Lyoto Machida: Kiss of The Dragon

Jordan KatzCorrespondent IMay 20, 2009

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 21: Lyoto Machida of Brazil and David Heath of England in action during a Welterweight bout of the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the Manchester Evening News Arena on April 21, 2007 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images).

“Come not between the dragon and his wrath.” – William Shakespeare 

Tito Ortiz staggered backward before collapsing, after a perfectly executed knee landed to his body. Sokoudjou awoke perplexed, following a sleep inducing submission that was applied seemingly effortlessly. And most recently, Thiago Silva experienced his first loss from vicious knockout after a brutal combination.

All these fighters have fallen victim to an undefeated Lyoto Machida. All have felt the kiss of the dragon.

Quite possibly the most obscure fighter in mixed martial arts, Lyoto Machida’s road to recognition has been slow and tedious. Despite boasting a 14-0 record (6-0 in the UFC), Machida has been flying under the radar, due largely to his unique fighting style.

He uses an unorthodox southpaw fighting stance to implement his mastery of Shotokan karate. Perplexing the fight world with his enigmatic style, Machida has the allure of an unsolved mystery. Originally overlooked because of his lack of aggression and defensive tendencies, the soft spoken Machida has forced critics and fans alike to take notice, with quality wins over top opposition.

Watching Machida fight is like seeing poetry in motion. It typically involves evasive, fluid maneuvers and counter punching.

In spite of his six Octagon appearances, "The Dragon" has remained virtually unscathed. Opponents simply cannot get comfortable when fighting him. His awkward style is confusing, and competitors end up straying from their intended game plan.

Ortiz wanted to wrestle, but couldn’t take Machida down. Silva wanted to strike, but couldn’t find the range. "The Dragon" patiently turn his challengers’ strengths into weaknesses and then proceeds to meticulously pick them apart.

His deserved new recognition has been a long time coming.

At UFC 98, Machida has the chance to finally grab the main spotlight when he attempts to dethrone current champ Rashad Evans. The fight figures to be a series of calculated risks, as both fighters have yet to taste defeat and both are known to take their time and wait to engage.

Yes, it has taken some time, but "The Dragon" has no regrets. He is responsible for flaming out the career of Ortiz and extinguishing Silva’s momentum.

Machida remains one of the few unanswered conundrums in the world of MMA. With a rare combination of speed, footwork, defense, and power, The Dragon has taken flight, and finally we all have taken notice.

Pucker up for The Dragon’s kiss at UFC 98!