Lyoto Machida has been one of the most successful light heavyweights over the past few years in the UFC. An injury to Rashad Evans has opened the door for Machida to get a shot at regaining the UFC light heavyweight championship. At UFC 140 Machida will get the chance to face Jon Jones, a fighter that no one has yet been able to figure out.
Machida thinks that he will be able to find the chink in the armor of the champion on December (via Vancouver Sun):
"I've been studying Jon Jones thoroughly. I've been watching his game. It's not something impossible to do, to come up with a game plan. I think I'll be able to crack that code,"
Machida does present interesting challenges in his timing in the striking game, but he will have to figure out a way to get inside the reach of Jones and will have to be more aggressive than he showed in the first two rounds of his fight with Quinton Jackson at UFC 123. In the Jackson fight Lyoto fought far too measured and gave away the opening two rounds. When he came back to almost knock Rampage out in the final frame it was simply too little, too late.
Aside from the risks presented by Machida, ESPN's Chuck Mindenhall wonders if burnout may present just as much of a danger to Jones:
What Jones is doing is unprecedented. Chuck Liddell defended his strap three times in 2006; two of those defenses -- against Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz -- were against former champions. That comes close.
Georges St. Pierre fought four times in 2005, but none of them had title implications. Jones will have fought three former champions and one previously undefeated prospect. The annals of the UFC's history can't produce his equivalent.
So far he's handled the pressure of these events fine, though he's taking his time more as he goes along. He's finishing everybody, but chronologically speaking it's taking him an extra round to do it: Matyushenko (first round), Bader (second round), Rua (third round), Jackson (fourth). Of all of these, Machida is arguable the hardest to solve, and is possibly the best reactionary fighter in the game. The style match-up will be fun to contemplate.
It is absolutely one of the most intriguing style battles in the sport and we'll get to see it this December.