For those of us that tuned into UFC Fight Night 36, we were shown a new side of Lyoto Machida; and I liked it a lot. Machida fought Gegard Mousasi and did something that not many people predicted; he fought aggressively. This comes as a huge surprise simply because Machida is not known as an aggressive fighter. Machida’s main game plan, in the fight, is to frustrate his opponent as much as possible by being elusive. Machida spends a lot of time moving backwards, drawing his opponents in to make a mistake at which point, Machida will capitalize on it. That was not the way things went down last night.
Machida really began to open up in the second round; he was able to get extremely comfortable and started throwing head kicks like they were jabs. Once the kicks were landing, Machida started moving forward more and really began to blitz often. It was unpredictable and smart.
It was evident that Mousasi trained for a different time of fight; he was patient the entire fight and seemed ready to chase Machida down, but did not look prepared to be on the defensive side. The other really big surprise was that, even on the ground, Machida was extremely active. Machida attempted multiple submissions against Mousasi, though he was unable to actually get one, it still put pressure on Mousasi and took away some of his confidence.
It seems that Middleweight is the perfect division for Machida. Not only has he encountered success there, but it is also affecting his fighting style. He seems more confident in his attacks and abilities. This is probably due to the fact that he is fighting men the same size as him, but also because he is physically stronger than most of his opponents. The fight last night was entreating, and opened the doors for a more aggressive Machida who will hopefully get a title shot with the win.