Phil Davis believes Lyoto Machida’s willingness to play with fire caused him to get burned by the judges at UFC 163.
A chorus of boos echoed throughout the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as all three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Davis. Machida, who was obviously upset with the decision, told MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani in a post-fight interview that he wanted an immediate rematch.
Unfortunately for Machida, MMA fans in general aren’t overly enthusiastic about a second fight and neither is Davis.
Following his controversial decision victory, Davis made an appearance on The MMA Hour, where he pointed the finger directly at Machida for the fight ending the way that it did:
“You’re not the first person who wants a rematch. You fight every fight like this. You fight close fights. Name one fight that he didn’t finish where he beat the crap out of somebody. You live by that sword, you die by that sword. When you habitually leave it to the judges, that strategy will fail you. I can’t say it any other way.”
Machida, who is usually regarded as the most elusive fighter in UFC history, tends to wait around on the outside for opportunities to counter. His overly patient fighting style typically causes opponents to become frustrated and push forward recklessly, which opens up opportunities for him to land effectively.
Fighters like Davis haven’t necessarily solved the puzzle of Machida’s perplexing fighting techniques, but they have certainly adopted a blueprint for the best way to approach the Karate-based style.
Davis stood his ground and avoided chasing after Machida. He was able to tip the fight in his favor by avoiding elongated combinations and sticking with simple strikes and well-timed takedowns.
The first round appears to be the primary topic of debate regarding the bout. A late flurry of punches by Machida and a takedown by Davis were the only significant moments in that round.
Machida has become his own worst enemy in a way. All of the precious time he allows to tick away off the clock is time needed to make a definitive impression on the judges.
As Davis puts it, it’s hard to overcome a takedown in the last minute of a round, especially if you’ve been dancing around for the other four minutes:
“Machida has this style where he’ll wait until the last minute and a half of a round and then he’ll explode with a flurry and then he’ll evade, evade, evade. If you get taken down during that minute and a half time span, yeah you’re screwed, that’s it. I’m sorry he lost that round. That’s the way the game is played. To say a takedown shouldn’t decide who wins a round, well okay, then one flurry shouldn’t decide who won the round. Take away that one flurry. Who won that round?”
Unless Machida finishes a fight, controversy seems to follow him wherever he goes.
Instead of pointing the finger at bad judging, perhaps Machida needs to reassess his fighting style. He should be thankful to some degree that he isn’t on a two-fight losing streak. Many believe he was gifted a split decision over Dan Henderson back in February.
It’s hard to believe that it has only been three years since Machida lost his first fight, and since then, his UFC record is a shocking 3-4. Something has to change if Machida ever hopes to climb back into title contention.
Davis’ win proves that slaying “The Dragon” may be a monumental task, but with the right game plan, it is far from impossible.
Jordy McElroy is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA Writer for Rocktagon Worldwide.