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Preview: UFC Fight Night 125 ‘Machida vs. Anders’


Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight king
Lyoto
Machida
is the fighter most synonymous with the city of Belem,
Brazil. On Saturday at the Guilherme Paranese Arena in his own
backyard, he will main event
UFC Fight Night 125
, the promotion’s debut show in the city.
Unfortunately, the circumstances could be better.

Machida, 39, is 1-4 in his last five fights. He has been savagely
finished in his last three appearances. He was knocked silly by
Derek
Brunson
on Oct. 28 and now he headlines opposite 10-0 Eryk Anders
in his hometown. This bout was announced Dec. 14. “The Dragon” says
he has no plans to hang up his gloves, but win or lose, this may be
the most appropriate sendoff.

With that said, at least Valentina
Shevchenko
is finally cutting down to flyweight, we get to
admire John
Dodson
’s 1000-watt smile and there is a Tim Means
fight. Let us commence with our
UFC Fight Night 125
analysis:

Middleweight

Lyoto
Machida
(22-8) vs. Eryk Anders
(10-0)

ODDS: Anders (-275), Machida (+235).

ANALYSIS: It feels surreal to be writing about the
very real danger of Machida being knocked out again; it seems like
just yesterday I was grimly writing a preview about how Brunson was
overwhelmingly likely to do the same thing. Unsurprisingly, given
the recent nature of Machida’s last nasty knockout loss, a lot of
the factors that go into making this a dicey proposition remain
intact.

Machida may be one of the most recognizable southpaws in MMA
history, but he has lost three straight bouts to lefties and
explicitly struggled with that dynamic; now, he is facing another
one. Admittedly, Machida has become a more active fighter since he
began to work under Rafael
Cordeiro
at Kings MMA, but there just seems to be an overall
athletic degradation, combined with the reality of his facing
high-level competition, that has made this sudden decline seem
especially visible. His lateral movement and traditional Shotokan
karate concepts made him an all-time great defensive, economic MMA
fighter, but much of the athleticism that fueled his stylistic
success has regressed.

Anders, 30, is a plus-athlete and an MMA natural. He was as an
inside linebacker for the University of Alabama’s national
championship team in 2009, which seems to influence how people
perceive him as a 10-0 prospect who made his pro debut two and a
half years ago. However, Anders has underlying experience, with 22
amateur bouts dating back to 2012. His game reflects this, with a
developed jab, his understanding of how to be a pressure fighter
and highlight his physical gifts while embodying the old corny
adage about “imposing your will.”

There are two scenarios that are especially troubling for Machida
here. One is Anders’ natural forward-moving style and 5.70
significant strikes landed per minute, giving him the chance to put
Machida straight back to the fence — a longstanding problem for
the Brazilian and something at which “Ya Boy” excels. The other is
Anders either dropping Machida or simply taking him down along the
fence, where he will exploit the former champ’s lack of defense off
of his back, just as Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero did.

If Machida has one great performance left in him, now is the time.
Whether it is one nasty head kick or one diving diagonal cross
behind a feint, he needs it here. Machida is in his twilight and
Anders possesses many of the tools and modes of fighting that have
explicitly smashed him in recent outings. Anders winning via
standing knockout or ground-and-pound within 10 minutes is the
overwhelming likelihood here.

Next Fight »
Dodson vs. Munhoz



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