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Lyoto Machida: “I think it’s best for me to focus on this fight and I’ll welcome whatever comes to me in the future.”

A year ago former UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida was viewed as being close to unbeatable based on his polished approach to MMA and a unique style of stand-up allowing him to dish out damage while receiving little in return. However, after losing his belt by way of first-round knockout to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua last May, questions began to surface about whether or not his reputation had been built more on hype than actual ability.

Machida will have a chance to answer his critics in a little more than two weeks when he faces another former 205-pound champion, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, at UFC 123 just outside of Detroit, Michigan. “The Dragon” recently spoke to Tatame about his upcoming bout with Jackson, as well as his experience recently training at a well-known American gym and a number of other subjects relating to his future.

“I always think for a MMA fight, despite the specialties of each fighter, you have to be prepared for anything, because we can never know what the guy is up to,” Machida responded when asked about how he is approaching the headlining affair. “A guy who doesn’t know how to kick may be kicking on the following fight – you can’t tell for sure. The need leads the frog to a jump.”

“We have many examples of people who are good on areas that aren’t their specialties,” he continued. “Georges St. Pierre has improved his wrestling a lot – people that didn’t kick are now kicking and so it goes…I don’t underestimate any fighter. I think that, just as I’m prepared for anything during the fight, so are they: the stand-up game, the takedowns and the ground game. Of course we have our game plan set…our strong point is karate and the exchanges, but if we need to use the other skills, we will do the takedowns and the ground game…”

When questioned on whether or not he anticipates to stand more than defend Jackson’s takedowns, Machida stated, “I think that Jackson always comes for the striking, independently of his opponent…He always tries to impose his game, so it’ll be up to me because he’ll try to use his boxing and I have to try to block his game and impose mine.”

However, while Machida’s immediate attention is on Jackson, he acknowledged not only his interest in eventually breaking the 1-1 tie between himself and Rua but the possibility of eventually mixing it up with relative youngsters Jon Jones and/or Ryan Bader.

“Of course,” he replied on the subject of the twenty-somethings. “I believe that this new generation is a really conditioned generation, (and) has begun to build the pillars for being a great fighter…they’re great athletes that are popular and now me, Rashad Evans, Rampage and Shogun will have to face those guys.”

On the subject of a rubber-match between himself and Rua, the 32-year old made it clear his current focus is only on “Rampage”, saying, “I think one step at a time. People talk about Shogun and I don’t keep thinking about Shogun – he’s long gone now. Now I have to think about my next challenge because sometimes we keep thinking about the future, but we can’t even make the next step, so I think I have to be prepared and I can’t underestimate anyone. Now I’ll have to face Jackson and there are many factors to consider before I have a title shot. I think it’s best for me to focus on this fight and I’ll welcome whatever comes to me in the future.”

Machida also spoke about having recently spent some time at American Kickboxing Academy – home to a number of respected UFC competitors – and how it was to work alongside UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez.

“It’s not the first time I’ve trained (at) AKA – it’s the second time I went to train there. I’ve spent three weeks training there and I think it’s really important that you train along with guys who are fighting on the same level as you…Velasquez was a nice guy to me from the start – he’s shown me his game and (when) I left there I knew he had a great chance of becoming the champion.”

Machida is 16-1 with victories in the first sixteen fights of his career including notable wins over Tito Ortiz, the afore-mentioned Evans, and Thiago Silva, as well as a somewhat controversial unanimous decision over “Shogun” at UFC 104 a little more than a year ago.

PHOTO CREDIT – UFC

16 COMMENTS
  • Kamakosmo says:

    “Welcome to the Machida ERA!!”…..LOL

    If Rampage turns back into “Rampage” (which we’ve all wanted for a looong time now), he should be able to bullrush Machida. If he comes in with a gameplan like he did with Griffin/Evans, Machida will pick him apart.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  • Swing Em says:

    I don’t like Machida’s chances in this one unless he can avoid being hit at all. Rampage just needs to land one punch & it’s over!

    however if “the Dragon” can frustrate Jackson and strike around him like he’s done to so many people before i think he can pull out a Decision.

    I’m going with Rampage by KO in the 2nd round after a “feeling out process” in the 1st.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 12

  • boomnutz says:

    I’ll never say nothing will happen in MMA, but this is BADDDD fight for Rampage, he even said so himself and i don’t think he even wanted this fight. He has to come in here and threaten with a clinch or takedown…if he doesn’t he really doesn’t have much of a chance, other than the “lucky” shot (i only say lucky for lack of better description). Rampage does his best work inside with punches and as we all know, Lyoto NEVER stays in the pocket long. I like Rampage a lot, but this is just a bad fight for him…I’m still wishing we got to see Rampage Forrest 2

    Well-Done. Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  • MCM says:

    I know I’ll get tons of thumbs down for this…..But Rampage is just not that impressive a fighter. Machida has good submissions, KO power, is elusive on the feet and has pin point accuracy in his striking. Rampage has a right hook that is more hype than power and that’s all he’s got. Rampage made a name for himself off of one man…Chuck Liddell.
    Look at it this way, Dec loss to Rashad (whom Machida KO’d), Dec Win over the glass jawed Jardine, KO win over Wandy (who had only won 1 fight in 2 years at the time), Dec Loss to Forrest (also not known for his chin), Dec over Hendo, and the KO over Chuck. Before that most of his tough fights he either lost or it went to a Split Dec. Take out the Chuck wins and you’ve got a guy that is a tough fighter but at best pushes the bottom of the top ten.
    I don’t think Machida will be able to finish Rampage (like i said, he’s a tough fighter), but I don’t see anyway he losses this fight. Machida via UD.

    Well-Done. Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  • Angry Mike says:

    Rampage is right if he said this was a bad match up for him. He doesn’t use his wrestling enough, so he winds up fighting as a headhunting striker. That’s a bad game plan for an elusive striker like Machida. The only question mark for me is Machida’s confidence. He looked timid in the rematch with Shogun. You have to fight to win, and he was fighting not to lose. If he doesn’t let his hands go, he can’t win regardless of whom he’s fighting.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  • G-DUB says:

    It would be difficult to state this definitively, but all evidence points to Rampage being on the downside of his MMA career. I suspect he will always have that incredible raw power, but his skills were never top-notch to begin with and age and lack-of-discipline have probably diminished his good-given talents even further.
    There is really only one way for Rampage to win this fight …. brutal or flash KO. However unlikely, I’d be thrilled to have him prove me wrong against Machida.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  • Dufresne says:

    Rampage’s best chance in this fight is to bully Machida and get him pressed up against the cage or on his back on the mat. If he tries to stand with him I see it going a lot like his loss to Forrest.

    I really wish Rampage would get away from that Wolfslair gym and get somewhere that will focus on his strengths instead of apparently ignoring them. He’s a powerful guy with great wrestling and yet I can’t remember the last time I saw him use his wrestling in any way except to keep the fight standing.

    Well-Done. Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  • Makington says:

    His wrestling was fantastic against Hendo, except he did use it more defensively for the most part but had some sick sweeps. I don’t remember if that was before or after the Wolfslair move though. That’s the most recent I can think except that was quite a long time ago lol. Rampage has stopped impressing anyone for the past few years unfortunately. He hasn’t fought like a champ and I think Machida will be able to expose him in every area of the fight. He still has that charisma that not only makes you want to see him fight, but also makes you usually want to see him win but if he was anyone else he’d be in serious danger of being cut if he loses. Like most Pride fighters, it’s just gotten too late in his career and it’s almost impossible to keep up with the youth and technique that the new generation is bringing…and wrestling. Lots and lots of wrestling.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  • Rece Rock says:

    This fight sells strictly on name and branding appeal alone… take the fighters names off the top and on paper this fight is not a main event fight…this bullshit will probably go the distance and basically be Machida picking apart Rampage here and there just to out point him and Rampage becoming frustrated… I hope for a Rampage TKO but I think we see a UD snore fest… just my opinion.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  • boomnutz says:

    Duff, you make a great point, ever since he left his old coach….can’t remember his name Ibarra??? anyway, def. should switch camps…

    angry mike, maybe i’m wrong but i think most people would agree that Machida came into that fight MORE aggressive than normal, knowing he had to do more than the last fight to win, and the aggression cost him the fight

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  • danw84 says:

    I know Rampage is incredibly popular and used to win big fights, but personally I feel he’s one of the most overrated fighters in the UFC. Up there with Mir.

    Don’t get me wrong, while I don’t like Rampage as a person, I love watching a fighter who goes out there trying to just beat the other guy to unconciousness. I just don’t think the rest of his game is anywhere near being good enough to justify 5oz’s 4th place lhw ranking of him. Like MCM said, he hasn’t exactly been impressive out there except against Wanderlei since Chuck, and somewhat against Hendo.

    Anyway, Lyoto isn’t stupid, he’s gonna be elusive and whatever it is he does, but I think this should be a good fight. I just don’t see Rampage taking it.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • BigDave says:

    Is BA barackus fighting again? Did that movie even come out or did it go straight to video.

    Oh well lets get to it then. Runpage his a single skill fighter, that being a good punch. Problem is that punch doesnt stand a chance of landing unless lyoto is blindfolded for the fight and even then it would be a lucky shot.

    Machida is gonna put on a clinic in this fight and barely break a sweat.

    Lyoto by RNC rd 1

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  • Rece Rock says:

    Rankings are subjective…a phrase over used in forums but never the less the truth…..The Rankings on most sites are outdated and even if they weren’t it’s not the law of the land to begin with.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • mu_shin says:

    In sync with aspects of Angry Mike and Dunfresne’s arguments.

    Thought Machida was not himself in the second Shogun fight, felt tentative and put himself at risk in ways he had not done in the past. Wondered if the rarely mentioned hand surgery he had undergone had gotten into his head, as he knew Shogun well from the first fight and from training with him in their younger days, but did not exude the sharpness and almost psychic defensive skills he has shown in previous fights.

    While Rampage is not at the top of the list for technical precision and well rounded abilities, he certainly has proven to be dangerous if he does his preparation well, and keeps his head in the fight. If he were to side-step the head hunting game and try to maul Machida in the clinch and on the ground, if he could catch him and put him there, I think Rampage’s full body strength and wrestling abilities could present real problems for Machida.

    Out front as a huge Machida fan, if Lyoto comes in trim, sharp, and on his game, I see him picking Rampage apart from the outside, slipping the big right hand of Jackson, and peppering Rampage into a bloody mess with precision striking. Personally, for me a knockout finish is only one way to win, as a clear dominance to unanimous decision would be just as satisfying. Looking to see Machida get back to his winning ways, and compete again at the highest level.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    I agree that he needs to get away from the wolf’s lair. I’m sorry but Kongo and Bisping have looked pretty ave at times and their game plans lacked logic.
    Rampage would be well served to go and train at Blackhouse with Dos Santos, Silva and the Nogs. I think both would get a lot from his addition to the team.
    As for this fight, well you never know but I think it is going to be a little humbling when Machida gets his hand raised with hardly a mark on him.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Niv says:

    On paper Machida is the more polished fighter and should be favoured to win, but there’s a huge question mark regarding Machida that’s going to get answered here.

    On my ledger Machida has lost his last two fights, with the last one in devastating fashion.

    The question here is, where’s Machida’s confidence and how will his previous two fights affect his next one?

    Will he go back to his backpedaling and fighting from way outside, will he be the guy who was more committed (ie, Evans, Thiago Silva), or will he get desperate and try and bang with Rampage?

    This fight is intriguing on many levels and we should have a few answers as to where Machida is at by the end of it as well.

    I’m going against the grain and picking Rampage as I think Machida’s psyche may be damaged.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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