RANDY COUTURE VS. LYOTO MACHIDA
This fight will be determined by whoever can effectively dictate the distance and space of the striking exchanges.
Randy (The Natural) Couture will look to close the gap with his punches and work Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida from the clinch with dirty boxing before utilizing his Greco-Roman wrestling skills to take it to the mat.
However, Machida is excellent at deflecting opponent's momentum and using it against them. Machida is also difficult to get to the ground.
If Couture is able to break past Machida's striking and secure the clinch, he needs to be aware of any sweeps or trip attempts that could put him on his back.
Machida will aim to stay on the outside and utilize his footwork to avoid any close contact. By staying light on his feet and being selective with his shots, he'll try to pick Couture apart by mixing up kicks to the legs and body with straight punches.
Machida is also excellent at catching guys off guard with his straight left. His explosive delivery, stance and movement make it difficult for guys to see the punch coming. If Couture's attempts to close the distance become too linear, he can expect to eat more than his fair share of the punch through the evening.
If Couture also gets frustrated and becomes desperate, a well-timed body kick can take a lot of the wind out of his sails.
But Couture is a master at putting together game plans and there's nothing in this write-up that he doesn't already know.
JOSE ALDO VS. MARK HOMINICK
If I had to pick an underdog on this card to pull off the upset, I’d probably go with Mark (The Machine) Hominick. He’s a great striker and incredibly tough to put away.
Utilizing his footwork, hand speed and technical boxing, as well as checking leg kicks, he could get inside on Jose (Scarface) Aldo and give him problems there.
If he remains unpredictable with his stand-up, he can avoid Aldo getting his timing down and neutralize the featherweight champion’s counter-striking game through the early going. This would allow him to apply pressure and dictate the pace of the fight.
It’s unlikely, but if Aldo throws a lazy leg kick, Hominick could explode on him with straight punches. The odds of that happening are very slim, though. Aldo is excellent at really digging in and punishing opponents with his leg kicks, then he immediately gets out of harm’s way.
For Aldo, he has to be cautious while attempting to get Hominick’s timing down. He tends to be very patient and likes to counter most of his opponents. Once he gets his rhythm down and starts to turn it up, Hominick is in trouble.
If he’s not seeing many openings in the striking exchanges, Aldo always has the option of taking the fight to the ground.
Though he only has two submissions wins in MMA and his sole loss was due to a rear-naked choke against Luciano Azevedo more than five years ago, Aldo is very skilled on the mat.
Whoever asserts themselves early will dictate the fight.
GEORGES ST. PIERRE VS. JAKE SHIELDS
Everybody and their grandmother know what Jake Shields is going to try to do.
He will shoot in as soon as he sees an opportunity and try to get this fight to mat. Even if he doesn’t get the takedown on the initial shot, he will keep working and changing levels until he takes the fight to the ground. From there, he’ll look to use his stellar jiu jitsu to put Georges (Rush) St. Pierre away.
But Shields is so gifted on the ground that it doesn’t matter how much tape you watch on him or how well you think you know his style. All his previous opponents knew what to expect, but they still couldn’t stop him from having his way with them.
If St. Pierre can stay standing and work his jab like he did against Josh (Kos) Koscheck, he should be able to pick Shields apart. If he also stuffs enough takedown attempts like they were nothing, he can mess with Shields’ confidence. From there, he can continue the mental assault by landing his own takedowns to further drive the point home.
However, if Shields does get it to the mat early, St. Pierre is going to have a really tricky game ahead of him.