SPOTLIGHT: Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida
Featured Image Credit: BJ Penn
Lyoto Machida is one of MMA's all-time greats without a doubt. He headlines this weekend in UFC Belem against Eryk Anders. Today we look at the career of "The Dragon."
Lyoto Machida's pre-UFC career was rather brief. He made his MMA debut in 2003, and by 2007, he was in the UFC. He fought and won 7 times before he entered the UFC, and he had some notable wins. He beat TUF 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar in his second pro fight, he beat Rich Franklin in his third, and he also beat BJ Penn in K-1 in an Openweight bout. With those quality wins, there was no doubt he was ready for the big show. When he entered the UFC in 2007, he went on an impressive run of 8 straight wins at Light Heavyweight, including beating Rashad Evans for the belt and defending it once against Shogun Rua.
Since his first title defense and the end of the 2000s, Lyoto has gone a very mediocre 6-8 in his last fourteen, including losing his last 3, and 4 of his last 5. This has come in various slumps: for one, he stuck around at Light Heavyweight a little too long, dropping fights to much bigger guys that could handle the weight cut. So he moved down to Middleweight, where he won his first 2 fights and got a shot at the title against then champion Chris Weidman. That would be an all-time great fight, but one he would lose. He would then only beat CB Dollaway before losing to Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero, and Derek Brunson consecutively.
Machida's style is what set him apart and made him so good for so long. His Karate style and stance allowed him to use an arsenal of kicks MMA elite had yet to really see, allowing him to best some of the best of his era, including Randy Couture, Shogun Rua, Rashad Evans, and other legends of the sport.
Coming into the main event, Machida will be the underdog for the fourth time in his legendary career. To best the more athletic Anders, Machida will for one need to avoid the takedown from him, which can be done, as he has avoided 76% of takedowns throughout his UFC career. On top of that, he will need to find his range quickly and keep that range. If he allows the more novice striker Anders to get into his own operating range, it could spell trouble.
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