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UFC on Fox 15: 'Machida vs. Rockhold' keys to victory!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight stars Lyoto Machida and Luke Rockhold look to make their claim for a crack at the 185-pound strap when they duel in the UFC on FOX 15 main event. Read on for the keys to victory for both fighters!

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has harvested up a top notch tussle for its first trip to the Garden State in 2015.

Top-five middleweights Lyoto Machida and Luke Rockhold will wage war in the Octagon for up to 25 minutes to see who could potentially challenge the winner of the May 23 matchup between champion Chris Weidman and No. 1 contender Vitor Belfort.

Rockhold and "The Dragon" have everything to gain from their main event tilt tonight (Apr. 18, 2015) at UFC on FOX 15 inside the Prudential Center now that Yoel Romero pulled out of his bout with the No. 1 ranked "Jacare" Souza. With the stakes raised, and all eyes focused squarely on their fight, we present you the three keys to victory for both combatants.

Luke Rockhold

Punch a hole through his goddamn chest

Ray Longo won't be in the corner of the American Kickboxing Academy product, but his words of wisdom ring true here. Longo is one-half of the brain trust behind their New York-bred titleholder Weidman, who made the first defense of his title against Machida last July.

Rockhold is far from the power wrestler that Weidman is. However, he's not too shabby in that department either, and possesses one of the best ground games in the entire division.

Machida is prone to cracking under the pressure of highly-aggressive attacks -- either that or your name needs to be Rampage Jackson or Phil Davis. Seriously though, if you let him work his counter-striking magic, he's going to eventually finish the job -- early.

With Rockhold's recent run of early stoppages, and this 2014 Submission of the Year winner, it is no wonder why Bovada favors him ever so slightly over the fire breathing Dragon.

Make it ugly

Who doesn't love a good clinch battle? Sorry. We must still be feeling the after effects of a less-than-impressive UFC Fight Night 64.

The 30-year-old Rockhold is capable of fighting to anyone's strength, but you don't want to play into "The Dragon's" world. He would be better served wearing down Machida, which is easier said than done.

Some fine clinch work is a nice prelude to a trip and/or throw. It also won't allow the Blackhouse-Kings MMA fighter to launch one of his debilitating kicks.

Getting this middleweight melee to the ground is a whole different story, but statistics show that Rockhold can be effective from the clinch. Oh c'mon, a little cage-hugging never hurt anybody.

Leg kicks, leg kicks, leg kicks

Where do we derive our power from ladies and gentleman? Yes, our legs. Battering the legs of Machida with some well-executed kicks would go a long way towards hindering the Brazilian's advancement and overall arsenal.

Rockhold has shown the ability to use them in a sound manner -- namely when he took the middleweight title from Souza in Strikeforce. His reach advantage -- 77" to 74" for Machida -- will benefit him here. Since Machida is also a southpaw like Rockhold, his leg will be right there for the taking.

Flashy, yet effective; leg kicks aren't the most high-profile Octagon maneuver. Still, they score points, and that's usually the name of the game when you're fighting the former light heavyweight kingpin.

Lyoto Machida

Keep him guessing

Fighters Shogun Rua, Jon Jones and Weidman have been able to figure Machida out. Most have usually fallen like dominoes as they've been stifled once they set foot in the cage.

Similarly to the way Anderson Silva made a mockery of men, fighters usually end up worrying about what angles Machida is going to come from when they should be plotting their own attack. Not to say that Rockhold isn't smart enough to get inside on him, but if Machida lands a few thumping kicks to the body or legs of the California-native, it will force him to second-guess himself and that's usually when fighters crumble.

Don't let him close the distance

This one should be obvious. The same could also be said for Rockhold, too.

Machida, while a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, earns his paycheck standing on two feet. His offensive arsenal (check out his complete fighter breakdown!) is absurd and unpredictable. It grows with each and every fight. With that being said, he can't execute if he's being cornered.

He was beat by Weidman for precisely that reason; he can't stand still. Now, let's also give credit to the All-American collegiate wrestler, but movement will be crucial. Kicks should help keep Rockhold at bay, while "The Dragon" plots his next move. Maybe try one of these?

Utilize the right jab

The lead right jab will be there right from the opening bell. Throw it to the body; head, or mask a kick behind it. There is la lot of potential for Machida to toy with his adversary.

Remember, too, that will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 15 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX under- and main-cards, which will begin at 6 p.m. ET.

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