Machida Challenges Middleweight Champ Weidman at UFC 175

By: Matty Simo | Friday, July 4, 2014

UFC middleweight champion Chris "The All-American" Weidman will face a different kind of challenge Saturday at UFC 175 when he defends his title belt for the second time against third-ranked contender Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The unbeaten Weidman (11-0) stunned MMA legend Anderson "Spider" Silva almost a year ago to the day at UFC 162 with a second-round knockout and followed that performance up with a second-round TKO nearly six months later at UFC 168. Silva remains the top contender despite being out with a severe leg injury suffered in the last bout while No. 2 contender Vitor Belfort battles through eligibility issues due to TRT usage.

Enter Machida (21-4), the former UFC light heavyweight champion, who has beaten the likes of Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Randy Couture and Dan Henderson while also losing to Rua, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Phil Davis and current champ Jon "Bones" Jones. The Shotokan karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist is 2-0 since dropping down to 185 pounds from 205, including wins over Mark Munoz (first-round KO) and Gegard Mousasi (unanimous decision).

Machida opened as a +165 underdog (bet $100 to win $165) at LVH Superbook in Vegas and has gone a full five rounds twice in his UFC career with a 2-0 record, also sporting a 9-2 mark in three-round fights that have gone to the judges. The two losses came against Jackson by split decision and vs. Davis via UD.

Weidman opened as the -185 favorite (bet $185 to win $100), and only two of his six UFC bouts have gone the distance, as he has stopped four of his last five opponents inside the Octagon (two knockouts and two submissions). He has never gone more than three rounds in his MMA career, but UFC commentator Jon Anik does not believe that will be an issue for the champ.

"I don't know that the pendulum swings either way when it comes to the cardio," Anik said. "I think Machida can lean on the fact that he has been five rounds multiple times and scheduled for five rounds multiple times. Weidman's cardio, if we do see the championship rounds, is going to be dictated by how much damage he's absorbed from Lyoto Machida, particularly with his legs.

"I understand Weidman has displayed a lot of power, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's some Chael Sonnen to his gameplan, trying to get a takedown pretty early on. Not a great betting fight overall. But if you're looking for value on one side, I think you have to look - given what he's accomplished - at Machida anywhere above +200."

The question is, will MMA bettors see a number like that leading up to fight night? Machida was as high as +200 at the SuperBook on July 2 but has since dropped back to +165 (click here to check latest UFC 175 odds). That looks to be the best number at Vegas sportsbooks as of Friday night, but money could come in on Weidman Saturday to offer better wagering opportunities for Machida backers.

Pick: Machida by decision

Other UFC 175 Picks: Stefan Struve -155 at William Hill, Russell Doane -115 at LVH SuperBook

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