August 3rd brings us UFC 163, featuring a main event in the featherweight division pitting champion Jose Aldo against Chan Sung Jung. The common thinking is that Jung, known as ‘The Korean Zombie’ is not a live underdog, and the line reflects that, as Aldo sits a massive (-725) favorite, with Zombie returning (+475) as we head into fight week. The co-main event of the night is in the Light Heavyweight division as top contender Lyoto Machida faces off against the fast rising Phil Davis. That line is also not pretty, as Machida is a (-345) favorite and Davis comes back at (+275). Do either of these underdogs have a shot at breaking thru?
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The fast answer in the Aldo-Zombie fight is ‘no’. Aldo has really established himself as a dominant champion, wiping out the top fighters in the division with ease, and beating Lightweights coming down to challenge him. There is a possibility that Aldo might be getting complacent, and that a focused Zombie at the top of his game might turn this into a real fight, however Aldo has been headlining events in Brazil, and he will have the crowd to feed off of. Look for the Zombie to be game, but this match will just add another win to a growing legacy for Aldo.
The Machida-Davis match is a different story. Machida is extremely talented, and he has been a fixture at the top of the divisional rankings. In his last outing, he defeated Dan Henderson, but he played it safe and only earned a split decision.
Once upon a time, in 2005 when Lightweight/welterweight stud BJ Penn was not under UFC contract, BJ Penn challenged Lyoto, then an undefeated fighter in Japan fighting at Heavyweight. Machida won the fight, as he insisted there be no weigh limits etc. He reportedly weighed 220 lbs, compared to BJ’s 180 lbs or so.
Now it is hard to finish BJ Penn for anyone, but Machida did not even try. He was ahead in the match and he didnt try to finish or pick up the pace, he was content to just sit back and let the clock run out.
Fast forward to the Henderson match, Machida has not changed his stripes. If Davis, with his incredible athleticism can steal the opening round on Machida, he will have a chance. As talented as Machida is, has consistently shown that he doesnt have that killer instinct. Combine this with the fact that Machida will get a title rematch with Jones, a match he has really not been eager for and in fact turned down. Yes, Phil Davis has a tough fight ahead of him, but he has a chance.