UFC 140 Results: Lyoto Machida Needs to Evolve His Game
As a Shotokan Karateka it is devastating to write this. Machida is a favorite and this writer is honest enough to admit his bias.
But if Machida wants to win his title back, he is going to have to evolve. His striking is great and he proved on Saturday that it might be the best one to give Jones fits. Unfortunately, after Jones figured out what Machida was doing he was able to counter it.
Machida, who has trained predominantly in one style all of his life, couldn't adapt like Jones could because the moves he has practiced for three decades are hardwired into his brain at this point on a subconscious level.
Machida can't just change his style. It's not possible and would only lead to him losing more fights if he did it.
He can add to his skill set, though.
Machida is a master at using range to set up kicks and punches. His real problem is his underused Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and, more importantly, his lack of knees and elbows.
Knees and elbows might have helped Machida in the match if he had been able to use them more effectively. Using punches and kicks worked for him, but it kept him only slightly inside of Jones' range. If he had used knees and elbows he would have been able to bury himself deep inside the light heavyweight champion's guard and done some real damage.
It is something that isn't completely removed from Shotokan, but the knees and elbows used in that style and in its forms isn't the same as the ones used in MMA and the UFC. In Shotokan, the hands grip an opponent's ears so that when the knee lands the ears are ripped from the head. The elbows are driven in at a 12-6 angle and straight to the chest to break the sternum.
The only problem is that none of these moves are cage legal. If Machida had tried using them he probably would have been disqualified.
So, the only way to improve upon this is to practice Muy Thai. Luckily he lives in Brazil, where there are plenty of schools and training camps to learn and polish those techniques.
The only thing that might keep him from doing so is pride. It's understandable, as he was raised by his father in a traditional style of martial arts. His MMA career has been a way of proving that that school of martial arts is dominant and deserves to be shown respect. To go and learn another style of fighting would almost be like an admission that Shotokan is not capable of winning fights.
But that isn't true. Shotokan alone is capable of winning different battles and scrapes. Just not the ones that take place in the Octagon.
In the original UFC, Machida might have been able to win with his style alone, but there are rules now. It isn't always the best martial artist who wins, but the better fighter who knows what moves are allowed in the cage and can implement them.
That might have been the case with Jon Jones this last Saturday.
No matter if it was or wasn't, Machida lost.
Now if he wants to win he will have to face a decision.
Accept that MMA and traditional martial arts have some similarities but are also different, or possibly end his career years later not having done half of what he could have.
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