The co-main event of the UFC 163: "Aldo vs. Korean Zombie" pay-per-view (PPV) tonight (Sat., Aug. 3, 2013) at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, featured Lyoto Machida attempting to make an emphatic statement in his quest to earn another shot at the light heavyweight title against fellow top contender Phil Davis.
The winner certainly wasn't promised a title shot, but a big victory with a memorable finish would go a long way towards earning that status, especially for "The Dragon," who had the entire crowd in his corner and cheering wildly for his success.
Davis opened by using his legs, not just to circle away from his foe but to attack the body. Really, it was the only avenue of attack available to him. Machida, in his typical form, maintained distance and established his dominance of range.
He mixed in a series of punches and kicks, many single and not attached to any combination, and still found great success. That included a head kick that pushed "Mr. Wonderful" back into the fence. Or the straight left down the pipe that had the American falling backwards.
And let's not ignore that flying knee blitz towards the end of the round.
Before the first came to a close, though, Davis shot in and landed a takedown. He worked hard to snag an arm and lock in a kimura but Machida defended well and got out of the round, one he was in control for the majority of.
The second round was contested in the same style as the first. Davis looked for any angle he could find and Machida expertly eluded each strike. On top of that, "Mr. Wonderful" failed when he shot in for takedowns.
So, really, your textbook Lyoto Machida fight.
No different than the opening frame, though, Davis managed to earn a takedown late in the round and rained down punches, elbows, and even some knees to the body from his superior position on top. The strategy was sound but would it be enough in the eyes of the judges?
Or could he simply finish the job in round three?
The answer, as it turned out, was no. That's not for lack of trying. He was more aggressive, pushing forward with kicks and punches and mixing in timely takedown attempts. The problem was that he was getting a tad too discouraged when those takedown attempts were failing.
And they were failing every single time.
"The Dragon" turned up the offense late, this time never yielding a late takedown, and the final horn sounded. The rounds were all close enough to call the judges scores into question no matter how they turned out, but in the end they awarded the decision to Davis on scores of 29-28 across the board.
Machida was stunned.
For complete UFC 163 results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the night's action click here.