UFC 140: Jones vs Machida – Preview and Predictions

Another BIG UFC event rolls around this Saturday and the penultimate show of a very busy 2011 is sure to be a hit. UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones defends his belt against former champion Lyoto Machida. Machida comes in off the back of THAT knockout of Randy Couture and will look to try and test the resolve (and chin) of the champion. Jones is still riding a tidal wave of momentum that has seen him pretty much destroy everyone who has stood in front of him. Just another day at the office for Jones? Or a turning point in his career that will see his chin truly tested by the lethal and lightening striking of the Dragon? Read on for my take on the fight.

The supporting cast for the card isn’t half bad either. Both Nogueira brothers are in action: L’il Nog takes on Tito Ortiz in a mtach that has little impact on the division but is high-stakes for both fighters personally and professionally. Big Nog takes on Frank Mir in a rematch of their UFC92 encounter which Mir won convincingly, but it was later revealed that Big Nog was suffering the after-effects of a bad bout of staph. The Brazilian will look to prove Mir’s win was a fluke, whilst Mir is looking to draw a line under the whole affair and get back into title contention. This match will no doubt have title implications and coupled with the headline bout of Lesnar vs Overeem on 30th December the combatants for Heavyweight gold in the UFC for 2012 will be determined before the year is out.

Some nice matches round out the rest of the main card: The ever-entertaining Mark Hominick vs Submission of the year winner Chang Sung Jung. We will also see the immaculately man-scaped chest of Brian Ebersole once again as he squares off with Claude Patrick. Both fighters are on solid win streaks but only one will continue their run of ticks in the win column on Saturday.

First things first though, with a quick skim through the undercard action. Let’s get it on!

Facebook Prelims
John Cholish 7-1-0 vs. Mitch Clarke 9-0-0– Lightweight
Whooooooo??? Is going to be the first word on most casual (and non American) fans reading this. Admittedly this was my response too. I can’t speak with any authority on either fighter, but I can tell you that both have the majority of wins by submission and come from jiujitsu-centric teams with Cholish representing Renzo Gracie and the undefeated Clarke repping cardinal BJJ in Canada. Quite often the true tale of a fighter is not in his win/loss ratio but in who they have fought en-route to getting that ratio. So I did a little dive into the records of these fighters and found a clear disparity in favour of Cholish: His 8 opponents have a combined record of 67-40-0 where Clarkes 9 oppponents came in at a disappointing 30-43-0 (his first two fights were against the same guy so I only counted that record once). Advantage Cholish methinks! Cholish TKO rd2

Rich Attonito 10-4-0 vs. Jake Hecht 10-2-0 – Welterweight
TUF Alumni Attonito makes his welterweight debut for the UFC against newcomer Hecht. Hecht is an American who now resides in Cork, Ireland having accepted a position as the head coach at the MMA Clinic. Hecht is training with Mark Fiore, longtime associate of Matt Hughes and Attonito is fighting out of ATT. This is a very evenly matched fight, with both fighters being well-rounded. Hecht has a slightly higher finishing ratio than Attonito and has put in some great shifts in the cage, looking impressive in his last three fights on UK promotion Cage Warriors, even in his defeat to Che Mills. As you would expect from someone who has had 4 fights in the UFC, Attonito has fought probably the higher level of opponent and his bog-show experience could be a factor here. Hecht has never been stopped and his wrestling and ground-acumen particularly, have been the standout aspects of his game. Hecht will have a small height and reach advantage and is 7 years the junior of his opponent. Attonito will need to pull something special out of the bag to stop this inside the distance, but I think his higher level experience and decent all round game should see him nick this in the eyes of the judges. Attonito decision

Mark Bocek 9-4-0 vs. Nik Lentz 21-3-2 (1 NC) – Lightweight
Bocek is a submission wizard who surprised many – me included – with his submission of the night performance against Dustin Hazelett (a submission I made the inaugural Beautiful Jiujitsu post). He is 5-4 in the UFC with a resounding decision loss to Ben Henderson last time out, but a decent performance against Lentz who is undefeated in 15 fights will cement his possibly tenuous position in the organisation. Lentz is uber-tough and uses a grinding wrestling game that isn’t easy on the eye but is very effective. His last fight against Charles Oliviera was originally a loss by RNC but sussequent review of the fight saw the result overturned and given a no contest due to an illegal knee that preceeded the submission. While Bocek’s ground game should not be underestimated, all of his 7 submission wins have been chokes and against the wrestling of Lentz I think he will struggle to find those positions. Against Henderson he chained together submission attempt after submission attempt, but Henderson was wise to them all and used his almost super-human submission defence to wriggle out of everything Bocek threw at him. In Lentz, I think Bocek will find an opponent who will not give him the sort of room that Henderson afforded him though. Henderson is a much more dynamic fighter than Lentz and is prepared to take risks. Lentz does not fight like that, I am not a Lentz fan by any stretch, but I think he will smother Bocek and not give him any room to hunt the submission – unfortunately! Lentz decision

Aired Prelims:
Yves Jabouin 16-7-0
vs. Walel Watson 9-2-0 – Bantamweight
Jabouin makes his second appearance at Bantamweight against Watson who is on a 2 fight win streak. In his debut victory at 135lbs he nicked a razor thin decision against Ian Loveland. Maybe this weight is where Jabouin will be able to string some wins together, but Watson has decent momentum coming into the match and he has been very busy with 5 fights in 2010 and 3 already in 2011. By comparison Jabouin has only fought 4 times in total since the beginning of 2010. Admittedly Jabouins opponents have all been a much higher level and that may explain why he fights less frequently. Jabouin favours the striking game and the majority of Watsons wins have been via submission so it is pretty clear that each man will want this to play out in their favoured range. Jabouin trains out of Tristar with a who’s who of the MMA world and with the sort of training partners he has at his disposal, I am leaning towards picking him. If he can avoid the submissions of Watson and keep this on the feet, he can find the finish. Jabouin TKO rd 2

John Makdessi 9-0-0 vs. Dennis Hallman 50-14-2 (1 NC) – Lightweight
Undefeated prospect Makdessi takes a big step up in class against 67 fight veteran Dennis Hallman. Hallmans choice of attire in his last fight was met with Dana’s disapproval and when Brian Ebersole dispatched the veteran inside the first 5 minutes he was given and extra fight bonus by the UFC President for getting Hallmans skimpy speedo’s out of the Octagon as quickly as he did. I’m sure no susch distractions will happen again in this match and Hallman will want to get back to winning ways to erase the memory of both those pants and that performance. Makdessi is a KO specialist and has stopped all but 2 of his 9 nine opponents inside the distance, including his last spectacular spinning backfist KO of Kyle Watson. He uses his striking well and has an array of kicks he likes to use to keep his opponents at bay. Against a veteran and wrestler of Hallmans pedigree he is really going to need to use those effectively for the full 15. Unless he can land something big on Hallman, I predict Makdessi is going to find himself in a world of trouble on the mat. I’m not dismissing his chances of doing so, but Hallman should have enough about him to pick his moment to shoot and take this to mat without incurring too much damage on the way in. Once this hits the floor, Hallman will have his way with Makdessi and should find the submission comes pretty quickly afterwards. Hallman submission rd 2

Jared Hamman 13-3-0 vs. Constantinos Philippou 8-2-0 (1 NC) – Middleweight
Hamman impressed at light heavyweight with his performances, even if the wins weren’t often forthcoming. He went 1-2 at 205lbs in the UFC but took home two fight of the night bonuses for his trouble. In his middleweight debut last time out he hammered CB Dolloway inside two runs and will look to carry on a decent run of form and get in the mix amongst the top guys in the division. Phillpou likes to strike and will oblige Hamman if he wants to get into it on the feet. Although we don’t often see too much of his ground game in his fights, training with Matt Serra you would expect him to know enough on the ground to get by. The ground game might actually be his best bet in this match as Hamman is a bad man on the feet with 10 of his 13 wins coming by KO. Whilst Phillipou has never been KO’d in any of his fights, he hasn’t faced a striker like Hamman before. I can see Hamann having too much for Phillipou and continuing his 185lb run with another TKO win here. Hamann TKO rd 3

Igor Pokrajac 23-8-0 vs. Krzysztof Soszynski 26-11-1 – Light Heavyweight
The most annoying fighter name to type is back once again to annoy me with his stupid name as Soszynski faces Pokrajac in the final bout of the undercard. Both men have solid games and have been a round a long time and this should be a decent scrap. The two were scheduled to meet at UFC 131 back in June but Pokrajac was injured and Soszynski faced and defeated Mike Massenzio. Due to injury Pokrajac has not fought since March, so ring rust may be a factor coming into this match for the big Croatian. A win for Soszynski here may see Pokrajac handed his marching orders. Although he was victorious last time out, Pokrajac is 2-3 in the UFC. Soszynski by contrast is 6-2 with two sub of the night and one fight of the night bonus to his name. Both men have a complete skillset but I think Soszynski edges Pokrajac in every area. He has decent striking and wrestling and a hellish kimura that he has used to great effect many times in his career. This one could go the distance as both men cancel the other out, but it will be Soszynski who does the most damage and nicks it on the judges cards. Soszynski decision

Main Card

Mark Hominick 20-9-0 vs. Chan Sung Jung 11-3-0 – Featherweight
This is a big fight for Chan Sung Jung, if he can get past recent title contender Hominick, he puts himself right in line for a title shot. It isn’t going to be an easy task though, as Hominick has some awesome standup and a well rounded game in all other areas. Jung is coming off a spectacular twister win to get his revenge against Leonard Garcia and his submission game remains his strongest threat to Hominick. However his “Korean Zombie” style plays right into the hands of Hominick, who could potentially add another highlight reel KO to his ever-growing repertoire. On the feet, I am not giving Jung a chance, he will struggle to find openings whilst being peppered with punches and kicks from all angles if he chooses to stand. Hominick really only needs to worry about this hitting the mat and if it does, he needs to work hard to get things back to standing. I think Hominick is going to make a big statement in this fight and Zombie will be tasting a knuckle buttie served up by Shawn Tompkins protege Hominick. What better way to pay tribute to his former coach and you can be sure this fight will be dedicated to the trainer who was taken well before his time. Hominick TKO rd 2

Brian Ebersole 48-14-1 (1 NC) vs. Claude Patrick 14-1-0 – Welterweight
The vastly experienced Ebersole will look to continue his 9 fight win streak on Saturday night but his opponent will be none-to-keen to see his own 13 fight winning run snapped by the Australia native. Famously iron-chinned Ebersole will be confident that Patrick won’t be packing enough power in his strikes to do what none of Ebersoles 63 previous opponents have done. Patrick is certainly the better striker, and will be able to pick up points on the feet, but finding the finish from there is quite another proposition and an unlikley outcome. Patrick is a BJJ brown-belt and loves to hunt the guillotine, finishing quite a few of his opponents with that very move. Ebersole will definitely have an advantage in the wrestling department and if he finds himself in top position it could be a short night for Patrick, as Ebersole will be able to control him and rain down strikes. Patrick will need to fight off his back well in this situations and his positional escapes and submissions will need to be sharp. If Patrick is able to put Ebersole on his back then things get very interesting and I suspect his superior BJJ skills will come to the fore and see him find the opening for the submission. Saying that and doing it against a NCAA Div 1 wrestler are two completely different things and again I see this a little unlikely. I think Patrick needs this standing and to rack up points, Ebersole needs to close the distance, dominate the clinch and put Patrick on his back for GnP whilst being mindful of the danger of submissions. Who imposes their will the best is a finger in the air job, but I’m going for Patrick to edge this one out on a decision. Patrick decision

Tito Ortiz 16-9-1 vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 19-5-0 – Light Heavyweight
Whilst I’m not sure the outcome of this match puts either man in the mix at the top of the division, both are looking for the win. L’il Nog needs this one to secure his place in the UFC after dropping his last 2 matches and in the eyes of many, his fight against Brilz too. Tito with just one win since 2006 is looking to cement his legacy and build bridges with Dana and Zuffa after years of animosity. Ortiz has renamed himself “the peoples champ” and will be happy to just get back in the cage and fight in front of his fans. Noguiera has struggled recently with the uber-wrestlers of the 205lb division, but fortunately for him, Tito is not in that category anymore. He has lost pace, a bit of conditioning and more importantly his ability to shoot from the other side of the cage and still take his opponent down. Nog showed against Davis that he has enough about him to stuff a takedown or 5 and against Ortiz, he will be comfortable in doing so. Even though 2011 Tito is a shadow of the fighter he was in his pomp, he is still a tough proposition and given the opening his striking is still dangerous. Nog’s famously durable chin may well be tested, but it will take some shot to end his night quickly. Tito has really underrated ground skills and despite the Brazilians credentials in that department, Tito’s strength and submission savvy should see him out of any sticky spots. I’m not expecting a barnstormer here as both men will not want to be taking too many risks, but this should play out as 15 minutes of entertaining action and expect Nog to take a decision. Nogueira decision

Frank Mir 15-5-0 vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 33-6-1 (1 NC) – Heavyweight
Let’s hope there are no doubts left after this fight. Either Mir is going to win again or Noguiera is going to show that the first fight really was only a win because Mir was sparring a human punching bag. Noguiera seems to have got some of his mojo back and his big win over Schaub will have given him great confidence going into this. Mir has really worked hard on his striking though and despite not being particularly impressive in his previous two outings, he still came out with the wins. Both men have elite submission games and the grappling fanboy in me is hoping for an amazing ground battle to play out. More likely is the fact that both men will look to make a statement on the feet and land huge leather. I don’t think this one is going to go the distance and given the fact that I can’t stand Frank Mir, you will be unsurprised to hear that I am pulling for Nog in this one. All of Mir’s defeats have come by TKO and although both Nogs UFC losses have come the same way, I really believe the Mir KO was because he was not himself. The Velasquez KO, well… it was Velasquez and he’s a beast. I am going out on a limb on this one and throwing my hat firmly in Nogs corner. Noguiera TKO rd 3

Jon Jones 14-1-0 vs. Lyoto Machida 17-2-0 – Light Heavyweight Championship
The title fight on this card is another intriguing test for Jones. Not so long ago Joe Rogan was announcing the beginning of the Machida era, prematurely as it turned out because “the Machida puzzle” was comprehensivley solved by Shogun. In Jones I think the 205lb division really is in the grip of a new era and one that potentially could run to Anderson Silva-esque proportions in terms of divisional dominance. Jones is a freak, an 84 inch wingspan excellent wrestling and unorthodox Muay Thai have combined in devastating fashion to propel him to the top of the division at the age of 24. Machida has a very unorthodox style of his own and really believes he has what it takes to put Jones away. I am unconvinced. Crane Kicking Randy Couture into retirement is one thing (and very impressive it was too), but taking out Jones is no easy task. Machida’s elusiveness has served him well against his previous opponents, but he has to get inside Jones reach to really do damage. With a 10inch reach and 3 inch height deficit to get around, he is going to have to use all his guile to make this work. As intelligent a fighter as he is it is really hard to see how he is going to work inside that reach. If Jones should use the sort of strategy he has against Rampage, where he picked him off from distance with kicks and jabs then Machida is in for a torrid time. The one question mark over Jones has been can he take a punch and how will he do under pressure. Machida could be the first man to pose those questions effectively, but then people said that about Rampage too and he hardly landed a shot. Jones has the benefit of one of the best gameplanners in the business in his corner and Greg Jackson will have meticulously devised the best strategy to see his young charge through any potential sticky spots of this fight. Machida’s game has always been based on elusiveness and avoiding damage and his strategy will probably be to lure Jones into chasing him down where he can cut angles quickly and find openings. Jones’ game has matured though and if he can avoid being lured into this trap and plays a more patient game, then he should be pretty comfortable. A tentative opening will give way to some hard exchanges and I think Jones will go to the legs of his opponent a lot to take away his mobility. It is only a matter of time before Jones finds the opening he wants and I expect him to find his groove in the second and dispatch his opponent in the third. Jones TKO rd 3

********************* UPDATED WITH EVENT RESULTS *************************
Clarke vs. Cholish – My Pick:Cholish TKO rd 2 Actual: Cholish TKO rd 2
Attonito vs. Hecht – My Pick:Attonito decision Actual: Hecht TKO rd 2
Bocek vs. Lentz – My Pick: Lentz decision Actual: Bocek decision
Jabouin vs. Watson – My Pick: Jabouin TKO rd 2 Actual: Jabouin decision
Makdessi vs. Hallman – My Pick: Hallman sub rd 2 Actual: Hallman sub rd 1
Hamman vs. Philippou – My Pick: Hamman tko rd 3 Actual: Philippou KO rd 1
Soszynski vs. Pokrajac – My Pick: Soszynski decision Actual: Pokrajac KO rd 1
Hominick vs. Chang Sung Jung – My Pick:Hominick TKO rd 2 Kingsbury decision Actual: Jung KO rd 1
Ebersole vs. Patrick – My Pick: Patrick decision Actual: Ebersole decision
Ortiz vs. Nogueira – My Pick: Nogueira decision Actual: Nogueira TKO rd 1
Mir vs. Nogueira – My Pick: Nogueira TKO rd 3 Actual: Mir sub (kimura) rd 1
Jones vs. Machida – My Pick: Jones TKO rd 3 Actual: Jones sub (guillotine) rd 2


One comment on “UFC 140: Jones vs Machida – Preview and Predictions

  1. Pingback: Countdown to UFC 140 By James Gutierrez @ WWW.MMAMeltdown.us | MMA Meltdown

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