Dan Henderson squared off against Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida in the co-main event at UFC 157 Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The winner, as announced by Dana White, would get a title shot against Uncle Chael P. Sonnen.
... Or Jon Jones. If he can defeat Sonnen at UFC 159, an obviously impossible task.
I was so anxious for this fight.
I was stoked.
I was geeked.
I was...utterly disappointed.
This fight boils down to one key element: Lyoto Machida was too damn fast for Dan Henderson.
Hendo threw H-bomb after H-bomb, wading in with big punches and haymakers time after time. Machida simply darted to the side, regrouped and picked his shots.
Utilizing knees, front kicks and straight punches, Machida fought the smart fight and sniped Hendo for the bout's duration.
Dan Henderson: “I won the fight, but not officially. I hit him whenever he wanted to fight. He ran away most of the time." #UFC157— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) February 24, 2013
No, it wasn't very fun, and Dan Henderson disagreed, but here's where I would like to draw a comparison.
Let us go back to a preliminary bout, one that promised a vicious knockout.
I speak, of course, of Brendan Schaub vs. Lavar Johnson. These two hulking heavyweights throw heavy leather, and somebody just had to go down.
Well, Johnson went down—repeatedly, in fact—but from takedowns, not punches.
Schaub wrestled his way to a unanimous decision victory, earning no fans in the process.
While many complain about Schaub's wrestle-first game plan (I wasn't a fan of it either, for the record), the fact remains that Johnson was not equipped to defend it. Don't hate the wrestler, hate the...err, not wrestler.
That didn't work out too well, but you catch my drift.
The same can be said about Henderson's fight against Machida.
It's easy to berate Machida and say he ran, he never engaged, etc., but why didn't you catch him, Dan? Why didn't you cut off his angles and force some clinches? Why didn't you land that H-bomb?
The fact of the matter is that Machida did exactly what he had to do, and Hendo couldn't stop it.
It wasn't fun, but it worked.
Machida's counters were sharp throughout, he landed a nice trip at the end of the first round and he controlled the fight for over 10 minutes.
That, my friends, is how you win a decision.
What we saw was Machida smartly utilizing distance and frequently exploiting Hendo's speed (or lack thereof).
Really, there is not too much to look at here.
Machida was on point; Hendo was slow and couldn't mount any offense.
Every time Hendo charged, Machida countered and moved, and the American just could not chase The Dragon down to land anything of significance.
In Round 3, Machida looked for a hard right cross counter as Hendo stepped forward. In doing so, Machida tripped over Hendo's left leg and found himself on his back.
From here, Hendo again failed to mount offense, and Machida maintained a tight, controlling guard.
After roughly a minute on his back, The Dragon escaped, and more point fighting ensued.
This fight breaks down simply: Machida was fast, accurate and smart.
Hendo was wild, sloppy and slow.
Neither fighter landed anything huge, and the judges made the right call in this one.
I am a bit disappointed that it wasn't more fun, but Lyoto Machida earned his title shot for his efforts against the legend, Mr. Dan Henderson.