The Co-Main event for UFC on FOX 4 is a fight between Lyoto Machida (#5) vs. Ryan Bader (#7). Pretty much everyone thinks that Bader has no shot in hell at beating Machida. They have very good reasons for thinking that way to. He is an elite striker who has a perfect combination of speed and KO power, can fight from both the outside and clinch range and has excellent takedown defense to. If you manage to get him down, you then have to deal with his excellent grappling skills as he has a blackbelt in BJJ under Walter Broca. Bader, who was a 3 time PAC-10 champion and 2 time All-American and has used his wrestling to either KO people with his bricks for fists or take them down with power doubles and keep them on the ground for as long as he wanted. Bader is also one of the bigger and stronger LHW in the division while Machida is on the smaller side of the spectrum.
So let's look at how their skillsets stack up.
Striking- Machida has a total advantage in virtually every area of the striking except for one punch power in his hands. He is faster, has way better movement, and the power to put you to sleep with his hands or feet. Bader, while not a bad boxer by any means, does not have striking to write home about. He does not use kicks knees or elbows for the most part which makes it easier to defend against his strikes as you know what he's going to use to attack you. The issue with that attack is that he has dynamite in his hands and can put you to sleep with one punch on either hand. However the chances of him landing on Machida are slim considering how much slower he is in that area so it seems that is just not an option.
Wrestling- Bader definitely has the advantage here and I doubt anyone can really argue that. The problem is that Machida has stellar takedown defense and statistically is among the best in the UFC. Can Bader just blast double legs from the outside and power through to get it to the ground? Very doubtful in my opinion. He would have to set them up using strikes which he hasn't really done a lot throughout his career. He gave Rampage, someone who is known to have excellent takedown defense, fits with his wrestling. However this is a Rampage that is far from the fighter he was at his best so I don't really know how much of any indicator that will be of his chances of getting Machida to the ground. Bader is a straight wrestler/ground and pounder on top without any submission game to accompany it. His bottom game has only been seen against Jones and we saw how that went. I seriously doubt he will end up on bottom at any point in this fight (unless he gets knocked down) so if he gets on top of Machida, how will he fare there. Bader was able to nullify Lil Nog on the ground so I doubt he will be submitted from the bottom. If Bader is able to get him down then I think he should be able to keep him there and control him for the rest of the round barring a referee standup.
Clinch game- Machida is very crafty in the clinch and has very nice trips and throws and actually has a higher takedown percentage then Bader does (65% to 43%). Bader however has to good of a base and is much to strong in my opinion to be outworked in the clinch by Machida. This is where I think the fight will be decided.
Our beloved Jack Slack has written some absolutely brilliant articles on Machida's striking and one of the things he mentioned was that Lyoto suffers from the same fundamental error that Bader does. He keeps his lead hand really low and against Bader who's power is insane, that can lead to Bader waiting and taking advantage of that.
In order to win this fight Bader will have to be very patient and not desperately shoot for power doubles. He has to close the distance and keep cutting off the angles while backing Machida up to the cage while using feints and changing levels to keep Machida on edge. He needs to take advantage of Machida's small fundamental boxing errors and use his punches to back Machida into the cage before clinching with him and getting the takedown off the cage. If he can get to the clinch position on the cage, Bader can upset everyone and take a decision victory home.
By now it's pretty obvious to alot of people I want Bader to win this fight badly and prove everyone wrong. Do I think it will happen? Honestly I doubt he will be able to beat Machida but as a fan of his I will show my faith and continue to beat the Bader drum. WAR RYAN "DARTH" BADER!!!!