Caption contest! Post your best one-liner in the comments!
All joking aside, Machida’s loss raises some serious questions. Throughout his career, and especially before the rematch with Shogun, Lyoto has had his critics. Just before the fight, an interesting article published by Jake Rossen (Sherdog.com) explains:
“Much will be made this week on whether or not Rua can make additional adjustments to figure out Machida’s style. If the first fight is an indication, it’s Machida who needs to worry about figuring out Rua’s. If he can do that, and decisively finish a man who gave him such trouble, it will be another episode in a storied career. If he cannot, then karate will fall into the same suffocating fate as every dynamic new method of professional fighting to come before it: It will become familiar.”
Was familiarity the issue in this fight? It seems to me like Machida was figuring out Shogun: he avoided leg kicks better than in their first bout, scored a few takedowns, and was landing knees up until the very end. The problem was that Machida, in his efforts to vindicate himself from the poorly-decided first fight, was way over aggressive. He abandoned his defensive style and feared “leaving the fight in the hands of the judges.”
Here’s the fight–sorry for the poor quality. If you skip to about 3:40, you’ll see the beginning of the end for Lyoto. The angle is a little off, and the action is really fast, but you can see that he was really gunning for Rua here. At about 4:50 you can see a replay that shows Lyoto’s mistake: in his haste, he lead with a reverse karate punch–a primarily defensive move. This concept isn’t exclusive to karate. How often does a boxer lead with a cross? Even when throwing a reverse punch on the attack, most karateka will do something to distract their opponent. Machida just dove in with a chambered punch. His face was wide open.
I don’t mean to over-analyze Machida’s performance. I certainly don’t mean to criticize him. He’s my favorite fighter! But it’s plain to see that the his style in this match is a complete turnaround from the ever-evasive, switch-kicking, couter-striking master that became the UFC champ. It seems that karate hasn’t abandoned Lyoto Machida, Lyoto Machida abandoned karate.
I think this is temporary. The Machida family are geniuses for adapting Shotokan to MMA; however, becoming too aggressive to impress the fans and the judges is a mistake. I expect them to right the wagon and for Lyoto to get back to his roots.
What do you think? Weigh in here.