Once considered a mysterious and unsolvable puzzle, Lyoto Machida ran wild on the light heavyweight division, kicking off his mixed martial arts (MMA) career with 16 consecutive victories thanks to his elusive and counter-striking style.
His tactics not only earned him the victory, but also prevented him from getting hit, which is always a plus for any fighter. But, according to Machida, after time, opponents just got wiser to his habits.
According to 'The Dragon," his MMA fight game has become 'predictable' over time and as result, his opponents have been able to study him more and now have a better grasp of just what exactly he plans on doing once the cage door slams shut.
"I think the more that you fight, the more predictable you become and people study you more. So, people just kind of learn what you're going to do and you're more prone to getting hit. I'm always trying to improve and this time I brought in a bunch of different partners to simulate Dan Henderson's style."
Mauricio Rua seemed to lay out a blueprint on how to neutralize and tag Machida when the two Brazilians initially met at UFC 104 back in 2009 in what was Machida's first title defense. "Shogun" battered and bruised Lyoto's legs for five rounds but still came up short on the judges' scorecards in what was a highly controversial decision.
In the immediate rematch that ensued, Rua stopped Machida in the very first round, knocking him out cold and handing him his first-ever professional loss in the process.
Since his loss to Rua, "The Dragon" has alternated wins and losses, failing to put together consecutive victories for the first time in three years and was stopped for only the second time in his career by current 205-pound champion Jon Jones at UFC 140 back in December 2011.
Stepping into the cage this weekend (Feb. 23, 2013) at UFC 157 against Dan Henderson, one of the hardest hitters in the fight game, avoiding punches to the face is probably objective No. 1 for Machida, as "Hendo's" powerful "H-Bomb" has proven able to put the best of them to sleep.
Will Lyoto be another added to that list?