UFC 140 Preview – Lyoto Machida Vs. Jon Jones
UFC 140 is here and the buzz is way low. Why? It features UFC’s fighter of the year in Jon Jones (if he wins tomorrow). When Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva and Brock Lesnar fight, the buzz is always above normal. Why is it below normal for this fight when Jones, arguably one of the top three fighters in the company, is in the main event? Jason, aka dadrrtywhyteboi, and I discussed this on the latest episode of FGB Radio.
The FGB crew along with friend of the site JP and Stevie J from Angrymarks, have predictions for the the top two fights of this show.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Frank Mir
Duan: Nogueira by 3rd round TKO
Alan: Nogueira by decision
Stevie: Nogueira by 2nd round submission
JP: Mir by 1st round TKO
Cactus Jim: Mir by decision
GG: Mir by decision
While I have little doubt Big Nog is a spent force, I do still believe he’s a better fighter than what he showed last time against Mir. The great man moved like a zombie from first bell to finish that night during a career worst performance. You have to believe he will come into this fight a whole hell of a lot healthier, and ready to fight.
Mir’s record flatters him as it always has. A mix of luck and favourable match making have kept him relevant within UFC, but few would argue he belongs amongst the heavyweight elite. Mir lacks for the toughness, dedication and desire of Minotauro. I believe that Nogueira, even the faded version, is simply a better fighter. He digs down deep and outlasts Mir in a real war.
Two guys extremely motivated to win here. Mir to prove that he didn’t just win the first fight because Nog was a staph-ridden corpse, and Nog to prove the opposite. Nog was better than Mir has ever been and my heart wants to believe he’s still good enough that he can beat him, but the guy is really old in fight years. I’d like to think that the Schaub win was a sign that he can still go, but part of me thinks it was just a matter of catching the guy and if it had gone three rounds he’s have fallen short. A lot of uncertainties for me when it comes to Nog. Really it’s the same case with Mir – he’s won a lot of fights I thought he had no chance to win. I’ll go with my gut and say Nog wins by out-boxing him.
The theory is that Big Nog got beaten last time because he was weakened from illness or infection (or a combination thereof). The people who espouse that theory also tend to generally discredit Frank Mir’s accomplishments, including his rebound from a major career slump 4-5 years ago. Perhaps those same people should recognize that in the last two years he’s beaten some of the toughest heavyweights in UFC – Cheick Kongo, Mirko Cro Cop, and Roy Nelson. He may not be the most flashy, but he’s one of the most resilient. His weakness is guys who hit real hard that crack his chin (Lesnar, Carwin) and his strength is wrestling and top flight jiu-jitsu. Nog +can+ hit real hard, and his jits is as good as Mir’s if not better – how many heavyweights do you know with 20 career submissions? I picked Nog last time they fought and was wildly wrong, so I don’t want to discount Mir like so many other people do, but I’m willing to give Nog the benefit of the doubt a second time.
A rematch from three years ago that should play out exactly like the first. Frank Mir has been a staple of the UFC heavyweight division for just over a decade now and figures to be a factor in the division for the foreseeable future as well. A win here could put Mir in a title eliminator match against perhaps the winner of the Strikeforce Grand Prix for a shot at the belt after the winner of Lesnar-Overeem gets his turn. Big Nog looks to continue his revival after he brutally finished Brendan Schaub in front of a home crowd in Rio. This fight could be a technical masterpiece if it ends up going to the mat but both guys are the type willing to trade and that ends better for Mir who has grown into the stronger standup guy. Nothing too fancy here. Mir will simply land first and turn off Nog’s lights with a nice combination in the first round.
Cactus Jim says:
Nog is coming off a win against a strong, but relatively inexperienced guy. Frank hasn’t exactly looked impressive lately, although he has put together some wins himself. In this match up I think Frank is able to out power and outlast Nog. I don’t anticipate the KO finish that we saw last time, but I do believe Mir can get in there and score, busting up Nog in the process. This will probably be a bit of a messy fight, and likely will make the main event seem all that much more impressive after sitting through this fight. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
I’m not sure there are many people who will be rooting for Frank Mir. His style has become quite laborious and boring to watch and he now simply uses his size to push guys around and against the cage. Now, I’m hoping that Big Nog can land something quickly and finish Mir, but that’s harder to predict than thinking that Mir smothers Nog pushes him up against the cage, and just moves him around, doing whatever he wants with him. I’m hoping for a nice little war, but expecting the bigger man pushing around the smaller man.
Lyoto Machida vs. Jon Jones
Duan: Machida by 3rd round TKO
Alan: Jones by 2nd round TKO
Stevie: Jones by 2nd round TKO
JP: Jones by 2nd round TKO
Cactus Jim: Jones by 3rd round TKO
GG: Jones by 3rd round TKO
Everybody is entitled to have that one slip up and I just have a feeling this might be it for Jones. Machida has very strong base. This is a guy who is not going to be easy to move around. And while I think Jones is one of the most natural and fluid strikers to enter MMA, that doesn’t make up for his lack of top level experience.
Part of what makes Jones exciting is that he doesn’t do everything by the book. There are fundamental errors to his stand up game. He makes mistakes technically, but he makes it work for him. Machida is a really tricky customer. He is the type to ruthlessly punish mistakes. When he puts conviction behind his attack, he finishes fights. I see the young champion over committing on a loose shot, being caught out, countered and KO’d.
I know everyone’s been saying it but REACH REACH REACH! That’s the key here. Lyoto looks to be elusive and fight from the outside but quite frankly the only way to be “outside” Jon Jones is to hop over the cage. His arms are too long, his legs are too long, and if Lyoto comes in close then Jones will happily throw him on his back. Jones will have to be careful, Machida is a former champ after all (and very dangerous), but I think he will be and he’ll put on another dominant performance.
Picking a winner is easy on paper, harder in practice. I think Jones has everything he needs to be a long-reigning light heavyweight champion – youth, speed, technique, aggression, and an incredibly lanky amount of reach that makes it almost impossible to get out of his range. Machida has found a way to become the champion before though, and his unorthodox karate striking might be the one thing that actually causes problems for Jones – nothing else has. Somehow though I doubt it. All I can say is that I have a feeling, the same one I’ve had ever since I first saw Jones at 87, the same one when I predicted he’d be a world champion in an interview at 124, and I’ve still got it right now. This is simply Jones time.
In an effort to put his signature on ‘Fighter of the Year’, Jon Jones takes his 4th fight of 2011 in a second defense of his light heavyweight strap. His foe this time is the former champ Lyoto Machida, coming off his ‘Knockout of the Year’ contending finish of Randy Couture. The storyline here seems to go that Machida used to be the unsolvable riddle and now its Jones, which I believe is misleading because I’ve never seen Jones as being a riddle but rather just being better. I do think we will get the chance to see Jones put on the defensive again as Rampage did once or twice. It will be interesting to see if Jones has worked on his footwork and head movement, rather than just turning and running away. But the majority of this match will be controlled by ‘Bones’ as his matches typically are. Jones has become one of the best finishers in the sport and should continue his run of domination here against ‘The Dragon’. I like him to showcase a new dimension to his striking: legit knockout power, as he finishes Lyoto with a big left hook in the second and followup punches on the ground. Then he gets to relax for only a bit before being in the audience to watch Rashad Evans and Phil Davis fight for a shot at his gold.
Cactus Jim says:
Bones Jones is an incredible freak of athleticism. This guy can punch, kick, flip, jump, sprawl, and has cardio that’s off the charts. He’s coming in with the belt and a string of impressive victories. In this matchup I think he can use that athleticism to offset Machida’s unorthodox style and that his offense will find it’s mark more often than most have found it with Lyoto. Jones’ chin is untested to the best of my recollection, but Machida isn’t really known as a powerhouse puncher so I don’t see that being much of a concern. Lyoto’s “in and out” style doesn’t match up well with Jones in my opinion so I have to go with Bones on this one.
I understand that Machida is elusive. But he was elusively knocked out by Shogun Rua, elusively decisioned by Rampage Jackson (though I thought he probably won the fight), and elusively front kicked Randy Couture’s teeth out, all in his last three fights. I think the key to Machida is countering. Like Duan said above, Jones takes chances that put him in odd spots and if Machida can take advantage of them, he has a shot. Machida also has really good accuracy on the move and moving backward. I think he’ll be able to confuse Jones early on. But I think Jones is too good athletically and too fast for Machida to deal with. I think he figures it out in the third round and takes it.
There you have it. We’ll have play by play of the show tomorrow.