The UFC packs its bags and sets up the Octagon in São Paulo, Brazil for the first time in nearly a year this weekend. The main event will see surefire Hall of Famer Lyoto Machida making his return to the Octagon after serving an 18-month suspension to take on Derek Brunson.
Like most cards in Brazil, there are plenty of interesting bouts and fighters including Demian Maia, Thiago Santos and John Lineker. You can also check out how Brazilian fighters fare on home soil right here.
Derek Brunson vs Lyoto Machida
Derek Brunson (-170) is an explosive, aggressive athlete who aims to knock out his opponent. That means that Brunson moves forward in the striking game – though he can work at distance as well – behind his heavy left hand. Though he has one-hitter quitter power, his lunging style leaves him susceptible to a good counter-striker.
Moving forward also means that Brunson can initiate the clinch, where he has a wealth of techniques to punish his opponent. The North Carolina native can get the takedown from the clinch but does so more based on tenacity and aggressiveness than skill. Brunson’s ground game, though, features some violent ground and pound.
Lyoto Machida (+140) is one of the best counter-strikers to ever grace the Octagon. Machida looks to stay just out of his opponent’s striking range and throw some kicks until he sees his opportunity to explode in for a punching combination. However, he is 39 and has not fought in over two years – so we simply do not know how his chin is holding up.
Along the fence, Machida is a confusing opponent to deal with thanks to his experience in karate and sumo. Unlike Brunson, Machida’s takedown offense along the cage is almost exclusively based on technique. Though “The Dragon” has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he would rather keep a fight standing to use his striking skills.
This is an incredibly interesting fight. Brunson is sniffing around the upper echelons of the division while Machida is looking to prove he still belongs after serving his 18-month suspension. The early goings will likely favor Brunson, but as the fight wears on, the younger competitor will open himself up to Machida’s counters.
Other Notable Fights
Demian Maia (+110) looks to get back on track after a lackluster title fight when he takes on hard-charging Colby Covington (-140). You know what you’re getting with Maia, as the fourth-degree BJJ black belt wants to get his opponent to the ground. He is arguably the best BJJ practitioner in MMA history, as he easily overwhelms opponents on the ground. His striking game is largely meat-and-potatoes – simply there to facilitate his grappling. However, Maia has a tendency to play with his food or take his foot off the gas sometimes. Much like his opponent, you know what Covington wants to do. The former D1 wrestler is looking to get a hold of his opponent and grind them into a fine dust. He’s more about ground and pound once on the mat but he has a knack for clamping down on the neck. Covington uses his striking to close the distance – less with technique and more with pressure.
A fight going criminally underappreciated in that card is Francisco Trinaldo (-200) vs Jim Miller (+160). Trinaldo is a crisp, technical striker who – despite being 39 years old – is still a great athlete. His style does not always look great, but his footwork and pace are sure to give an opponent troubles. He is solid in all other aspects of the game, though his takedown defense could use some work. Miller is a jack of all trades who can win a fight in all facets. He will happily stand and bang in the striking game – utilizing his leg kick to cut down opponents. He is also a former collegiate wrestler with a black belt in BJJ. Miller is the ultimate gatekeeper, which I mean in the best way, as he can beat most fighters in the world but the elite can top him.