This Sunday, the UFC returns to Canadian shores with UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida, light-heavyweight champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones defending his belt against Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida.
The card was originally slated to put champion Jon Jones vs. former team mate Rashad Evans, with Machida facing Phil Davis in the co-main event. Injuries to Evans and Davis, however, pushed Machida to main event status.
The Main Event – Jones vs. Machida
The night’s main event features ‘The Dragon’ Machida attempting to wrest the light-heavyweight gold from ‘Bones’ Jones.
For a brief time, Machida was in the position that Jones currently finds himself in – that of the seemingly unbeatable and unorthodox champion. Before losing the title to ‘Shogun’ Rua at UFC 113, no fighter had fully solved the riddle of Machida’s elusive Karate style.
Though Machida is the more skilful striker of the two, Jones holds a considerable 10-inch reach advantage. Machida’s in-and-out rhythm of attack will be tested against the former collegiate wrestler’s reach and takedowns, which will dictate where the fight ends up.
Since moving to Greg Jackson’s camp, Jones has focused more on his wrestling skills. Look for Machida to test Jones’ chin while the champion attempts to take the fight to the ground.
Prediction: Jones by TKO in round 4
The co-main event
The card’s co-main event is a heavyweight rematch between former UFC champ Frank Mir and PRIDE legend Antonio ‘Rodrigo’ Noguiera.
The pair first met at UFC 92, when the underdog Mir pulled off the upset and stopped the notoriously iron-chinned Noguiera in the second round. Since then, both have met with mixed successes: Mir has gone 2-5 while Noguiera has fared at 3-1.
As Mir proved and Cain Velasquez reinforced, Noguiera’s legendary career has taken its toll on his ability to take punishment. Though he is only three years older than Mir at 35, Noguiera’s resume of 41 fights shows numerous wars with the best heavyweights of the last decade.
Mir is by far the fresher of the two with only 20 professional bouts on his ledger. Their first fight showcased Mir’s improved striking, though Noguiera most likely still holds a slight upper hand in boxing. Mir’s last fight against Roy Nelson showed a marked improvement in his wrestling.
Noguiera has been known to have one of the best ground games in the heavyweight division, but Mir’s limb-breaking notoriety will most likely negate the possibility of a submission. Like the first fight, it’s a matter of who lands the harder strike first.
Prediction: Mir by TKO in round 3
Noguiera vs. Ortiz
UFC 140 also features a fight between light heavyweights on the comeback trail: ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ Tito Ortiz versus Antonio ‘Minotauro’ Noguiera.
Ortiz’s career was resurrected at UFC 132 when he submitted Ryan Bader in the first round after coming off a five-fight losing streak. Since then, Ortiz was stopped by Rashad Evans at UFC 133 after a hastily-schedule bout where Ortiz was dominated.
Minotauro comes in off a two-fight losing streak. Both fighters are looking to gain contender status amidst the stacked light heavyweight division.
On paper, it would seem that this fight was tailor-made for Ortiz: Minotoro’s two previous losses have come against strong, skilled wrestlers. While Ortiz used to be known for his brute strength and explosive takedowns, injuries over the years have significantly slowed down his assault. He has also shown a tendency to tire late into a fight, far removed from his once-renowned stamina. Nevertheless, Ortiz still has a solid chin and great submission defence.
Like his older brother, Minotauro is known for his ground game. His fight against Phil Davis displayed solid takedown defence as well. Minotauro’s superior boxing will nullify Ortiz’s striking arsenal, which will force Ortiz to shoot repeatedly for a double-leg. Against an aging and injury-prone wrestler, Minotauro will have no problem stuffing the takedown attempts.
Ortiz has hinted at retirement; a win would spur him on, while a heavy loss coupled with an injury may see him bow out from the game.
Prediction: ‘Minotoro’ Noguiera by unanimous decision
Other fights on the main card:
Welterweight: Claude Patrick vs. Brian Ebersole. Ebersole is the ‘Australian’ on the card – the veteran trains in Melbourne and has been on a hot streak in the UFC, showing the experience of his 64 MMA fights.
Ebersole brings the crazy; look out for the arrow shaved into his chest pointing up at his chin. Take him seriously, even if he is a light-hearted competitor.
Featherweight: Mark Hominick vs. Chan Sung Jung