The Juggernaut MMA News Report 2.13.14: Machida vs. Mousasi Preview
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 02.13.2014
Lyoto Machida fights Gegard Mousasi and Jacare Souza takes on Francis Carmont this weekend at UFC Fight Night 36! 411's Jonathan Solomon breaks down the card. Plus news on Thiago Silva's arrest, the UFC bonus structure and more!
UFC and Lyoto Machida Return to Brazil
Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi
We head back to Brazil this weekend for a free show with a big main event: The Dragon vs. The Dreamcatcher.
Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi have been successful at light heavyweight but this fight is set for the middleweight division and provides us with the action we've wanted to see for years. One of the awesome aspects of the UFC's ability to shrink the MMA landscape is that sometimes, we get fights like this.
Machida is one win away from challenging for the 185-pound championship, a fact confirmed by Dana White. He debuted at this weight in October when he knocked out his buddy Mark Munoz with a devastating head kick. The man may not finish fights often but when he does, they sure are violent. He dropped from light heavyweight because of the loss to Phil Davis and looks to have found a long term home at middleweight.
Not only does he appear to be in great physical shape (worries of a weight cut being problematic turned out to be all for naught), but his power is more dangerous where he theoretically takes on smaller men than he's used to. Whether that power will lead him to victory against Mousasi is a whole different question because the Armenian has never been knocked out in his 39-fight career.
Gegard was one of the best middleweights in the world back in 2008 when fighting in Japan against the likes of Denis Kang, Melvin Manhoef and Jacare Souza (who he KO'd). Since then, he's made his money at a range of weights including heavyweight and 205-pounds. But, for the first time in nearly six years as of this weekend, he's back!
Mousasi debuted in the UFC last Spring when he defeated Ilir Latifi (who substituted for Alex Gustafsson after the big Swede suffered a cut days before the fight) by decision. What we did not know during that bout is the fact that he competed with a busted knee and he underwent surgery following the win, costing him the rest of his 2013. He earned much praise from UFC officials for his desire to fight through the ordeals (his health and change of opponents), so it's no surprise he returns to a prominent position like this.
What has made Mousasi such an intriguing fighter to watch over the years is his various weapons. A black belt in Judo, he also boasts 18 wins by knockout and 11 by submission. Though he's only 28-years-old, in his younger days he competed in kickboxing and amateur boxing, too. The last time we saw him lose was in 2010 when a healthy King Mo Lawal continuously took him down for five-rounds in Strikeforce.
While this fight is likely to be plodding in spots because of their technical prowess, where do you see the ultimate mistake coming from? Is this going to the ground? Will Machida look to keep Mousasi off balance with takedowns mixed with his unique Karate offense? How aggressive will Gegard be in trying to do damage and how careful will he be around potential head kicks and knockout punches from the Brazilian? As you can tell, this fight may go one of a myriad of ways and that's why it's so damn interesting.
Jacare Souza vs. Francis Carmont
While Machida may be a win away from the title fight with the Weidman/Belfort winner in the fall, the real absolute stud of this middleweight division is Jacare Souza. There is absolutely nothing to hate about him, unless your the poor guy taking his hellacious punches or fighting off a submission of his.
The Brazilian is 34-years-old and boasts a 19-3 record (with one no contest), two of those wins coming inside the octagon last year. He choked out Chris Camozzi in May and followed that up in dominant fashion by finishing Yushin Okami at the end of the summer. Since his last loss, when Luke Rockhold bested him by decision in 2011, he has finished all five of his opponents.
So, what can Francis Carmont do? Against Jacare, I'm not sure.
The Frenchman (22-7, 32-years-old) is on a hell of a run, ten consecutive wins in fact (six in the UFC). Last year, he beat Lorenz Larkin and Costa Philippou to get people talking about him. This is a huge opportunity for him because few expect him to do anything other than be finished by one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the world.
Carmont is the larger man, but the explosiveness in that octagon is still coming from the hands of Souza. You expect Jacare to be able to take the fight to the ground if he chooses and Francis won't have much of a defense to do anything else. If he was able to keep the fight standing and work with his longer limbs from a distance to try and stifle Souza's offense, he'd have a solid chance to score the upset. But how will he do that against an overaggressive fighter?
Erick Silva vs. Takenori Sato
Not too long ago, Erick Silva was one of the hottest prospects in the welterweight division. But, since 2011, he is just 2-3 in the octagon. He has scored two submission of the night bonuses and his DQ loss again Carlo Prater may have been questionable, but he was outclassed by Stun Gun Kim in October.
Enter from Japan, Takenori Sato (17-8-7), a student of Kazushi Sakuraba for years. The majority of his career has been spent between Pancrase and Deep with him going 8-0-2 in his last ten fights going back to the fall of 2010. In fact, he was Pancrase's 170-pound champion and having never lost the title, he made four successful defenses (plus two draws). The criticism of Sato is that he is more of a one dimensional fighter, focused almost exclusively on getting the fight to the ground. So, while he is not an overpowering wrestler, is he walking into a buzz saw against Silva this weekend?
Erick is famous for his aggressive offense, not usually very technical though he is also extremely adept at grappling as he holds black belts in BJJ and judo. Considering that, Sato is going to have to outclass Silva to win this fight and unless the Brazilian is losing steps off his game before the age of 30, he should win this match-up.
JUGGERNAUT NEWS BRIEFS
- Gilbert Melendez's agent is negotiating with the UFC for a new contract as his former deal under Strikeforce has expired. Based on reports, they appear to be at an impasse as of now. The situation revolves around the fact that the UFC likely does not want to pay Gilbert as well as he was under the SF deal. Of course, it's possible, his representation may be making ridiculous requests, so logic says they're somewhere in the middle.
In the event a deal cannot be reached, unless he's willing to head to Asia for some time out of the year, the only major platforms in the U.S. are Bellator (and their restrictive contracts) and WSOF.
- Dana White says Alistair Overeem has declined a five-round fight and a three-round fight with Junior dos Santos.
- The UFC has announced a change to their bonus system for fighters. For years under the Zuffa banner, awards have been distributed based on three labels: Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night and Submission of the Night. Now, the system will distribute bonuses based on: Fight of the Night and two Performances of the Night. Now, simply finishing an opponent does not automatically make a fighter a candidate for a bonus and it opens up the possibilities as they try to entice talent to have entertaining contests.
- World Series of Fighting 9, set for March 29th in Las Vegas now has a full five-fight main card as of this week:
Welterweight champ Steve Carl vs. Rousimar Palhares
Marlon Moraes vs. Josh Rettinghouse for the inaugural featherweight title
Josh Burkman vs. Tyler Stinson
Ozzy Dugulubgov vs. Johnny Nunez
Shane Kruchten vs. Mike Corey
- 38-year-old Armenia pro boxer Vic Darchinyan will reportedly make his pro MMA debut in the near future according to a Sherdog report citing his trainer Edmond Tarverdyan. He plans to compete in Australia (where he holds citizenship) in the flyweight division, though a time/date/opponent have not been confirmed. Vic is 39-5-1 as a boxer and has held a myriad of championships ranging from 112-pounds to 118-pounds including IBF, WBC and WBA gold. He concluded his amateur career at the 2000 Summer Olympics where he fought into the quarterfinals.
- In the most obvious tidbit of the week, UFC president Dana White said Thiago Silva has been released and will never compete in the octagon again. Silva has bigger problems as not only is he facing serious prison time, but potential deportation, too. Last week, he allegedly threatened his ex-wife and a coach at a local gym with a handgun. When authorities chased him back to his home, it took a SWAT unit and the use of a taser to subdue the giant man. His ex-wife says Silva's use of cocaine is to blame for his poor behavior in recent years and this latest episode.
- We learned yesterday what the full UFC on Fox line-up in April will be and surprisingly, the important lightweight fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Rafael dos Anjos will headline the prelims. The main card consists of: Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne, Miesha Tate vs. Liz Carmouche, Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza and Yoel Romero vs. Brad Tavares.
- Those darn marijuana metabolites! UFC lightweight Yancy Medeiros has failed a drug test due to his apparent marijuana use, forcing his win over Yves Edwards to be overturned to a no-contest. Additionally, he was handed a 90-day suspension from the November 6th date of the fight and he must pass a drug test before he's allowed to compete again. Medeiros will compete against Joe Ellenberger in April at UFC 172.