In the beginning the UFC had a mission: To find out which style of martial arts would reign supreme. Since then the sport of MMA has developed but somewhere along the way the "Martial Arts" portion of the equation was sometimes lost.
Too often fights today resemble little more than your average back street brawl...behind a tattoo parlor. To be fair there are the exceptions to the rule, fighters like Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva, who do spend the time honing and studying their craft, resulting in a devastating combination of precision, power and speed.
After tonight we can definitively add Lyoto Machida to that list as he put on a clinic of true martial arts against a game, but ultimately outmatched Rashad Evans.
After a slow beginning to the fight, where the fighters took their time testing each other, Machida scored a knockdown in the first round with a nice body kick followed by a straight left. Evans recovered but was never able to mount any kind of attack.
Machida let his hands go in the second round. Displaying patient, yet persistent pressure, Machida knocked out Evans with a series of hard punches late in the second round, leaving the former champion unconscious in a heap against the octagon.
Despite the pre-fight predictions from some corners that Machida would not be able to handle Evans' speed, it was in fact Machida who looked quicker in the ring. The "Dragon" was able to strike first, often setting up his punches with a kick, and then dance out of the way leaving Evans swinging wildly at nothing but air. Perhaps "The Ghost" would be a better nickname for the Brazilian.
It was not only Machida's speed that was impressive, but also his precision. Some thought that Machida would not be able to hit Evans because of his footwork and head movement. At the end of the day Evans' movement just delayed the inevitable as Machida patiently stalked the champion from the opening bell and showed what an accurate striker he truly is, rarely missing with his hands or feet.
Machida probably surprised his own fans with his dominance, especially as he pursued Evans for much of the fight instead of his using his usual counter punching. Evans' camp seemed to believe that forcing Machida to be the pursuer would open him up to a counter attack. Instead all it seemed to do was allow Machida the time and space to pick his shots, which he did.
This performance should put to rest any protests about Machida being a boring fighter. While he has been described as "elusive" in the past, after tonight's demolition the more apt adjective for him would be "dangerous" or “scary” or simply “the champ”.
Odds and Ends:
Someone told Sherk he had an amazing stand up game... and he believed them.
Serra and Hughes seemed to forget they were supposed to hate each other as they tried to lull each other to sleep for 3 rounds.
At one point during the fight between Krzysztof Soszynski and Andre Gusmao, they had so many tattoos between them I couldn't tell which arm belonged to who.