UFC 163 Faceoff: Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis

FIGHT!‘s “Alright Guy” Duane Finley goes toe-to-toe with FIGHT!‘s “Canadian Guy” E. Spencer Kyte in a UFC 163 Faceoff. For this installment, Finley and Kyte take on the co-main event between Lyoto Machida and Phil Davis.

The Case for Phil Davis (E. Spencer Kyte)

Even though it had been a while since me and my friend from “The Great State of Indiana” teamed up to deliver one of these pieces, we fell right back into the usual pattern: me winning.

image descLast week in Seattle, Rory MacDonald did just enough to beat Jake Ellenberger in a fight that didn’t even come remotely close to living up to the hype. This week, Duane and I are going head-to-head with another co-main event, Saturday’s light heavyweight match-up between Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida and “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis.

And I’m taking Davis.

While Dan Henderson wasn’t able to close the distance and latch on to Machida when they fought earlier this year, I think anyone expecting this fight to play out similarly is overlooking some glaring difference between Henderson and Davis.

For starters, Davis is 29, not 42, and he actually likes to use his wrestling, unlike Henderson, who prefers to plod forward with his locked-and-loaded right hand. Additionally, Davis is one of the best athletes in the division—a former Division I National Champion wrestler who is quick and powerful with his grappling, and steadily improving in the striking department.

As much as I think there is the possibility of Machida floating around on the outside, picking his spots, and looking to potshot Davis on his way to a decision win, I believe Davis will work harder than anyone else Machida has faced to cut off the cage, close the distance, and turn this into a grind. And when he gets there, I expect “Mr. Wonderful” to have success.

This is certainly a step up in competition for Davis, and perhaps the last chance he has to step into the upper echelon in the light heavyweight division, both of which I think will spur Davis on to the best performance of his career.

Machida is at his best when he’s allowed to dictate pace and distance, and I can’t see Davis sitting back and letting that happen. He’s always been someone who works behind his rangy striking to get within takedown range, and then he puts opponents on their backs. He has very good top control and much better submission skills than people tend to acknowledge, so if he’s able to lock his hands onto Machida, this fight will be contested on the ground, and I give Davis the advantage there.

And I think he’ll get his hands on Machida.

What do you got, Finley?

The Case for Lyoto Machida (Duane Finley)

While I technically took the “L” in our first Faceoff showdown, I truly believe no one (especially the fans) won in the bout between Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald. Nevertheless, the notch is official in my loss column, and I’m looking for good, old-fashioned American vengeance. Fortunately, with the hectic UFC schedule these days, I will not have to wait long, and I’m looking at Lyoto Machida to even the score up for the good guys.

image descSince coming into the UFC fold in 2007, “The Dragon” has been a nightmare for the opposition. He has been a staple in the divisional upper-tier since scoring a brutal knockout over Rashad Evans at UFC 98 in 2009 and has remained on the short list of elite 205-pound fighters every step of the way.

While there have been a handful of setbacks in recent years, those missteps have been few and far between as the 35-year-old face-kick master has made highlight-reel material out of some of the game’s best, and Phil Davis will make for a solid addition to the footage.

Where Davis’ greatest strength comes in the wrestling department, Machida has proven to be a difficult fighter to put on his back. A handful of highly talented wrestlers have tried to put him down in the past (Rashad Evans, Randy Couture, Ryan Bader) and all have paid the price. In order for Davis to turn the fight in his favor, he will have to put Machida on the canvas, and I believe this will be his undoing.

Before Davis can think about his wrestling, he will first have to make Machida respect his stand-up, and I just don’t see this happening. While Davis has shown improvements in this department over the past three years, Machida is simply on another level. If Davis can’t use his striking to set up his attempts to close the distance, then it will be a tough night for him.

Once Davis gets stymied with his inability to put Machida on the canvas, frustration will set in, and this is where Machida will shine. As he’s shown in the past, Machida has a remarkable ability to wait out his opposition and then punish them for rushing in. If they choose not to make that mistake, the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion has zero issues with the fight going to the judge’s cards.

While it may take Davis a round or two to become frustrated and break his gameplan, I do see it happening, and this is where Machida will do his damage. I don’t see the Team Black House fighter picking up a knockout in the fight, but I do see him earning the unanimous decision victory and the Fight! Magazine Faceoff trophy will be coming back to the States.

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