Dan “Hendo” Henderson (29-8-0) vs. Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (19-3-0)
According to Dana White, these two fighters are fighting for more than a win, because whoever takes this one will secure himself a second chance at facing Jon Jones. Both Henderson and Machida were promised title shots last year, but neither shots came to fruition. Henderson was supposed to face Jones at UFC 151, but an injury to the former Strikeforce light-heavyweight champ pulled him from the bout and effectively cancelled the card. Machida earned his shot with a knockout win over Ryan Bader, but he was unwilling to take a title shot on short notice so it went to Vitor Belfort instead.
It is very doubtful that this fight will stay on the ground too long, but if it does it would be interesting to see. Machida is very hard to take down, but Henderson has some very good wrestling. Machida is also a BJJ black belt, and he has rarely been caught in submissions. In fact, the three time Henderson has been submitted was by Machida’s teammates Anderson Silva, “Big Nog”, and “Lil’ Nog”.
That may not mean much if the fight stays on its feet like most people believe. In the stand-up department, Machida has always been hard to catch, but slowly people have figured out the puzzle that is “The Dragon”. Rampage figured Machida out, Shogun knocked him out, and Jones was able to submit him. Henderson, on the other hand, has only gotten tougher in the last couple of years. Outside of the loss to Jake Shields, Henderson has won seven fights over the last four years. In those seven fights, he has knocked out four fighters which include Michael Bisping, Renato Sobral, Fedor Emelianenko, and Machida’s teammate Rafael Cavalcante.
The Bottom Line:
Henderson has this fight. Machida over the last few years has been more willing to engage, and while he can usually knock his opponents out, in this instance the plan will backfire when Henderson catches him. Henderson by knockout in the second round.