UFC 163 fight card: Lyoto Machida vs Phil Davis preview

Photos by Gary A. Vasquez via USA Today

How can either Phil Davis or Lyoto Machida walk away with a victory this weekend? Find out below!

Two of the top light heavyweights in the world will clash this Saturday night (Aug. 3, 2013) as Lyoto Machida takes on Phil Davis in the co-main event of UFC 163 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Machida is a former Light Heavyweight champion and is working hard to get another shot at the belt. He knocked off top contender Dan Henderson in his most recent performance and if he gets past Davis, he'll be in prime position for another shot at the belt.

Davis has long been considered one of the best prospects in the division. He graduated to the big leagues last year against Rashad Evans but got a reality check with his first defeat. Now, he's coming back bigger and better against another former champion trying to prove he can hang with the big dogs.

Lyoto Machida

Record: 19-3 overall, 11-3 in the UFC

Key Wins: Dan Henderson (UFC 157), Rashad Evans (UFC 98), Ryan Bader (UFC on Fox 4)

Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 140), Mauricio Rua (UFC 113)

How he got here: At one point in his career, Machida looked unbeatable. His unorthodox fighting style, mixing Shotokan karate with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling and even some Sumo, baffled his opposition and fight experts alike. "The Dragon" rode an impeccable 16-fight win streak all the way to the UFC title, crushing everyone in his way including former UFC champions BJ Penn, Rich Franklin, Tito Ortiz and eventually Rashad Evans.

It only took one perfectly timed right hook to the temple to bring the hype crashing down. Machida's aura of invincibility was left in Montreal at the hands of "Shogun" and he wants it back badly. The now ex-champ came out of the gate gun-shy against "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 123 and couldn't quite do enough to earn a victory, losing a controversial decision.

Machida got back on track in a big way at UFC 129, scoring one of the most incredible knockouts in the promotion's history with a jumping front kick to Randy Couture's face. It earned him a title shot against Jon Jones and while Machida won the first round on many scorecards, he was finished via technical submission in the second.

After sitting out several months, "The Dragon" returned to action and absolutely crushed Ryan Bader with a beautifully timed right hand that put "Darth" to sleep in the second round. After turning down a short notice fight against Jon Jones, Machida was hoping to earn a legit title shot by defeating Dan Henderson, but his slow-paced and methodical victory didn't have fans clamoring for a chance at the belt.

Now, if he can turn it up against Davis, the title shot is within reach.

How he gets it done: Machida needs to be patient, poised and ready to strike with a sharp initiation at any moment. Davis is a very competent wrestler, but his striking is still very rudimentary. As long as Machida can keep his distance, he should have no problem picking "Mr. Wonderful" apart. Keep an eye on his left hand, as that's "The Dragon's" secret weapon he's hurt many an opponent with.

The former champion needs to avoid the clinch as Davis is technical wrestler who will likely look to drag him to the canvas if he can get his hands on him. The key for Machida is footwork and distance. If he can keep Davis at bay and not let the former national champion wrestler get his hands on him, he has no cause for concern.

Phil Davis

Record: 11-1 (1 no contest) overall, 7-1 (1 no contest) in the UFC

Key Wins: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (UFC Fight Night 24), Alexander Gustafsson (UFC 112), Vinny Magalhaes (UFC 159)

Key Losses: Rashad Evans (UFC on Fox 2)

How he got here: Phil Davis was a very successful wrestler at Penn State, competing in the 197 pounds where he was a four-time All-American and the 2008 NCAA Division I national champion. When his college career was over, Davis immediately transitioned into mixed martial arts.

After just four fights, "Mr. Wonderful" was signed by UFC and thrown in against former WEC light heavyweight champion Brian Stann in his debut with the promotion. He was able to utilize those wrestling skills to dominate the Scranton native.

Davis followed up his victory with a string of impressive performances including two submissions over Alexander Gustafsson and Tim Boetch as well as a decision victory against Rodney Wallace. The Boetsch submission in particular was impressive as he used a hybrid move he got to name after himself.

The Alliance MMA fighter stepped up in competition against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and made the proper adjustments on the fly , scoring a unanimous decision victory over the Pride veteran. After an extended layoff, he took on top contender Rashad Evans in his most high profile test to date, but came up short after being forced to stand and trade for five rounds, losing for the first time in his career.

His comeback fight against Wagner Prado didn't go as expected, landing an incidental eye poke and resulting in a first round no contest. In the rescheduled bout, Davis made quick work of the Brazilian, dominating him with his superior wrestling and forcing a second round submission.

Davis took on elite grappler Vinny Magalhaes in his most recent fight, choosing to stand and showcase his improving striking skills rather than play with fire against the ADCC world champion. While his striking has a long way to go, he was able to outpoint the Brazilian en route to a unanimous decision victory. Now, he's right back where he was with the Evans fight and is hoping history doesn't repeat itself against Machida.

How he gets it done: Davis is incredible at completely dominating opponents once he gets them to the canvas, mixing up hip pressure, smothering top control, guard passing, brief ground and pound and submission attempts.

That won't be quite as easy this time around against Machida, who has incredible hips, spacing and awareness of distance inside the Octagon.

Look for Davis to keep his distance on the feet, perhaps winging a few kicks from distance, although he shouldn't do it too often as Machida will pick up on any patterns and punish him.

The key for Davis is to be aggressive, find even the slightest opening and dive in before Machida is able to dance away. If he can get his hands on "The Dragon," he could perhaps drag him down. Davis should not expect to beat up Machida on the ground or submit him as the Brazilian is very experienced, but he does have the ability to stay on top and hopefully be active enough to keep Machida on his back for extended periods of time.

Perhaps he could wear the former champion out and finish him, but that is likely wishful thinking.

Who will come out on top at UFC 163? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!

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