones is a very elusive fighter, but he is nowhere near Lyoto Machida in this category. Machida is a world-class karate fighter who moves in and out of range like no one else in the division. The only person who has ever been able to counter his style is Shogun Rua (even though Rampage "won" their fight, he definitely took a lot more damage than Lyoto).
Furthermore, Shogun was able to beat Machida because he rushed to the inside and used his knockout power to finish him. From what Jones has shown, his style is more about staying on the outside than rushing in for the kill. Machida's elusiveness could give Jones fits if he decides to try and play the distance game with the Dragon.
When you think of Jones vs. Machida, the last thing that comes to your mind is power. But it should not be overlooked in this fight, as it will play a big factor.
Jon Jones has yet to show that he has that big power to knock someone out with one punch (but we must remember that he is still young and he did rock Rampage in their fight). Machida, on the other hand, has the power to finish Jones. Lyoto has knocked out Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva, and Randy Couture.
If he can sneak a punch through and land it on Jones's chin, Machida could win this fight.
Jon Jones is athletically fast, but Machida is both athletically fast and technically fast. There is a big difference, and it could be the difference in this fight. Jon Jones is able to move and throw punches at a very high speed, which is why he's been able to beat his opponents. But, when looking at his opponents, they've all been pretty slow. Rampage, Shogun, Bader, Hammill, Matsyushenko, and even Vera, are all either slow or have definitely lost a step in their careers.
Machida will not have this big disadvantage. Lyoto has blended his athleticism and his technique together to make himself faster in the octagon, something Jon Jones is still working on (i.e. literally running away from Rampage at times). This could be the deciding factor in their fight.
While Lyoto Machida is known primarily for his striking, he doesn't get enough credit for his grappling. He has one of the best sprawls in MMA and is extremely good at leg sweeps (sorry Thiago).
When you look at Machida's fights in the UFC, the only person who has been able to take him down was Rampage, and even when he got Lyoto to the ground he couldn't do any damage to him. People like Ortiz, Evans, and Couture had no luck whatsoever when trying to get Machida to the ground.
If Jones can't take Machida down, will it swing the momentum of the fight? We'll have to wait and see.
This one could easily be the deciding outcome of the fight. Whose unorthodox fighting style will prevail?
Jon Jones uses spinning elbows, pulls out flying triangles, and throws about every kick imaginable. Lyoto Machida fights unlike anyone else in the UFC, lunging in and out of range with his head held WAY back, making him extremely hard to hit. Not to mention the fact that he just might throw a switch front kick at you. This fight is all about who can deal with the other guys style the best. Whoever does will probably end up getting their hand raised at the end of the fight.
In the end, it still looks bleak for Machida.
Jon Jones has looked unstoppable and absolutely dismantled the two guys who have beaten Machida (Rampage Jackson and Shogun Rua). Machida will have to use the five things that were listed in order to compete with Jones. But the problem is that even if he does, it would still be hard to pick against Jones. But the great thing about MMA is that anything can happen once you step in the cage.