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UFC on FOX 15 complete fighter breakdown, Lyoto 'The Dragon' Machida edition resident fighter analyst Andrew Richardson breaks down the mixed martial arts (MMA) game of UFC on FOX 15 headliner Lyoto Machida, who will look to take out Luke Rockhold this Saturday (April 18, 2015) inside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight strap-hanger, Lyoto Machida, is set to duel with former Strikeforce middleweight kingpin, Luke Rockhold, this Saturday night (April 18, 2015) at UFC on FOX 15 inside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

A pair of impressive wins over Mark Munoz and Gegard Mousasi in the first two bouts of his middleweight career proved his decision to drop down was a wise one. Additionally, it earned Machida a title shot against Chris Weidman, though he came up just short in an absolute war.

Since then, Machida has been looking to build up some momentum to earn a second battle with "The All-American." In his rebound bout with CB Dollaway, Machida took out "The Doberman" in just about a minute. Now, he'll look for another major victory here.

Let's take a closer look at "The Dragon's" skill set.


The Octagon's resident Karate master, Machida is an excellent counter striker who routinely runs opponents into his straight left hand. The Southpaw is well-known for his defensive movement and general evasiveness, which has made him one of the most difficult men in the sport to hit.

In order to avoid his opponent's strikes, Machida likes to hang out just outside of his opponent's boxing range. His footwork is excellent, meaning it's difficult for Machida's opponent to walk him into the fence and corral him into punches. As Machida keeps his distance, he's very active with his feints, which makes his opponent hesitant to push forward.

Thanks to the distance Machida keeps, he has the time to react to his opponent's punches and takedown attempts.

While staying outside of his opponent's punches, Machida looks to land hard kicks. This ensures that his opponent has to make some type of move, otherwise he'll fall behind on the judges' scorecards. Since his drop to middleweight, Machida has become much more active in this stage of the game, which should help him avoid losing any screwball decisions.

Furthermore, Machida's round house kicks are landing with even more power at his new weight class, particularly when he goes high. Against Munoz, Machida's shin slammed through his opponent's guard and put him down hard. He also attacked Mousasi with head kicks, setting up the strike by first attacking his opponent's body and legs.

Speaking of body kicks, Machida's getting incredibly nasty with those as well. In his last fight, Machida destroyed Dollaway's insides with a brutal liver kick, sending the wrestler crumbling against the fence. His body kicks were also very effective against Weidman, as they clearly fatigued the champion.

Outside of his roundhouse kicks, the front kick is an excellent range tool in Machida's arsenal. This is especially effective against fighters looking to take Machida down, as wrestlers often stand with a bit of a hunch when looking to shoot.

Machida will also mix quick punching bursts into his attack. Since he spends most of his time circling, feinting, and throwing kicks, Machida is able to surprise his opponents with rapid fire combinations of punches. After landing his blitz, Machida will return to his movement and general evasiveness.

When Machida's opponent attempts to take a shot without closing the distance, he runs the risk of shooting directly into a step knee to the mid-section. Machida is excellent at timing the knee as his opponent moves forward, which ensures it lands with power. Usually, Machida throws the strike as his opponent reaches for the clinch or covers up to avoid strikes, leaving their liver open.

Due to all these range tools, most fighters cannot compete with Machida at range. In that situation, his opponent is forced to close the distance, and that's when Machida's counter striking ability really shines.

At first, most opponents will attempt to stay defensively sound and compact with their strikes as they close distance. When this happens, Machida will wait for his foe to engage, back up a step before angling off, and then land his counter combinations. After landing his strikes, Machida will exit at an angle, avoiding any follow up strikes and returning to the center of the Octagon to frustrate his opponent once more.

From there, the averaged outmatched opponent has a couple of options. He can either stand at range, leading to a decision loss or potential kick finish. Or, since technical attempts to close the distance have already failed, he can attempt to charge Machida with big punches and hope for the best.

Once that happens, Machida will take note of it and wait for an opportunity. The next time his opponent charges, Machida will stop circling and fire off a full power straight left. Not only does his straight punch cut through his opponent's looping punches, but his opponent's forward momentum greatly increases the power.

Defensively, Machida's style does have some issues. When he's retreating from punches, his lower body is vulnerable to low kicks. If he's worn down, Machida's evasiveness is less effective, and he becomes more vulnerable to punches.


Thanks to a combination of Sumo wrestling, Karate, and jiu-jitsu, Machida has one of the more unique styles of throwing his opponent to the canvas. Like his striking assault, Machida uses plenty of technique and finesse to make his game work.

Machida's karate-style foot sweeps are incredibly slick. As Machida throws a punch or feints, he'll step forward and trip out his opponent's foot. For example, Machida uses Thiago Silva's attempt to posture up and out of the clinch against him.

Occasionally, he'll even turn his opponent's momentum against him by turning his foe into a trip. Since his opponent is looking to move forward with strikes, his body and weight distribution are rarely in a good position to defend against a takedown. Because of this, Machida's takedown requires very little force.

In addition, Machida will use quick trip attempts to escape his opponent's clutches. Since halting Machida's movement is usually a priority for his opponent, he'll hurriedly look to push Machida into the fence as soon as he gets a grip. As his opponent attempts to pressure him into the cage, Machida will turn and attempt to trip out a foot. Usually, this causes his opponent to stumble a bit, allowing Machida to frame his opponent's face and circle away.

Machida will also use more traditional clinch takedowns as well. If he can secure a body lock, Machida is very strong with his throws. This likely comes from his Sumo background, which involves plenty of pushing and pull from in close.

Machida is an excellent defensive wrestler, though it's not really thanks to his actual wrestling ability. Instead, Machida's distance control usually forces his opponent to shoot from way too far out, allowing Machida to simply side step the shot or jam a knee into the mid-section. After the knee lands, there's usually plenty of room for Machida to secure an underhook and escape the clinch. Plus, the knee takes quite a bit of energy out of his opponent, making it difficult to continue driving forward.

Weidman had the most success of any past Machida opponent, and that's in large part due to his ability to trap Machida against the fence. Weidman is not a significantly better wrestler than say Jon Jones or Rashad Evans, but he was able to take Machida down far more consistently since he was able to keep trapping "The Dragon" against the fence.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

Because of his excellent takedown defense, Machida is rarely in a position to use his jiu-jitsu black belt. Plus, he's not the type to hunt for submissions from his back, as the Karate expert is looking to stand back up instead.

An exception to this occurred against Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, as Machida hit a nice butterfly sweep and eventually finished with an arm triangle, which is the most jiu-jitsu Machida has used in a fight. That said, Sokoudjou is hardly a grappling guru.

More recently, Machida used a kimura to return to his feet against Dan Henderson. As "Hendo" looked to batter Machida's ribs from the full guard, Machida sat up and tried to secure the shoulder lock. Henderson pulled back, which gave Machida the space necessary to return to his feet.

Outside of these rare moments on his back, the only submission that Machida has attempted was an armbar on Quinton Jackson. After securing the mount and causing "Rampage" to raise his guard in defense of punches, Machida quickly swiveled around Jackson's body and latched onto the arm. It was a smooth transition, but "Rampage" was able to roll up and stack Machida. From there, Jackson looked to lift and slam Machida, who simply released the hold and went back to his stand up game.

In short, both of these examples really cement Machida's mentality when on his back; the Brazilian is just trying to stand back up.

Best chance for success

Rockhold definitely represents an interesting challenge for Machida. He's a pressure fighter that likes to put his opponent's back to the fence -- which will certainly be very difficult against the Brazilian -- but also has the build and kicking ability to hang with Machida on the feet.

In order to defeat Rockhold, Machida needs to be the more active kicker. He can afford to take a few more risks with his range strikes, as Rockhold is really not the most successful offensive wrestler. While his usual roundhouse kick won't be quite as dangerous since they're both Southpaws, neither will Rockhold's own kick.

Additionally, Machida should be careful when blitzing Rockhold, as the American Kickboxing Academy-trained fighter will surely look to land his hard counter right hook if he does. Unlike many of Machida's opponents, Rockhold will not panic under fire, so Machida needs to either disguise his bursts very well or use them even more rarely than usual.

Will Lyoto Machida continue to gain ground towards a second title shot, or will Luke Rockhold prove himself as one of the best middleweights in the world?

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