Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida: Breaking Down the UFC 140 Main Event
We are less than 36 hours away from arguably one of the most intriguing MMA fights of the year. UFC 140 in Toronto will feature Light Heavyweight Champion Jon "Bones" Jones defending his title for the second time against former Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida.
What makes this fight so interesting is the difference in style that each fighter brings. Here, we look at an analysis of each fighter heading into Saturday's main event.
The Challenger: Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida
"The Dragon" has done what several now-forgotten fighters tried to do in the pre-Zuffa UFC days—prove karate can work in MMA.
Lyoto Machida ran off 15 straight wins en route to winning the Light Heavyweight Title from Rashad Evans.
While seen as unconventional and confusing, Machida's style is reflective of his deep roots in Shotokan karate. It focuses on precise counterstriking, attacks powered from the core (hence his constant moving hips) and a wide stance for better balance.
He mixes in Muay Thai clinches and is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under the Nogueira brothers.
Aside from his bouts with Rua, he's been able to confuse his opponents, preventing them from solving the Machida mystery.
Though his style is effective, it has not won favor with judges as of late, which potentially cost him a decision over "Rampage" Jackson.
The Champion: Jon "Bones" Jones
The 24-year-old phenom has been on a tear ever since his UFC debut in August 2008.
He has dominated every opponent he's faced in what is conceivably the UFC's most talented division, and has not gone the distance since a one-sided affair over Stephan Bonnar in January 2009.
He has also finished his last seven fights.
Jones brings an unorthodox style that continues to evolve with each passing opponent. In addition, he possesses the rare ability to beat his opponents at their own game.
Against Ryan Bader, a former Division I All-American, Jones showed superior wrestling and pinpoint striking to make Bader look pedestrian.
He defeated "Shogun" Rua by overwhelming him with aggressive ring control, Muay Thai clinches, brutal body shots and knee strikes and his trademark spinning elbow strike.
During his fight against "Rampage" Jackson, Jones used his reach advantage, evasiveness and striking accuracy to keep Rampage at bay.
As a lifelong enthusiast and practitioner of Shotokan, my heart wants to root for Machida.
His accuracy and ability to strike while retreating, coupled with an 85% takedown defense, makes him a very dangerous opponent for the normally aggressive Jones.
Having gone the distance in six of his last 10 fights, and 10 of his 19 career fights, Machida is unlikely to wear down as the fight goes on. His patience and ability to lure fighters in to attack him may draw Jones out and into Machida's gameplan.
Jones, while nine years Machida's junior, has logged almost 40 minutes in the Octagon, and will be fighting his fourth top-10 opponent this year.
Furthermore, he's never faced a fighter who does his best work on the defensive. With that being said, Jon Jones has taken on all challengers and has risen to the occasion each time.
He's convincingly defeated two opponents who hold victories over Machida. Jones will want to attack often and stay in Machida's face.
His best chance to win is to limit Machida's mobility by cutting off the ring; a strategy that aided Rua in his first fight with Machida.
I see this fight as a defensive chess match in which both fighters will look for the most opportune moment to strike and not a minute before.
Machida's lack of aggression will cost him the early rounds, but he will be able to withstand Jones' attack and turn it up in rounds four and five when Jones begins to wear down. Sadly, it will be too late.
Jones wins by split decision.