Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida: What Went Right for Machida?
It was hardly the fireworks we expected. The light heavyweight contest between Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida at UFC 157 on Saturday, despite a potential title shot up for grabs, failed to deliver anything of excitement.
For three rounds the fighters "felt each other out," with Henderson throwing probing shots now and then, easily evaded by Machida.
Neither seemed to have solved the problem of the other fighter, and both seemed content to leave the decision in the hands of the judges. But Machida won.
And he did it in typical Machida fashion.
Employing his typical explosive karate-style of striking, the Brazilian light heavyweight spent most of the fight circling away from Henderson's right hand—the legendary H-bomb which has put to sleep 11 opponents in his career.
The circling often seemed like running, with Machida backing up quickly any time Henderson moved forward. It was a very negative style of fighting with neither fighter doing enough to steal any round.
In the first round, Machida's takedown of Henderson might have swung that match in his favour. Henderson's takedown in the third might have swung that round in his favour. In the second, at least in the judges' eyes, Machida peppered his opponent enough while moving backwards to claim the split decision win. But no one would have been surprised if the fight had been given to Henderson.
However, in many ways, it was a stylistic mismatch which led to this less-than enthralling contest, rather than any lack of motivation on the part of the fighters. Machida's technique of striking, darting in and out like a bolt of lightning, has KO'd many opponents throughout his career—not least Ryan Bader in his last match.
But Hendo's head movement and the intimidating presence of his cocked right hand were enough to dull the contest to an anti-climactic finish.
Still, the UFC promised the winner a shot at Jon Jones' 205-pound title, and it looks like the man who failed to take that belt from him last year, Machida, will have that shot again.
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