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UFC Fight Night 125 results from last night: Lyoto Machida vs Eryk Anders fight recap

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Brunson vs Machida Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight strikers Lyoto Machida and Eryk Anders clashed last night (Feb. 3, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 125 inside Arena Guilherme Paraense in Belem, Brazil.

Machida returned from a two year layoff and two straight knockout defeats still hopeful to jump back into the title mix. Instead, he fell early once more, and last night the situation was far more dire for “The Dragon,” who was fighting to remain a UFC fighter. Anders called for this bout back in December, and most were surprised it actually materialized. The former football star was an imposing prospect, bringing brutal knockout power, an effective clinch game, and a deep gas tank into the cage with him.

Machida opened up with some early low kicks, one of which swept Anders to the mat. Machida stood above his opponent and kicked at the legs for an abnormally long time, not allowing his foe to stand but doing little. For whatever reason, the referee let him work for quite some time, though Anders eventually returned to his feet.

For the final minute or so of the round, Anders walked his foe down without landing anything too significant. Machida landed few punches, but he continued to pound away at Anders’ lead leg.

It was a strong start for the Brazilian.

Anders opened the second round with a heavy left hand, his first significant offence of the fight. Machida was a bit more hesitant after that strike, circling far more, and Anders pursued patiently. After a little bit of time passed, Anders connected with another left on the break of the clinch.

On the whole, there were very few exchanges in the second. Machida circled around and kicked the leg occasionally, but on the whole he was rather reluctant to punch with Anders.

Anders definitely landed the biggest shots of the round, seemingly tying it up heading into the third.

Anders completed his first takedown of the fight early in the third. While he wasn’t able to keep Machida down, he did crack the Brazilian with some close range punches, causing Machida to bleed freely. Outside of that early action, however, the fight continued to crawl along. Machida did not want to engage with punches, and Anders was unwilling to take many chances, resulting in a very low volume bout.

Machida did better work in the second half of the round, but Anders finished strong by stunning him with another left.

Machida stormed back to start the fourth round, stinging his foe with a crisp left hand and body kick. The Brazilian seemed to recognize the momentum was in his opponent’s corner, and he committed more to his strikes as a result. After getting touched, Anders upped his aggression with a big combo, but he came up just short.

Anders’ pressure caused his foe to stumble to the mat, and Anders landed some hard shots while Machida recovered position. Anders kept him pinned to the fence, eventually scoring another brief takedown. It wasn’t beautiful technique, but all the damage and work from the previous exchanges was slowing the 39-year-old athlete down.

Still, it was a close round, and the fight was potentially up for grabs in the fifth.

To open the final frame, Machida landed some nice kicks while moving around the cage. It was one of Machida’s better rounds, as he absorbed few left hands and was able to pick up points with lots of kicks. Anders did score a big takedown in the final 30 seconds, but his follow up flurry did not result in much.

After 25 minutes, the judges ultimately awarded a split-decision to Lyoto Machida.

The extent of Machida’s athletic decline was made clear last night. At times, he was slow to react to his opponent’s punches. Other times, Machida found himself stuck in the clinch with a stronger foe, and Machida looked both mentally and physically fatigued, as his body wasn’t answering quite how he wanted it to.

Nevertheless, Machida fought a very smart and patient performance. He kept himself out of the pocket as much as possible and absolutely refused to trade with Anders. It resulted in a pretty slow fight, but Machida was able to gain an advantage by kicking and scoring points.

It was enough to win him a very debatable decision.

As for Anders, he probably deserved the nod. At the same time, a fair portion of the blame should be on Anders and his coaches. Whenever Anders landed a strong left hand and stunned his foe, he dove into a takedown attempt. Machida is at his most vulnerable after getting tagged while still in range, and Anders gave away the chance to do additional damage in order to get a bit of control. In addition, Anders really needed some kind of range weapon. Whether it was a jab or kick, Anders needed something to keep him competitive while at range.

Anders still has a bright future, but there’s a lot for him to learn from this loss.

Last night, Lyoto Machida scraped past his opponent to score a close decision win. Who should “The Dragon” face next?

For complete UFC Fight Night 125: “Machida vs. Anders” results and play-by-play, click HERE!