Lyoto Machida vs Dan Henderson
Machida comes into this fight on the back of an impressive victory over Ryan Bader bringing his record to 18 and 3. Henderson is returning from a knee injury which took him away from a title shot against Jon Jones. His last outing was a unforgettable war against Shogun Rua in which Henderson took the decision win.
First off how do the two compare in striking skill sets? Machida is a diverse striker utilizing kicks and punches from many different angles which coincide with great footwork and range making him a tough opponent for anyone. Hendrson's striking is much more predictable as he looks to close the distance and use his boxing to catch an opponent, Henderson however is one of the most powerful punchers in MMA and if he catches a clean shot it is usually goodnight for his opponent. When I view how this fight will play out out I give a large striking advantage to Machida. His feints and his footwork should enable him to keep his range where he is comfortable whilst Henderson will have to look for a countering opportunity whilst defending himself from Machida's kicks. Machida's timing is also second to none as seen in his KO of Ryan Bader. This will mean that Henderson will have to be wary when he is trying to close the distance, as he himself does not utilize kicks very well other then the odd leg kick.
Pure wrestling advantage has to go to Henderson as he is a highly decorated wrestler and former Olympic alternate. MMA though has many different aspects to wrestling and overall I give the advantage to Machida. Machida's sumo background and footwork give him great balance and his ability to push away from an opponent who is trying to engage a clinch or takedown is excellent. At the age of 42 Henderson is not as fast or explosive as we once was and I don't believe he will take down Machida. On Machida's side I believe that his unorthodox striking and unpredictability could open up chance for him to use his trips or takedown's to take the fight to the floor. So again I give Machida an advantage in grappling from the clinch position and in takedown defence/offence.
Looking at how the two match up from a ground grappling standpoint I favor Machida again. His ability to get back to a standing position is very good, he is dangerous with his submissions and utilizes sweeps well to create scrambles from his back. Henderson is good from top position but has struggled when put on his back against Shogun and Jake Shields. I don't believe that the fight will spend much time on the ground but overall I think that Machida is the more well rounded ground grappler of the two.
In comparing overall athleticism and endurance I think that Machida is the quicker fighter of the two and posses more explosive power however Henderson is well known for his strength and is the stronger of the two. At the age of 42 I think that Henderson's best days have past him whilst Machida has come into his prime, Henderson has shown to slow down in later rounds and coming back from a knee surgery is only going to add to his cardio problems. I think here Machida again has the advantage.
The best odds currently stand at -195 for Machida equating to a 66% chance of victory. Henderson's best odds are +196 giving him around 34% chance to win.
When I think of the way that both fighters can achieve the victory I see more options for Machida. Henderson will have to rely on his power and catch Machida for the knockout or hurt him bad enough to get on on the ground and grind out a decision. I believe this will be difficult for Henderson who will get picked apart from outside his countering range and that Machida is more likely to drop Henderson or take a decision victory. I believe Machida's chances of victory stand at around 75%-80% with Henderson at about 18%-20%.
Here I would advise to play Machida at anything from -195 to -250.
1.95 units to win 1 unit