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UFC 93 Breakdown: The Main Card

Davis vs. Lytle

While the usual 9-5 crowd counts the hours to the weekend so they can spend their two days of freedom getting lost at IKEA, the true MMA fan remains steadfast in his determination to spend the coming weekend paying tribute at the altar of testosterone-stained short shorts.

OK, so it makes us sound kind of weird, but we dug this hole and now we get to lie in it. So sit back and relax as we get into some major main card action for UFC 93, which is being beamed to our feeble little minds from the O2 Arena in Dublin, Ireland, this Saturday.

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Topping the docket is a light heavyweight tilt with middleweight ramifications, the return of Pride’s would-be prodigal son and the UFC debut of Canada’s favorite Korean. Wait, or is it the other way around?

Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis Scouting Report
Ht/Wt: 5’10/170 lbs.
Age: 35
Hometown: Houlton, Maine
Fighting out of: Bangor, Maine
Record: 15-4

The stakes: After rebounding from a dispiriting loss to Mike Swick by choking out heralded British prospect Paul Kelly, Davis will yet again get a chance to shine in front of his Irish kin and this time he’ll get to face a fighter he’s been champing at the bit to get at.

While many a fan is eagerly anticipating the fistic fireworks to come, Davis needs to realize that putting on an entertaining scrap with Chris Lytle is nowhere near as important as solidifying his status as a welterweight contender.

The breakdown: If nothing else, you can bank on this fight ending with Davis getting some sort of bonus check, as his offensive dynamism has garnered a reputation for producing crowd-pleasing results. What Davis needs to stay mindful of, however, is that Lytle is more than capable of sending Davis’ Irish comrades home with tears in their Guinness.

Unless Davis is fine with bankrupting most of the Irish betting population, he needs to work a varied offensive strategy on the feet. All too often, Davis stays on his back foot in search of landing a single synapse-scrambling blow while ignoring his sound clinch game and powerful kicks. As long as Davis keeps Lytle guessing, he’ll have the upper hand.

Chris “Lights Out” Lytle Scouting Report
Ht/Wt: 5’11/170 lbs.
Age: 34
Hometown: Indianapolis
Fighting out of: Indianapolis
Record: 26-16-5

The stakes: If you walk into the “Cheers” bar, odds are you’ll see Norm. Lately, it has looked as if Lytle is becoming the UFC’s very own version of Norm. Always around but never fully appreciated, he needs to set himself apart before he starts blending in with the bar stools.

With a main-card opportunity at his lap against a popular opponent, Lytle can’t afford his usual aw-shucks persona -- a loss here means he’ll never get past gatekeeper status under the UFC banner. Just because everyone liked Norm doesn’t mean anyone wanted to be him.

The breakdown: Lytle hasn’t struggled in the UFC from a lack of talent but from a lack of strategy. All too often, his versatility has made him complacent as he simply tries to adapt to his opponent instead of the other way around.

That approach will get him nowhere against Davis, who would love for Lytle to throw himself headfirst into the fray, where he can find the counterpunching opportunities he thrives on. Unless Lytle establishes an offensive rhythm early and controls the tempo of this bout, he’ll be staring down the barrel of another decision loss.

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The bottom line: Unless you buy into the whole “Chris Lytle is ready to RAWK!!” rumor that Joe Rogan spreads every time he gets within five feet of the man, it’s a safe bet that Davis will seize the offensive initiative early and keep Lytle frustrated throughout.

While the matchup is even money, Davis has the Emanuel Steward of MMA in Mark DellaGrotte cooking up his game plan while Lytle often shows the sporting IQ of Leon Lett. Don’t bank on Davis stopping the always-sturdy Lytle, but a unanimous decision nod will be well within reach.
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