The main event at UFC 173, scheduled for Las Vegas, Nevada on May 24th, has undergone a change in the main event. The card was originally headlined by a 185 lb title bout between champion Chis Weidman and Vitor Belfort, however Vitor has been pulled from the fight and replaced by Lyoto Machida.
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For Weidman, the match presents him with a whole different opponent stylistically, but the bottom line is the same – it is a match up wrought with danger for the champion, who still has some critics who feel he has something to prove. Things would be the same for Weidman, even if the UFC had elected to go with the dangerous Jiu Jitsu stylist Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza. After dethroning Brazilian legend Anderson Silva, the top echelon of Brazilian fighters who are ready to face him will all be formidable challenges.
Lyoto is a former Light Heavyweight Champion, and he is a big and highly skilled fighter who dropped down to the Middleweight class with the title in mind. Despite the fact that Weidman may get consideration on the line as a champion, there is a chance that Lyoto could be favored at the books.
Lyoto brings excellent defense, striking that is unorthodox that all will force Weidman to show new things. Weidman’s best chance is over the couse of a long fight, as the judges have fluctuated on Lyoto’s methodical style, at times giving him fights he perhaps lost, and at times robbing him after good performances. If Weidman is able to stay aggressive and get through Machida’s defense and precise counter-striking, he could win a methodical bout. To break thru Machida’s vaunted defenses and finish him would be the type of signature win that Weidman needs.
A more likely finish for the fight sees Machida walking out with gold. He will have five rounds to catch Weidman, and he has a good record of catching people on the way in. Weidman is going to have to avoid getting frustrated and pick his spots to come in, all the while tying to be effective and punish Machida.
Weidman is in a pressure filled slot. Despite knocking off a legend, should he drop the title, he could become the Frankie Edgar of the Middleweight class.