Lyoto Machida's Career Defining Moments
For years, the illustrious karate master has mystified opponents with his lighting fast strikes and elusive footwork, a combination that earned him a world title in 2009.
Going undefeated for over seven years, Machida has had a career filled with both amazing triumphs as well as heart breaking defeats, a combination that has made him into one of the sport's premier mixed martial artists.
Here are Machida's six career defining moments.
Defeating BJ Penn, Rich Franklin and Stephan Bonnar
Before setting foot inside the UFC's famed Octagon, Machida was defeating some of the sport's top fighters very early on in his career.
In just his third professional fight, Machida dominated Rich Franklin to take a second round technical knockout. The karate master struck the now former middleweight champion with a flurry of kicks and punches, leaving him baffled.
This win came right after a first round TKO of Stephan Bonnar.
In 2005, Machida faced two-time UFC champion BJ Penn who was taking a respite from the world's largest MMA promotion. In a three round affair, Machida utilized his unique style to take the unanimous decision.
It was these three wins over big names that helped launch the career of the sport's most elusive fighter.
UFC 84: Dominating Tito Ortiz
Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated
After going 4-0 in 2007 against lesser skilled opponents, Machida faced his first real test in the UFC when he took on former champion Tito Ortiz at UFC 84.
Machida dominated Ortiz who simply could not hit the elusive Shotokan karate black belt.
At one point, Ortiz was able to lock in a triangle, but Machida's solid Brazlian Jiu-Jitsu skills came out as he was able to escape the choke.
This was his first big win in the UFC and placed him in the upper echelon of the division.
UFC 94: First Round KO of Thiago Silva
For his entire career, Machida was criticized by fans for being too boring, rarely initiating attacks and constantly evading damage.
Coming into UFC 94, Machida had only finished one opponent while in the UFC and had not scored a pure knockout in any of his bouts.
That all changed when he took on Thiago Silva as he emphatically floored the Muay Thai specialist in the final seconds of the first round.
Catching Silva with a huge punch as he was falling to the canvas, Machida proved that he can be exciting and has the power to put away even the most lethal of strikers.
UFC 129: Jumping Front Kick KO of Randy Couture
Image courtesy of MMA Weekly
Coming off two straight losses entering UFC 129, Machida was in desperate need of a win as he took on Randy Couture in his farewell bout.
Keeping Couture out of range as to avoid the take down, Machida was able to pick apart the five-time UFC champion from the outside.
In the second round, Machida made Mr. Miyagi proud when he faked a left kick and followed it with a right jumping front kick that landed squarely on Couture's jaw, knocking the legend out as well as dislodging one of his teeth.
This amazing KO was one of the most amazing highlight reel finishes of his career and helped solidify Machida as a real life "Karate Kid".
UFC 113: Losing the Belt to Shogun Rua
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After a controversial title defense at UFC 104, Machida and Shogun Rua faced off in a rematch that left the karate black belt with a loss for the first time in his career.
Wanting to definitely defeat his foe the second time around, Machida came out very aggressively and was beating Rua for the first half of the first round. He was even able to take Rua down on two occasions while avoiding his fellow Brazilian's signature knee bar.
However, Rua was able to duck under a left hook while landing an overhand right, knocking Machida out and serving him his first career loss.
UFC 98: Defeating Rashad Evans and Taking the LHW Title
Image courtesy of the Associated Press
UFC 98 was the single greatest moment in Machida's career.
Riding a 14-fight undefeated streak, Machida was finally granted a shot at then-champion Rashad Evans.
The heavy handed wrestler tried to stand and trade with the karate ace, a poor choice that left Evans lying limp on the canvas.
Dominating the entire fight with a flurry of combinations that Evans could not answer, Machida had his opponent on the brink of defeat multiple times during the opening frame.
However, it would be the repeated landing of accurate strikes in the second round against the cage that would finally put Evans to sleep and crown Machida the new light-heavyweight champion. According to UFC commentator Joe Rogan, it would usher in the soon to be short lived "Machida era".
Putting an end to Evans' unbeaten streak, taking Knockout of the Night honors and becoming the new UFC champion at 205, Machida showed that karate can be just as effective in the cage as any of the other disciplines.