Last night (Feb. 15, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi went to war in the main event of UFC Fight Night 36 from Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil.
To watch full fight video highlights for Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi right now click here.
A potential title shot was on the line for the No. 4-ranked Machida, who appeared to be reinvented in a new weight class. The former UFC light heavyweight champ knocked out Mark Munoz in his first middleweight bout last year.
Former DREAM and Strikeforce champ Mousasi was fighting his first UFC bout at 185 pounds. He defeated unknown Ilir Latifi in his Octagon debut at UFC on Fuel TV 9, but he had some question marks after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL following that bout.
Both fighters were highly skilled and seasoned veterans of mixed martial arts (MMA). Ultimately Machida won out with his diverse striking skillset. Let's take a look back at "Dragon's" impressive win over a tough opponent.
The pivotal bout began with Mousasi relaxed as usual, lumbering forward to eat a big body kick. Mousasi threw a leg kick and Mousasi rushed forward with a light combination. Mousasi controlled the center of the Octagon to land a left hand and a leg kick. Machida countered with a sharp left and more body kicks to end the first round. "Dragon" appeared to have a decided speed advantage on "Dreamcatcher," who was understandably still finding his timing after a long layoff.
Machida threw a flashy switch kick to start the second round, following it with a good inside low kick. Mousasi landed one of his own and missed on an overhand left. Machida cracked Mousasi with a loud left high kick to get the crowd's attention. Mousasi ate a front kick and landed one of his own, but his volume was lacking until he landed a solid combo and some kicks to finish the round strong.
Beginning to find his range, Mousasi stalked Machida early in the third. He missed on a takedown but landed some knees to the body. "Dragon" landed a huge left hand and followed with a crisp combination. He snapped a spinning back kick to the midsection and a couple left high kicks. Machida scored with a knee but Mousasi landed some good punches. Machida scored with an elbow, absorbing a hook in the process as a strong round for "Dragon" came to a close.
Going into the championship rounds, Mousasi needed to go into desperation mode. Machida mixed up his movement but was met by big takedown from Mousasi. Machida got right back up to land a short counter shot. "Dragon" moved in for a nice trip, moving into side control for a brief moment. Mousasi pulled a off a nice sweep and Machida went for an omoplata that never materialized. The crowd booed as Mousasi rained down some good shots from inside Machida's guard.
He went for "Dragon's" back but Machida slipped out, only to be met by an illegal upkick to his face. No point was taken as the fourth round wound down.
Mousasi probably needed a finish heading into the fifth frame. Machida pushed forward with a combo that mostly missed, and then went for a unique kick to Mousasi's body. Mousasi still wasn't throwing a ton of shots, eating a couple of knees from Machida. The pace began to lull and the fight went to the ground with Machida on top. Machida's nose was bleeding from Mousasi's jab but he took "Dreamcatcher's" back to throw some punches. The former UFC champ closed out the bout by leaping into a huge punch at the final bell.
Machida earned his second straight win at middleweight, looking very impressive in doing so. It remains to be seen if his unanimous decision win will be enough to lock up a shot at the winner of UFC 173's Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort title fight in May. Mousasi presented a difficult challenge and Machida delivered, going for the finish up until the very last second.
Machida's all around game looks excellent and he appears to be in awesome shape at 185 pounds. If he doesn't get to fight for the belt, a title eliminator against last night's co-main event winner Ronaldo Souza.
Mousasi appeared a step too slow for Machida, perhaps burdened by the lingering effects of such a long time out of the cage. Machida was a horrible opponent to face in his return from surgery. Mousasi never got into a full rhythm and was nailed with a varied arsenal of strikes. He'll most likely get an opponent in the bottom rung of the Top 10.
Mousasi is a former multi-promotion champion so he should be back to form soon, but he's going to have to fight with much more aggression to find success in UFC.
Lyoto "Dragon" Machida used excellent hand speed and a diverse array of strikes to clearly outpoint Gegard Mousasi. But, was it enough to secure a title shot in a division that's suddenly become very crowded at the top?