Lyoto Machida Defeats Chael Sonnen via 2nd-Round TKO at Bellator 222

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2019

Mixed Martial Arts light-heavyweight fighters Lyoto Machida (25-8), left, and Chael Sonnen (30-16-1), right, pose during their pre-fight press conference, Tuesday April 9, 2019, in New York. Machida and Sonnen headline Bellator MMA's return to New York City at Madison Square Garden on June 14. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

Lyoto Machida defeated Chael Sonnen by second-round TKO in a light heavyweight bout at Bellator 222 from Madison Square Garden in New York City on Friday.

Machida caught Sonnen with a flying knee in the second round after hitting him with one in the first and finished off his aggressive opponent with a series of punches:

Brett Okamoto @bokamotoESPN

Lyoto Machida defeats Chael Sonnen via TKO in the second round. Chael went out like he always does, moving straight forward, relentlessly. Lyoto weathered that, timed two jumping knees late in the first round and early in the second. Both connected clean.

Per Josh Gross of The Athletic, Machida's impressive win means a title match could be in his immediate future:

Josh Gross @yay_yee

Another jumping knee put Sonnen down again at the start of R2. TKO victory for Lyoto Machida. Very impressive. It'll be enough for Scott Coker to give The Dragon a shot at Gegard Mousasi's middleweight belt, which was the plan if he looked good tonight.

In defeat, the 42-year-old Sonnen appeared to announce his retirement from MMA, according to ESPN's Ariel Helwani:

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

Chael: I had a hell of a lot of fun. I had a good run. I’m walking out. I appreciate the memories. Chael puts his gloves on the mat and walks out after embracing with Machida. The Bad Guy has retired.

The win marked Machida's fourth in a row and improved his career professional record to 26-8, while Sonnen is now 31-17-1 after dropping his second consecutive fight and fourth in his past six outings.

Machida, 41, is a former UFC light heavyweight champion who has enjoyed a career renaissance since signing with Bellator.

From 2015-2017, Machida lost three consecutive fights in UFC, and it looked as though his career might be winding down. Machida beat Eryk Anders and Vitor Belfort in his final two UFC fights, however, before defeating Rafael Carvalho in his Bellator debut last year and then getting past Sonnen on Friday.

Friday marked Sonnen's fifth fight in Bellator, and the results have been mixed thus far. On the heels of losing three of his final four UFC bouts, Sonnen joined Bellator in 2017 for Bellator 170.

Sonnen lost to Tito Ortiz on that card but followed it up with consecutive victories over Wanderlei Silva and Rampage Jackson. Fedor Emelianenko beat Sonnen by first-round TKO at Bellator 208 last year, though, and Sonnen now finds himself on a two-match losing streak.

Friday's contest represented a departure for Sonnen, who fought at heavyweight in his previous two outings. Sonnen spent most of his career in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, however.

While Machida and Sonnen did not main event Friday's MSG card, their name recognition and drawing power played a big role in drumming up interest. Their bout was also significant since the winner stood to potentially enter the title picture in the light heavyweight or middleweight division.

Middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi could be Machida's next opponent, which would represent a significant step up in competition for The Dragon his next time out.