UFC 140 preview: Can Lyoto Machida end the Jon Jones era?

Lyoto Machida(left) will face Jon Jones at UFC 140

The UFC 140 main event will feature UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones defending his title against former champion Lyoto Machida. It’s a fight that many people consider interesting because of the elusive karate base style of Machida, and many people think Machida can pose problems the fighter who has looked invincible thus far. Let’s see if there’s any truth to it.

Lyoto Machida comes into this fight with an overall record of (17-2) with six wins via TKO/KO and two wins via submission. Machida was last seen in action sending Randy Couture into retirement via a highlight reel KO at UFC 129. Machida had lost two consecutive fights prior to that, a KO loss to former champion Shogun Rua, and a split decision loss to former champion Rampage Jackson. Machida is known for his karate style base and counter attacks, but he’s also well versed in judo and jiu jitsu. As far as weaknesses go he doesn’t really have any that stand out other than being to passive at times during his fights.

Jon Jones comes into this fight with an overall record of (14-1) with eight wins via TKO/KO and four wins via submission. He was last seen in action back in September as he became the first man to stop Rampage Jackson in six years. Jones has finished his last seven opponents(including the Hamill fight that is scored as a loss via DQ), and has looking almost unstoppable in doing so. Jones is a huge light heavyweight with a huge wingspan, and also has very good wrestling and a sneaky good submission game. There are no known weaknesses about Jones, but there are some questions as to how good he can take a punch or if he’s any good off his back. He’s been able to avoid both of those scenarios thus far.

Bet on Fighting has Jones as the betting favorite at (-550) and Machida as the underdog at (+400).

It’s hard to believe that someone could be such a huge betting favorite over Machida, but Jones has looked almost unbeatable. At these odds, I would wager a small amount on Machida.

Jones Jones is much bigger, has a huge reach advantage, and is the better wrestler of the two fighters. As soon as this fight was announced I thought Jones would win pretty easily, but after thinking this fight through and looking at some tape I do think Machida has a slight chance of pulling the upset.

I wrote the blueprint on how to beat Jon Jones after the Rampage Jackson fight. I also told you exactly how Jones likes to take his opponents to the ground with his wrestling ability. So looking at these two pieces this is the way that Machida could beat Jon Jones.

Machida has outstanding judo skills and has used that ability to manhandle larger fighters in the clinch. He’s taken down fighters like Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson, and shrugged off Randy Couture’s takedowns like he was a little kid. Machida changes range very well with footwork and he’ll have to do this to close the distance and initiate his offense in the clinch as I wrote about in the first part of the blueprint above. He possesses the speed to pull off attacks from that position, but he must be able to defend takedown attempts from the clinch position as I covered that above as well. If Machida is taken down by Jones he needs to get back up to his feet and not play the jiu-jitsu game as Jones has an excellent base and would be very difficult to sweep or submit from that position.

On the feet Machida will have to be more aggressive and let his offense be his defense so to speak. He’s a great striker but the reach advantage coupled with his passive nature at times would make it difficult to when a decision. He needs to push the pace against Jones as Jones has seemed to be winded at times later in fights. A tired Jones will make mistakes that Machida can capitalize on.

The easiest way for Jones to win this fight is to use his size and wrestling and put Machida on his back. He could move to the halfguard position and punish Machida from there without much risk. Jones is so long that he could easily land huge punches and elbows and put Machida away. He could probably beat him while using his length on the feet, but there’s always the chance that Machida could catch him with something unorthodox standing and stun him. The chance of Machida submitting Jones is much smaller than getting caught with a clean punch. We’ve seen Machida land punches that stun guys. He hurt Rampage Jackson late in their fight and he has an iron chin. He put Thiago Silva away with basically one punch. He tagged Rashad Evans with multiple punches that had him on cloud nine before finishing him. That one question about Jones in that we don’t know if he can take a clean punch or not for the most part.

I think Jones wins this fight. I think he takes Machida to the ground at some point and either takes him out via TKO, or winds up submitting Machida. Jones has a sneaky guillotine he likes to slap on, so be on the lookout for that should Machida be looking to get back to his feet after a takedown.

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