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.
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