The View from the Cheap Seats 12.07.11: The Jones vs. Machida Breakdown
Posted by Scott Kuczkowski on 12.07.2011
Will Lyoto Machida recapture the title he once wore from Jon Jones? Or can Jones solve the enigma that is “The Dragon?" 411’s Scott Kuczkowski answers these questions and more in this week’s View from the Cheap Seats!
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to another edition of The View from the Cheap Seats. This week we will be taking a short glance at the results from The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale and breaking down the main event for UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida.
I thought The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale was really good. I didn't get to watch any of the preliminary bouts, but I thought the televised portion delivered quite well. We had a good mix of finishes and all the guys really seemed like they were trying.
I thought Louis Gaudinot must have done something to piss off Steve Mazzagatti, because Mazzagatti let him take an ass beating the likes of which are rarely seen in the UFC. I seriously scored the first two rounds 10-8 for Johnny Bedford, and the fact that the ref allowed Louis's ass kicking to continue into the third round makes me think he must have dinged his car door in the parking lot when they arrived at the arena.
Yves Edwards and Tony Ferguson put on a very entertaining fight. While I understand some people were a little upset about the decision, I think the viewers and fans were the ultimate winners.
John Dodson surprised me by taking out TJ Dillashaw in quick fashion in their bout. I must admit that I'm not a big fan of Dodson and his antics, but he was impressive in this bout. I just hope Greg Jackson can do for him what he did for Melvin Guillard.
I was worried that Dennis Bermudez would be gun-shy when he faced Diego Brandao, especially since most of the guys in the house seemed a little intimidated by Diego. Thankfully, he brought everything he had into their fight and even had Diego in trouble at one point. Diego's wherewithal and ability to secure that fight-winning armbar was awesome.
Unfortunately, the coaches put on the worst fight of the night, though I can only blame one of them for that. Jason "Mayhem" Miller put on a good first round, but completely gassed for the second and third rounds. Michael Bisping performed as I expected him to and dismantled Miller on the feet and was able to stuff all his takedowns after the first round. Unfortunately for Miller, Dana White has hinted that this could be one and done for him in the UFC, referring to the fight as one of the most one-sided he'd ever seen. If Miller gets another UFC fight, I hope he at least comes in shape for it. As for Michael Bisping, I'm actually fine with him getting a title shot in the near future. I know fans will complain he hasn't earned one, but if Dan Hardy can earn a shot at GSP by beating Mike Swick, then a win over Mayhem MIller should get The Count a shot at Anderson Silva.
UFC 140 comes to use live this Saturday, when Jon Jones will attempt his second title defense this year against Lyoto Machida. Some people have questioned whether or not Machida is deserving of a title shot, having lost two fights and only having a recent win over Randy Couture, but I find this matchup intriguing. I've always thought that Machida would be a very unique challenge for Jones, so I am anxiously awaiting this bout. Who has the advantage? Can Jones solve the Machida puzzle? Will Machida be able to capitalize on Jones' inexperience? That's what we're here to find out.
Lyoto Machida (#1 in LHW Rankings) vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (#4 in LHW Rankings)
The Outcome: On May 8, 2010, at UFC 113: Machida vs. Shogun 2, Mauricio Rua defeated Lyoto Machida via knockout in the first round. The Action: They traded early and Machida was able to get a couple of takedowns, but Shogun swept and got back to his feet. Eventually Machida leapt in for the attack and Shogun was able to catch him and knock him down. Shogun mounted Machida and ended his title run with some ground and pound. What it told me: Machida looked a little tentative in this fight and almost seemed unsure of his gameplan. Everyone gets caught, especially fighting someone like Shogun, but I thought this demonstrated that despite how elusive Machida's style was, anyone could eventually figure him out and beat him. I also wondered how Machida's confidence would hold up after two disappointing performances.
Lyoto Machida (#3 in LHW Rankings) vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (#4 in LHW Rankings)
The Outcome: On November 20, 2010, at UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida, Lyoto Machida lost to Quinton Jackson via Split Decision. The Action: This fight was very even and depressingly slow. He first two rounds included each guy throwing one punch at a time and clinching against the cage without either man maintaining an advantage. The third round saw Machida take Rampage down and even gain the mount, but still not do anything of merit. What it told me: Machida looked like he was afraid of Rampage's power and didn't want to do anything that would put him in danger of feeling that power. Rampage looked like he wanted to slow Machida down by clinching with him a lot, but both plans made for a very unenthusiastic main event.
Lyoto Machida (#5 in LHW Rankings) vs. Randy Couture (#8 in LHW Rankings)
The Outcome: On April 30, 2011, at UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields, Lyoto Machida defeated Randy Couture via knockout (jumping front kick) in the second round. The Action: Randy tried to pressure Machida and back him up, presumably to score a takedown. Machida countered this by constantly moving away and landing shots as Randy closed the distance. The second round saw Machida land a jumping front kick that put Couture down and out. What it told me: This was a must-win situation for Machida. Obviously, Couture's plan was to take the fight to the ground, and to his credit, Machida never allowed that to happen. Most impressive was the finishing kick, which was akin to the Crane Kick from the Karate Kid movies.
And now that we've looked at Machida's's last three fights, let's take a look at Jones's last three matchups.
Jon Jones (#15 in LHW Rankings) vs. Ryan Bader (#5 in LHW Rankings)
The Outcome: On February 5, 2011, at UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort, Jon Jones defeated Ryan Bader via submission (guillotine choke). The Action: Bader was able to land a few shots here and there, but the majority of the standup game belonged to Jones and he absolutely dominated Bader on the ground. Jones demonstrated good strength and control against a very decorated collegiate wrestler, eventually finishing with a choke. What it told me: This was Jones' biggest test to date, and he handled things superbly. Jones took Bader down when he wanted to and was able to stuff Bader's takedowns. Bader was likewise viewed as a rising star at this point, and Jones' ability to control him was very surprising. Of course, the big announcement post fight was that Jones would challenge Shogun for the title.
Jon Jones (#5 in LHW Rankings) vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (#1 in LHW Rankings)
The Outcome: On March 19, 2011, at UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones, Jon Jones defeated Mauricio "Shogun" Rua via TKO (punches and knees). The Action: Jones controlled the distance with his reach advantage and mauled Shogun anytime things went to the ground. Shogun tried sweeps and other things on the ground, but he just couldn't budge Jones. Going into the third round, Shogun looked tired and defeated while Jones still looked fresh. Some vicious ground and pound and some punches and knees on the feet had Shogun tapping as the ref stopped the action. What it told me: This was complete domination of the #1 ranked Light Heavyweight fighter in the world by someone with only 13 professional fights. Jones wasn't at all concerned with Shogun's gameplan and had no respect for his ground game or his standup. In fact, Jones looked like he had Shogun in trouble during earlier rounds and appeared to let up on his offense, almost as if the plan was to end the fight in the third round.
Jon Jones (#1 in LHW Rankings) vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (#4 in LHW Rankings)
The Outcome: On September 24, 2011, at UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage, Jon Jones defeated Quinton Jackson via submission (rear naked choke) in the fourth round. The Action: Jon Jones controlled the distance on the feet, either keeping Rampage out of striking distance with his reach or clinching with him whenever he was in range to keep Rampage from landing any significant shots. Jones peppered Rampage with leg kicks and body kicks and eventually took Rampage down in the third, mounted him, and delivered some ground and pound. Jones finished Rampage in the fourth after a takedown, getting his back, and sinking in a rear naked choke. What it told me: This was a perfect performance by a very young champion against a very tough legend. Jones systematically broke Rampage down, stopped him from mounting any appreciable offense, and implementing his own gameplan at will. Even the championship rounds in the extreme Denver altitude didn't affect Jones.
So, who wins this fight?
I have to give the speed advantage to Machida, because I think he'll be quicker on the feet if he decides to get on his bike and ride. Jones will have to cut off the cage a lot in order to box Machida in and negate that speed advantage, and if he can't he'll be running after Machida all fight.
Striking is sort of even in this case. Machida has a very awkward karate style that is very difficult to train for and deal with in the octagon, but Jones also has a very difficult style to deal with. Jones' reach will be an interesting obstacle for Machida to overcome if and when he decides to try to jump in and out of range to score points.
I have to give the grappling advantage to Jones. I think his wrestling will allow him take the fight where he wants to and I think he's too big and strong for Machida to sweep. Of course, Machida is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with submissions in his arsenal, but I don't see him submitting Jones in this fight.
Both guys have faced the same level of competition, so they are both used to competing at this level. The biggest difference is that Jones has defeated Shogun and Rampage, while Machida lost his last bout with Shogun and his fight with Rampage.
I see Machida coming out and doing his thing; working angles and trying to move in and out to score points. Jones has some skinny legs, so I think Machida is going to try to target those and see if he can affect Jones' mobility. I think Jones will clinch with Machida a lot against the cage to slow him down and keep him from running away. This tactic worked for Rampage against Machida, so there isn't any reason Jones couldn't do the same thing but more effectively. Jones' best bet is to take this fight to the ground and ground and pound Machida, which was his undoing against Shogun. If Jones can do this, (which I think he can), he should be able to finish Machida in the third.