...Lyoto Machida. Machida has become the forgotten man at 205 lbs. and unjustly so. He may have well met his kryptonite in the form of Mauricio Rua and a close decision loss to Rampage Jackson (a fight that many feel he got he better of) left him with 2 defeats in a row, effectively deflating the aura of invincibility that he had possessed only a year before. Add to that his difficult negotiations with the UFC and the promotion’s uncertainty as to how to effectively market the Brazilian Karate master and you have a recipe for obscurity. Even his highlight reel KO of Randy Couture does not seem to have put him back in the conversation. Despite this, Machida matches up better with Jones than any other fighter at 205 for the following reasons:
Lyoto is better at closing the distance than any other fighter in the UFC. Machida’s unique ability to stay out of range, rapidly close the distance to land strikes and then disappear just as quickly is exactly what is needed in order to counter the freakish reach of Jon Jones. Machida will have the best shot yet at getting inside the champ’s range, testing his chin and then escaping.
Highly underrated wrestling/grappling. Not only is Machida incredibly difficult to chase down inside the octagon, but even when he ties up with opponents his Sumo base is extremely strong, making him very hard to control and take down. In fact, if he were to ever get another shot at Shogun, takedowns and possibly a submission would be his best chance to pull out a victory over his fellow Brazilian.
General unpredictability. Even for a guy with all of Jones’ tools and the tactical wizardry of his trainer Greg Jackson, Machida can still be puzzling. Shogun seemed to beat him with aggressiveness and a willingness to trade, this has never been Bones’ style (more the patient, methodical tactician).
Do I think Machida beats Jones? Hell no. Another victory waiting to happen for the man who represents the arrival of the next level of athlete in MMA. But I do believe Machida has a better chance against Jones than anyone else in the division.
So. Fast forward 1-2 years and Jon Jones has just won a decision over Lyoto in a highly entertaining technical showcase. Barring the emergence of another deadly contender at 205 it will be time for Jon Jones to move up to Heavyweight and attempt to become a two belt champ. In both Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos you have heavyweights who could retain/win and retain the belt for quite awhile. Both very well rounded, both very dangerous, both very tough. So I thinks its a fair guess that when the times comes for Jones to move up, it is one of these two men he will be facing.
I will stop short of a prediction on this final match-up, if Jones continues to dominate in this fashion we will have the opportunity to preview this match up in another article before long.