The co-main event for this weekend's UFC event is definitely going to be a serious battle, as two perennial title contenders square off in the light-heavyweight division. Lyoto Machida is coming off of a dominating knockout win over Ryan Bader, but before that he was choked into unconsciousness by champ Jon “Bones” Jones. A win over Dan Henderson, the No. 1 contender in the division (even though he's only fought in it once), would put “The Dragon” into a title fight. For his part, Henderson will try and preserve his contender status by using his considerable power to turn the lights out, something he's done a lot in his career. His most recent scrap against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was an epic five-round war, which Henderson barely won (some argue that it should've been a draw).
All this means that it's time for a sim fight. As usual, I conducted the fight in UFC Undisputed 3, and I set the CPU fighters to do battle on “expert” difficulty, as that seems to tone down the transition spamming a bit. I also set the match to “simulation” rules for a better stamina representation. Title fight regular referee Josh Rosenthal got the assignment as the third man in.
Here we go...
Both fighters touch gloves in the middle of the octagon. Machida with a fast leg kick, but Henderson hits him with a looping right hand immediately after. Joe Rogan believes Machida is hurt already. Henderson walking Lyoto down, measuring the distance. Lyoto with a left leg kick. Both men shadow boxing and using feints. Weak body shot by Machida. Henderson responds with a body shot of his own, and he follows it up with a double-leg takedown, which is completed.
Hendo into Machida's guard. Lyoto starts shoving him away with butterfly guard and bucking, and he finally pushes him off. Scrambling to his feet, Lyoto eats a three-punch combination from Hendo. Machida blocks a couple more shots and then responds with a right hand of his own. Machida using a push kick to create distance. Smart, Mr. Machida. Henderson tries to close, but he whiffs on an uppercut. Machida hits a counter straight right.
Lyoto hits another body shot, but then Hendo goes for a sloppy head kick, which actually lands. Machida is unfazed. He throws a knee to the body, ala his fight with Shogun. Hendo doesn't like that, and he lands a massive right and follows it up with a left. Machida is wobbly. A couple of more shots from Henderson as Lyoto covers up, including a body kick.
Lyoto backs away and starts pawing a jab to space things out. Leg kick from Henderson. A couple of blocked right hooks from Henderson. Body kick from Machida. A couple of jabs to the body from Hendo. After Henderson misses a right, Lyoto lands a pretty flush head kick, and Henderson backs up, respecting the power. Left hook by Machida, and a right body kick to follow it up. Another head kick, but it's blocked by Hendo.
Knee to to the body and right hook from Machida, but Dan counters with a right hand of his own. Now Henderson goes for another double-leg, and he has it. Some soft shots from Dan, and now Lyoto backs up against the cage. Lyoto manages to stand up and pummel his hands under, twisting Henderson around. Henderson gets double underhooks and attempts a throw, but Lyoto falls forward on top of him into full mount.
Big elbow from Machida, and Hendo is cut. Another big elbow! Hendo is getting smashed. While he's dizzy, Machida slips over and grabs an armbar. He's got it in deep, and Henderson looks in trouble. The round still has some time left, and Henderson has no escape. He's forced to tap.
At 4:04 of Round 1, the winner by submission (due to an armbar), Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida.
Yeah, pretty crazy stuff. Henderson seemed like he was doing some damage, but once Machida countered that throw and got into full mount, things changed drastically. As Henderson tried to fight out of that position, he wore himself out. On top of that, he got smashed by a couple of really good elbows. Once he'd exerted himself and gotten hurt, Machida saw the opening and didn't miss.
Henderson was actually outstruck on the feet by a margin of 27-19, but he did have the two takedowns. The problem was that he didn't maintain much position once he had Machida down, whereas Lyoto made the most of his dominant full mount situation. Machida got wobbled early, but he seemed to respect the power much more after that, and he picked his moments, as he always does.
This one should be a fun watch tonight, even if it is only three rounds.