I was doing play by play during the co-main event, and admittedly it is difficult to do the write up of the fight and score the bouts at the same time. When Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson fought at UFC 157: Rousey Vs Carmouche to a decision I had pretty much the same score as the judges, and in fact I had scored the last round a draw. On the Fighters.com score card, Machida was the winner with a score of 30-28.
It wasn’t shocking to hear the boos from the fans in the arena, but the feedback on social media sites was that Henderson was screwed out of decision. That caught me off guard. People must have short memories when it comes to this sport, because what you saw on Saturday night at the Honda Center is exactly what makes Machida so good.
Machida has the ability to make good fighters look awful. He doesn’t do it by pounding them into oblivion, which he is definitely capable of doing, but he does it by not being anywhere near the punches of his opponents. Henderson is a great fighter, and dare I say a future UFC Hall of Famer, but Machida made him look silly by making him miss so much. His elusiveness is what prompted UFC Commentator Joe Rogan into screaming “Welcome to the Machida era” when he defeated Rashad Evans for his title.
When expert strikers fight Machida they run and try to brawl with him, and he historically picks them apart. When he fights wrestlers, he uses kicks and punches to keep his opponents on the outside, and that’s exactly what happened to Henderson on Saturday night. Henderson couldn’t get anywhere near Machida to land the big shot, barring one or two punches, and he didn’t do enough to win.
When Mauricio Rua defeated Machida everyone thought that the code had been cracked, and that it was all but a downhill slide for Machida. Machida’s win against Ryan Bader, and his win against Dan Henderson at UFC 157, are great examples as to why that is not the case. Machida will now face the winner of Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen for the light heavyweight title, and while the Machida era isn’t as impossible as Rogan made it out be, you better believe if he rematches Jon Jones he will fight differently. Lyoto Machida uses footwork and space like no other in MMA, and he should be heralded for it. Not jeered.
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