Is Lyoto Machida Underrated or Overrated?

Matt RandallCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2009

Lyoto Machida could quite possibly be the most underrated fighter in the UFC or he could be the complete opposite. The strange thing is, no one really knows.

He might be undefeated, and he might hold wins over Rich Franklin (2003) and B.J. Penn (2005), but the part that I find the hardest to swallow is the decisions. He has won 14 fights in his MMA career and eight of them have gone to the judges (four are knockouts and two are submissions).

I guess what I’m trying to figure out, is how would he do against the real elite of the division? We all know how elusive he is; he proved this against Tito, ducking takedowns like Tito was a rookie. But did we see the best Tito? Surely I would have to say no.

In his last six fights, only one has not gone to decision, in which he submitted Sokoudjou via arm triangle. Other than that, we have not see Lyoto finish anyone lately, which bring me to question: How he would deal with the elite light heavyweights.

Would he be able to duck punches from Evans or Rampage? Would he be able to elude Forrest or Silva?

Is it just a matter of time until Lyoto finally decides to push himself to finish someone? Or will Lyoto finally fight someone who will prove to everyone that he cannot avoid take downs, punches and kicks forever.

I believe that in order to be a champion, to win the belt, to defend the belt, to be the best in the world in your division, you need to be able to stop fights. You cannot always rely on the judges for victories.

I do not think that Lyoto has the capability to fight the best the UFC has to offer and go the distance every time. He will eventually get caught. There are too many powerful strikers in this division.

Maybe I am wrong. If I am, I will be the first to admit it (although I’m sure a few others will kindly point it out on here). But until I see something that really impresses me from Lyoto other than a decision victory, then I will always have doubt.

At UFC 94, Lyoto takes on his biggest challenge in the UFC (which is not saying much at all) in Thiago Silva. If he can stop Thiago, would not only surprise me, but I think would land him a shot for a fight to be the No. 1 contender.

If he does win who would be next? Would he fight the winner of Rampage and Jardine? Or maybe he will fight the winner of Chuck and Shogun.

Since I am not exactly sure the point of the Rampage and Jardine bout, I would have to imagine that if Lyoto wins he will have to fight the winner of one of these fights as a number one contender bout.

I would imagine that within Lyoto’s next couple fights we will find out if he is the real deal, like he has been proclaimed to be by many, or if he is just another average fighter who struggles to finish fights.