UFC: Lyoto Machida is the Next Superstar at 205

Derek BolenderSenior Analyst IApril 4, 2008

He’s 12-0 in MMA since his career began in 2003.  He’s 4-0 in the UFC. 


He’s beaten a who’s-who list of MMA fighters including former UFC Welterweight and current UFC Lightweight Champion B.J. Penn, former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin, Stephan Bonner, and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. 


He has never been given a title shot.  His nickname is “The Dragon.” 


Give up? 


You may or may not have heard of him.  His name is Lyoto Machida and I feel obligated to introduce him to the MMA community.

Machida is a bit of an unknown to most MMA fans, but what fans should know is that the UFC got it wrong pitting Rashad Evans against Chuck Liddell for UFC 85.  Machida should be fighting Liddell.   

The Liddell fight at UFC 85 is largely considered to be the fight that will determine a No. 1 contender at 205. 


The winner will likely face the Quinton Jackson/Forrest Griffin victor at a later date and time.  Mauricio Rua was slated to fight Liddell but pulled out with an injury.  Rashad Evans got the nod from the UFC in his place.

UFC fans know Evans.  They were able to follow him on TUF and he also had a high-profile fight against former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz at UFC 73 that ended in a draw.  On the other hand, very few UFC fans have seen or remember any of Machida's fights. 

I am not going to kid myself though.  The real reason Evans is locked in is because his style is conducive to Liddell and the UFC wants to set up a Liddell/Jackson rematch. 

Liddell has traditionally handled wrestlers like Evans and guys with strong ground games fairly easily, including Renato Sobral, Jeremy Horn, and Tito Ortiz. 


The main reason behind this is because Liddell’s fights rarely go to the ground, and the ground specialists get stuck in a boxing match with Liddell, which is a bad idea.   

The Liddell/Evans fight will be no different.  Liddell should be able to slowly pick him apart with his striking and the fight will most likely take place standing up the entire match.

In reality, Machida is getting the shaft.  He has a better resume than Evans and is more experienced.  The UFC wants to market a Liddell/Jackson rematch, which would most certainly be a big PPV draw, and that is their best chance to make money. 


There is no doubting the fact that Machida would be a matchup nightmare for Liddell as well. 

Machida is an extremely well-rounded fighter.  He trains with UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva and UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at the Black House camp in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, which is one of the top camps in all of MMA.

He’s dangerous on the ground and on his feet.  He’s a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and a Shotokan Karate black belt.  His greatest strength is striking with his legs.  His kicks are strong and accurate just like his training partner Silva. 

If you watch a Machida fight and you will see a combination of straight punches, body kicks, leg sweeps, and incredible head movement to avoid strikes.  Simply put, he’s a handful for anyone standing across the octagon from him. 

Machida is slated to fight Tito Ortiz at UFC 84.  I will be pulling for Machida to roll over Ortiz and to continue his quest towards getting recognized, respected, and eventually getting a title shot.  He may not be well known at the moment, but he soon will be. 

The Ortiz fight will give him a chance to once again prove he is an elite fighter, an up-and-coming star, and quite possibly the next great thing at 205.