Lyoto Machida: MMA's Child Prodigy?

Paul Delos SantosContributor IMay 24, 2009

Lyoto Machida is like Tiger Woods.

I know what you're thinking.

"Paul Delos Santos, you are crazy. Lyoto Machida is nowhere near Tiger Woods' stature."

That is true. He is nowhere near his stature. Machida isn't even to close to the level that Tiger is at, or even, can come close to him, at the moment.

However, that's not where I am making this, dare I say it insane, comparison.

But before you leave this article and make fun of it forever, there are somethings I want you to realize about Lyoto Machida and Tiger Woods—both were groomed for greatness in their respective sports from the moment they could walk and both are dominating the sport in the highest manner.

Machida earned his first black belt in karate at age 12 and won numerous karate tournaments. Look at it like Tiger winning the U.S. Junior Amateur championship at age 15. 

When Machida got older, he was groomed and billed as the "Second Inoki." The second coming of Antonio Inoki—the famed Japanese pro wrestler, who fought what were "worked MMA matches."

Like Inoki, Machida grew up in Brazil of Japanese decent. Machida was supposed to be the next big star, and Inoki tried building a brand around him. 

He made his debut as part of an abomination of a show known as "Ultimate Crush"—a hybrid pro wrestling and MMA event. He won his first fight, and soon became the corner stone of the Inoki Office.

Unfortunately, that failed and it forced Machida to take his game to the United States. But after wins over Rich Franklin, BJ Penn and Sam Greco—my first question was, "When will Machida make it into the UFC?" 

I parallel Machida's pre-UFC career to Tiger's collegiate career—he was good, but nobody knew the level he was going to accomplish.

It didn't long for him to get into the UFC, as after the World Fighting Alliance was bought out by the UFC, there he was. And soon, people got to see what I found to be an interesting style—karate with a diverse talent in other martial arts. 

Machida worked his way up the ladder and is now the champion of the deepest division.

But it was after his win against Tito Ortiz, he started getting the recognition he rightfully deserved.

The Tito fight might be the same thing as Tiger's first Master's victory—the coming out party for one of the sport's future and brightest stars.

Now, Tiger and Machida have things in common, but if Machida wants to be considered MMA's Tiger Woods, he will need to dominate the light-heavyweight division.

Can he be beat? I'm sure. Nobody walks out of MMA, undefeated, but his skill set is probably the most complete and potentially the most dominating fighter like Tiger Woods in golf.

Before you call me crazy, just remember one thing—fans who were once booing Machida were calling out his name. 

The signs are there. Now Machida will have to deliver, if he wants to become the sport's equivalent to Tiger Woods.

Not so much in the charisma, marketability sense, but in the dominant, child prodigy sense, finally living up to his potential.