UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida Preview & Predictions

(Column I wrote for gerweck.net)

UFC 140 appears to have been lost in the shuffle with everyone focused on Lesnar vs. Overeem at the end of the month and all the new fights announced for FX and Fox in early 2012. The Air Canada Centre in Toronto will be treated to its second UFC event that will feature a native featherweight favorite, two all-star bouts and a world title fight that will set the landscape of the light heavyweight division.

Mark Hominick (20-9) vs. Chan Sung Jung (11-3)

I’m not expecting much out of this fight. Chan Sung Jung is a fighter who swings wildly while constantly moving forward. This is the worst possible game plan if you are fighting Mark Hominick. Jung has displayed the ability to come into a fight with a game plan; however he does not stick with it for long. Hominick will pick him apart on the feet. This will be Hominick’s first fight since the passing of his long time trainer, Shawn Tompkins. The London, Ontario native gains the knockout with his superior striking and a heavy heart.

The Pick: Mark Hominick via KO in the 2nd round

Claude Patrick (14-1) vs. Brian Ebersole (48-14-1)

Ebersole is riding a 9 fight winning streak while “The Prince” comes into the bout with 13 wins in a row. Ebersole is always entertaining to watch but Patrick is a tad better with his overall game. Ebersole has the wrestling edge while Patrick will be more comfortable off his back which will pose problems for Ebersole as he attempts to impose his will on top. This is a pick’em fight but in the end, Patrick will out strike him on the feet which will prompt Ebersole to shoot for a single leg that may or may not work and end up getting caught on the feet or caught in Patrick’s guard.

The Pick: Claude Patrick via submission in the 3rd round

Tito Ortiz (16-9-1) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-5)

This could either be a fun back and forth fight or a very boring affair. These two were originally supposed to fight at UFC Fight Night back in March. Ortiz removed himself from the bout after suffering a cut in training. Both fighters have lost their last fights and are in desperate need of a win. Except for his first fight in the UFC, “Little Nog” has not looked good on the Octagon. Nogueira has the edge in boxing and Jiu-Jitsu while we all know what Tito is going to try and do: take him down, prop him up against the fence and light him up with elbows on route to a decision. His game plan has never changed in his 14 year career. This is Tito’s second to last fight on his current contract and he has been talking retirement. Back and neck problems have plagued him over the past five years while his mouth has kept him in the spotlight. Nogueria’s loss to Phil Davis set the blue print on how to beat Nogueira with multiple takedowns. Tito’s wrestling is not as crisp and will not gain takedowns at will like Davis did, but he will only need to secure a few takedowns in order to get the “W”.

The Pick: Tito Ortiz via unanimous decision

Frank Mir (15-5) vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-6)

If you only count Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Frank Mir is considered the best heavyweight fighter in the world…… until Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira enters the room. This burned a hole inside Mir for years because it was a comparison he could never escape. While he is not highly credentialed in Jiu-Jitsu, his application of the art is perfect for MMA. Nogueira, on the other hand, has some of the highest credentials in the discipline as tutelage under his eye is sought out by some of the most elite athletes in the world. Oh, and his application of the art in MMA is perfect too. Their ability to neutralize one another on the ground cancels out the possibility of a submission. Frank Mir became the first fighter to stop Nogueira when they met in 2008. Mir picked apart the former PRIDE champion with a repeated 1,2 combo that dropped him twice in the 1st round and finished him in the second round with a left hook and punches on the ground. Mir attributed the win to his highly improved boxing while Nogueira claims a staph infection halted his ability to train. They have unfinished business to settle in the cage and both of them are looking to get back in the title picture. Mir is coming off two lack luster wins over Cro Cop and Roy Nelson while Nogueira is coming off a knockout victory over Brendan Schaub after everyone thought the Brazilian was shopworn. Mir will come into the fight with a 21 lbs weight advantage but that won’t help him since he has never showed signs of having the functional strength to compliment his bench press. Mir has never shown the ability to take a lot of damage either, and that will be the substantial difference maker in this fight which will be enough for a healthy “Minotauro” to defy the odds one more time.

The Pick: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 2nd round stoppage.

Jon Jones (14-1) vs. Lyoto Machida (17-2):

Jon Jones has had the most remarkable year any MMA fighter has ever had. He was touted as the future of mixed martial arts from the moment he handled Stephan Bonnar with an ease that borders on arrogance. Jake O’Brien, Matt Hamill (Hamill won via DQ), Brandon Vera, Ryan Bader and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua were all dispatched in similar fashion and Quinton Jackson simply lasted the longest. Lyoto Machida, who is arguably the last serious threat to Jones’s title reign, will stand across the octagon from him on Saturday night. Machida will be by far the most technical and elusive fighter Jones has ever fought. Machida is great counter fighter and extremely good at not getting hit but the one time he took a solid shot to the jaw was when he lost the light heavyweight title to Shogun. Jones technique is beyond efficient, but his dynamic fighting style is what has made him a cut above the rest. Machida has infinite patience when waiting for someone to engage since that is where he is the most dangerous. Jones will not wait to engage but he will not simply come in swinging with reckless abandon. His unconventional offense just might be the key to unlocking the door to Machida’s unconventional defense. Jones will use a combination of elbows and punches to knock Machida out of his comfort zone for the finish. Just remember one thing though, Jon Jones’ chin has NEVER been tested.

The Pick: Jon Jones TKO stoppage in the 4th round

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