In recent years, the UFC has closed out the year with a big PPV event that is headlined by a title bout. Not this year though, because the UFC chose to end the year with a meek UFC Fight Night 58 fight card on Saturday at the Jose Correa Arena in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
An Intriguing Matchup
Headlining the fight card is an intriguing matchup between former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and Ultimate Fighter 7 season finalist C.B. Dollaway. While Dollaway welcomes this bout as the chance to finally prove his worth against championship caliber opposition, Machida is curiously pitted against a lower ranked ( #10) Dollaway after giving UFC middleweight king Chris Weidman a big scare at UFC 175 last July.
Dollaway is on a two fight winning streak and is being billed as the young gun on a roll. But Dollaway hasn’t faced anyone in Machida’s caliber. His biggest opponents have been Mark Munoz and Tim Boetsch and he’s lost both of those bouts. On the other hand, Machida has faced nearly everyone from Chris Weidman to Jon Jones. So, if you look at it from the point of view of experience, Machida wins this by a mile.
But the thing with Dollaway is that he is an excellent wrestler. We know that Machida struggled during the Weidman bout when the champ took him to the ground. Like Weidman, Dollaway was a former All-American collegiate wrestler at Arizona State University.He has a vast repertoire of takedowns to jumpstart his wrestling, which is the core of his game. On the ground, Dollaway has good control instincts and a very good transition game. On his feet, Dollaway has a decent striking game with some solid power from both hands. He mixes up his head-body punch combinations well with low kicks.
Enter the Dragon
Machida, whose base is karate, is one of the hardest opponents to prepare for because of his unorthodox angles and lightning quick punching combos. He is known in the circles as one of the best strikers in the game. If Machida has a weakness, it’s that he doesn’t have the one punch knockout power of a Weidman or Belfort. But he makes up for that with deadly counters and killer knees which can stop anybody in the division.
Who takes this?
If Dollaway can take the fight to the ground and impose his wrestling skills, he has a good shot at upsetting Machida. On the other hand, if he is content to strike with the Dragon, he is making a big mistake. Machida is nearly flawless on his feet and as long as he keeps it up, Dollaway doesn’t have the same elite striking to keep up with the Dragon.
With these advantages, Machida is installed as a -600 betting favorite and Dollaway a big +400 underdog. Experts pick Machida to knockout Dollaway somewhere between round 2 and 3 when he’ll crack Dollaway with a powerful left or a sensational kick.