UFC Fight Night 119: Can Lyoto Machida Take Out Derek Brunson in His Comeback Bout?
When Lyoto Machida returns to the Octagon later this month, for the first time since 2015, “The Dragon” certainly won’t do so with a warm-up fight.
On October 28th, at UFC Fight Night 119, Machida will take on Derek Brunson, who is currently holding down the #7 ranking in the middleweight division. Can the 39 year-old legend take out Brunson, and possibly make another run at the 185 crown?
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Machida’s Keys to Victory
Machida will be returning from an 18 month suspension he was handed by USADA, after the legendary fighter informed the organization he had been taking the banned substance, 7-keto-dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The last time Machida fought was back in June, 2015, when he was knocked out by Yoel Romero. Prior to that, in April of that year, Machida was submitted by Luke Rockhold.
So, one has to wonder if cage rust will play a factor in the upcoming bout, as it’s been well over two years since Machida last fought. It also remains to be seen if Machida’s reflexes remain the same, as the former 205 champ is not far removed from turning 40.
As always, Machida’s unorthodox movement and footwork will play a key role, in taking on a powerful wrestler like Brunson. Chances are we’ll see a classic Machida approach, whereby, the Karate black belt looks to counterstrike and land his big left, as Brunson moves in.
If Brunson does score a takedown, then Machida’s jiu-jitsu will need to be at its best, if he hopes to avoid the type of punishing shots he’s taken in recent outings.
Brunson’s Keys to Victory
Brunson’s rise up the middleweight rankings was halted by losses to Anderson Silva and Robert Whittaker, but the powerful fighter demonstrated in his last outing, he remains as dangerous as ever. In June, Brunson took out Dan Kelly in the opening round, and ended his two fight losing streak.
Brunson is typically a pressuring and aggressive fighter, and it would be somewhat surprising if that changes against Machida. The 33 year-old, however, will need to be extremely careful about eating one of Machida’s counter punches. Case in point, recall Ryan Bader’s 2012, KO loss to “The Dragon”…
To reduce the chances of that happening, Brunson will need to mix in takedown attempts, and fire in hooks to counter Machida’s lateral movement. If Brunson can keep Machida guessing, and prevent him from establishing his timing, then his chances of scoring a win will rise dramatically.
If this fight was happening in 2014, then calling the fight for Machida, would probably seem like a safe bet. But, when you consider how long Machida’s been out of action, where he’s at in his career, and that he’s coming off consecutive, stoppage losses, picking Brunson is likely the way to go.
UFC Fight Night 119 will be hosted by Sao Paulo, Brazil. In the co-main event, Demian Maia will take on rising welterweight contender, Colby Covington.