Upset Alert: Why Lyoto Machida Will Beat Jon Jones

At this point in his (still young) career it seems crazy to pick against the UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones. He has achieved a level of dominance at 205 pounds that has not been seen since the heydays of former company poster boys Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, and you could make a good argument that Jones has fought better competition than either man. The craziest part of all this is that Jones is only 24 years old and has probably not even achieved the pinnacle of what he can do as an athlete in combat sports.

Even with all that being said, I think Lyoto Machida will beat Jones on December 10 in Toronto.

I may be wrong, as I’ve certainly been wrong about Machida before. Jones has appeared virtually unstoppable since arriving in the UFC, but of course the same was said about Machida during his run up to the title. MMAth certainly doesn’t help me, since Machida lost to Shogun and Jones beat Shogun with ease. Machida’s mystique has already been cracked yet Jones appears to be Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America every time he’s in the cage.

So why do I think “The Dragon” will dethrone “Bones” Jones?

The first reason is a matter of timing. Jones is a warrior and one of the best embodiments of a pure athlete, but he is also human. When Jones meets Machida in the center of the octagon in December it will be his fourth fight in a little over ten months. Add in to that the fact that he’s been training essentially nonstop between those fights and fatigue is a very real possibility.

Let’s not forget that those three fights he’s already had have been against some of the best fighters in the UFC. All three men were top ten fighters when Jones faced them, and you could make the case that the biggest challenge is yet to come. Machida may not be the invincible warrior he was a few years ago but he’s still one of the most unique fighters in the sport of MMA. I know Greg Jackson has a world-class facility in New Mexico but I doubt he has any guys on his team that are masters of Shotokan karate.

If this fight stays on the feet I have to believe that the edge goes to Machida. He’s still extremely hard to hit, although he’s obviously never faced anyone with the reach of Jones. If the two do engage any back-and-forth exchanges it’s probably going to be Jones that takes the most punishment. Let’s also not forget that Jones has yet to show any true knockout power since joining the UFC, and at the same time we don’t know how well his chin will hold up if it’s hit repeatedly over the course of a potential five rounds. If you don’t think Machida can knock Jones out, I’ve got a UFC Hall of Fame member’s tooth that I’d love to sell you.

It’s also important to note that this is Jones’ first time facing a southpaw. Jones is still learning how to be an effective striker, as his genetic gifts have been able to cover up a lot of the holes in his boxing. If there’s a single fighter at light heavyweight who is great at finding those holes and exploiting them, it’s Machida.

The easy solution may be for Jones to turn this into a ground battle, and it’s this area where he will likely win the fight if he is indeed victorious. Jones has some of the best ground and pound of any fighter in the modern era of the sport, and Machida will likely be in trouble if he’s put on his back.

That being said, I’m not sure if Jones can get the fight there. Jones brings those amazing throws and trips that work so well, but Machida’s balance is simply uncanny. He’s got plenty of experience in wrestling and sumo and has proven several times over that his takedown defense is top notch. If Jones decides to clinch with Machida he could be making a big mistake given how well Machida utilized the clinch in his destruction of Thiago Silva.

Again, Jones is a genetic freak so if anybody can put Machida on his back it’s probably the champ. We can’t forget that Machida is a black belt in BJJ even though we rarely see his ground game in effect during his fights. Jones’ reach advantage could work against him should the two fighters spend any real time on the ground, as those long limbs give Machida even more to grab a hold of before attempting any limb-based submissions.

Let’s review. Jones is facing (arguably) the toughest opponent of his career, on shorter notice than usual, at the tail end of a four-fight blitz through the upper levels of the division. Jones will have to figure out how to defeat the fighter that is like no other, who has very real knockout power, and who will probably test his chin like it’s never been tested before. If Jones wants to take Machida down he will likely have a very hard time doing so, and even if he gets the fight there he’s dealing with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

It’s so hard to try and accurately predict what will happen in the cage when these two meet in eight weeks. This is the fight I wanted to see from the moment Jones won the strap, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. Seeing as we’re still two months out I reserve the right to change my mind, but for now I like Machida’s chances to hand Jones the first legitimate loss on the young champion’s record.

PHOTO CREDIT – UFC

19 COMMENTS
  • MickeyC says:

    You make some very good points, however I’m afraid I do not agree with the outcome. But I too have been wrong before, & would love to be here.

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  • Dufresne says:

    It will be interesting to see how Jones deals with an elusive southpaw. I agree that Machida has the potential to KO jones by utilizing the same style of gameplan that he used to KO Rashad, but I don’t think Jones is going to allow that to happen. Rashad had fallen in love with his striking, but he was still an inexperienced striker who relied too much on speed and power and not enough on technique. That’s a disastrous mistake against a guy with the technique and background Machida has.

    And just looking at Lyoto’s last few fights, I’m wondering how he’s going to come out in this fght from a mental stand point. After his KO loss to Shogun he looked timid in the first two rounds of his fight with Rampage, and I attributed that to his fear/respect of Rampage’s one-punch KO power. But it looked like once he realized Rampage wasn’t going to go for the finish he really started to turn it on in the 3rd round. Then in his next fight he was against Randy who’s never been known for his KO power, and there was no hesitation to move in for the kill like there was in his Rampage fight. So I’m curious how he’s going to approach Jones. Jones doesn’t seem to have the one-punch KO power yet, but because he’s so unorthodoxx and unpredictable I’m wondering if he’ll take it slow to start. If he does, I think he’ll be making a mistake. Jones is the younger, less experienced fighter so I think Machida should use his experience to try and frutrate Jones early to try prevent him from finding his range and to try and force Jones to make a mistake. But if he take it slow he’ll be giving the young champ an opportunity to get more comfortable, and with Jones’s natural talent and physical gifts I don’t see it taking him too long to take over this fight once he feels comfortable.

    I think Jones is going to try some kicks and jabs at the beginning of the fight just to test the waters, but I ultimately see him using his reach more to cut off the Octagon so he can work this fight to the ground. Machida has solid BJJ so he’s not going to be completely out of his element if they do go to the canvas, but Shogun is a BJJ black belt and he couldn’t threaten Jones at all. I see Jones going for that outside trip he’s so good at where he’ll then try to pass to at least half guard so he can get more force behind his elbows on his way to a 2nd round finish.

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  • Dufresne says:

    Jesus, that was more than I meant to type. Guess who had too much coffee this morning…

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  • Rece Rock says:

    Steven Seagal & Myself hope your right tool…

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  • Lord Faust says:

    If Jones is going to lose the title any time soon, in my estimation it’s either now or never. There’s a perfect storm brewing against the champ; a gruelling year and a very dangerous challenger.

    As has been stated before, if anyone is going to make Jones pay for his unorthodox style, it would be a guy like Machida. While Jackson’s camp may not have a Shotokan expert, but Machida’s camp will have Anderson Silva’s striking prowess to help them train for a guy like Jones. (No, they aren’t very similar fighters, but Anderson’s reach, overall skills, and generally intimidating stature should do a more-than passable job of emulating the danger Jones poses.)

    I think burn out might be the biggest factor. Not to take anything from Machida, but now is definitely a good time to try and wrest the gold from Jones.

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  • Hohlraum says:

    So if Machida couldn’t handle Shogun and Shogun was humiliated by Jones how does your math add up to Michida beating Jones?

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  • Adam Tool says:

    @Hohlraum Next time try reading the article instead of simply commenting on the title.

    Everyone else, thanks for reading.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    I would like to see Lyoto win this fight but like I wrote the other day unless he completly changes his style I think Jones takes it, I know he is at the tail end of 4 fights but he is so young it is way easier on his body than a 30 year old fighter and honestly he hasnt been roughed up in any of his fights to where he needed a extended layoff anyway.

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  • Kuch says:

    Great article, but I think you’re overestimating Machida’s chances and underestimating Jones’. Machida might have judo and sumo skills, but Jones took down very experienced and accomplished wrestlers like Vera, Matyushenko, and Hamill with relative ease.

    As far as striking goes, I think Machida will offer some very unique challenges, but nothing Jones won’t be able to adapt for. While Machida being a southpaw is something Jones can’t overlook, I’d bet he’s trained against southpaws in the past, so the experience won’t be completely foreign to him. I think his natural strength will help him in the clinch and I see him wearing Machida down each round. Jones’ biggest mistake will be chasing Machida around the octagon trying to hit him, which I doubt Greg Jackson will advise him to do.

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  • Angry Mike says:

    Jones wins unless Machida can bait him into charging in and leaving himself open for counters. Because of his reach advantage, Jones shouldn’t have to chase Machida. If Jones has the chance for a takedown, I’m sure he’ll make the attempt, but I don’t think he’s planning on fighting and winning on the ground.

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  • MCM says:

    Interesting points Mr. Tool, but I think you’re overestimating Machida’s chances.
    Yes, Jones is fighting for the forth time in a year. But he’s 24 yrs old and a freak athlete. When I was 24 I could burn the candle at both ends 24/7 and I was in no way, shape, or form, anywhere near the athlete Jones is.
    No, Jones hasn’t shown one punch KO power. But neither did Machida, remember. Machida had 14 fights before he truly put a man to sleep and it wasn’t until his 15th fight (rashad) that he demonstrated one punch KO power. I don’t think it’s safe to insinuate that just cause Jones hasn’t shown one punch KO power means he doesn’t posses it.
    “Getting his chin tested.” “Fighter like no other.” “BJJ black belt.” “Short notice” All this was said before both the Shogun and Rampage fights, and he made those two look like the belonged on the local circuit.

    I’m not saying that Machida can’t beat Jones, it’s MMA after all, I just don’t see it.

    For the record, I’ve been a Machida fan since Sokodjou and I think Jones is a bitch for ducking Rashad. I’d love to see Lyoto slip a few punches, duck under a spinning elbow and knock Jones out like Brown did Faber. I just don’t think it’s gonna happen.

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  • Kamakosmo says:

    “I was 24 I could burn the candle at both ends 24/7….”

    All day and night and day drinking binges can never be compared with MMA fighting! LOL!!!

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  • Rece Rock says:

    O ye of little faith… KARATE IS BACK! ok well maybe not but I think the Dragon can walk away with the belt.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    MCM, I dont think he Jones, acually ducked Rashad this time. Rashad acually did some damage to his hand against Tito and was unable to be ready for 140, but Rashad stated he wasnt going to wait around again and would take a fight before his title shot when he is ready, which I think just increase his chance of beating Jones as I think he will be the first to do so for many reasons.

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  • MCM says:

    fanoftna33 – I don’t think Jones completely ducked Rashad the second time either, but he sure as hell did the first go round. And I agree that Rashad will be the one to take the belt from Jones, and Jones knows it.

    Kamakosmo – apparently you and I drink differently. ;)

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  • Richard Stabone says:

    Lyoto is very capable of presenting the toughest challenge of Jones’ young career, but I’ll agree with many of the previous comments that it won’t be enough to dethrone Jones.

    As others touched on, I don’t view the 4 fights in a year workload as much of an issue for Jones, given his age & the fact he’s in his physical prime. He’s absorbed very little damage and has gotten some nice cage experience along the way, with his previous four fights lasting 1, 2, 3 & 4 rounds (in reverse order).

    I will say, however, the past year’s events could be taking a toll on him mentally. Within 2-3 years he’s gone from virtual unknown to one of the very few biggest names in the sport. Few people would be able to handle that type of meteoric rise to fame as gracefully as Jones has appeared to. And culminated by 3 title fights in a span of less than 10 months and the constant spotlight that comes with it… it’s pretty incredible what he’s been able to do up till now, but at the same time seems inevitable it would have some effect on his lifestyle/routine/overall psyche. Can he maintain his level of work ethic/motivation/desire, with the physical & emotional stamina to support it? Perhaps. But at some point you’d think he would hit a wall… whether physical, mental or some combination thereof.

    So between Lyoto’s tremendous abilities (Shogun is the only guy to legitimately beat him, IMO) and all of the surrounding circumstances with Jones, there’s plenty of intrigue with this fight. An upset is plausible, but Jones will come away victorious and, true to form, might again surprises us at just how easily he does it.

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  • Richard Stabone says:

    Ah yes, more duck talk.

    Jones has a pre-existing ligament issue in his thumb/hand. After winning the title from Shogun the UFC’s orthopedic surgeon recommended surgery. So Jones made the crazy decision to heed that advice.

    As is the case any time surgery is involved, follow-ups & 2nd opinions are a nice thing. In general, but with professional athletics especially, surgery is always a last resort. Rest/rehabilitation is always preferred, as it presents less risk.

    So anyway, as a follow-up Jones met with a renowned hand specialist. Based on the previous medical reports, this specialist dude also thought surgery was the way to go. But once he sat down with Jon and was able to do a, uh, hands on evaluation… he realized the range of motion for Jones’ thumb was good. So at that point it became a matter of weighing the risk of invasive surgery vs. simply fighting on and dealing with the pain/swelling that would arise when aggravated. In other words, it became more clear that surgery was not a definite requirement and that changed the entire situation.

    But I suppose it’s possible that all of the above is true *and* Jones is afraid to fight the man referred to as Suga who plays with his nipples. In which case, Jones is probably definitely kinda ducking Rashad.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    MCM, I also completly agree that Jones Ducked him the first go around, really made him look scared like he is trying to get as much time between when they trained and when they finally fight.

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  • edub says:

    Jones ducked Rashad the first time about as much as Rashad ducked Jones the second time. Meaning neither ducked the other. Their fights didn’t line up injury wise, and the UFC wanted to keep Jones active and Rashad didn’t want to wait around for another title shot again like when he got screwed. The subsequent hand injury cost him the shot in December (which kind of makes you wonder why he showed up in the cage after the Rampage fight).

    Machida has the best shot at beating Jones, but he wont. Rashad will be destroyed.

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