Thursday, May 21, 2009

UFC 98: Machida vs. Evans, Serra vs. Hughes

On May 23 MGM Grand will be again filled with excited MMA fans as two undefeated UFC fighters; Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida will collide against the reigning UFC Light Heavyweight champion "Sugar" Rashad Evans inside the dreaded octagon for the UFC Light Heavyweight championship. Also, bitter rivals in the welterweight division; Matt "The Terror" Serra and Matt Hughes will show their furies after a long wait. This will be one of the greatest UFC events, all fighters have proven their skills inside the octagon. 2 undefeated fighters, 2 rivals, 1 night of action. UFC 98: Evans vs. Machida.

Let's take a look first at the rivals of two Matts. Matt Hughes has dominated the welterweight division when he slammed Carlos Newton unconscious to the canvas making him the UFC Welterweight Champion at UFC 34: High Voltage. He defended the title five times until his lost to B.J. Penn then snatched it again from George St. Pierre and defended again from Frank Trigg and he avenged his lost to B.J. Penn. Matt Hughes has the combination of both striking power and ground techniques, 18 of his 43MMA fights he won by submission while 13 are due to strike. He loves to slam his opponents hard to the ground. I have watched some of his fights and I could see that conditioning problems caused him to get tired early in his fights making him frustrated and later on lost, we will see if his conditioning have improved once he face Matt Serra. On the other hand Matt "The Terror" Serra, probably the shortest welterweight-stands 5'6", have shocked the world when he defeated George "Rush" St. Pierre at the very first round making him the underdog that became the UFC Welterweight Champion. Despite his 68" reach, he can throw powerful elbows that have contributed to St. Pierre's loss. Serra coming from a long recovery due to back injury, have unintentionally avoided a fight against Hughes and have proven that he has submission skills and powerful hands. With only 9 MMA fights, 4 by submission and 1 K.O., he has a lot to prove against the veteran Hughes. I think his weakness is overconfident, this is evident when he faced St. Pierre for the second time and lost via T.K.O. and regaining the Welterweight title. This time we will see if Serra will use his ferocious elbows or take his rival to the ground.

Their rivalry began at the UFC reality show; The Ultimate Fighter 6 where they became coaches of opposing teams, the fight would have eventually lead them to a match in UFC 79 along with The Ultimate Fighter 6 finale but due to back injury, Serra was not able to face Hughes. But the real issue was in The Ultimate Fighter 6 itself, Serra's team dominated the fights with 6-2 in the first weeks but Team Hughes came back form behind when all Team Serra fighters were all defeated leading both fighters of Team Hughes to the Finale. I have watched the show and Matt Serra really entertained me by his great coaching abilities and also his sharp words to Matt Hughes like "What a dick!" and "6 consecutive lost, ouch!”, making Matt Hughes hungry for a fight. This is a war between a veteran and an upcoming MMA superstar. This is a “make or break” fight for Serra and could be Hughes' last.

And in the main event, the battle of two undefeated fighters for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Beacuse of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's jaw injury, the 14-0 Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida will face "Sugar" Rashad Evans. Machida have gone through a lot of MMA events and came out undefeated, and when he debuted in the UFC his first 4 fights he won by unanimous decision making the UFC fans doubtful about what he can do inside the octagon, until he choked Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and knocked down Thiago Silva. His elusive fighting style made Tito Ortiz frustrated and later on won via decision, making him noted as the future of UFC Light Heavyweight. After a lot of wins via decision we will see what Machida's elusive Shotokan Karate influenced style will do against the heavy hand of Evans.

Evans debuted as a heavyweight in The Ultimate Fighter, have knocked out the legendary Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell and snatched the UFC Light heavyweight title from Forrest Griffin. I have watched his fights and he takes his fights standing most of the time. Despite his striking power, he is also a submission specialist making him an unpredictable fighter. He will put both his 14-0 record and his title against Machida. Although somehow their fighting styles are opposites, I still think that the two are a perfect match not only because of their perfect records but also because of their talents both striking and ground and pound. It will be a great fight MMA fans should not miss. A fight of two undefeated and skillful fighters, somebody's 0 must go.

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