Now, there's already been a ton said about the Machida/ Rua rematch tonight, and i've taken it all in, thought about it, reviewed their past fights in my head, and have come to the conclusion that (IMO), Machida will not be able to overcome Rua in the striking department. I say this because I just don't think that Lyoto will be able to make the huge kind of adjustments in his style necessary to edge Rua standing, for these reasons:
- As Bas has explained in the past (http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2009/6/4/899597/bas-rutten-on-how-to-counter-lyoto), Lyoto has a Karate stance, with much more weight on his back leg, which makes it difficult for him to step backwards. Bas then explains that to fight a counter fighter, you have to draw them in with feints, and counter their counter; he then goes on to say that he thinks a good combo to use on Machida would be a straight punch to an inside leg kick. This is exactly what Shogun did.
- This wouldn't be too much of a problem, but think back to Machida's other hardest fight- Sam Greco. Greco, a HW K-1 kickboxer, was able to exploit exactly this in their fight, and really worked the leg kicks in their fight. He also did well in the thai- clinch, where he pressed him against the corner of the ring and landed knees to the thighs (just as Shogun did along the fence). The fact that Shogun almost exactly replicated Greco's successes in a fight that took place some 5 1/2 years later says to me that this aspect of Lyoto's stance and game is much more deep- seeded and problematic than most think.
- Which leads me to my conclusion- Lyoto probably won't beat Shogun standing. The problems illuminated require a guy with well rounded and diverse striking arsenal, with adequate power & athleticism, rock solid conditioning, and a level head- all things that a motivated Rua has proven to have
Which is why I see the wrestling and grappling game being key to the outcome of this fight- will Lyoto try to/ be able to take Rua down and create effective offense? Will Rua be able to finish takedowns when he has the opportunity to do so, like in the last fight, and will he be able to create meaningful offense? And who does better on top/ on their back, are Shogun's leg attacks and sweeps enough for him to reverse position if Lyoto takes him down? If Machida gets put on his back, will he be able to survive Shogun's hyperactive GnP & potent submission game?
This fight is by no means a lock either way, though; I think the world of both guys and think going in, there are so many question marks, and both guys have so many tools at their disposal that we could see a completely different fight from what we saw last time. I just don't see Lyoto beating Rua with the kickboxing game he had last time, unless maybe Lyoto threates so much with the takedown that it drastically changes the dynamic of the standup (like how GSP uses his grappling to intimidate his opponents to the point where he can soundly outstrike very good strikers like Hardy, Alves, BJ, etc).