Lyoto Machida faced off with young gun Eryk Anders last night (Sat., Feb. 3, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 125 in Mangueirinho Gymnasium in Belem, Brazil, broadcast live on FOX Sports 1. It was a meeting of opposite career trajectories. Machida had lost three straight, while Anders was as yet undefeated. Lyoto grew up in Belem, so he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to headline here, despite coming on relatively short notice after a knockout loss to Derek Brunson. Against another explosive young athlete, a former college football player in Anders, this had all the hallmarks of another heart-breaking night for a faded star. Machida looked very serious in his walkout, intent on averting that end and getting a hometown win.
Machida held his traditional karate stance, circling the cage. He landed a body teep, then an inside low kick. Machida landed a leg kick as Anders stepped in and dropped the American, taking top position in Anders’ guard, to the delight of the crowd. He backed away, kicking Anders’ legs. Anders seemed reluctant to stand, playing cat and mouse with Machida. This continued for most of the round, Machida finally diving in with a punch but giving Anders the chance to get up. Anders stalked forward, landing a body punch. Machida landed another leg kick, then backed Anders up with a high kick that missed. Machida dove in with a one-two, then back out again.
They touched gloves again to start the second round. Machida countered a slow high kick with another low kick. Anders landed a hard straight left as Machida kicked, shaking him, and Anders clinched him against the cage. Machida fought off the takedown and circled away. They played cat-and-mouse against the cage, Machida circling and Anders tentatively trying to find a safe opening to open up. Machida dove in with his one-two and Anders threw a big counter and a high kick as he exited. Machida landed a knee to the body. Machida found some space and darted in to land an outside leg kick behind a feinted one-two. Anders threw leather as the round wore down, connecting, then went for a takedown, which Machida shook off.
Machida opened the third with another left kick to the legs. He landed a hard body kick, but Anders caught it, taking Machida down. “The Dragon” worked his way back up, but Anders landed a couple heavy hooks and a big knee on the break, opening Machida’s face like a sieve. Machida threw another body kick. Machida threw another heavy body kick. Machida darted in with a nice left hand. He landed a lead elbow and Anders’ counter just missed. Machida landed another leg kick, circled; always the circling for Machida. He threw a left cross, avoided the counter, but Anders landed a heavy left. He rushed in to get the takedown again, but once again Machida’s takedown defense held up.
Machida landed a hard left hand on Anders, avoiding the counter. He landed a hard knee. Machida’s body kick connected; Anders chased him with wild hooks, just missing. Machida circled off. He threw another body teep. Machida landed another sharp cross, but stumbled as Anders chased him with a hook. Anders got on top and connected with the same knee that cut Machida, as Lyoto got back to his feet. Anders used head pressure to pin Machida to the cage, but couldn’t manage a takedown. They separated. Machida landed a body kick, caught; Anders couldn’t convert it into a takedown. Eventually, though, he kept the pressure long enough to get Lyoto down briefly. He got back up, landing a knee and finally getting separation.
The fifth round opened with a Machida body kick and a whiffed Anders hook. Machida landed a leg kick, then another. Machida kicked Anders in the arms. He landed a body kick. More circling, Anders almost caught Machida with an overhand left after another Machida body kick. More circling. Anders punched into the clinch. Machida shucked him off. Machida had switched to orthodox, looking for his body kick. Machida landed a big body knee and moved away from reckless Anders hooks. He landed another body kick. Anders worked him to the cage, but Machida clinched and escaped. Machida attempted a spinning back kick and Anders took his back and got him down; Machida scrambled back to his feet. Both fighters ended swinging for a finish! Interesting fight to score in Brazil.
The judges scored it for Machida! Naturally, he was overjoyed, saying in Portuguese he can’t put a price on a victory in his home city. He said he used a lot of kicks, a lot of movement to get his win. Then, in English, he called out Michael Bisping! That’s a good retirement fight for Bisping.
Official result: Lyoto Machida def. Eryk Anders via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)
For complete Fight Night 125 results, including play-by-play, click here