The dust is finally settling following the close of UFC 157, which took place this past Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Several exciting fights embraced the night’s spotlight including the history setting performance put on by Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche, a fight that ended with Rousey successfully defending her title via arm-bar submission in the first round. However, the second most anticipated fight of the night, a number one contender fight between Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida, did not live up to the hype. Machida won the fight by split decision in another lackluster performance of defensive fighting. Henderson pushed the pace the entire fight and Machida countered with knees and kicks as Hendo tried to close the distance.
Although it was clear that Lyoto Machida won the fight by landing a few more flush strikes than Henderson (I could count the amount of strikes landed on one hand), the performance did not impress many fans or other fighters, including the next light-heavyweight title contender, Chael Sonnen. At the conclusion of the fight card Sonnen spoke out about Machida and what he thought about his performance on the UFC 157 post-fight show on FUEL TV;
“Does Lyoto Machida deserve another title shot? Absolutely. Is he a great fighter? Absolutely. I’m in on the business; I’m in on the pay-per-view (PPV). So is Jon Jones, but neither of us want to fight him because he can’t draw flies. That’s the bottom line. He got booed tonight; he got booed in his last fight. I can’t sellout an arena with you; I can’t sell PPV’s with you. I’m not giving him the shot. Alexander Gustaffson, Gegard Mousasi, step up and I’ll take the winner.”
In a business that is made possible by being exciting and drawing numbers it is essential for a fighter to always strive to put on a good show for the fans. Machida, although he is very talented and a master of his craft in karate, is far from a fan favorite. Even in most of his KO victories the fight is very slow and uneventful until he lands the one counter strike that ends the fight. The problem with that style is that when you don’t land that one strike that can end the fight or you face someone with a jaw of steel like Dan Henderson the fight will most likely be boring and deemed a dud. In my opinion this type of classification for Machida is just as bad as all the wrestlers that get blasted for winning decisions through lay-and-pray, only in a less dominant fashion because Machida doesn’t even win with octagon control or dominating positions. If you’re going to hate on the Jon Fitch’s of the MMA world then you also have to hate the style of the Lyoto Machida’s. Machida is a great counter-striker, a style that is great for self-defense, but this is a prize fight not a self-defense class; press the action and make something happen for the fans.
Sonnen, who is one of the greatest of all time at drawing a crowd to a fight, will not ultimately have the final say in who he fights but he does make many valid points that the UFC may want to consider. First, however, in order for Sonnen to even have a chance to defend the title he’ll have to get through the current champion and undefeated phenom, Jonny “Bones” Jones. Those two will square off at UFC 159 on April 27th, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.
So, after witnessing another defensive fight displayed by Lyoto Machida, do the fans agree with Sonnen? Does Machida deserve the next crack at the UFC light heavyweight strap or should “The Dragon” have to prove himself in a far more exciting performance first? Let’s hear it Penn Nation!