On Saturday night, we will see Lyoto Machida  return to the cage to face Yoel Romero in the main event of UFC Fight Night 70 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

In this middleweight fight we could either send the winner into title talks or we could see Machida dropping fast in the rankings. At one time, when Machida was an undefeated light heavyweight who just defeated Rashad Evans for the light heavyweight belt, UFC commentator Joe Rogan stated ” Welcome to the Machida Era”. Machida would only defend his belt one time in a very controversal fight with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, before an immediate rematch where Rua would KO Machida in the first round with heavy ground-and-pound and take away the belt from a man most considered unbeatable. Let’s take a look at the career of Machida and see if we can understand why “the Machida era” never really happened.

Born in Salvador, Brazil, on May 30, 1978, to his Brazilian mother, Ana Claudia, and his Japanese father, Yoshizo Machida. Growing up in Belém, Machida began training in karate at three years old and earned his black belt at the age of 13. He also began training in sumo at seven and Brazilian jiu-jitsu at sixteen. He won a number of amateur karate tournaments, including the 2001 Pan American Karate tournament. Later, he traveled to Thailand to study Muay Thai, to Japan to study grappling, and finally to United States to pursue his UFC career.

On May 2, 2003, he defeated Kengo Watanabe by decision in his professional début on a card promoted by New Japan Pro Wrestling in Tokyo. During his early fights, he competed under the name of Lyoto or Ryoto. In his second fight, he defeated future UFC Hall of Famer, Stephan Bonnar, by technical knockout due to a cut in the inaugural event promoted by Jungle Fight in Manaus, Brazil. This was Bonnar’s first professional loss.

On Dec. 31, 2003, he took part in Inoki’s annual event Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003, where he fought future UFC Middleweight Champion, Rich Franklin in an catchweight bout. Machida defeated Franklin via TKO in the second round. This was also Franklin’s first professional defeat.

Machida would go on to win his next three fights with the most notable vistory over former UFC welterweight champion, B.J. Penn on March 26, 2005, in Saitama at Hero’s 1 in an openweight match. Machida weighed in at 102.0 kg (224.9 lbs) while Penn weighed in at 86.5 kg (191 lbs). Machida won by unanimous decision.

Feb. 3, 2007, Machida would make his UFC début at UFC 67 All or Nothing where he would have his hands raised in a match against Sam Hogar by unanimous decision. Machida would win his next two fight also by unanimous decision. Machida would then face light heavyweight stand out Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at UFC 79 on Dec. 29, 2007. Machida would have his hand raised after a second round triangle choke submission.

The next fight for Machida was set up by UFC president Dana White in what was supposed to be Tito Ortiz’s last fight in the UFC. At the time, Ortiz and White were not getting along and White wanted to see Ortiz punished before he departed. This was a back and forth fight with Machida landing a knee to the liver of Ortiz in the third that would send Ortiz to the ground. Machida tried to finish the fight, but Ortiz held on and the fight would go to decision with Machida once again having his hand raised.

In the co-main event of UFC 94, Machida faced fellow undefeated Brazilian contender, Thiago Silva. The two were originally scheduled to meet at UFC 89, but a back injury forced Silva to withdraw from the contest. UFC President, Dana White, indicated in the pre-fight press conference that Machida would receive a title shot with a victory. Machida was able to knock down Silva twice during the first round before ultimately knocking him out after tripping him and jumping in landing the knockout punch at 4:59 of the first round, scoring his first UFC knockout victory and winning his first Knockout of the Night bonus award.

Machida would get his title shot against light heavyweight champion, Rashad Evans, in another clash of undefeated fighters on the main event of UFC 98. Machida scored an early knockdown in the first round and ultimately knocked Evans out with a flurry of punches at 3:57 of the second round, becoming the tenth UFC light heavyweight champion. His performance earned him ‘Knockout of the Night’ honors with a $60,000 bonus for the second time. After the fight Joe Rogan said in a very convincing tone “welcome to the Machida era”.

Machida’s first title defense would come against 2005 Pride Fighting Middleweight Grand Prix winner Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The bout took place on Oct. 24, 2009, at UFC 104, with Machida winning by unanimous decision, 48–47 from all three judges, with one stating that Machida “landed the more damaging strikes throughout the fight” and was the more “effective aggressor”. This fight would come with a lot of controversy behind the decision. Because of the controversy surrounding the close decision, on May 8, 2010, at UFC 113 in Montreal, Canada, Machida and Rua rematched, seven months after their original fight. In the much anticipated rematch, both fighters started aggressively and scored significant points in striking exchanges. While the two traded punches, Rua swerved to avoid a left straight from Machida and landed a powerful counter overhand right to the temple, which knocked Machida down. Rua then took the full mount and proceeded to knock Machida out with ground-and-pound, making him the new light heavyweight champion at 3:35 of round 1, with Machida suffering his first MMA career loss.

With his first loss on his record, we would get to see Machida face Quinton “Rampage” Jackson where Machida would loss a split decision to Rampage in what would be his second loss in a row. Machida was then set to face UFC Hall of Famer, Randy Couture, on April 30, 2011, at UFC 129. UFC President, Dana White, had indicated that Machida was under pressure to perform in his upcoming bout against Couture, saying, “this is a must-win for him.” Machida defeated Couture via KO with a jumping front kick to the face at 1:02 of the second round, earning his third Knockout of the Night bonus.

Machida would get his title shot once again. This time facing Jon “Bones Jones at UFC 140. Machida would hurt Jones in the first to only be battered and damaged in the second round by Jones vicious elbows. Jones would get a standing guillotine choke against the fence that would render Machida unconscious.

Machida would go on to face and defeat Ryan Bader and Dan Henderson then he would lose once again to Phil Davis in what was a very contriversal win for Davis. After the fight, Machida would decide to drop weight and take a run at the middleweight belt.

Machida’s first fight at middleweight would be against his friend and training partner, Mark Muñoz, on Oct. 26, 2013, at UFC Fight Night 30, replacing Muñoz’s original opponent Michael Bisping, who was forced out of the bout with an eye injury. Machida defeated Muñoz via head kick KO at the 3:10 mark of the first round, earning him his fourth Knockout of the Night award. Machida was praised for demonstrating class and sportsmanship by not throwing any more punches to the grounded Muñoz after knocking him down before the referee stopped the fight.

In his second bout in the middleweight division, Machida returned to Brazil and faced former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, Gegard Mousasi, in the main event of UFC Fight Night 36. Machida won the fight via unanimous decision after five rounds, also earning his second ‘Fight Of The Night’ bonus award.

Machida was then expected to get a title shot against the winner of the UFC 173 fight between UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman, and Vitor Belfort. However, after Belfort withdrew from the bout on Feb. 28, 2014, it was announced that Machida would replace him in the main event UFC 173 on May 24, 2014. On this date, it was revealed that Weidman would need to undergo knee surgery. The title fight with Weidman was rescheduled and eventually took place at UFC 175 on July 5, 2014. Machida lost the fight via unanimous decision. Despite losing on the scorecards, Machida earned his third ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus award for his performance.

Up next for Machida would be C.B. Dollaway at UFC Fight Night 58. Machida won the fight via TKO only 62 seconds into the first round after landing a body kick that dropped Dollaway, finishing him with a barrage of punches that forced the referee to stop the fight. Machida also earned a ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus award.

Machida would the face rising star Luke Rockhold for what many thought would be another title eliminator bout. Machida would once again feel the agony of defeat after being badly hurt in the first round by a devastating elbow to the side of his head that he would never recover from. Rockhold secured a choke hold in the beginning of the second round that would force the ” Dragon” to tap.

Saturday we will get to see if Machida can once again get back in the winning column of if he will put another loss on his record. So the question is what was this “Machida Era” that Joe Rogan was talking about? I am a huge fan of the “Dragon” and I do hope he can secure the win this Saturday, but at 37 years of age, does he still have what it takes to compete with these younger, stronger, faster fighters? Maybe the “Machida Era” is just beginning, or maybe it never was. Either way this will be a great match when the “Dragon” faces Romero in the 5 round main event.

 

About The Author

Jeremiah York
Staff Writer

In 1993 at 16 years old my Mom let me order UFC #1 on PPV. Then and there my life changed! To find a sport that put man against man, skill against skill in the rawest form was absolutely amazing! My love for MMA was found and I have been following all aspects of Combat Sports since. If I'm not traveling to watch fights I am studying and catching up on everything MMA at home. I am a Denver Native, but I live in TX now where the fight scene is booming! When I'm not watching and dissecting fights I'm out in the market selling beer as the TX Area Sales Manager for Uinta Brewing.