Jon Jones will defend the light heavyweight crown for a second time at UFC 140. | Photo: Wilson Fox
Sherdog.com staff and contributors put their reputations on the line with bold predictions for the UFC 140 “Jones vs. Machida” main card on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The event airs live on pay-per-view at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT:
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship
Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida
Tristen Critchfield: Stylistically, this is probably the most interesting matchup of Jones’ impressive run through the UFC. Machida likes to use odd movement and fight on the outside, but the champion’s reach negates that approach somewhat. If “The Dragon” moves too close, Jones is capable of landing a takedown from distances most fighters would not attempt. It will take some time for Jones to solve Machida, but by the third round, he’ll have found his range. Then he’ll take the Brazilian down and beat him up with some trademark elbows to earn a TKO.
Jordan Breen: What drives the charm of this bout is that Jones and Machida are the two most stylistically unique and discrete individuals at 205 pounds. No other fights like either man, and, thus, we thirst to see the interplay between those styles. Plus, a physically bigger, stronger Machida is an interesting prospect in the clinch, where he’s long been underrated. Similarly, we want badly to see a fighter who can hit Jones in the face and get past his usually overwhelming offense. Machida seems like the best candidate. Yet still, it is hard to pick against Jones, who can stay as far away from Machida as he likes with his length and reach, in addition to being able to take him down and pummel him in a way he has never seen. Machida might be a brilliant defensive fighter, but Jones dominated and finished all-time greats in Mauricio Rua and Quinton Jackson with surgical beatdowns that left both men uncharacteristically waving the white flag. It’s a powerful ability to break down a man, and the most likely scenario is that Jonny Bones does it again in the T. Dot.
Brian Knapp: Jones’ size, length and athleticism can negate what Machida does best. No one can discount the quality of “The Dragon,” but I foresee him ending up on his back, pinned to the mat and eating elbows. There may be no more lethal fighter in top position than Jones. Unless Machida can rattle him early and put him on his heels -- a feat no one else has accomplished -- it becomes hard to imagine a scenario in which the night ends well for him. Give me Jones by third-round TKO.
Rob King: The Machida era lasted all of about two fights. Will the Jones era last the same amount of time? I don’t think so. This fight is a lot closer than I think most people are thinking it is going to be. Jones is the bigger guy with longer reach and should be able to land first on the feet, and he should not have too many problems taking Machida down. Machida is a very unorthodox fighter and game planning for him can be a challenge. He can do unexpected things in a fight, which might cause the champ to take his time in the fight, but, eventually, he will turn it up a level and score a stoppage to retain his title in the third or fourth round.
Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Todd Martin: At the time Mir beat Nogueira, it was a very surprising result. However, the subsequent years have affirmed that it simply should not have been that surprising. Mir’s extended focus on striking began to pay dividends by 2008, and he has developed into an even better striker since then. He also packs more power in his punches than Nogueira and, at this point, may have a better chin. Nogueira is chronologically three years older than Mir, but in fight years it is a much greater gap than that. Nogueira has simply put much more mileage on his body than Mir. Nogueira has more to prove in this fight, just like Mir had more to prove in 2008, so I expect a game performance from “Minotauro.” I just don't think it will be enough.
Tomasz Marciniak: I expect this fight to unravel much like their first encounter. Nogueira doesn’t have his legendary durability anymore, and, unlike Brandon Schaub, Frank Mir is a good enough striker to work around the Brazilian’s jab. Mir will land heavy punches on Nogueira and lead him to stopping the Brazilian, likely inside one round.
Freddie DeFreitas: Following Nogueira’s massive success at home in Brazil -- a TKO win over Schaub -- I was quick to laud the second coming of the former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder, but let’s be real for a moment. Going into that fight, many considered Schaub to be a can’t-miss prospect on the fast track to the top of the division; that turned out to be quite far from reality. While Nogueira looked great, he looked great only in comparison to previous sub-par performances in the Octagon. Mir takes the rematch, this time by decision.
Lutfi Sariahmed: People assume the rematch between these two fighters will go drastically different because of Minotauro’s health. There are no staph issues. He’s coming off the big KO win over Schaub at UFC 134 in August. I think we overrate the Schaub win, though. He’s a growing prospect in a lot of ways, but Minotauro had so much time to recuperate. Fighting in Brazil certainly had an impact, too. What does he have going for him now? Mir isn’t some prospect, and Nogueira isn’t returning from some 17-month-long hiatus to fight in Brazil. Does he still have it? Can he turn it back on again? Or is he past his prime and unable to compete at the same level anymore? I believe it to be more the latter than the former. That doesn’t mean Mir is flawless. However, if I’m to put my money on which heavyweight veteran I believe in more, I’ll go with Mir to win again.
Tito Ortiz vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
King: Nogueira is an old 35, but Ortiz is a very old 36. Ortiz has already had his turn-back-the-clock moment this year, and I don’t see him getting a second one against “Minotoro.” Five or six years ago, Ortiz would be able to hit double-legs on Nogueira all day long, but Ortiz has lost a step and I don’t think he will find much success here. If Nogueira does end up on the ground, I see him being able to scramble back up fairly quickly. Nogueira is a much better boxer than Ortiz and should be able to control this fight on the feet. Ortiz is a hard guy to finish and I don’t think Nogueira stops him, but I like the Brazilian to take a clear-cut decision.
Sariahmed: Ortiz got everyone excited with his guillotine choke win over Ryan Bader. I have and will continue to say, “Good for him.” The consensus among MMA fans seemingly everywhere was that of adulation for the former champion. He parlayed that into a main event bout with Rashad Evans, and he didn’t make it through the second round. He really had nothing to lose in that bout, considering the short notice of its announcement. The question before you pick Ortiz now becomes whether you believe he’s this rejuvenated fighter. Does a guillotine choke in less than two minutes mean this man can make another run up the light heavyweight ladder? To that question, I’d say definitively no. Could he beat Minotoro? Maybe. Minotoro could -- and some say should -- be 1-3 in the UFC. He didn’t look good against Jason Brilz and lost to the aforementioned Bader and Phil Davis. I’m picking Minotoro to win here, but Ortiz will make it tougher than expected.
Tony Loiseleur: Despite that momentary flash of brilliance against Bader, Ortiz’s last outing with Evans more or less taught us that, while competent, he can’t exactly hang at the top of the light heavyweight division anymore. Nogueira isn’t exactly that caliber of fighter, but he is still a fairly serviceable 205er, and, barring another exceptional surge from Ortiz, I expect him to handily box his way to a decision in this fight. Ortiz may get Nogueira down for a few moments throughout the fight, but Nogueira will also persistently get to his feet to continue outboxing Ortiz to the final bell.
Claude Patrick vs. Brian Ebersole
Critchfield: Patrick has solid jiu-jitsu, but Ebersole has demonstrated an ability to escape from submissions in recent bouts. Ebersole’s standup has improved, but it’s nothing special, so give Patrick the slight advantage there. With his experience fighting larger opponents and powerful wrestling ability, the Australia-based American will want to impose his will, scoring takedowns and battering Patrick from top position. Patrick is skilled enough to avoid this situation, however, and is well-rounded enough to take a close --possibly split -- decision.
Breen: Ebersole deserves the slight nod, but CPatrick is not to be discounted here. It helps that Ebersole had a fuller training camp, as he was originally prepping for Rory MacDonald, and that he is a physically larger, superior wrestler. Patrick, however, is sneakily well-rounded, is no slouch as a wrestler and has a nasty guillotine. We are probably bound for a nip-tuck, 15-minute affair, but Ebersole’s penchant for aggression and flashy, showy offense should snag him the nod.
Knapp: This could be the most competitive bout on the main card, depending on what unfolds in the headliner. Patrick wields a wicked guillotine choke, has quietly won 13 fights in a row and has never been finished. Momentum and durability are wonderful traits in a mixed martial artist. However, the Canadian will enter the cage as the smaller man against the wily Ebersole, who has opened eyes with an aggressive and unorthodox offensive attack. He, too, has a nice winning streak going for him. Logic points to Ebersole, but something tells me Patrick finds a way to pull this one out.
Mark Hominick vs. Chan Sung Jung
Martin: If “The Korean Zombie” is going to win this fight, he has to approach it differently than he has his previous Zuffa bouts. Leonard Garcia provides openings in the standup that Hominick simply does not. Hominick is too crisp a striker. Even on the ground, Hominick has slick submissions and will make it tough. Hominick will electrify the Canadian crowd with an exciting and impressive win.
Marciniak: This fight looks like one in which The Korean Zombie’s looping punches will cost him dearly. It’s possible that the Korean will out-grapple his foe on the ground, but I don’t know if he’ll be as committed to the takedown as he was in the Garcia rematch. If it stays standing, the much more clean and technical Hominick should take a pronounced lead on the judges’ cards.
DeFreitas: After watching Jung twister his way to victory against Garcia, I can’t help but worry for the Canadian. While the London, Ontario, native has the ability to slap on a slick finishing hold of his own, Hominick’s Achilles’ heel has always been his own submission defense and momentary mental lapses that have led to unconsciousness on a number of occasions in the past. Jung may hold a decent edge in the grappling department, but he’s still required to take the fight there. Needless to say, I don’t think Hominick will be easy to plant on his back. Expect a fun three-round affair on the feet, with the Canadian walking away with the win on all judges’ cards.
Loiseleur: After getting knocked out by George Roop, Jung made the startling declaration that he was abandoning his reckless “zombie style” in favor of proper tactics in the cage. Then, a few months later in a rematch with Garcia, Jung treated us to an electrifying “Submission of the Year” candidate twister finish. While it’s easy to say now that he’s still exciting without that zombie style, I think it’d be too much to claim that he’s a killer on the ground now. Garcia’s kryptonite has always been accurate strikers and savvy grapplers. Some would argue that Hominick is just as susceptible on the ground, but that would deny the fact that, unlike Garcia, the Canadian has been improving his defensive grappling skills in the gym. Will it be enough to keep Jung from submitting him? No, not if Jung is able to storm him on the ground and catch him early. For the most part, I’m confident that Hominick can scramble free from takedowns to keep things on the feet, where he’s a crisper, more accurate striker than Jung. I favor Hominick for the close decision, but I’m also confident Jung makes it very difficult for him to get.
2011 Picking & Grinning Standings
Jordan Breen: 159-66
Tristen Critchfield: 156-69
Todd Martin: 155-70
Brian Knapp: 152-73
Tomasz Marciniak: 151-74
Freddie DeFreitas: 150-75
Rob King: 149-76
Guilherme Pinheiro: 148-77
Tony Loiseleur: 145-80
Lutfi Sariahmed: 145-80