UFC Picks: Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi

Swinging Johnson

Saturday, February 1, 2014 7:48 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 7:48 PM UTC

Former World Champions collide in Brazil on Saturday February 15th when Gegard Mousasi battles Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida in a middleweight fight that will no doubt have title implications.  But which fighter is worth backing in our UFC picks?

Read our sportsbook reviews before placing your bets!

Gegard Mousasi (34-3-2, 18 KO’s, 11 Subs)

Gegard Mousasi, who at 28-years-old, has been in the fight game since he was a young teen and has 39 MMA fights under his belt. The judo black belt and amateur boxing champion has toiled in several MMA organizations, winning the DREAM middleweight and Light Heavyweight titles as well as the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight crown. But to those who follow the UFC exclusively he is far from a household name despite being ranked as the number eight light heavyweight in the world since emigrating from Strikeforce to the UFC after their consolidation.

Mousasi made his UFC debut on April 6th of last year when he scored a unanimous decision over Ilir Latifi despite fighting on an injured knee throughout and requiring surgery after the match. The decision was made by Mousasi and his camp to drop down to 185 pounds for his next foray into the Octagon. On Saturday February 15th Mousasi will find out whether the drop in weight will allow him to keep pace with another former light heavyweight king or will he find that as he drained his weight so too did he drain his power.

Lyoto Machida (20-4, 8 KO’s, 2 Subs)

If you haven't heard of Lyoto Machida then I say welcome to the UFC. The former UFC Light Heavyweight champion lost his title to Shogun Rua and has spent the better part of four years trying to reclaim the belt. Unfortunately for Machida the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Jon Bones Jones, rocketed onto the light heavyweight scene and now claims the throne. And so the decision was made to explore the middleweight division to see if Machida could become king once again in a brand new weight class.

His debut at 185 was successful to say the least. The Dragon sent hard hitting tough guy Mark Munoz to sleep with a spectacular head kick and claimed Knockout of the Night honors in front of a riveted crowd in Manchester, England. Machida seamlessly blends ferocious kicks with shocking power in his hands. He is a 3rd degree dan in Shotokan karate and a black belt in BJJ. Though Machida is not the consummate grappler he employs a solid takedown defense coupled with the ability to submit if the opportunity arises. Machida likes to use distance to frustrate his opponents and will exploit even the tiniest window created by a lowered left hand with a thunderous head kick or devastating strike.

UFC Free Pick:

If this fight takes place purely standing up then the advantage goes to Machida. While it is true Mousasi is the same height (6'1") as Machida and actually holds a slightly longer reach advantage, Machida's technique is so unusual and his striking angles so unorthodox that I cannot envision Mousasi sticking and moving without getting drilled. That being said, if Mousasi does elude Machida's vast arsenal of punches and kicks, he has the knockout power to make this a very quick fight.

Machida's middleweight debut was exceptional. He had no problem cutting weight and looked leaner and meaner than in his previous trips inside the Octagon at 205 pounds. Mousasi is a clean, technical striker who prefers to stand and trade rather than bring the fight to the mat. That style fits perfectly for Machida who, despite his proficiency as a BJJ master, is still more adept and comfortable when he is on his feet. When evaluating the UFC odds on this featured match, it's hard to ignore the slight edges that favor Lyoto Machida. This one will go the distance but in the end Machida will prevail in your UFC picks.

Play Lyoto Machida at WilliamHill.com.

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