The UFC heads down to Belem, Brazil for its annual Super Bowl weekend card February 3. The main event is an interesting one, as the aging Lyoto Machida will look to start one last run when he faces off against up-and-comer Eryk Anders.
The rest of the card is not exactly the sexiest. There are a few intriguing bouts for hard-core fans but – like many destination cards – it is stocked with more than a couple of cans.
Lyoto Machida vs Eryk Anders
Lyoto Machida (+220) 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, has fought once in the past two years and his chin is clearly deteriorating.
Along the fence, Machida is a confusing opponent to deal with thanks to his experience in karate and sumo. 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.
Eryk Anders (-280) is still relatively young in his MMA career but his control in the striking game is stellar. “Ya Boi” pushes his opponent back with his footwork while waiting for his opportunity to blast off a combo. It sounds dull to some but he has one of the highest striking rates in the UFC and lands more often than not.
Wrestling also comes naturally for Anders, as his ability to drop for a takedown during a firefight is well beyond his experience. Even if he can’t land a takedown, his aggressive striking style tends to push his opponent to the cage where Anders will work tirelessly in the clinch.
This is a battle of old vs new. Machida was once one of the best fighters on the planet and still has some resemblance to that man. However, he is still slower than he once was and his chin is gone. Anders is still relatively raw in his career but has shown that he has limitless potential in a stacked middleweight division.
Other Notable Bouts
An interesting bantamweight bout is the co-main event, as John Dodson (-160) takes on a streaking Pedro Munhoz (+130). Dodson is one of the speediest fighters you will ever watch but still possesses fight-ending power – though not as much as he did at 125 pounds. He was a two-time state wrestling champion in high school and does a good job at melding his striking and grappling together. Munhoz is a technically sound striker who tends to get into firefights trying to get into the pocket. “The Young Punisher” is a stud once a fight goes to the mat, as the black belt in BJJ has a diverse submission game – especially from scrambles. (This fight has been canceled after Munhoz failed to make weight)
A pair of bangers kick off the main card with Thiago Santos (-280) and Anthony Smith (+220) ready to take each other’s head off. Santos is one of the pound-for-pound hardest hitters in the UFC but also delivers these vicious strikes with blazing speed. “Marreta” isn’t going to be confused for a grappler – especially once a fight is on the ground – but has solid enough takedown defense to stay standing. Smith is massive for the weight division, which is a double-edged sword. His reach allows him to pick his opponent apart with strikes from a distance but also leaves him open to takedown attempts.