39-Year-Old UFC Middleweight 23-8-0
February 20, 2018 Lyoto Machida News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
Machida will take on fellow Brazilian Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort in a middleweight matchup at UFC 224 on May 12 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Machida squeaked out a split decision over Eryk Anders back on Feb. 3, picking up his first victory with the promotion since December 2014. "The Dragon" is a long way from competing against ranked UFC middleweights, and will be nearly 40 years old when he enters the Octagon in May. Both fighters are nearing the end of the line in legendary MMA careers, and it seems likely that each of them will hang up the gloves after this matchup -- win or lose. Ten years ago this fight would have been one of the best the promotion could make, but now each fighter is fading fast, and is under the restrictions of USADA drug testing as well. Determining the winner here will likely come down to which UFC legend has more left in the tank, or simply a matter of who lands the first power shot. Also noteworthy is that Belfort is a product of Rio de Janeiro, negating any home field advantage Machida may have had fighting in front of a Brazilian crowd.
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Fantasy AnalysisThis was a very questionable decision. Machida appeared to win the first round with his motion on the outside. However, after that round, he had a lot of trouble avoiding power shots from Anders. While he moved around on the outside, he simply did not have enough offense to win rounds. The judges thought differently and awarded him the decision. Machida really needed this win. He had dropped three-straight fights and had not won since 2014.
Fantasy AnalysisMachida hasn't been on the winning end of a fight since 2014, and his most recent trip to the Octagon did not end well. After a long layoff, "The Dragon" was booked against Derek Brunson, who beat him handily via first-round KO. Now past the 60-day medical suspension he was given by CABMMA, Machida will again get an opportunity to fight in his home country of Brazil. He may be nearing the end of the road at 39 years old, but will get an opportunity to go out on top against a 30-year-old that has just two UFC fights under his belt.
Fantasy AnalysisIn his first bout back after an 18-month suspension, Machida didn't put up much of a fight. Brunson clipped him with a left hook that led to the KO finish (punches) at 2:30 of Round 1. The former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion dropped to 22-8 overall as a result of the loss. CABMMA also gave Machida a 60-day medical suspension unless cleared earlier by a physician.
Fantasy AnalysisAs you can tell by the result, Machida's first fight since July 2015 didn't go well. He was clipped by a wild left hook from Brunson that led to the state of affairs that ended the contest. Machida was also left to absorb three or four unnecessary, vicious shots due to the incompetence of referee Osiris Maia. Facing an explosive athlete like Brunson is a tough matchup for a 39-year-old who hasn't fought in nearly two and a half years. Machida hasn't been around obviously but he has lost three fights in a row and his last win came in December 2014 over C.B. Dollaway. "The Dragon" said he felt great leading up to the fight so it's hard to believe that he walks away after a loss like this, but the end is near for the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
Fantasy AnalysisMachida ends his 18-month USADA suspension earlier in October, but UFC brass will not hesitate to capitalize on his name recognition and get a fight in the works as soon as possible. His opponent is an incredibly tough draw, as Machida will square off against a younger and more athletic fighter that has seen some of the best the middleweight division has to offer of late. Technically, Brunson has lost two of his last three fights as well, but one of those was a controversial decision to Anderson Silva, and the other to current Interim UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker. Machida, who hasn't competed since 2015, has lost his last two fights via stoppage. Machida has impressive, karate-based striking and unmatched experience against the best middleweights of all-time, but at 39 years old, it's tough to say what he has left in the tank. Even though he'll be fighting in front of Brazilian fans, he should enter as a hefty betting underdog.
Fantasy AnalysisBy accepting the suspension, Machida admitted to taking the substance, which forced him to miss his fight with Dan Henderson on April 16. The former middleweight champion is eligible to return in October of 2018, as the suspension is retroactive to April of 2016.
Fantasy AnalysisMachida's positive test apparently occurred at some point last week, but the former middleweight champion claims to be unaware that the substance he ingested was prohibited. Rather than risk sending a fighter that has been aided by performance-enhancing drugs into the octagon against a 45-year-old opponent, the UFC decided to go the safe route and scrap the bout. Depending on the findings of the USADA, Machida could ultimately face a two-year ban, although the investigation remains in the early stages. In the meantime, the UFC plans to book a new fight for Henderson "in the near future."
Fantasy AnalysisMachida's manager also made it clear that his client has no plans to retire. That being said, Machida is going to be taking an extended amount of time off. There's no timetable for Machida's return, but it would be a surprise if he fought again in 2015. He has lost three of his last four bouts.
Fantasy AnalysisMachida was knocked out for the first time since 2010 by Yoel Romero on Saturday at UFC Fight Night. The 37-year-old took numerous elbows to the head from Romero, thus leading to the tough knockout. Machida will now be required to take a CT scan of his head and needs to gain ENT clearance before being taken off his suspension. We'll have to wait for further information regarding his status.
Fantasy AnalysisUp until the ending, this appeared to be a typical Machida fight. The pace was deliberate and the fight was likely tied 19-19 after the first two rounds. But as soon as Romero went for a takedown, Machida's night was effectively over. "The Dragon" is an MMA legend, but his last two fights, against Luke Rockhold and now Romero, have not been good. There were many people who thought the 10-week turnaround was too quick for Machida, especially when you take into account he's facing some of the best fighters in the world. It looked like those people were right. Machida's game has by no means fallen apart the way a guy, like say, Josh Koscheck's has, but he's not as fast and not as explosive as he used to be. There's no way he's going to retire, but Machida doesn't look like a top-5 middleweight anymore.
Fantasy AnalysisMachida has lost two of his last three bouts, but he remains the favorite due to his past success. Two of his losses were against current middleweight champion Chris Weidman and current #1 contender Luke Rockhold, so it's not like Machida has been fighting scrubs. Still, at 37-years-old, Machida will almost certainly never get another title shot if he loses to Romero on Saturday. It's going to be a difficult fight for both men.
Fantasy AnalysisThe event was originally scheduled to take place in Sao Paulo. Machida is coming off a submission loss to Luke Rockhold at last month's UFC on Fox event in Newark, New Jersey. The Dragon is just 3-3 in his last six fights.