Ryan “Darth” Bader (14-2-0) vs. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (17-2-0)
Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida need to thank the fans, because without them they would not have a chance to vie for the title with a win. If either of them finish this fight more impressively than the main event, they could find themselves in a rematch with Jon Jones.
Bader actually faced Jones right before he got his title shot. The loss happened when Ryan was not in greatest position, as he was transitioning gyms, and at one point was not able to train thoroughly. The loss that followed to Tito Ortiz, was one that unfortunately will follow Bader for the rest of his career. Luckily he’s coming off the biggest victory of his career with a win over Rampage Jackson. Bader seems to be a new man with an improved striking game, and even better control on the ground, but will need to be in top form to get past Machida.
Machida has only had one win in the last three years, against aging Randy Couture. A knockout and submission loss to Shogun Rua and Jon Jones respectively, are coupled with a decision loss to Rampage Jackson. Given Machida did give Jones trouble in the first round, but when you get choked out and put to sleep in the second, it doesn’t mean much. Machida needs to reattain his once “elusive” style if he is to ever be a champion again.
The Bottom Line: Machida has not showed much improvement in his game over the last couple years, and has relied on his abilities that made him a champion. Unfortunately, that is not enough anymore, and it will show as Bader is able to take a decision victory from him.