After Lyoto Machida's destruction of Thiago Silva, I've read where a lot of people are calling him the next champion of the UFC LHW division. I know some of you probably think I have a vendetta agaisnt Lyoto Machida or something. As I've mentioned time and time again, I'm a fan of the guy for sure. I love his style honestly, as it's like poetry in motion so to speak. I know that's cliche, but it is. However, the other day I posted that he needs to win a fight over a top 5 guy to earn a title shot. Now I want to take a look at how he matches up with the top 3 guys in the division.
I currently have 3 fighters ranked above Lyoto Machida. Those fighters are Forrest Griffin, Rampage Jackson, and the current LHW champion Rashad Evans.
Currently, Lyoto Machida is 6-0 inside the octagon but if you look at the opponents he’s faced thus far, they have all been primarily grapplers and wrestlers. He hasn't fought a guy with adequate striking skills yet. Let’s take a look at how the top three guys match up with Lyoto Machida after the jump.
Forrest Griffin-Griffin is the biggest of the top three fighters. His striking game is much more complete than any fighter
Rampage Jackson-Of the top three fighters, Jackson probably has the best boxing techinique of them all. He also has the best defense in terms of defending strikes to the upper body. While he has shown that he's vulnerable to leg kicks, I don't think Machida possesses the kind of power to hurt him in that sense. Jackson is also a pretty big LHW, and does an excellent job of cutting the cage off against his opponents. I think he would force Machida into more exchanges, thus exposing him to power Machida isn't accustomed to facing. If the fight goes to the ground, Rampage is very capable in that department while being difficult to submit. Rampage also have the ability to go the distance. How would Machida fair against such a capable striker in Rampage? Could he withstand multiple power shots from Rampage? Would he just shrug Rampage off like he has everyone else?
Rashad Evans-Of the three fighters, Rashad is the best wrestler and the only one of the top 3 that can match Machida's speed. He also possesses KO power in his hands and feet. While Rashad has abstained from taking his last two opponents down, I think he would use them against Machida. Of course, Rashad benefits from having Greg Jackson in his corner. So you know they would have a great strategy in facing Machida. Would Machida be able to stop Rashad's take downs? Could Machida withstand power shots from Rashad? If taken down, could his guard game nullify Evans ground and pound?
These three fighters present multiple problems for Machida. He hasn't faced fighters with these type of qualities since joining the UFC. I'm not saying he isn't capable of beating any of them. I'm just saying it isn't going to be as easy as some think. While Machida has dominated every opponent he's faced in the octagon. There's still a lot of questions about what he can and can't do against elite competition. That's the beauty of the fight game.
How do you think he stacks up against Griffin, Jackson, and Evans?