Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Pictures
They are saying generally in fight sports activities, you present up one night time and also you’re simply too previous.
For Lyoto Machida, the method has maybe been extra gradual than that, however the finish outcome no much less sobering.
That was the impression left by Saturday’s first-round knockout loss to Derek Brunson in the principle occasion of UFC Battle Night time 119 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
It was meant to be a homecoming of kinds for Machida, the primary time the 39-year-old former gentle heavyweight champion had fought in Brazil since a December 2014 victory over CB Dollaway. As a substitute, Brunson shocked an introduced crowd of 10,265 into silence with a thunderous left hook simply shy of two minutes, 30 seconds into the occasion’s featured attraction.
The sight of Machida’s physique crashing liable to the canvas ended one other of the UFC’s notoriously raucous journeys to Brazil on a somber word:
Ben Fowlkes @benfowlkesMMA
And there is that unhappy ending for Machida we feared we would see.
Heidi Fang @HeidiFang
My mouth is actually broad open as a result of Brunson simply slept Machida. I did anticipate that outcome, nevertheless it received me staring shocked on the laptop.
Me this morning: Good! Cannot wait to see Machida again within the octagon!
For his half, Brunson sounded practically as shocked on the outcome, however he stated he began quick as a result of he did not wish to take the possibility of handing this struggle to the judges in Machida’s residence nation.
“I didn’t anticipate a fast end, however I knew I did not wish to go away it to choice,” Brunson stated in a launch. “I like Brazil, this was a terrific expertise. The followers supported him, I would not anticipate in another way. However they may not enter the Octagon, so it did not make a distinction on the finish of the day.”
Now begins the method of sorting by means of the ashes to see what is likely to be left for Machida to do contained in the Octagon just some months away from turning 40 years previous.
He got here into this struggle mired in a 1-Three droop. This bout additionally marked his return from a controversial 18-month suspension after failing a UFC drug take a look at for an over-the-counter dietary complement.
Machida stated previous to badembly Brunson that the suspension had really been a optimistic growth for him. He stated it allowed him to relaxation, recharge and alter some elements of his coaching.
As soon as the struggle started, nevertheless, he seemed something however recharged.
Since arriving within the Octagon in 2007, Machida blazed a path based mostly on his distinctive karate-based placing fashion. He prioritized agility, elusiveness and counterpunching over the straight-ahead slugging of a lot of his friends.
The unorthodox strategy powered him to a 15-Zero begin to his profession, which included successful the 205-pound title from Rashad Evans through second-round KO at UFC 98 in Could 2009. Quick-forward nearly a decade and it is acceptable to say Machida was forward of his time, now that fighters like Conor McGregor and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson are using lots of the similar methods.
However all alongside there have been questions on how his fashion would age.
There have been occasions when he appeared devastating, crafting six KO wins within the UFC—together with each the highlight-reel Evans KO and a crane-kick stoppage of Randy Couture at UFC 129 in April 2011.
In different cases, Machida’s affected person, prowling fashion receded into listlessness. 5 of his first eight fights within the Octagon went to choice. Later he would drop lackluster judges verdicts to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Phil Davis and Chris Weidman.
Machida wards off a kick from Phil Davis of their struggle in 2013.Felipe Dana/Related Press
Often, it felt as if his stoic demeanor and cautious strategy led him to present away rounds, generally fights. On condition that it was based mostly nearly fully on his athleticism, his capability to keep away from his opponent’s badaults after which land his personal, observers questioned how Machida would maintain up as he trudged into his mid-to-late 30s.
Now we all know that these issues had been well-placed.
The Brunson knockout was Machida’s third straight stoppage loss and got here within the wake of a third-round knockout by Yoel Romero in June 2015. Since dropping to middleweight after the Davis loss in 2013, Machida has gone a middling Three-Four and let’s simply say the performances do not get any extra aggressive.
Towards Brunson, Machida got here out of his nook trying flat-footed and a step sluggish. He managed to keep away from a few of his 33-year-old American opponent’s preliminary strikes, even touchdown his personal left hand or two through the struggle’s preliminary exchanges.
Machida lands a left on Brunson within the early going.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Pictures
However because the opening spherical approached its midway level, Machida tried to counter a pawing proper whereas the 2 traded swings close to the center of the cage. Brunson slipped Machida’s punch and fired a winging left hook excessive that caught him flush on the jaw.
As Machida stumbled away, Brunson landed one other left—this one across the temple—that put Machida down on all fours. The Brazilian nonetheless had his wits about him, however as he tried to scramble to protect, Brunson fired a half-dozen extra lefts. The third one discovered Machida’s jaw once more.
This time it knocked him chilly.
The quiet that stuffed the Ginasio do Ibirapuera area was compounded by the truth that within the earlier struggle, the gang had witnessed Colby Covington defeat Sao Paolo native Demian Maia through unanimous choice after which take some swipes at Brazilian followers and their nation in his post-fight interview.
Make no mistake, although, it wasn’t fairly to see Machida mendacity there like that.
The Brunson loss marks the primary time Machida has been defeated by an opponent who’s neither a UFC champion nor unilaterally thought to be an elite contender.
Derek Brunson celebrates his win over Machida.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Pictures
Brunson got here into the competition No. 7 within the UFC’s official rankings and was the slight favourite, in keeping with OddsShark, however since coming to the Octagon from Strikeforce in 2012, his profession has been a mixture of highs and lows.
Rely this victory as his greatest but.
Brunson is 7-2 since 2014 and has put back-to-back wins after consecutive losses to present interim champ Robert Whittaker and all-time nice Anderson Silva.
When it was over, he used his time on the mic to name out one other returning former champion.
“Luke Rockhold, what’s up, child?” Brunson stated to UFC commentator Daniel Cormier within the cage. “The place you at? Let’s run this.”
For Machida, nevertheless, the loss solely heightens issues about how the ageing former champ will fare shifting ahead.
Within the UFC, the purpose when a fighter ought to begin to take into account hanging up their gloves and after they really do typically do not intersect. Here is hoping Machida can take an unorthodox strategy to that scenario as nicely.