Was Lyoto Machida’s UFC FN 36 Performance Title Shot Worthy? “The Dragon” Says Yes
By FCF Staff
If Lyoto Machida had taken out Gegard Mousasi in highlight reel fashion, last night at UFC FN 36, chances are the calls for him to fight for the middleweight belt next, would be a little bit louder today. After all, if you caught a pre-fight ad, then you know the promotion wanted to make sure you’re aware Machida finishes fights.
Following his head kick win over Mark Munoz in October, however, the stage was certainly set for “The Dragon” to lock up the #1 contender spot. So, did Machida do so? Despite the fact he needed the judge’s scorecards to record his 21st win? Many will likely argue yes.
Once again, Machida demonstrated why he is one of the toughest fights on the planet, due to his elusive footwork, and diverse striking attacks. Despite the abilities of Mousasi, who has long been regarded as one of the sport’s best, he too was unable to land any fight threatening blows.
“The high kicks from Machida were just perfect,” FOX Sports 1 commentator and former bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz noted after the card. “That dictated the fight. Machida does what he always does. He’s smart, he uses his footwork so well and he never sits still. His left hand and high kick just hold people off. You can’t do anything to him from the outside or the inside position.”
“We knew it would be an extremely technical battle between the two of them,” fellow FOX Sports analyst and UFC vet Brian Stann added. “The kicks of Machida were a factor all night long. The quickness of Machida was very impressive. He moved really well. Gegard is a tough fighter.”
While the bout was largely spent on its feet, as most expected would be the case, Machida also showcased another side to his comprehensive and puzzling game.
“Machida continues to evolve,” Cruz noted. “He attempted three takedowns and he never goes for takedowns. It’s very difficult to fight him. He does everything just right. He uses kicks, then jabs and can switch stance. He fights in a southpaw stance, but circles to the left, which is completely wrong, but it works.”
The 35 year-old revealed after the bout, however, that he did not escape injury free.
“I don’t know what happened. I did some kicking and he defended with his knee. I don’t know if I broke my foot,” Machida revealed after the five round fight. “I didn’t think about my foot during the fight, I just tried to keep my focus on the fight. He’s a tough opponent. But he kept his hand down. I saw I could kick his head, leg and body. I had confidence in my kicks.”
For striking enthusiasts, the bout wasn’t short of memorable moments, even if it didn’t deliver a crowd buzzing finish and came on a night when ten fights went to the judge’s scorecards.
Now it remains to be seen whether it was a good enough performance to give Machida the winner of the upcoming, May 24th scrap between middleweight champ Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort. When one considers Machida’s abilities, accomplishments and name recognition with mainstream fans, chances are it was.
“I don’t know,” said Machida, while discussing whether he believes a title shot is coming. “Dana White is the boss and can decide everything. I think I deserve the title shot. We’ll see.”