It has been over two years since future UFC Hall of Famer Lyoto Machida has stepped inside of the illustrious octagon, due to an 18-month suspension from USADA that resulted in the Brazilian being pulled from a contest with the now-retired Dan Henderson in April of 2016. Since then, Machida has remained active, competing in numerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu matches to ensure that his 39-year-old body can withstand the brutal tests that it will face upon his return to the cage, and it seems that that the Shotokan karate expert is confident of a successful final run in the mixed-martial-arts cage.
However, Lyoto’s main event fight with the American Derek Brunson has yet to garner much interest in the eyes of the public, which is largely a result of the UFC’s main focus being on the UFC 217 pay-per-view event that is set to take place next Saturday, November 4th, at Madison Square Garden. Despite the massive star power that the latter fight card possesses, do not make the mistake of overlooking UFC Fight Night 119. The event is packed with everything an MMA fan could ever hope for – fantastic matchups, showdowns between top contenders and the appearances of rising stars and legends of the sport, all battling to steal the show and earn themselves a moment in the spotlight.
One of the said legends is Lyoto Machida, the former UFC light heavyweight champion of the world. Considering Machida’s main event slot, it is fitting to take a look back at some of the finest moments in The Dragon’s career, from his rise to UFC gold to his renewed run at middleweight in recent years. My particular focus in this article will be on my top five favorite Machida knockouts, and in particular those which catapulted the Brazilian’s stardom in the UFC, and made him the legend he is today.
Lyoto Machida vs Randy Couture, UFC 129
In what was arguably the best knockout of 2011, Lyoto Machida solidified his place as one of the very best strikers in the sport with this stunning finish against former two-division UFC champion Randy Couture, which has now become one of the most re-watched knockouts in the sport’s history, and rightfully so. Coming into the fight off the back of a controversial decision loss to Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Lyoto had much to prove Iit is fair to say that his remarkable emulation of the infamous ‘Crane Kick’ from ‘The Karate Kid’ made exactly the kind of statement the Brazilian required in this contest. The kick proved just how dynamic and unpredictable the former champion is, and earned him a title shot against Jon Jones at UFC 140, an exhilarating championship fight that earned Fight of the Night honors.
Lyoto Machida vs Rashad Evans, UFC 98
Unfortunately for Rashad Evans, this bout is famously remembered by the devastating finish he fell victim to at the hands of Lyoto Machida in the second round of their fight for the undisputed UFC light heavyweight championship of the world. After scoring an early knockdown, Machida would later attack Evans with a flurry of punches that staggered the champion, sitting him down on multiple occasions and sending him wobbling back to the fence. Lyoto would land a left hand with deadly accuracy and finish the fight, claiming the UFC title in the process and proving that his hands were to be just as feared as his lethal kicks.
Lyoto Machida vs Ryan Bader, UFC on Fox 4
Following a submission loss at the hands of Jon Jones, Machida again found himself in need of a decisive victory. In the opposite corner in this co-main event was the highly rated Ryan Bader, a matchup that many felt would prove difficult for ‘The Dragon’ to overcome. In a dominant performance, Machida once again displayed his dangerous striking when he caught an over-zealous Bader clean on the chin with a counter right hand, sending the recently crowned Bellator champion crashing to the mat in what remains to be one of Machida’s greatest victories to date.
Lyoto Machida vs Mark Munoz, UFC Fight Night 30
Making his middleweight debut in this contest, Machida would put the division on notice with a perfect one-kick knockout over contender Mark Munoz. As the Brazilian often does, Machida lulled his opponent into a false split second sense of security and capitalized upon the opening, finishing Munoz midway through round one. The victory set Lyoto on a new path, beginning his ascension towards the top of the 185-pound weight class, and earned him yet another Knockout of the Night accolade in the process.
Lyoto Machida vs C. B. Dollaway, UFC Fight Night 58
In what stands as The Dragon’s most recent victory in mixed-martial-arts heading into this weekend’s event, Lyoto Machida would rebound from a loss to then-champion Chris Weidman in the perfect manner, stopping C. B. Dollaway just 62 seconds into their main event fight in December of 2014. Before the one minute mark, the former champion would land an accurately placed kick to Dollaway’s body, rendering the American helpless to the proceeding barrage of strikes he was to receive, forcing the referee to stop the fight. The fight proved that the Brazilian is to be feared at all times, and serves as a stark reminder to all future opponents that their concentration must be at its utmost highest in order to stand a chance of defeating the former light-heavyweight kingpin.
The Dragon is back
In writing this piece, I had to chance to look back on some of my fondest memories of MMA when I delved into the collection of classic Lyoto Machida fights. I encourage all readers of this article to search for the bouts I mentioned above, and for the many other great moments that Machida has delivered in his 14 year professional career. Do not be turned off by the lack of promotion – the return of this legendary Brazilian is a major event in our sport, and I personally cannot wait to see what ‘The Dragon’ brings to the cage after his two-year hiatus from the sport when he squares off against Derek Brunson this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 119: Sao Paulo.
Like what you read? Make sure to share this article and comment on your favorite Machida moments below. You can find our other buildup to this weekend’s fight night in the MMA section here at RealSport.
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