UFC’s #1 light heavyweight title contender, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, has been continously criticized by UFC fans for his “boring” style of fighting. Machida has acquired six consecutive wins since signing with the UFC, defeating notable opponents including Tito Ortiz, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Thiago Silva, Kazuhiro Nakamura, David Heath and Sam Hoger. Since then, UFC fans have gradually begun to understand what Machida brings to the octagon. His unique and yet effecting stand-up style has gained much popularity within the United States and on an international level.
Machida compares his style to that of Royce Gracie when he first entered the UFC octagon in the early 1990’s. Nobody really understood his grappling skills and the effective results he attained through the use of submissions. Gracie took on all sorts of weight classes, but it was his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that allowed him to defeat opponents of all sizes and strengths. Machida believes that his stand-up style can be comparable to that of Gracie in the sense that many don’t quite understand his game fully, but is confident that he will be praised sometime down the road.
The Dragon will be tested again on May 26th, but this time it will be for the UFC light heavyweight title. He’ll be taking on the undefeated hard-hitting wrestler Rashad “Sugar” Evans as part of the main event clash. Expect fireworks at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada!
Here’s a snip from Lyoto Machida as he talks about his unique fighting style and his upcoming UFC 98 title match-up against Rashad Evans (props to sherdog.com):
“When Royce [Gracie] started to beat his opponents on the ground, the American fans were not used to the ground fighting and also criticized his style, but soon his efficient results changed peoples’ mind…I’m not pretentious to compare myself to the legendary Royce, but I truly think something similar is happening with my standup style. Now I feel people are starting to understand and respect…I’m very happy because I’ve always dreamed about this moment…Actually, I’ve already faced the worst pressure. In the fight against Ortiz, for example, I was in the middle of [Ortiz’s] personal war against Dana White and the boss threw all the responsibility on my shoulders…I felt a lot of pressure when I fought Rich Franklin in Inoki Bomb-Ba-Ye in Japan…At the time, I had just two MMA fights and he was undefeated with nine knockouts, and many people came to tell me that if I stayed on my feet, I would be knocked out fast. But my father said, ‘It’s not like that; go there and believe in our art.’ I did what he said and knocked him out in the second round…I see the preparation for a MMA fight as a set of many important points like sparring, structure, food and family support. Even having Anderson [Silva], [Vitor] Belfort, [Antonio] Minotauro [Nogueira] and other excellent partners in Rio de Janeiro, here in Belém (Para state) I have a more complete package…I’m close to my family, counting on my father and brother´s support, eating my food, in my city, with excellent trainers, good sparring and making my own schedule…My father is a amazing strategist; when he looks at someone fighting he knows exactly what I have to do…But my father is hot tempered — he wants me to decide the fight fast, while my brother, Shinzo (a 2006 world-champion silver medalist in Shotokan karate) is more balanced and fights just like myself. Joining the tactics of my father and the equilibrium of Shinzo, I have the perfect package in my corner…He is a excellent wrestler…Tito Ortiz tried to take him down, but he couldn’t. I’m not going to lose energy trying. He is also a good striker — very cold and strategic. That became clear during his last fight when Forrest [Griffin] was beating him up and he suddenly turned the fight in his favor. Certainly, he is studying a way to not get into my game, but my father, brother and I, we are also studying a way to bring him into my game. All I can say is that the fans can expect a great fight.”