This Saturday, April 18, 2015, former light-heavyweight champion and  No. 2-ranked middleweight Lyoto Machida (22-5, 16-5 UFC) will face off against No. 4 Luke Rockhold (13-2, 12-1 UFC/Strikeforce) in the main event at UFC on Fox. This fight is the de facto title eliminator for the division, especially with the loss of No. 6 Yoel Romero to take on No. 1 Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

This fight is do or die for The Dragon if he hopes to regain a UFC championship. Machida holds losses to both the current 185 and 205lbs champs in Chris Weidman and Jon Jones, and at 36-years of age, does not have time to work his way into this position again. But all that aside, age is yet to show for the former champ, and if he can stay in form and on point then his goal of becoming the third two-division champion is not only possible, but probable.

There’s no secret to how Machida plans on winning every fight, by knockout, but knowing this doesn’t make his opponents any less susceptible. Rockhold is as well rounded a mixed martial artist as anyone, but he is a striker first who has every confidence in his abilities. That confidence will be to his own detriment, as this is exactly what The Dragon will be hoping to exploit.

Even though Rockhold hung back and picked his shots to earn a stoppage victory over Michael Bisping, that same strategy won’t work against the more calculated and heavier hitting Machida. If Rockhold comes out more aggressive, like he did against Vitor Belfort, than he will be looking at a similar outcome.

Machida’s greatest weakness would be when he’s on his back, as Phil Davis used his wrestling to outpoint the Brazilian, and Chris Weidman was able to dictate the pace of the fight in the early rounds with a similar tactic. While all that might be true, Davis is a natural 205er and Rockhold, while good on the ground, does not have the level of wrestling that Weidman has, which also proved difficult to maintain even for the champ in the later rounds.

If Rockhold goes for the takedown, then he’ll quickly learn why Machida has some of the best defensive wrestling in the sport. This is what will cause Rockhold to get tired, lose focus, and make a mistake. Keep in mind this is a five round fight, and in Machida’s last title fight he kept getting better and more comfortable as the fight went into the later rounds. Those big shots and combos he landed against the champion would have dropped most people, and Rockhold falls into the category of most people. And that’s the bottom line.

UFC on Fox: Machida vs. Rockhold is scheduled to take place at 8pm EST/5pm PST from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The co-main event is a rematch between Jacare Souza and Chris Camozzi. Also featured on the main card is a featherweight matchup with No. 5 Cub Swanson vs. No. 9 Max Holloway, and a woman’s strawweight bout as No. 8 Felice Herrig takes on No. 12 Paige VanZant.

About The Author

Associate Editor/Senior Writer