Without a doubt, former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida was robbed by the judges last weekend at UFC 163.

According to Fight Metric, the Brazilian landed more significant strikes throughout the fight and was able to successfully defend eight takedowns, while only getting taken down twice. Each of the takedowns happened late in the round and, in total, Phil Davis had less than two minutes of time on top without landing any significant ground-and-pound in the process.

However, although it appears as though Machida should have won the fight, hardly any reasonable fan out there truly feels as though he did enough to win the fight either. He only landed six more significant strikes than “Mr. Wonderful” and wasn’t even able to land more than 10 significant strikes in any of the three rounds. The only statistic that “The Dragon” was able to dominate was takedown defense. However, in an offensive sport like MMA, getting one takedown in five attempts tends to score more for the fighter taking their opponent down than the other way around.

Anyone who has ever tuned in to a UFC broadcast will be able to repeat the lines uttered by commentator Mike Goldberg at the start of each event, saying that judges score each round based on effective striking, grappling, aggression and Octagon control. Although Machida was effective in his striking, he didn’t really dominate any other aspect of the fight. The reason behind it all is that he is an elite counter-striker. It is all well and good that Machida is a feared counter-striker, but what good does it do him if all he does is sit back and wait, rather than press forward and drive the action? At some point, the Brazilian needs to press forward, control the distance and land strikes while being offensive, not defensive. Currently, his style is his own worst enemy.

Sitting back and setting up his opponent is what vaulted the Team Black House fighter to the top of the rankings to begin with, but taking that approach to beating Sam Hoger, David Heath and Kazuhiro Nakamura is different than doing that against the top-10 talent he has been facing since winning the title in 2009. That style worked in his first 16 fights, through which he remained undefeated, but from there he has gone 3-4, dropping two of those contests by decision.

The odd part about Machida and his approach is that he is a black belt in jiu-jitsu, in addition to karate. However, his fixation with counter-striking has put him in the classification of a one-trick-pony. A lot of times, fighters who are only versed in one aspect of martial arts struggle in the Octagon due to the high-caliber level of fighters that will oppose them. An elite jiu-jitsu fighter is exposed when they cannot get the fight to the ground, whereas holding boxing titles won’t do a fighter any good if he can’t get off his back or defend a takedown. Machida is really hurting his cause by relying on his opponent to open a window of opportunity, rather than pressing forward and creating one for himself or engaging his opponent on the ground and using his grappling prowess to win fights.

At the end of the day, the victory over Davis was stolen from “The Dragon” by the judges. However, had Machida won, would anyone out there feel as though he deserved the upcoming title shot against the winner of the fight between champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson? It’s doubtful. Parlay this into the fact that he has looked this way in his split decision victory against Dan Henderson, and you have a fighter who all of a sudden went from being someone you never want to miss fight to one you don’t mind passing over.

Mixed Martial Arts is an offensive sport. If you’re not on the offense, you’re on defense, even if you’re setting your opponent up for something. If you’re on defense, the wins won’t come as easily. That’s something Machida needs to realize if he wants to get back to his winning ways.

Photo: Lyoto Machida (L) takes on Phil Davis at UFC 163 (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.