Previewing the big Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida fight from Toronto
JON JONES vs. LYOTO MACHIDA
Jon Jones could wrap the single greatest year in UFC history tonight, but he’s facing one of the more intriguing tests he’ll ever face as light heavyweight champion. Lyoto Machida represents a style unlike any Jones has faced thus far.
In reality, he’s very much like Jon Jones. Both fighters are predicated on playing defense and avoiding punishment, and both fighters are exceedingly good at creating distance and using range to strike opponents who swing and miss more often than not. Back before he started losing fights on a regularly basis, Machida very rarely looked human, and that’s something Jones can identify with these days.
Jones is a heavy favorite in this fight, as he should be. Machida can win, much the same way that anybody can really win an MMA fight. But Machida was less the definer of a new era than a placeholder for what the Jones era will become, and he’s not going to finish Jones’ or his reign as champion any time soon.
FRANK MIR vs. ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA
Frank Mir’s pretty bitter about the way the bigger Nogueira dismissed his dominating win three years ago. He has every right to be. Staph infection or no, Nogueira looked decidedly unlike the champion who, along with Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko Cro Cop, defined an entire generation of heavyweight fighters in Japan.
Mir has a chip on his shoulder. He feels disrespected, and rightly so. But that has nothing to do with 2011 or the second meeting between the pair. The fact remains that Nogueira, while not “shot” in the traditional sense, certainly is not the fighter he used to be. Not even close. Don’t pay attention to his win over Brendan Schaub, because that was an outlier brought on by Schaub’s careless overlooking of the Brazilian. It was disrespect, plain and simple, and Schaub paid a very dear price for it.
Mir is too big, too strong and too good. He’s not going to fall into the trap of disrespecting Nogueira, no matter how often he pretends to do so otherwise in public settings. There will be no zombie comebacks for Nogueira in this fight.
TITO ORTIZ vs. ANTONIO ROGERIO NOGUEIRA
Tito Ortiz thinks he might retire soon. He’s had a nice career, after all, and he’s getting a little tired of putting in the kind of work that goes into being a slightly-less-than-medicore light heavyweight in the year 2011. You can’t blame him. He’s had a nice run.
This won’t be the fight that retires him, however. The venerable Ortiz will indeed live to fight another day, but it’s not because he’s great shakes as a fighter these days, but rather because Nogueira just isn’t that good. He’s never been all that good, and those of you who believe he was one of the best light heavyweights in the world are deluding yourself and buying into the haze from a bygone era.
Ortiz will beat Nogueira, and he’ll do it the same way the tiniest Nog’s other opponents did: by taking him to the ground and keeping him there. It won’t be exciting and it won’t be all that fun to watch, but it will be a victory for the newly-dubbed People’s Champ.
BRIAN EBERSOLE vs. CLAUDE PATRICK
Ebersole’s gradual ascendance from “wacky humor guy” to “possible welterweight contender/aging veteran” starts with this bout.
He’s one of the smartest guys in the business, and obviously one of the funniest. Witness his epic appearances on MiddleEasy.com for proof on both accounts, but take my word on this: Ebersole is no joke. The fight with Rory MacDonald would have been a tough one, but Claude Patrick is no Rory MacDonald and Ebersole should have a field day here.
Expect a slow, grinding fight, with Ebersole pretty much having his way on top and controlling the fight. It won’t be pretty, but it doesn’t have to be.
MARK HOMINICK vs. CHAN SUNG JUNG
This is a mismatch, pure and simple. Jung takes a ton of punishment and the fight seems designed to get him to take as much punishment as possible, to see how many punches he can absorb before falling over into a coma.
Hominick is too accurate and too technical for Jung to overcome. This one could be ugly.