It’s been about five months since UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida’s life got turned upside-down. Although he carried with him an impressive 14-0 pro record into his title fight against Rashad Evans at UFC 98, it wasn’t until after the 2ndRound TKO that MMA fans started to pay attention.
“Things have changed a lot,” Machida said of his sudden popularity. “I find myself being in the position every light heavyweight fighter wants to be in. There are a lot of distractions, a lot of people coming at you. My biggest worry is staying focused and zoning in on what’s important.”
As with most Brazilians, Machida maintains very close ties with his friends, teammates, and family and that is what the 31-year-old credits for keeping him humble and focused on the task at hand.
“The Dragon” currently has his sights set on this weekend’s UFC 104 showdown with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, his first-ever title defense. Shogun gave UFC fans a glimpse of his old magic when he went circa 2005 by knocking out former champ Chuck Liddell in the 1stRound of their UFC 97 affair.
“I’ve followed Shogun’s career for a long time,” Machida said of his game opponent. “Everyone knows what he’s accomplished in his career. We know each other. We respect each other. But at the end of the day, we want the same thing.”
Machida holds a perfect 15-0 record, so apparently he’s accustomed to getting exactly what he wants. The key will be whether Shogun can find a way to throw Machida off of his rhythm by not over-exerting himself on his strikes, however Machida knows it’s extremely tough to do when he’s constantly dancing in front of your face, teasing you to throw every combination of strikes imaginable.
“Now, I have an infrastructure behind me that allows my strikes to be a lot more effective and allows me to maximize my power,” the champion said.
The formula for beating Machida will be for Shogun not to get too anxious, which is when Machida pounces.
Easier said than done …