I know y’all think I’m on a hate-run with Lyoto Machida. Truth be told, it’s too bad he’s not as exciting in the cage as the conversations about him tend to get. Today we’ve got more fighters saying they don’t want to fight Machida – and bad news for Lyoto … it’s the two guys fighting over the light heavyweight belt:
It’s not going to be easy to book Machida’s fights going forward. The top guys have very little to gain by fighting him. If they lose a boring fight, it’s terrible for their reputation and drawing power, and if they beat him, the win doesn’t really do much besides boost their credibility among hardcore MMA fans. Even Quinton Jackson has given some signals of late that he is not interested in this fight. The other day he made it clear that he only wants to fight guys that come in and fight, not guys who run away.
Pleasing fans isn’t the only obstacle for Machida now. The next one is going to be convincing fighters that there is any upside at all in fighting him, because you need two signatures to finalize a fight contract.
After pulling a Clockwork Orange on myself and watching all his fights, I think I see a few potential ways to ‘crack’ Lyoto’s style:
Keep your distance: Lyoto’s ability to utilize the hit and run is based on a really good sense of distance … he’ll creep into your zone and drop a single kick or punch and then escape. If you’re mindful of this and stay one step outside, you’ll either have a boring match of epic proportions (very likely), or you’ll force him to break his gameplan and overextend himself (very unlikely).
Apply pressure: This is easier said than done. Guys like David Heath tried and failed to pull this off, eating punches, kicks, and knees every time with nothing but an armful of air for his efforts. But if you’re able to take his strikes and willing to accept that a decision will favor Machida, then you’re in a position to keep pushing the pressure. Cut off his angles, get him against the fence, and drag him down. This is probably the hardest method to beat Machida because it plays right into his style.
Playing possum: Lyoto stays on the outside except in the dying seconds of a round or when he thinks he has you hurt. So it goes to reason that the best way to tie Machida up on the ground is to trick him into following you there. Take a hit, crumple, and wait for him to jump on top of you. Sure, being on your back isn’t exactly the best place to be, but we’re just talking about getting Machida out of his ‘hit and run’ game. If Tito can nearly finish Machida with a triangle, then I’m sure someone with a good submission game can capitalize.