UFC Light Heavyweight Title Eliminator Bout
UFC 157: February 23, 2012
Honda Center in Anaheim, California
UFC Light Heavyweight Contender Lyoto Machida (-220)
Profile: Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (18-3) showed his championship form after losing three of his previous four bouts by crushing Ryan Bader with a second-round knockout at UFC on FOX 4 on August 4. Machida had suffered all three of his career losses since winning the light heavyweight championship three years ago. And each of those three losses had come against either current or former champs in the division. He lost to current champ Jon Jones via standing guillotine choke at UFC 140 last December 10 after knocking out Randy Couture at UFC 129 to end the MMA legend’s career. The 34-year-old Brazilian earned the light heavyweight title with a second-round KO of Rashad Evans at UFC 98 and defended it against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 104 with a unanimous decision win before Rua took his belt in a rematch at UFC 113 by first-round KO.
UFC Light Heavyweight Contender Dan Henderson (+170)
Profile: If you know MMA, you know Dan Henderson (29-8). He won an old-school UFC tournament back in 1998, defeated “Big Nog” to win a RINGS tournament, was the Pride Middleweight and light heavyweight champ, captured the Strikeforce light heavyweight champ title before beating Fedor Emelianenko in an epic heavyweight bout and has quite simply participated in some of the most legendary fights in the history of the sport. Unfortunately, a knee injury to “Hendo” also led to the cancellation of a UFC event for the first time ever, preventing him from taking on light heavyweight champ Jon Jones for the title. At 42 years of age, the clock is ticking for this MMA legend, and a rumored matchup with Lyoto Machida now looks like it will stand in the way between him and that opportunity to finally meet Jones for the belt.
Opening UFC 157 Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Machida a solid -220 favorite (bet $220 to win $100) while Henderson opened as a +170 underdog (bet $100 to win $170) at 5Dimes sportsbook. Both of these former champs already had their chances to win back the belt but backed out for different reasons. Henderson is rehabbing his knee injury while Machida did not feel like he had enough time to fight Jones at UFC 152 and was hoping he could get that matchup back home in Brazil. Now, each will likely have one more opportunity at a title shot here before younger fighters work their way into the championship picture. Machida was supposed to be next in line for the Jones-Henderson winner from UFC 151, but we all know what happened to that matchup. He will be a very difficult opponent for Hendo, who has proven he should never be counted out over the years but will have his work cut out for him. Machida’s fighting style presents a unique challenge and make him a dangerous foe.
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