Maybe I’m making a mistake, but the fight I’m looking forward to the most on UFC 163’s card is the co-main event between Phil Davis and Lyoto Machida.
Davis’s striking is improving! It feels as if that was the big headline after his latest win, over Vinny Magalhaes. Well, yeah. It was expected. Davis is an A-plus athlete and he’s with a good camp. Improvement is inevitable. But that improved striking will look absolutely rudimentary against a guy like Lyoto Machida. It’s going to be very hard for Davis not to reach in this fight. Covering distance while throwing accurate, crisp punches takes time to perfect, so moving forward effectively and purposefully will prove to be Davis’s greatest challenge in this matchup. One thing Davis has going for him is that he’s solid defensively, but he can’t fall into Machida’s game. If he chases, he’ll reach. If he reaches, he’ll get caught.
But what if Phil Davis pulled an Anderson Silva here? What if, instead of pursuing Lyoto Machida around the cage, he got a little weird? Put his hands down and stood stationary? Would Machida come forward, giving Davis a chance to take him down? Could be interesting.
As for the main event, which y’know, I’m also undoubtedly excited for, the UFC has seen its share of David vs. Goliath fights. This is one of them. The Korean Zombie AKA Chan Sung Jung has the reputation of a brawler, but in reality, he has nearly three times as many wins by submission than knockout. You don’t expect American wrestling out of him, but he’s smart with takedowns, good at catching kicks and controls guys well on the floor. It’s the best part of his game. Standing, he throws good counterpunches and effective knees. Here are (some of) his problems: Jose Aldo is about five times faster. Even if Zombie gets to the inside or catches a kick, Aldo’s physical strength and balance will keep him standing. Jung can be easy to hit. The fight is in Brazil.
One of the reasons Korean Zombie is so much fun is that he’s “give and take”. One-sided beat downs typically aren’t as entertaining as the back-and-forth wars Zombie finds himself in. Sorry, you can’t have a back-and-forth war with Jose Aldo and live to tell about it.