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Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Pros' picks: Jon Jones versus Lyoto Machida

By Mike Sloan
Sherdog.com

Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will defend his crown for a second time when he meets former titleholder Lyoto Machida in the UFC 140 main event Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The clash between two of the sport's most unorthodox fighters marks the UFC's third and final trip to the Great White North in 2011.

Sherdog.com caught up with a number of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the UFC 140 headliner:

Pat Miletich: Although very tough, Machida is not a good enough athlete to counter the speed and power of Jones. Fight does not get past the third.

Fabio Maldonado: I'm cheering for Machida, but I can't pick. I think Jones is the favorite, perhaps with a 60 percent chance of winning. Lyoto is exceptional, but if he wins, he will be even more exceptional. It will be a great fight.

Travis Wiuff: I don't see how Machida can win this fight. What's he gonna do, stand and trade with Jones? No way. Take down Jones? I don't think so. Jones is way too big, talented and trains with a great team that will always have him ready. Machida is a hard puzzle to figure out, but who else better to figure him out than Greg Jackson? Jones wins by TKO [in the] third round.

Rafael Cavalcante: Tough fight. Lyoto is an excellent fighter, but I think Jones is the favorite because he is more physical, has a better reach and is very confident because he's at a great time in his career.

Erik Paulson: Well, this is an interesting comparison of similar styles. I think that Jones may be surprised at Machida's ability to break in and out, and break the rhythm. I think that Machida is going to be surprised that Jones also is very deceptive with his bag of tricks and athleticism. Plus, Jones has the length and that super reach. I still gotta go with the champ -- Jones.

Andre Santos: I believe in Machida -- a man who is well-experienced. I'm almost sure that Jones will not find him in the cage.

Kyle Kingsbury: Jones by TKO [via] ground-and-pound.

Thiago "Jambo" Goncalves: I believe a lot in Lyoto, because he's a guy who's hard to find in the Octagon. I think Jones will have difficulty in the fight. There's a lot of people thinking that no one [can] defeat this guy, but I think Lyoto is a tough fight to anyone.

Travis Lutter: I think Jones will be too much for Machida. Jones' mixing of his striking with his wrestling will put Machida on his back. Jones [wins].

Keith Berry: Jones is a beast. I think he will be champ for a long time. Machida has a different style, but I think Jones will find his rhythm and get a five-round entertaining decision nod.

Benji Radach: Machida-Jones is going to be fun to watch. It's going to be good to see the styles clash. Machida has such a unique style that it's hard for anyone to get used to. However, I think that Jon's wrestling will be the deciding factor in this fight. I think Jon will be delivering his own arsenal of standup, and have the takedowns and control that Machida won't be able to stop. [I see] Jones pulling off the decision.

Amaury Bitetti: I think Machida has the game to complicate Jones' life, so I think he wins.

Mike Ciesnolevicz: As a karate black belt myself, I can appreciate Machida's tactical approach. It's not going to be as easy as some people think, where Jones is just going to come out and take him down and demolish him. Machida is very quick, strong and elusive, and has never been held down in the UFC. I also believe Machida has better cardio than Jones. Realistically, Machida is the better striker and the better Brazilian jiu-jitsu guy. Jones' advantage comes in the form of reach and wrestling, but Machida has never been outwrestled. I see this fight being a tactical battle where Machida at times frustrates Jones and forces him into making a mistake similar to the first Urijah Faber-Mike Thomas Brown fight, where Faber got caught trying to throw a tricky elbow technique. I think Machida catches Jones with something during a striking exchange in Round 4 and becomes the champ. The best part is when Machida gets on the microphone and proclaims karate as the best striking style, and all the local dojos flood with new students. Machida's defeat of Jones will prove what I knew all along, that karate is the smartest and most effective style of standup fighting. I see Jones putting on his karate gi and becoming a student of Machida Karate after this fight.

Rony "Jason" Mariano Bezerra: Absolutely picking Machida. Machida is ready. I think he wins and captures this belt.

Gabe Ruediger: This is a very interesting matchup. Machida and Jones are both unorthodox, and I'm curious about the game plans for each to deal with the other's style. The light heavyweight belt seems to get passed around, but I think Jones will hold onto it through this bout.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: I pick Machida.

Javier Vazquez: Machida will not be able to figure out the range. Jones will control the range and strike at the legs. I expect Jones to follow the [Mauricio] Rua game plan but will add the twist of the occasional takedown. Jones will be too big, too strong and his reach will be too long. Jones will also have the wrestling edge. I can't see Machida doing much against Jones. I think Jones finishes Machida in the third round by TKO.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: It will be an excellent fight. Lyoto is very good strategist and has a game to confuse Jones. He had an excellent training camp, invested in it and will have a tactical game plan. I pick Machida to win. I think it will be great if he wins this belt.

Cub Swanson: Jones will take Machida down and submit him in the first round.

Pros Picking Jones: 12

Pros Picking Machida: 6

No Pick: 2

Mike Sloan is a contributor to Sherdog.com. You can also contact Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19. Gleidson Venga contributed to this report.