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UFC 157: what to watch for

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UFC 157 in Anaheim brings with it several interesting elements, such as a light heavyweight matchup between American wrestler Dan 'Hendo' Henderson and Brazilian shotokan wizard Lyoto 'The Dragon' Machida, and the first UFC women’s championship bout.

Henderson is a 42 year old former PRIDE champion who first fought way back in 1997. His nickname is Hendo, but his heavy right hand has earned him the moniker ‘H-bomb’. Like Randy Couture, Henderson uses some of the best applied Greco-Roman wrestling to bully his opponents. But if Henderson hits you, it could very easily be lights out.

In 2007 and 2008, Henderson lost title fights against Quinton Rampage Jackson at LHW and Anderson Silva at MW. Despite a loss to Jake Shields and a controversial decision win over Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua in 2011, Henderson was slated to fight LHW champion Jon Bones Jones, but injury derailed that train.

Machida’s only losses are to current or former champions in the UFC LHW division: Jon Jones, Rampage and Shogun. Machida has woven perfectly his high level shotokan with brilliant takedown defense and a black belt in BJJ. The Brazilian prefers to keep the fight standing, where he mesmerizes most opponents with his unfamiliar movement, distance, and timing. He’s out of range and strikes in blitzes, like a cobra.

Machida struggled with Rampage’s pressure and lost a decision. The Dragon’s other two losses were by submission to current champion Jon Jones, after he’d clocked the champ more than once, and a KO loss to Shogun after coming out on the losing end of a counter punch. Machida KOed wrestler Randy Couture with a front kick to the mandible, and also finished wrestlers Ryan Bader and Rashad Evans with strikes.

Some fans point to Machida’s loss to Rampage as proof Henderson can win, but the Rampage loss was more of an anomaly in Machida’s career. Henderson will need to push Machida to the fence and tire him out there, and win via decision or by sneaking in that dangerous right hand.

Machida is extremely difficult to clinch, and often takes down wrestlers, like he did with Evans after clipping him with a combo. Look for Machida to mesmerize Henderson, who will look like he’s wearing cement boots. Also, Machida can switch to southpaw stance, which will effectively block Hendo from setting up that right. Machida via KO no later than the early part of round three.

WMMA

A lot of fans are excited about the first women’s title fight, but just as many fans are irritated about how it came to be. Ronda Rousey, a former Olympic bronze medalist in judo, was given a belt by UFC president Dana White without a single fight or viable division in the organization.

Women need to be in the UFC but, as with men’s  lighter weight classes, this needs to happen when there are enough fighters to make a division sellable to PPV buyers and fans. Handing Rousey a belt has done nothing for her in the minds of skeptical fans. Sadly, on Facebook and Twitter, if you say anything against Rousey you’re labeled to be a misogynist against women’s sports, which is absolutely untrue.

This is happening alongside Chael Sonnen being handed a completely undeserved title shot at Jon Jones, as well as a sketchy, perhaps thrown HW title fight last December between Junior dos Santos and now champion Cain Velasquez, in which JdS kept his hands low, threw no jabs, and missed with uppercut---something he’s not capable of doing.

So the fastest growing sport in the world is leaving a bit of a bad Pro-wrestling taste in the mouth and UFC 157 isn’t helping the cause. There is a micro management going on at the organization that is slowly turning it from a sport to fight entertainment.

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Follow me on Twitter @RenkoStyranka

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