The UFC 157 co-main event will feature a light heavyweight bout between two former champions in Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson. It’s an important bout in the sense that a bad loss for either could really put the final nail in their coffins regarding being a top fighter. If Machida lost to Henderson who is 42 years old and coming off an 18 month layoff, it certainly would be hard to consider him a top light heavyweight. If Machida puts Henderson away via TKO or just batters him in a unanimous decision, it could be possible that this would be Henderson’s last fight. Let’s see how this one breaks down.
Dan Henderson (29-8) hasn’t fought since winning his epic instant classic fight with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 in November 2011. He was set to take on Jon Jones at UFC 151 but a knee injury has forced him to miss a huge amount of time. He’ll be coming into this fight having no competing in over 15 months. Henderson is arguably one of the best MMA fighters of all time. He is riding a four fight win streak including a first round KO win over MMA heavyweight legend Fedor Emlianenko. He has 13 wins via TKO/KO with two wins via submission. Henderson has a grenade for a right hand and that’s just about all he uses nowadays. His wrestling ability has diminished over the years with age and injuries, but he is still somewhat crafty for an older fighter. He has a granite chin, but does seem to have cardio issues at times.
Lyoto Machida (18-3) comes into this fight off his TKO win over Ryan Bader at the UFC on FOX 4 event in August 2012. Machida has won eight fights via TKO/KO and two fights via submission. Machida has a very unorthodox fighting style that’s based in Karate, but he is versed in submissions as well as Judo. Machida has a solid chin and excellent takedown defense while exhibiting excellent cardio. He has no real weaknesses in his game.
Machida comes into this fight as the betting favorite with Henderson as the betting underdog and rightfully so with him being out of action for long coupled with his advanced age.
This fight will be fairly simple to predict. Henderson will look to touch Machida’s chin with that grenade for a right hand, and Machida will look to use good footwork to create angle to pick the lumbering Henderson apart. The days of Henderson getting guys in the clinch and just manhandling them are over, and Machida has shown that he can deal with fighters similar to Henderson in the past. It’s quite possible that Machida can take Henderson down and goto work from the top position. We’ve seen that Henderson has zero submission skills while on his back so Machida would be in no danger there. However, I suspect that Machida will avoid close quarters with Henderson and look to pick him apart from long range with kicks, and/or with punches as he moves in and out of range.
I think Henderson has a puncher’s chance in this fight and that’s about it. Machida should take this one via decision or he could submit Henderson if he’s able to get the fight to the ground.