When former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida beat MMA legend Dan Henderson Saturday night on the UFC 157 card at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, the Brazilian veteran proved he deserves another shot at the Light Heavyweight Championship.
Machida earned the split-decision victory over Henderson by utilizing his trademark elusive style to keep Henderson missing all night.
Though one judge scored the fight for Henderson, it was Machida who was the much more accurate fighter that controlled the pace throughout. The 42-year-old contender was able to take down Machida and do some damage in the third round, but it was too little too late.
Most MMA fans and experts expected this to be a tough fight with neither star wanting to give an inch to their opponents, and the resulting battle was one that most UFC fans will never forget.
Henderson is an absolute legend, but at 29-9 on his career now, it’s time for the long-time fighter to hang up the gloves and enjoy his retirement. As for Machida and his 19-3 record, the talented fighter is now back on track and heading toward the rematch he so richly deserves.
Let’s hope Dana White does the right thing and gives Machida his title shot.
What It Means
This was a huge fight for Machida, who was trying to prove to White and the rest of the UFC officials that they must give the veteran a title shot against reigning light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
MMA fans don’t forget that it was Jones who forced Machida to tap out in their last bout.
After watching Machida beat the former PRIDE, Strikeforce and UFC champion Saturday night, it’s clear that at 42 years old, Henderson doesn’t have the same speed or power he once did.
For the sake of his legacy as one of the sport’s toughest fighters, Henderson must walk away from MMA while he still can.
While Henderson’s next step should be retirement, there is little question that the MMA legend will continue to fight. That’s just what Hendo does.
As for Machida, the next step should be taking on Jones in the rematch that every MMA fan wants to see. This potential bout wouldn’t be the flashiest matchup—Machida uses a slower pace and discipline—but the test Jones will receive will be the toughest of his career.
It’s unclear if Machida can beat Jones on his best day, but the unquestionable best fight for both men coming out of UFC 157 would be against each other.