Lyoto Machida: The Dragon Sleeps in Sao Paulo

This was not the fight I wanted to see. It was not the end I envisioned nor the return that Lyoto Machida had in mind. I showed up to Corner Alley on E 4th in downtown Cleveland 20 minutes into the Main card. As fate would have it, they had yet to start. Lucky me, I was in store for 6 matches that weren’t good enough to make it onto a PPV event. Actually, the card was not bad and I should not have been so dismissive.

Main Card

I am staring at the notes on my phone. I have a full breakdown of all the fights in the main event. Thorough notes. Well, as thorough as one can be when enjoying a vodka soda or two. Beverages notwithstanding, I stayed focused on the fights as they each were compelling for their own unique reasons. Yet, I don’t feel compelled to talk about those fights. Any of them. I know it can’t be true, but I may be just as dismayed as Lyoto Machida after last night. I’ll give it my best shot to give some analysis before discussing what no one will forget about UFC Fight Night 119 in Sao Paulo.

The Lineker v. Vera fight started out slow. Vera looked calm throughout the fight. There didn’t seem to be much action in this one. Though Vera was comfortable throughout, specially when standing up, Lineker was the constant aggressor. In the end, his persistence and aggressiveness gave him the unanimous decision.

The Santos v. Hermansson match-up was much more exciting. From the outset Thiago was in attack mode and did not really give Hermansson a chance to breathe. At the end of the first round Thiago assaulted Hermansson with a flurry vicious of punches that sent Hermansson down at the 4:59 mark. Thiago won the fight with one second remaining in the 1st round.

I wish I could say the same thing about the Jim Miller and Francisco Trinaldo fight. Miller had a couple of good right hands and some take down attempts and take downs. Unfortunately, he was unable to do much of anything and those take downs were wasted. Round 2 saw Trinaldo become the aggressor. He landed the heavier punches and was more active with his combinations, landing quite a few. I’m not sure I recall Miller throwing anything more than flailing right hands. Both fighters were really looking their age. A few times I felt as though they were going to topple over from exhaustion. Winded would be an understatement. They both made it to the 3rd round and Trinaldo continued to attack, throwing flying knees and more combos. Trinaldo was too much for Miller on this night. I just hope that they both retire after this.

Pedro Munhoz said he would finish Rob Font with a submission. He predicted it before the fight. Early on in the fight it wasn’t looking that way. font looked strong and comfortable standing up. It took almost halfway into the round before Munhoz started to look comfortable. He got so comfortable in fact, that he caught font with a left hook and sent him to the ground. Unlike his stand-up, Font’s ground game was lacking and within a few seconds of grappling, Munhoz submitted font via guillotine.

I was hopeful. I really was. I was also not so naive to think that Demian Maia did not have an uphill battle against Colby Covington. Maybe I am a fan of both Maia and Machida because they are quiet professionals, unlike Covington. I don’t know if what Covington represents is really American confidence and exuberance as much as it is immaturity. The buildup to this one was legit. For a brief moment I thought Maia was going to do it. He cut Covington over his right eye early and continued to connect, leaving Covington visible bloodied and a bit shaken. Unfortunately father time caught up with Demian. In the 2nd round Maia attempted 4 take downs and came away empty. Two minutes into the round and he was looking completely gassed. The 3rd round was all Colby’s. Demian was taking punishment and it came close to being stopped when they went to the ground towards the end of the fight and Colby continued to punish Maia. Saved by the bell. It definitely was not the finish I was hoping for from one of my all-time favorite fighters. Needless to say, Covington took the decision.

Is This the End of Lyoto Machida?

Lyoto Machida at UFC SaoPaulo
Image by Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports via MMA Fighting

This was supposed to be the come back. Almost 2 years had gone by and I had not seen the enigma that is Lyoto Machida fight. I was aware of the power that Derek Brunson carries and how dangerous he is. Still, my naivete caught up with me. Lyoto lasted an entire 2:30. Half a round.

It all started well. Machida, pushing 40, looking spry and as comfortable as ever. Maybe he was about to lay down some karate on Brunson and the karate kid would ride again. It was not meant to be. Early on, both fighters were feeling each other out, testing their range. Machida threw some shots that in the past may have knocked someone out, Brunson was unaffected. I was not panicking, but it gave me cause for concern. After some hesitation, they engaged once again and this time Brunson did not flinch. He caught Machida with a left to the chin that sent him backwards, thought he seemed to catch himself, but not fast enough. Brunson immediately followed with another left to the temple that dropped Machida and with lighting speed was on top of him beating him with ground and pound. A forearm to the head which he then used to pin Machida’s left arm down and 4 hard punches to the face, 3 of which happened after Machida was already asleep. There was no way for Brunson to know. It happened so fast that the referee himself couldn’t get in to prevent those additional vicious blows.

Will Lyoto Machida recover? I hope so. Unfortunately in this sport, that is usually how it ends for most of its warriors. I hope I haven’t seen the last of Lyoto Machida.


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