TORONTO - MMA expert Neil Springer explains the keys to victory for each of the 10 fighters involved in UFC 140's five feature matches:
Jones will need to utilize his incredible reach to negate Machida's footwork and speed. He should also be mindful of his own kicks. If he throws anything Machida can time, the former champion will explode with counter punches. If this happens, Jones needs to make sure he escapes to the side and doesn't back up in a straight line. Jones may even want to entertain taking this to the ground. Though he's fought 11 times in the UFC, Machida has never really been on his back for any significant amount of time during this run. Plus, Jones' elbows are downright nasty.
Machida's key to victory can be summed up in one word: frustration. He needs to be in and out with his strikes and utilize his superior footwork to leave Jones swinging at air. This could even mean slowing the pace to an uncomfortable level just to avoid playing into his opponent's hands. In short, he has to force Jones to make a mistake, but this is a tall order given that the champion rarely commits any. If it works, Machida will look like a brilliant tactician. If it fails, fans in the ACC will boo their lungs out.
Mir needs to be the bigger man here. No, I'm not talking about taking the moral high road. He has to use his size to bully his opponent. Rodrigo will likely be much lighter on his feet and look to create more angles. Mir needs to push the pace and force him to make similar mistakes to their first encounter. Rodrigo's boxing is effective offensively, but he isn't known for having one-punch KO power. He also tends to eat a lot of punches on the way in. If it hits the ground, Mir has to avoid being on the bottom.
The first time they fought, Rodrigo just stood in front of him and ate a barrage of uppercuts and straights. If he does it again, he's going to play right into Mir's hands. The key will be to remain light on his feet and create angles. Rodrigo hinted he's worked a lot on head movement, which can only be a good thing. But for his own sake, hopefully he can avoid resorting to old habits once the punches start to fly. If he can also get Mir coming forward and time a takedown, he could outwork him from the top position.
The self-crowned People's Champ needs to avoid letting this turn into strictly a striking match. Ortiz has worked a lot on his boxing over the years -- and it shows. But Rogerio won the Pan Am Games bronze medal in 2007 for boxing and holds notable KO/TKO victories over Alistair Overeem, Vladimir Matyushenko and Luiz Cane. Ortiz will need to strike with him just long enough to set up a takedown. If he can put Rogerio on his back, maintain top position, avoid submission attempts from the bottom and work his ground-and-pound, he could take a decision.
If Rogerio can keep the fight standing, he could either wear Ortiz down for a late stoppage or take a dominant decision. Though he's struggled with wrestlers Jason Brilz, Ryan Bader and Phil Davis, he's shown remarkable improvement in his defensive wrestling technique. Brilz was able to catch him off guard, Bader failed on most of his takedown attempts and Davis had to make adjustments mid-fight to get it to the mat. Ortiz has an underrated ground game and hasn't been submitted in over a decade, so Rogerio can't afford to be on the bottom -- especially considering the state of MMA judging.
"Ebersole's greatest strength is misdirection," Patrick told QMI Agency prior to Thursday's UFC 140 pre-fight press conference. It's hard to argue with that point. Everything about him is unorthodox, from his goofy grin, chest hair shaped like an arrow, to his movement and techniques. He gets you thinking about one thing and then hits you with another. As crazy as he may appear, you can't argue with results, as Ebersole is undefeated in his last nine fights and holds victories over Dennis Hallman, Chris Lytle and Carlos Newton. Simply put, Ebersole just needs to be himself and keep Patrick guessing.
Patrick needs to remain focused, avoid Ebersole's tricks and force him into a far more linear fight. If he can turn it into a more traditional striking affair, he could out-strike Ebersole en route to a decision. But part of that could also mean taking space away by pressing Ebersole against the cage to set up takedowns -- something Patrick excels at. Of course, even in these positions, he will have to remain cautious and stay on top of any scrambles that occur. If Patrick finds himself on his back, he needs to avoid Ebersole's vicious ground-and-pound.
Hominick's key to success will be his stellar boxing and takedown defence. He will look to stay light on his feet and utilize his superior hand speed to put the Korean Zombie away. In his rematch with Leonard Garcia, Jung surprised many by displaying some strong technical striking before securing the twister for the stunning submission victory. But if Hominick can beat him to the punch and force Jung to get reckless and resort on his brawling instincts, the London, Ont. featherweight will have more than enough openings to score the knockout.
CHAN SUNG JUNG
Though Jung displayed some much improved technical striking in the rematch Leonard Garcia, he can't afford to fall in love with hands against a guy like Hominick. If he thinks he can just stand and trade all night long, it's going to be a short night for the Korean Zombie. Rather, Jung will need to strike with him for as long as it takes to get the fight to the fat, where he can utilize his slick ground game. Hominick's hardly a slouch on the mat, but he has gotten caught in submissions before.