Lyoto Machida: His Fighting Style and Potential Opponents in the Future

Tony AContributor IFebruary 2, 2009

UFC 94 is over, the dust has settled, and we can clearly see the new, top fighter and the NO.1 contender for the Light Heavyweight belt. 

But we all know Dana White isn’t really fond of decision victories.  That’s why he decided that if Quinton "Rampage" Jackson beats Keith Jardine, Rampage will get the title shot instead of Machida.

If Rampage wins, Machida will then fight another top contender.  I doubt they’ll keep him on the side lines until he fights the Rampage vs. Evans winner, but more about that later.


Fighting Style

Love him or hate him, Machida is probably the most intelligent fighter in the UFC. Fighting isn’t about how much punishment you can take, but rather how much punishment you can inflict.

His elusive style and superb counter striking make Lyoto a very dangerous fighter. He is a complete fighter with very good BJJ and a solid ground game. Machida’s game plan is also very important, he makes his opponents guess and he always scores points.  His opponents are forced to chase him in the octagon, so far this strategy has always worked to his advantage.

Being a former jujitsu student, I am very fond of his fighting style, because he honors the golden rule—always use your opponent's weakness to your advantage.

It has been said that boxing is an art and MMA is brawling.  I totally disagree, especially considering the types of MMA fighters we have today. Guys like Griffin and St-Pierre are disciplined fighters, they have exceptional training programs, and they adapt and make the necessary changes for every fight.

Two things I should point out about Machida are his decision victories and his ability to take a punch.

We all like to watch a good KO, or an aggressive fight, but Lyoto isn’t known for good finishes or aggresive fights (until now).  His elusive karate style is pretty much imprinted on his DNA.

The main rule in karate is to avoid punches and kicks, then counter strike. Machida’s ability to take fighters down is impressive—he completely manhandled Tito Ortiz and avoided all his takedowns.

We still have to see how Machida handles the pressure in a tough situation.  Does he have a strong jaw and can he withstand a couple of punches?

Machida’s future fights and how he finishes them will be interesting, even for those few who doubt his skills.  I think in 2010 he will be the best pound for pound fighter.

You can see that he is very calm before a fight and has good KO power—he broke Silva’s right orbital and fractured his maxilla.

Potential opponents

There are only a few potential opponents for Machida who are possible threats: Griffin, Evans and Jackson.  Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva are too old.  Rua is good, but he really has to work on his cardio which wasn’t impressive against Coleman.

The rest just aren’t good enough, except for Anderson Silva but we will leave the spider for another time.

Griffin, with his great cardio, work ethic, striking, and height, could be a problem for Machida in the future. The problem for Griffin is that he lacks knock-out power and can’t win a decision victory against Machida.

Rampage is a very powerful fighter with good KO power, but Lyoto would pick him apart as Griffin and Wanderlei did.

Evans is a very explosive fighter with Greg Jackson at his corner.   He could be a problem, but Machida, unlike Griffin or Chuck, can finish fights and wouldn’t rush in.

Lyoto is a more experienced fighter than Rashad and a better all-round fighter.

If Jackson beats Jardine and fights for the title, Machida will have to settle for another top contender before he gets his title shot.  Maybe he will fight the winner of Liddell vs. Shogun, or Wanderlei Silva—we just have to wait and see.