(I count 11 punches thrown and eight landed cleanly. That’s precision destruction. Props: MMA Core.)
You can pick your reason for being surprised with the results of last night’s Lyoto Machida-Rashad Evans title fight at UFC 98. If you expected Machida to win a less than thrilling five-round decision, you got to be completely shocked by seeing him turn into the guy who did the chasing for a change, as well as the guy who used Terminator-like accuracy to do the most damage with the least possible effort.
If you expected Evans to use his wrestling to control Machida – a position which sounded so rational in my own head just twenty-four hours ago – you got to be surprised for all the above reasons and more. Most likely your head is still spinning, and not just for lack of sleep.
Machida beat down a respected UFC champ (okay, one defending his title for the first time, but still) and made it look absurdly easy. He did it in a fashion that has us all wondering if the fighter who might eventually dethrone him has even been born yet. Just calling that performance ‘dominant’ doesn’t quite cut it. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Anderson Silva of two years ago, even as Anderson Silva fights like the Lyoto Machida of two years ago. I’m telling you, it’s spooky.
Remember when Silva destroyed Rich Franklin twice in the span of about a year, while also squeezing in finishes of Nate Marquardt and Travis Lutter? That was around the same time Machida racked up four consecutive decisions against guys like Vernon White, Sam Hoger, and David Heath – guys who he really should have been able to put away if he wanted to.
Now it’s 2009 and Silva who is the one who seems more concerned with not getting touched than with finishing a fight and Machida is the one beating on opponents as if they’re moving in slow motion.
This transformation is bizarre. It’s almost like that Kirk Cameron movie where the dad and son accidentally trade bodies, only this is actually entertaining. What makes it weirder is that since the two guys are friends you have to wonder to what extent they’ve influenced one another. If Silva made Machida want to be a finisher and Machida made Silva want to be an untouchable decision machine, does that mean this cycle will go on and on as they continue looking to one another for inspiration?
Let’s hope not. With Machida being hailed as a cross between Fedor and Alexander the Great this morning, maybe Silva will be forced to realize that finishing fights and avoiding damage aren’t mutually exclusive goals. Maybe he can reinvent himself as another Lyoto Machida once again and get back to putting people away just in time for what will come to be known as The Second Brazilian Renaissance of MMA.
Or maybe it’s some law of the universe that there can only be one untouchable bad-ass at a time. At least for the moment, Machida is it.