Friday, May 22, 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time for the Main Event of the evening!
"Sugar" Rashad Evans (13-0-1) versus Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida (14-0)
Unbeaten fighters squaring off for the title in the sport's deepest and toughest division is awesome. Mix in the uniqueness of both fighters and their styles and you have a fight that true fans should be drooling about watching.
A lot has been made about Lyoto Machida's style and rightfully so. Name me another fighter who has never lost a round on a judge's scorecard. The guy simply does not put himself in jeopardy and is one of the best counter strikers in the sport today.
But Evans is no slouch. This is a guy who came into the UFC as a wrestler and has developed his lightning quick hands into explosive weapons at 205. Did I forget to mention that he won Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter at heavyweight? That takes talent. He's also shown to be an exceptional counter-puncher with the best footwork in the light heavyweight division.
Comparing opponents, Machida gets the advantage, as both have beaten Sam Hoger and Stephan Bonner, while Machida earned a win over Tito Ortiz to Evans' draw. But strength of opponents is another story.
In terms of quality of opponents overall, you have to decide if level of competition in the UFC is what you're after or overall career opposition. Strictly in the UFC, Evans wins hands down, having put together his three fight win streak at the expense of Michael Bisping, Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, while Machida has fought Thiago Silva, Sokoudjou and David Heath to name three.
However, in totality, the edge goes to Machida, who counts wins over B.J. Penn and Rich Franklin amongst his pre-UFC triumphs. Now, the Penn win doesn't carry that much weight with me because B.J. has no business fighting someone that's 205, but the Franklin win was the only loss on Ace's record before he ran into Anderson Silva.
One place where I give Evans a distinct advantage is in his corner. There is no better training camp in the game than Jackson's Submission Fighting. Greg Jackson and Mike Winklejohn are two of the top trainers in the sport and the list of high caliber athletes who will have served as training partners for Evans leading into this fight cannot be matched.
Nothing against Machida's training routines, as they have proven extremely beneficial en route to his undefeated record, but something about rolling and sparring with Keith Jardine, GSP, Nate Marquardt and company every day sounds hard to beat to me.
But you'll have to wait until tomorrow for my full list of predictions.