Machida-Evans: A New Breed of Fighting in UFC
There's been no lack of opinions concerning the Machida-Evans UFC 98 main event.
It's the MMA equivalent to Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao, Peyton Manning vs. Brett Favre, Sir Alex Ferguson vs. Rafael Benitez.
It's going to shape the way fighters train and fight from May 23 forward.
But why? How could two fighters who flew well under the radar alter the way fighters approach fighting?
In one corner, there's Rashad Evans, who is (for all intents and purposes) the best career fluke in MMA history. The last choice to win The Ultimate Fighter 2 Tournament, the underdog in every match since then, and an underdog today, Evans didn't begin turning heads until he knocked out Chuck Liddell.
A grinding fighter with a decision-heavy record, Evans lacked the glaze that UFC light heavyweight champions traditionally have.
Ortiz has unmatched ground-and-pound. Couture has dirty boxing and indomitable wrestling. Liddell has punishing right and left hooks shot from the hip. Jackson has raw power. Griffin has work-ethic, intelligence, and a solid chin.
So what special trait does Evans bring to the title?
Adaptability in the face of adversity.
If anything, Evans should be known for his ring awareness and adjustments. Against fighters with readily exploitable weaknesses, Evans pounces.
Although Jackson was the first in a long list of challengers to exploit Liddell's long-winded yet devastating hook, Evans capitalized on the same error, smashing his right hand into Liddell's jaw with a left ready to follow.
Prior to his match with Liddell, Evans's kick to Sean Salmon's unsuspecting cranium displayed his fighting tact. After going one-dimensional and boxing for the majority of a round, Evans lands a KO kick reeking of premeditation.
It's a fact that Evans' ability to adapt led to a majority of his wins. His style of fighting coupled with Greg Jackson's ideals in fighting has made fighters and fight fans aware of the importance, and benefits, of adapting properly to adversity.
The wave of the brawler is ebbing.
But the question on analysts' and writers' minds is how will Evans adapt to Machida, an evasive, calculating fighter who consistently stays one step ahead of his opponent?
Could it be a fact that Machida, cut-and-dry, is a more advanced fighter than Evans?
Shifting focus to the opposite corner, there's Lyoto Machida with a pristine record supported by enviable stats (highest strikes-landed percentage in UFC; shares prestige with Fedor Emelianenko for least amount of time spent on his back).
Although most writers, fans, and fighters like to emphasize Machida's effective application of karate techniques to MMA and his "elusive style," the most amazing and dangerous aspect of Machida is his mentality.
The fight-to-win mentality, by which Machida abides, was exemplified best by Anderson Silva. A lethal, precise striker who tends to smother his opponents with attacks (barring his latest performance), Silva changed the stand-up game in UFC overnight.
Silva introduced his high caliber of striking skills to the MMA world via UFC, but Lyoto Machida improved that skill-set through his economy of motion.
By setting up strikes, manipulating his opponent's strengths, and captalizing on his opponent's defensive weaknesses, Machida frustrates fighters into making mistakes and looking for one punch to end the night.
Though both fighters differ greatly in their martial heritage, both fighters bring a fight game based on intelligence and inspired by physical prowess. But what separates them from other fighters is the single-minded focus they share to fight their fight and not conform to popular opinion.
I've been critical of Rashad Evans because he didn't seem to have a champion's appeal; he didn't seem untouchable. I've always preferred Machida because he's a technician working in a sport dominated by brutish egos.
But I've come to see after reading several articles about Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida that these fighters could change (will change?) MMA because they're becoming focused, dedicated fighters who use their well-rounded talents, intellectually and physically, to present UFC and MMA fans with a brand of fighting that brings it all home to its deserving moniker: the Sweet Science.
As for Saturday, I wouldn't expect Evans or Machida to irk out a KO. I wouldn't expect Evans or Machida to lose their cool. Expect five rounds of controlled punishment, a decision victory to one or the other, and the continuation of two astounding careers.
Even though one man will leave the octagon with a dent in his statuesque record, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a rematch to officially seal the deal.
Re: Machida-Evans: A New Breed of Fighting in UFC
Both fighters are not well liked because of style. However, Machida has better tools. I can not see how Evans wins. Though Rashad does have the movement to keep Machida honest and keep him from back pedalling. I just don't see how Rashad gets the better of the exchanges against a world class striker like Machida. You can only learn so much on your feet in a short time. Rashad has too much ground to make up to out strike Machida. His wrestling has not been impressive either. Sean Salmon really outwrestled him.
I hope Rashad has evolved past all that juking with his hands. I think he comes in too tentative once again, and Machida capitalizes, and at the very minimum, outpoints Rashad all 3 rounds.
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