Jones is an unorthodox and unpredictable striker, with a strong wrestling background, ever-improving submission skills, and seemingly limitless potential.
Furthermore, and not to discredit his remarkable talent, Jones' success in the UFC can be attributed, in part, to the size advantage he enjoys over everyone in his weight class.
Jones is a giant light heavyweight, standing at 6'4" and boasting a reach of 84.5 inches. So far his stature is something no opponent has been able to overcome.
Machida is one of few successful mixed martial artists to come from a karate background and is known best for his unusual and elusive style of striking—he likes to frequently leap in and out of his opponents range, which he is able to do effectively due to his tremendous speed.
To complement his lethal striking, Machida also has a tight ground game and surprisingly strong takedowns, which he has used to throw off technically superior wrestlers like Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans.
On paper, this matchup favors Jones.
Machida is known mostly as a counter striker, but it will be extraordinarily difficult for him to counter an opponent with more than a foot reach advantage over him.
Speaking plainly, Jones will be able to hit Machida from much farther away than Machida will be able to hit Jones.
Also, Jones is the better grappler on paper, which means he will be able to decide whether or not this fight stays standing or goes to the ground—an enormous advantage.
Don't count Machida out, though.
While he may not have the physical advantages that Jones does, he is the quicker fighter and is always very tactical.
If Machida can sucker Jones into playing his game by being elusive and forcing Jones to chase after him, he can win this fight.
It's just a matter of getting Jones to come forward aggressively, moving backwards while Jones comes forward, and then flipping the coin and leaping forwards into Jones' range.
Machida can get inside Jones' reach, he just needs to be prepared to eat a few punches in doing so.
It would also be smart on Machida's part to try to end this fight early. Given that Jones has the reach and grappling advantage, it's unlikely that Machida would be able to out-point Jones and take a decision.
As far as Jones strategy goes, it would probably be best that he take this fight to the ground where Machida will not be as threatening. From there, he should smother Machida from top position and work for a TKO.
When the fight is standing, Jones will need to be cautious of Machida's quickness and avoid chasing him down.
Because the smartest strategy for both fighters involves not being overly aggressive on the feet, don't be surprised if this fight is a bit of a snoozer.
In the end, expect this to be a competitive fight and expect Machida to push Jones harder than we have seen anyone else push, but in the end, Jones leaves Toronto the champion.
Final Prediction: Jon Jones defeats Lyoto Machida via unanimous decision (49-46)
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