I've seen him fight a few times already, and like everyone else, I have seen the greatness.
Lyoto's "odd" fighting style makes him a big stylistic puzzle for any MMA fighter to figure out. It ain't easy. His background is in karate.
Everyone knows that already. It's nothing new. While most fighters have wrestling, BJJ, or kickboxing backgrounds, he's one of the few who comes from, and actually uses, karate in modern MMA.
I have nothing against karate personally. I just always figured it was more or less useless. Most of the kids I went to elementary school with who had red, green, brown, and black belts in karate—or taekwondo—still couldn't fight.
"Whatever," I thought. If they like it, then cool. But it's not gonna win them any fights.
Judging by people's reaction to Lyoto, I guess I wasn't the only one who thought that way. Karate has gone from irrelevant to, actually, quite impressive.
I spent the day at work watching videos of his fights online, trying to see if I personally could "figure him out" before the experts do.
Stylistically, he's quite interesting. He has a very wide stance. He's usually a southpaw but can switch it up. He leaves his right leg quite far in front, and appears to lean back, creating tons of space and making him very hard to rush into.
The space he sits back in also affords him time to react and remain elusive. He's not just an elusive fighter, he strikes really well going backwards.
And when he does choose to slug it out, he often favors wild swings with both hands.
So what is Rashad's training camp edge against Lyoto?
None other than "Rush" himself: Georges St. Pierre.
GSP is the other big name fighter in the UFC today, turning heads back towards karate.
Granted, he doesn't always appear to use karate in fights. He's praised for his wrestling, kick-boxing, and BJJ as well. But that's not the point.
The point is, he knows karate at a very high level.
When sparring, it wouldn't be asking too much for GSP to mimic Lyoto's style—his stance, his striking, and his patterns. Most fighters don't have someone like that, especially at his level.
Lyoto's resume obviously doesn't stop at karate. He knows BJJ as well. But the really impressive fighting discipline that should stand out is Sumo.
Lyoto does sumo! How cool is that? Does GSP by any chance know sumo?
Probably not. But I must say, as impressed as I am by Lyoto's resume and Lyoto the fighter, I'm cheering for Rashad. GSP's the x-factor.