Lately there has been a lot of discussion about Lyoto Machida. He has proven to be a very intricate puzzle for the Light-Heavyweight division of the UFC.
In his first 15 MMA fights, he has been a very difficult target to hit and a striker with a 65 percent accuracy.
In his 16th MMA bout, however, he has been hit more times in those five rounds than he has in all of his combined fight put together. So why did Shogun have success when every one else failed?
To understand how to beat Machida you must first understand how Machida fights. He uses a Shotokan Karate style that no one really has seen before. He is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has some Muay Thai and Sumo wrestling skills.
He also utilizes multi-directional movement, obtuse angles, and great blocking skills to avoid any strikes thrown at him. He is a counter striker, he waits for you to miss or react to his feints and then strikes back.
The karate part of his game is not new, however most mixed martial artists do not incorporate karate into their training. Being that they don't, they won't know how the timing is of the incoming strikes.
They also will not know the proper angles to engage a real good karate fighter. Machida is not only a karate fighter, but also one of the best in the world.
The most important part of his game is his Sumo wrestling. Sumo wrestlers are excellent at stopping the forward momentum of takedown attempts. They also like to redirect your own kinetic energy against you to take you down.
They incorporate trips into their grappling to keep their opponents off balance. The single most important trait that all sumo wrestlers have is that their legs are very strong.
Machida's movement seems to be the trickiest part of his overall game. Karate practitioners like to use back-foot pivots and obtuse angles when they fight.
Machida is a southpaw fighter meaning he stands with his right foot forward and his left back. Any time you throw a punch at him he pivots on his back foot which will switch him into an orthodox stance, he then takes a couple steps back and next thing you know your punch is nowhere near its intended target.
So how does one effectively fight against something like this?
Since Machida is not a conventional fighter, conventional tactics will not work against him. Most fighters, when they see Machida move the way he does, will automatically try to move at a steeper angle than he is to cut him off.
That is a very foolish idea because just as easily as he pivoted the first time he can do it again only this time he will be in prime position to attack. Fighters need to actually move at an opposite angle than he is so that they are in a good position to either block the counter coming in or attack back.
Did you every notice karate fighters circling each other and anytime one switches his stance the other does so as well? A big part of Karate is action and reaction. Machida is constantly moving backward so you move forward, if he goes left you go right and then attack.
To effectively take him down is actually not that hard. Conventional double leg takedowns and single leg trips will not work. Those techniques rely on forward momentum, which we already know Sumo stops very well.
The way to do it is actually go to a body lock. Start going forward so that he meets you with the some force of his own to stop you. Once you feel the pressure back, you can redirect his motion against him and either use a throw or a simple leg trip.
Easier said than done.
Shogun showed us some success in his fight with Machida, enough success to lead many people to believe that he really should have won the decision that night. What he didn't do, however, is admit that he only utilized half of his game plan.
Shogun went into the fight wanting to stand ready at all times for a counter attack. He also wanted to take the legs out from the champion and use that to his advantage to take the fight to the ground. Once on the ground, Shogun wanted to use ground and pound and submissions to score points and work towards finishing the fight.
Unfortunately, when these two meet again, the fight will still yield the same results.
A very bad thing happened to Shogun. He met with success. He believes he should have won the fight and will not make many adjustments when he begins training for the rematch. Machida, however, will not be fighting the same way. He also will be going back to basics because his father got upset at how many times he'd been hit in his fight.
It will be interesting to see the game plans people come up with to use against Machida.