Lyoto Machida – Karate Fighter in the UFC
Get it while it’s up – Lyoto Machida vs Sugar Rashad Evans – http://www.mma-core.com/videos/_Lyoto_Machida_vs_Rashad_Evans_UFC_98?vid=10005048&tid=100
Sometimes these fights are taken down due to legal purposes, but if you check it out asap you’ll get to see one of the greatest demonstrations of karate in The Octogan ever recorded.
I know the last post was about MMA too, but I figured this was worth mentioning. If you haven’t been following, Lyoto Machida is a Shotokan stylist who has been making waves in the UFC. Machida is an extremely well rounded karate fighter who also holds a black belt in BJJ (click here for his dvd set).
I wasn’t paying close attention to Machida’s progress until I read an excellent analysis of his role in the UFC over at Way of Least Resistance. Dan goes into much deeper detail than I intend to about Machida’s overall fighting style and how it is being received.
For me personally, I didn’t expect to see much of a difference between Machida and other UFC fighters. I figured his background was being hyped up, but that his overall approach would be the same as everyone elses. After seeing the fight video I can tell you my mind has been changed.
Machida uses some classic karate strategies that thrilled me when I saw them in action. His stancing, control of distance, timing, and techniques were beautifully karate. At one point (around 6:20) he throws a perfect straight punch that had trademark retraction, leaving the bulk of the force in Rashad and knocking him for a loop.
Evans, who has never before lost a fight in the UFC, was completely baffled at trying to find range. His techniques whiffed because Machida placed his body in a forward zenkutsu style stance, which oriented his head differently to his front leg than what boxers are accostomed to.
Machida’s kicks came with exceptionally small telegraphing. In the UFC, Muay Thai kicking has become prevelant and that usually entails front foot movement and hip opening for huge amounts of power. Without that telegraph, Machida was able to land big kicks.
So is Karate the Ultimate Style Again?
I think a lot of karate people are getting excited about Machida, which is annoying a lot of MMA people (and rightfully so in some cases). Lyoto is an exceptional fighter with great all around experience and it is my hope that he is respected as an individual rather than a cardboard cut-out of karate. I happen to know that a lot of karate people do not train the way he does, and would be trying to ride serious coattails by suggesting Machida is a representative of what all karateka can do.
That being said, the people that are downplaying Machida’s style are drinking a little bit of haterade. There is definite karate in Lyoto and it is proving to be extremely effective.