UFC Fight Night 36 Play: Gegard Mousasi (+195) vs Lyoto Machida (-215)

Gegard MousasiUFC Fight Night 36 Date: February 15, 2014 Arena: Arena Jaragua City: Jaragua do Sul, Brazil Middleweight bout: Gegard Mousasi (+195) vs Lyoto Machida (-215) Fight Breakdown: The main event for UFC Fight Night 36 in Brazil will be a middleweight contest between a pair of former 205-pounders, when former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi takes on former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Mousasi is the underdog heading into this bout at +195 ($100 to win $195), with Machida being the favorite at -215 ($215 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. GEGARD MOUSASI (34-3-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) will be dropping down to the middleweight division for his second appearance in the Octagon, and it will be on enemy soil as he travels to Brazil to take on Machida. He is coming off a lengthy ten month layoff after picking up a unanimous decision victory against Ilir Latifi, as he has been rehabbing a knee injury. Now with one win at 205 pounds in the UFC under his belt, he hopes that dropping down to 185 and defeating another new middleweight in Machida will put him in talks for title contention. If “The Dreamcatcher” comes through with an impressive performance and the win, it would be very hard to argue that. He has said in interviews that if he does not get a title shot with a win, he hopes to be booked for another fight as soon as possible. “The Armenian Assassin” is a very talented all-around striker. He has excellent boxing and is very effective with it in his fights. He works a very solid lead left jab, has an excellent left hook, a hard right hand, and a beautiful uppercut. His kicking game is solid as well, especially the heavy right leg kicks he likes to employ. Mousasi has many weapons in his striking arsenal, and is effective with all of them. He does not waste any strikes; he is calculated and very accurate with everything he throws. He is great at landing one or two strikes at a time, but also puts together some excellent combinations. The 28 year old veteran moves well on the feet, and is very good at finding his distance and using his range. However, even when he is at a reach disadvantage, he is also good at closing the distance and making it his fight on the inside. His best weapon on the feet is his jab, as he works it really well; one pop at a time, or consecutive pops. He steps in with it really well, too. He is generally very good at implementing his jab, especially when he has a reach advantage over his opponents, even if it’s a very slight one. Mousasi has a bad habit of sometimes keeping his hands down. However, he is excellent at blocking strikes. Even so, I think a lack of striking defense could prove to be a mistake against a fighter like Machida, even though Mousasi is very durable and has an incredible chin, never having been knocked out in his professional mixed martial arts career. To compliment his skills on the feet, Mousasi has a phenomenal ground game. His jiu-jitsu is excellent, both offensively and defensively. Owning 11 career victories by tapout, he is a solid submission artist, and he defends them just as well. He suffered two losses by submission early in his career, but he had no submission game back then, and is now a completely different fighter. The other loss on his professional mixed martial arts career resume came against “King Mo” Lawal, who outwrestled “The Dreamcatcher” for five rounds en route to a unanimous decision victory, taking Mousasi’s Strikeforce light heavyweight title. Since the “King Mo” loss, Mousasi has really worked on his wrestling; especially his takedown defense. He had no takedown defense against Mo, but seems to now be pretty solid in that department. His defensive wrestling has improved, but he still is not afraid to be taken down, as he is very active and effective off his back. He has an excellent guard, and constantly attacks with strikes and submission attempts. Many MMA fans believe that while he spent nearly the entire fight against “King Mo” on his back, he should have won because he did more damage off his back than Mo did from the top position. Mousasi’s offensive wrestling is certainly solid, as he works great takedowns. He changes levels really well, and he is good at getting all sorts of takedowns, but if I had to guess, I would say his favorite is the bodylock takedown. He is very good at closing the distance, locking his arms around his opponent’s body, and taking the fight to the mat. Another thing “The Armenian Assassin” has improved recently is his cardio. While his diet may not be the best, his workout and training regimen has improved drastically, especially when it comes to strength and conditioning. LYOTO MACHIDA (20-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) will be making his 17th appearance inside the Octagon, and his second at 185 pounds. He is coming off a first round headkick knockout over friend and training partner Mark Munoz in what was his middleweight debut. With such an impressive performance under his belt, he is promised a title shot, if able to pull off another solid outing against the Armenian. “The Dragon” is a very talented striker with a bit of an unorthodox Karate style that he has definitely made his own. Much like Mousasi, Machida is a fighter who remains very calm and collected. He is patient on the feet, does not get over-aggressive, and looks for his opportunities to attack. Like his opponent, Machida is very accurate and calculated with his striking. He does not waste any strikes. He is good when pushing the pace and being the aggressor, but he is also an incredible counter-striker. The Brazilian likes to bait opponents into his traps; he often frustrates his opponents into making mistakes he capitalizes on, which is how he has earned many of the knockouts in his professional mixed martial arts career. The former UFC light heavyweight champion has great striking defense, and uses his distance really well. He likes to be flashy at times, as was evident with his crescent kick knockout of veteran hall of famer Randy Couture, and more recently a flying knee he nearly hurt Phil Davis with. He likes working his knees, especially the left knee to the body. Machida has tremendous takedown defense, as he has very strong hips and a solid base, thanks to time spent training as a sumo wrestler long before getting involved in mixed martial arts. The Brazilian works excellent kicks, including a solid front kick, and a variety of headkicks, one which he used to knock out Munoz. Training out of Black House MMA in Los Angeles, CA, Machida is generally a well-conditioned fighter, and although only having fought one round at 185 pounds, I expect him to be prepared for a five round war heading into this bout against Mousasi. Fight Prediction: Machida is coming off an impressive win over Mark Munoz, but I think Mousasi would also dominate Munoz. I expected that to be an easy win for Machida, and it was. Now he is faced with a legitimate challenge, and a real threat. Mousasi could potentially beat him everywhere, and that is what I think will happen. I think Mousasi will end up getting the better of Machida on the feet, and should the fight hit the mat, I will give Mousasi the edge there, as well. I think the main advantage Machida has going into this bout is that of a hometown advantage, but when it comes down to the fight, I just see Mousasi getting the better of him everywhere, as long as he is healthy and has his head together. Gabe’s Pick: Gegard Mousasi by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 49-46) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Gegard Mousasi +195 5u to win 9.75u, as I think Mousasi should be a small favorite, even in Brazil. – Look for my Props article for more plays on this fight.

Written by Gabe Killian

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