Just when MMA habitues, both fans and practitioners thought they had it all figured out, here comes Lyoto Machida.
Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu and some wrestling skills. Being well rounded in all three was the recipe—and perhaps still is—for success as an MMA fighter.
Then comes, an elusive Machida, primarily a shotokan karate practitioner, using the art to wipe out top notch contenders. We all remember the early days of the UFC when high kicking, karate-chop wielding karatekas proved their fighting style ineffective inside the octagon.
While well versed in Jiu-jitsu, Machida has put on display his shotokan roots in winning a significant number of victories. Unlike Muay Thai, Machida's brand of stand up is more passive and composed. Patiently defending and waiting for the perfect strike. And when it comes, BAM! It is as crippling and lethal as it gets. Just ask Thiago Silva.
Silva an explosive fighter, who is by no stretch of the imagination a push-over, was made to look like an amateur by Machida. By cranking his head back-wards and stretching both arms, coupled with rhythmic lateral movements, Machida is able to avoid getting tagged. Then his strikes come like a thief in the night. Silent and unexpected, but hitting where it hurts.
It is easy to take lightly and criticize Machida when at times, he refuses to mix it up. But that, as it has turned out, is part and parcel of a winning game plan. He is just buying time, waiting for his foe to make a mistake before pouncing. In his own good time.
Love him or hate him, Machida's fighting style is highly technical, very methodical and as proven by his 14 win streak—an effective way to reach the top of the MMA world.
Rashad Evans better get a firm grip on that belt. Lyoto Machida is out to take it away.