Jason Head_Shot 2[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

This Saturday the UFC will return to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for UFC 163. The co-main event Lyoto Machida and Phil Davis will square off with huge title ramifications on the line.

Loyoto Machida is currently ranked #1 In the light heavyweight division under current champion Jon Jones. With a win Lyoto should be right in line for a shot at the title. For Phil Davis who is currently ranked #7 this is a huge opportunity for him to leap way up the latter and possibly one fight away from a title shot.

This is a classic grappler vs striker match-up, so, how do they match-up? Lets take a look.

For Phil Davis he is going to have to do what he does and do it well. He can’t allow himself to get frustrated with Lyoto’s style, he has to use his striking, speed, and reach advantage solely to close the distance and get in on Lyoto’s legs to score some much needed takedowns.

If he allows himself to get caught up in Machida’s game, chasing him all over the octagon trying to land big punches, or failing to change levels or use angels, he will be in trouble. He is very good at avoiding strikes, keeping his opponents landing percentage at an impressive 25% that will be important.

Davis is extremely powerful, and has great technique on the ground once he gets he gets it there he passes guard very successfully and has some very crafty and impressive submissions. He absolutely cannot get sucked into a striking match with Machida; he is too accurate and too good at avoiding damage. If he has learned anything from watching Machida’s fights against other elite wrestlers it is that he is able to make them abandon there wrestling in favour of trying to land big shots due to their frustration with his style.

To Machida’s credit he is really good at that. If history tells than Davis is in trouble. Traditionally wrestlers don’t do well with Machida’s style; his use of distance, angels and the way he just leaps in and out makes him incredibly difficult to takedown. Of all the skills it is his masterful use of distance that causes the most problems.

His opponent land a dismal 18% of their takedown attempts, while he strikes at an impressive 60% and with most wrestlers picking up striking as their secondary discipline you can see where the problems come in.

Machida will attempt to force Davis into his world, just like he did to Rashad, Henderson and Bader. It should be noted that two of those three fights ended in a devastating KO for Machida. Will history repeat itself? Quite possibly, we shall see on Saturday night.

Davis will attempt to catapult up the rankings on Saturday night and if he sticks to what he is good at, that is possible. He absolutely cannot abandon his skill set to fight Machida at his strengths. For what it is worth I think that Davis is big, strong, explosive and has a strong enough submission game that he could very well pull off the upset.

If I had to bet money on this fight I would have to go with history; Machida’s ability to handle wrestlers and do it impressively, has me giving him the nod. Machida in round three by TKO.

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