by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
After Saturday night, the
title picture in the UFC light heavyweight division could become a lot clearer
when undefeated Brazilian fighters Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva meet in the
co-main event of UFC 94. The two were originally scheduled to meet at UFC 90,
but injuries to both fighters nixed that potential showdown. Now they have
fully healed and will meet in the Octagon with the winner potentially getting a
shot at the UFC light heavyweight championship.
Machida is a karate stylist,
learning the craft from his father at a young age. His striking is technical
and precise, he doesn’t waste any strikes, as he lands almost everything that
he throws. Although it isn’t the most exciting style to watch, Machida is a
brilliant counter striker that gives most fighters fits on the feet.
Silva on the other hand is
an aggressive striker that comes out looking for the kill, which is natural for
him since he did train at the Chute Boxe Academy in the past. He’ll look to use
the plum and land bunches of knees to throw Machida off his game. Silva will
need to set the pace on the feet and not let Machida settle into his comfort
These two fighters have a
stark contrast in styles on the feet and it could very well be the difference
in this evenly matched fight. Whoever is able to impose their style on the feet
will control the pace, as the other fighter will be frustrated all night long.
Grappling and Submissions
Silva is a Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but you wouldn’t know because you rarely see him go to
the ground. He loves to fight on the feet. He doesn’t utilize submissions all
that much in his fights, but he uses his ground game to position himself to
pound on his opponents as evidenced in his last two fights, where he was easily
able to mount them.
The edge in submissions
would have to go to Machida. When he hits the ground that is what he does best.
He uses his technical ability to overwhelm his opponents, giving him openings
to lock on a submission.
One thing that could be
interesting in the fight is what each fighter will do if put on his back. Neither
has spent that much time on their backs in previous fights and whoever is
better equipped to handle a bad position on the ground will have the edge on
In his past UFC bouts, Silva
has always been able to control the pace of the fight with his aggressive
style/ He’ll need to push the pace of the fight once again if he wants to be
successful against Machida. He can’t let Machida settle into a groove of
slowing the fight down, where he is able to pick his shots on the feet and
control the fight with his counter striking.
Machida, on the other hand,
needs to stay on the outside like he does so well, where he’ll be able to slow
the pace of the fight and frustrate Silva into making a mistake. In the past,
Machida has successfully been able to keep his fights at a slower pace and
force his opponents to waste energy by missing strikes, therefore letting him
pick them apart as they tire.
This could be one of the few
categories in the fight where one of the fighters has a distinct advantage over
the other. Silva has only gone past the first round on one occasion in the UFC
and he didn’t look too hot in doing so. He gassed out, but was fortunate enough
that his opponent, Tomasz Drwal, was more tired than he was. Hopefully Silva has worked on his
cardio in anticipation for this fight because Machida usually sees the judges’
In this aspect of the fight,
Machida has a clear advantage because he is accustomed to going fifteen minutes
in a fight. Since joining the UFC, he has gone to a decision in four out his
five fights inside the Octagon without looking like he was ever tired in doing
If Machida is able to drag
the fight past the second round and beyond, then expect him to be able to pick
his shots and basically take apart a tired Silva, unless if Silva has seriously
improved his conditioning.
The X Factor
Both fighters are coming off
injuries and haven’t seen action since May of last year at UFC 84, where they
fought in back to back fights on the main card. With that being the case, if
they need a round to get some ring rust off, that will help Machida because he
gets stronger in the latter rounds of the fight while Silva starts to fade.
Silva has been quite active
since he started fighting in mixed martial arts, competing every couple of
months and staying in shape. This will be his longest lay off to date. Machida
has had long lay offs before, so he already knows how to prepare to stay in
sync and not let the time off affect him in a fight.
The added pressure of a
possible title shot on the line might also affect how the fighters approach the
fight too. Silva might not take as many risks, while Machida might open up a
bit earlier than he is accustomed to.
Keys to Success
Silva will need to be ultra
aggressive in the fight, he’ll need to get on the inside and get directly into
Machida’s face either with knees or punches. If he can put pressure on Machida
and not let him settle into his usual groove of slowing down the fight, then he
might be able to force him into making a mistake that gives him the opening to
Machida needs to fight his
fight, slowing down the pace of the fight to where he can start to pick apart Silva
with his brilliant counter striking. He’ll become elusive on the feet, which
will tire Silva since he wastes energy by missing strikes. As the fight wears
on, Machida will have his choice of how the fight goes, whether it remains on
the feet or on the ground.
A lot is on the line in this
fight. One of the fighters will suffer the first defeat of his mixed martial
arts career. The winner will more than likely be in line for a shot at the
title, although UFC president Dana White on Wednesday stated that Quinton
"Rampage" Jackson, if he defeats Keith Jardine at UFC 96 in March, is
expected to get the first shot at current light heavyweight champion Rashad