UFC 104 Preview: Machida Looks to Break 205 Curse
This Saturday, the UFC returns to Los Angeles for the first time in over three years for UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun. The card includes a light heavyweight title fight, a heavyweight fight that may determine the number one contender, two intriguing lightweight fights and a welterweight battle featuring one of the divisions top young talents.
The card is far from flawless though. Dana White and company have once again burried middleweight contender Yushin Okami on the undercard despite the fact that he has won seven of eight fights since joining the UFC, including three in a row with his lone loss coming against Rich Franklin at UFC 72. Many believe Okami is deserving of a shot at Anderson Silva’s middleweight crown and the UFC is doing themselves no favors if they do end up with Silva fighting someone casual fans will know nothing about. Also questionable is leaving a light heavyweight bout between undefeated Ryan Bader and Eric Schafer off the main card. That fight though, will air free on SPIKE prior to the event. Here’s a llok at the five fights that did make the main card.
1. Anthony Johnson (7-2) vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida (11-3)- In the first fight on the main card rising star Anthony “Rumble” Johnson takes on Japanese veteran Yoshiyuki Yoshida. Johnson is 10 years younger than Yoshida and is significantly bigger and stronger. Yoshida may have a slight advantage on the ground so expect Johnson to keep the fight standing up and the way Josh Koscheck did when he brutally knocked out Yoshida in December of last year.
Prediction: Johnson by TKO
2. Joe Stevenson (35-10) vs. Spencer Fisher (24-4)- Two of the most experienced fighters in the UFC’s lightweight division collide in this matchup. Fisher usually looks to keep his fights standing, but that will be a challenge when he takes on Stevenson who is an excellent wrestler. Stevenson lost badly when he fought B.J. Penn for the lightweight title in early 2008 and Fisher has openly campaigned for a shot at the belt. A win in this fight would likely put him right in the mix at 155.
Prediction: Stevenson by decision
3. Gleison Tibau (29-6) vs. Josh Neer (25-8-1)- In a fight that doesn’t seem worthy of a main card appearance, Tibau and Neer will both look to rebound from losses in their last fights. The loser of this fight may find themself unemployed on Monday morning as Tibau has lost three of his last five fights and Neer four of his last six. One more loss for either fighter could mean the end of their UFC career.
Prediction: Neer by decision
4. Cain Velasquez (6-0) vs. Ben Rothwell (30-6)- The winner of this fight could be in line to get a crack at the winner of Novemeber’s Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin heavyweight title matchup. The undefeated Velasquez, who has stopped five of his six opponents, was originally slated to face Carwin but instead will face Rothwell after Carwin was awarded a title shot. Although Rothwell has far more experience than the former two-time All-American wrestler at Arizona State University, he is definitely the underdog in this fight.
Prediction: Velasquez by TKO
5. Lyoto Machida (15-0) vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (18-3) for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title- No UFC Light Heavyweight champion has successfully defended their title since Quinton Jackson did against Dan Henderson in September 2007. Machida will look to end that curse when he takes on the inconsistent Shogun. Shogun has had multiple knee surgeries since joining the UFC and his two victories were against washed up veterans Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell. Machida on the other hand, has been dominant with wins over Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva and Tito Ortiz.