And now it’s time for the obligatory “I was wrong” post … well, as obligatory as it gets when I was expecting Machida to win from the moment he was given his title shot. Still, I was expecting a brutal 5 round decision from the new champ, and instead he delivered one dud round plus an exciting knockout in the second. I’d say I came out ahead in the entertainment department, so that’s worth acknowledging.
This isn’t to say that we now have to wipe our memories of terrible decision fights against guys like David Heath and Sam Hoger. By my math, Machida still has to make up for over an hour’s worth of some of the worst mixed martial arts I’ve ever seen. But how hard can I hate on him when he’s now finished three of his past four fights?
I’m still torn on his style. While it’s certainly effective, I think it might take counterstriking to an extreme point the same way lay and pray did with wrestling. But before, I had already made up my mind. Now I’m going to open it up again to the possibility that maybe something interesting is going on here. As Lyoto said himself leading up to the fight:
“When Royce [Gracie] started to beat his opponents on the ground, the American fans were not used to the ground fighting and also criticized his style, but soon his efficient results changed peoples’ mind,” says Machida. “I’m not pretentious to compare myself to the legendary Royce, but I truly think something similar is happening with my standup style. Now I feel people are starting to understand and respect.”
It’s hard to disrespect a guy when he’s finishing fights. I’m not about to become a huge fan any time soon, but so long as Machida isn’t laying any more brutal decision eggs in the cage I think I can learn to live in a world where he’s champ. Maybe.