UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout: Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida
Odds: (-550 Jones/ +375 Machida )
Betting Pick: Jones
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In the main event, Light Heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones will look to make his second title defense against former champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. Jones’ rise to the top of the Light Heavyweight division has been meteoric, and he has not only handled every step up in competition, he has made all of his opponents look like amateurs in the process. Lyoto’s slick counterpunching style, coupled with great takedown defense and a very solid ground game, could provide obstacles Jones has never had to deal with before. It remains to be seen whether or not Machida’s technical prowess will be enough to trump Bones’ freakish athleticism and raw power, but either way it makes for a great style matchup.
Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida roared to the top of the 205 pound division with a slick, defensive striking style and a karate background that gave his standup technique a whole different complexion from most kickboxers. Machida is one of the most difficult fighters in the world to figure out. He is very hard to take down, very hard to hit with punches, and incredibly effective at landing counterpunches while backpedalling and sidestepping. He has pretty good jiu-jitsu as well, but he is unlikely to try and take this fight, or any other, to the ground. Against Jones he is going to want to maintain range, keep pressing his footwork advantage, and wait for Jones to throw lunging punches before countering him with quick shots.
Jon “Bones” Jones has had one of the fastest and most impressive trips up the ladder in the sport’s history. Jones’ unique mix of reach, athleticism, punching power, dominant wrestling, and effective submissions have allowed him to not only move steadily up the rankings, but to leave a trail of embarrassed veterans in his wake. Every time he has stepped up in competition, he has destroyed his opponent. It’s not just that he has won so impressively, it’s that no one has even appeared capable of remotely testing him in any way. Machida’s hyper-defensive striking is a new look, but if Jones can secure a clinch, muscle him to the ground and batter him, it really isn’t going to matter.
Lyoto is a very dangerous and effective striker, but I don’t think he really has anything for Jones. Jones has far more reach and far more punching power, and more importantly Jones is the vastly superior grappler and the much stronger fighter. I think it is entirely possible Jones could manhandle Machida in a purely kickboxing matchup, but there is no reason for him to even try. Jones has all the tools to ragdoll Machida to the ground and unload on him from top position, and I think that’s what he will do. Jones continues his run of dominance with a ground and pound T/KO victory.
Prediction: Jon “Bones” Jones by third round T/KO.