I'm a fan of Lyoto Machida. I enjoy watching him employ his style in a fight. When he gets on his bicycle, and starts to move in and out with powerful strikes, he is as dangerous as they come. For some time fighters were mystified with his version of karate in the cage and the success came in bunches. But, something happened along the way. He got figured out. Shogun, after nearly defeating Lyoto in their first fight, found the strategy to beat Machida. Rampage tore a page directly out of Shogun's book and cut off the cage while he pursued Machida to a narrow victory. It became more difficult for Machida to move in and out with strikes and he became beatable. I want to say that Jones will be one of those mystified by Machida's style, that once in the clinch Machida's sumo background will give him the advantage. I want to say that Jones' inexperience will lead to his downfall in this fight against the Shotokan urine imbibing master. I just can't.
If you were cheering for Rampage days ago in his fight against Jones it was a series of fits and starts. Anytime you thought Rampage might gain an advantage Jones squashed it. How many times did we watch Rampage lunge with a hook that Jones would simply side step? I remember actually hooting when he ducked under one of the spinning hellbows, but there was no counter that I was sure was going to come. It never came. Jones kept Rampage at a safe distance and in a moment that surprised me Rampage (how the hell do you not tuck your chin, Page, when Jones has your back?) gave up his neck and the match.
Lyoto is certainly more fluid than Rampage and attacks from different angles when he has the room to move, when he can get on his bike and get a chain of strikes going. Rampage and Shogun stifled that movement to varying degrees and shut down the offense of Machida, naturally Shogun did more so than Rampage. Now you have an extremely well coached Jones who can cut off the cage with an 84.5" wingspan and leg kicks that are as effective as a good jab. Good thing for Jones since he lacks that good jab. I see no reason why Jones won't execute similar strategies that have defeated Machida in the past. How is Machida going to dart in for a strike with Jones' length? How is he going to get inside to work his clinch game? I just don't see it.
The one thing we can say about Machida, along with his talents, is he has a great team around him. If there is a group that can help him solve the puzzle that is Jones it's the Black House team. Anderson, Munoz, Nog, etc., they are among the elite in the game. And who knows what the Fight-Whisperer, Steven Seagal, might impart to Machida before the bout. I don't think Jones has faced an elite fighter who is as cross trained with some of the best as Machida is. I'm curious to see how that plays out and if it gives him any advantages going into his fight with Jones. Because on paper, I can't find one.