Derek Brunson vs Lyoto Machida
Betting odds, Brunson -170 or 5/8, Machida +150 or 13/10.
Former light heavyweight champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida is headlining a UFC event once again after serving an 18-month suspension for violating USADA’s drug testing policy.
His karate-based style was at one time a difficult puzzle to solve, Rashad Evans fell victim to the difficulties of trying to solve this puzzle and was consequently dethroned as champion. I thought at that time Lyoto would reign as champion for years to come but Mauricio “Shogun” Rua had other ideas, knocking Machida out in their much-anticipated rematch.
Machida’s quest to reclaim the title was unsuccessful, after losing the title Machida went 3-3 including a loss to then-champion Jon Jones who went on to become the dominant champion many expected Machida to be.
The loss prompted a move down to a lighter weight class, in his first fight at middleweight, he knocked out Mark Munoz with a head kick & then bested Gegard Mousasi over five rounds leading to the third UFC title shot of Machida’s career. Chris Weidman held off Machida to retain his title.
The Dragon now finds himself in somewhat of a similar position to when he first dropped to 185lbs, having lost in his last two appearances before the lengthy suspension, his UFC middleweight record is currently 3-3. Coming off a period of inactivity & approaching 40 years of age the question is, how much does Machida have left to offer?
If Lyoto Machida represents the traditional mixed martial artist, Derek Brunson is a representative of the next generation. Traditional mixed martial artists relied heavily upon specialist skills, Brunson is one of the new breeds of fighter who use their athletic gifts to excel in multiple areas putting together a well-rounded set of skills.
Under the keen eye of head coach Greg Jackson at the Jackson Wink MMA Academy, Brunson has slowly matured into a top middleweight contender.
With a win, Brunson puts himself alongside an elite class of fighters. Up until now only Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Jon Jones, Phil Davis, Chris Weidman, Yoel Romero, & Luke Rockhold have been able to defeat Machida. A high profile name to propel his career is what Brunson is looking for, he came up short against Anderson Silva earlier this year but gets another crack against Lyoto Machida, albeit in hostile territory.
Demian Maia vs Colby Covington
Betting Odds, Maia +115 or 11/10, Covington -135 or 8/11
On the subject of specialists, Demian Maia is another. He is quite possibly the best BJJ practitioner in the UFC today. Maia was soundly beaten by Tyron Woodley in a championship fight at UFC 214. The campaign for a title fight had been a long one for Maia who patiently waited for his opportunity with Woodley fighting Stephen Thompson back to back in the space of 6 months.
At 39 Maia’s dreams of being a champion in the UFC are all but over, he could, however, become an effective gatekeeper for the weight division. We’ve seen veterans in other weight divisions assume this role before, serving as a test for contenders trying to scale towards to the higher ranked fighters in the division.
Colby Covington is the first man up, Maia is by far the highest profile opponent he’s been matched with to date. Covington is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, so will Covington risk taking the fight to the mat and pit his top control against Maia’s Jiu-Jitsu? or will Covington choose to keep the fight standing and attempt to defend any takedown attempts?. If Covington has any title aspirations of his own in the near future, he needs a victory against Maia to make some noise.
Potential Fight of the Night
Francisco Trinaldo vs Jim Miller
Betting Odds, Trinaldo -170 or 5/8, Miller +150 or 13/10
Jim Miller doesn’t participate in boring fights, he welcomes a scrap with open arms. Recipient of the Fight of the Night award on six occasions, he’s built a reputation for putting on a show. Francisco Trinaldo was on a roll before losing to Kevin Lee 7 months ago, he’s not the type to back down from a challenge & will be eager to get back to winning ways.
Derek Brunson vs Lyoto Machida (Brunson)
Demian Maia vs Colby Covington (Maia)
Pedro Munhoz vs Rob Font (Font)
Francisco Trinaldo vs Jim Miller (Trinaldo)
Thiago Santos vs Jack Hermansson (Santos)
John Lineker vs Marlon Vera (Lineker)