Thursday, August 2, 2012

Looking for a Fight: UFC on Fox 4 - Men of Mystery

Rooby-rooby-roo! It's fight night. (wikipedia.org)


Mysteries can be interesting. Most of them are able to bring an entire story full-circle. Develop ideas or drop some hints in the beginning, take the viewer/reader/etc. on a wild chase, and upon the conclusion reintroduce those early hints for the big reveal to get that always important, "Of course!" reaction.

The most consistent form of mystery story telling is of course Scooby-Doo. Just when Shaggy, Scoob (sometimes Scrappy), Fred, Daphne, and Velma roll up in the Mystery Machine and meet the old in-keeper, carnival ringleader, librarian, rich businessman who is apparently in need, by the time the show is over and the literal mask comes off, and every those initial characters were, shock, the villain who would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids.

Didn't see that one coming.
Important to how any mystery unravels isn't so much the conclusion, but how everything leading up to that conclusion ties into what you know, what you didn't know, and how unexpected and caught off you were by the result.

UFC on Fox 4 on Saturday will not only be providing potentially the best fight card Fox has ever had, but it will also be taking the viewers on it's on magical mystery tour with some of the most enigmatic fighters in the organization. Mauricio Shogun Rua, Brandon Vera, Lyoto Machida, and Ryan Bader have all shown elite talent and limitless potential, and also seemed incredibly beatable and crushed under the weight of expectations from themselves, fans, and media. Having all been whooped on by Jon Jones doesn't help one's aura of invincibility either.

Each fighter has had their ups and downs. Aside from Shogun's time in Pride, sustained success has been hard to come by. The way the mystery of these fighters' UFC career has converged in Los Angeles. After Dana White's own "Call Me, Maybe" impression with Rua v. Vera being the #1 title contender fight, maybe, after some backlash from fans, the UFC Pres left things a bit more wide open to include both 205 fights.

Sure, this might be to add some excitement to a Fox card, much to Alex Gustafsson's Swedish chagrin, but we do know no matter the winner, should Jones beat Dan Henderson in September it'll be a II.

The fight surrounded in the most mystery is Lyoto Machida v. Ryan Bader.

Machida with his mojo.
Bader himself had a lot of momentum going until he met Jones in the Octagon. Since then, his one-dementional fighting and inability to put the mix in mixed martial arts set him for a shock loss to the nearly (at the time) retired Tito Ortiz and two losses in a row. Two wins followed, and he actually has the most momentum going into this weekend.

Of course, he's also going against a fighter that couldn't be more different from himself, Machida. Bader is a strong, powerful wrestler with a straight-forward mentality has to track down the notoriously elusive Machida. A fighter who once had an era...that lasted for one fight.

As Machida looks to turn around a scary sight after being choked unconscious by you know who. There is a need for him to regain his mojo. The idea that Machida can't be figured out is a myth. People have done it, and the way to do it is to pressure him, but not chase. Overwhelm him, but not open yourself up to counter striking.

It's hard to imagine that the crumpled man on the ground during that fight with Jon Jones also front jump kicked Randy Couture into retirement and one of his canines into press row, but that's how talented Machida is. His reputation of Brockaphobia (fear of punches) has stalled his progression by becoming too passive. He's saying the right things leading up to the fight, although you have to imagine his confidence is high against Bader. Machida should have a big advantage in the striking and footwork categories. A confident Machida is a dangerous one. Also keep in mind he's extremely tough to take down, even for a guy like Bader.

BREAKDOWN


I look for an old school performance from Machida. He wants a shot at the title, and while a presumably great performance by Rua will trump anything Machida does, it will make Machida aggressive and implement his game plan against Bader. Bader will have to move in, lacking the foot speed to really cause Machida much trouble.

With a focused Machida, I would expect a TKO for the former LHW champ. Bader was dropped up close by a punch on the button by Tito, and Machida knows how to pick his spots. 2nd Round TKO.

Interesting note, Jon Jones tweeted that Bader has a big right hand, the same kind of looping punch that Rua used to give Machida trouble. Worth noting because, well, no one solves mysteries like Jonny Bones.

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