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By: Frank Hyden, MMATorch contributor
Lyoto Machida got the knockout win over Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 4 last Saturday. It was a fine win, but hardly what I would call impressive. Machida went backwards the whole time, Bader got frustrated and rushed in like a fool, then got knocked out. That sure as hell won't work against Jon Jones, and I fully expect Jones to defeat Dan Henderson next month at UFC 151, which would set up the rematch between Jones and Machida.
Ryan Bader is an average striker. I don't mean that as an insult, but he's more of a slugger. Jones, on the other hand, is an incredibly diverse and spectacular striker. He'll come at Machida in multiple ways. Counterpunching isn't easy with an average striker. With a guy who can come at you in numerous ways, it's even harder.
The question I ask is, "What's different now?" How has Machida improved his game to the point that would make anyone seriously believe that he'll win for sure? Of course Machida has a chance to win, it's MMA, anything can happen. I take a very clinical view on match-ups and there is nothing that Machida has shown that would make you think he's improved as a fighter since losing to Jones the first time. In fact, Machida is only removed from that loss to Jones by his win over Bader, one I would categorize as classic Machida.
Machida said the other day that Jones has a weakness, he just has to find it. There's no doubt that Jones has at least one weakness - no fighter can be entirely perfect - but I don't think Machida has the fighting style to find it. Machida fights so defensively that he plays right into Jones' hands. I think Machida would be better served by bringing the fight to Jones and hitting him in the mouth. He needs to try to rough him up. This is the same strategy that has worked so well for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but if you hit in the mouth, it's going to affect him. Jones may seem invincible, but he's just a man. He feels pain the same as all the rest of us.
Machida can't afford to fight cautious. He's already tried that against Jones and it didn't work. I don't care if some people say that Machida won the first round or not, he lost the damn fight, and that's all that matters. Albert Einstein's definition of insanity was doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Machida's already tried fighting cautious and it got him choked out and falling to the mat like a sack of potatoes. He needs to change things up and try a different tactic.
His usual strategy of backing away to lure his opponent in may work against some fighters, but it's not going to work against Jones, he's too good a striker and can hit you from too many different angles. I'm not saying Machida should rush in like a fool, but he's got to try something different. If he doesn't, history will repeat itself.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Brandon Vera had a fairly entertaining fight at UFC on FOX 4. It could have much better, though, if both guys weren't so timid. There were several times where one of the fighters was hurt, but the other one didn't press the action for the finish. Vera could have won the fight if he had pushed forward when he had Rua hurt a few times. At the same time, Rua could have finished the fight sooner if he had done the same.
The fight also looked like it was taking place under water as well. Both guys were moving so slowly that I thought something was wrong with my television. I know I've been spoiled by the lighter fighters, but I didn't think I was spoiled that much. It didn't help that I saw Mike "Quick" Swick and his hands of lightning earlier in the evening. Speaking of Swick, it was really cool to see him return. He looked very good in his knockout of Damarques Johnson. I hope Swick is able to stay healthy, the guy's a hell of a fighter.
Comments and suggestions can be e-mailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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