Two former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champions and Brazilian mixed martial arts (MMA) legends — Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida — at the tail end of their careers tonight (Sat., May 12, 2018) kicked off the pay-per-view (PPV) portion of UFC 224, which took place inside Jeuness Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Unfortunately for the 41-year-old “Phenom,” he was unable to turn back time, eating a foot to the face in the second round that turned his lights off immediately.
It was a stalemate early as both southpaws stood across from each other for more than a full minute without throwing a single shot. Oddly, it was Machida who tried to get off first, missing with a lazy low kick. Belfort then charged in looking to land a a straight right hand, but Machida was long gone by the time it arrived. Machida switch stances and tried to land a high kick, but Belfort was able to easily block it. Machida plugged away with front kicks, looking to keep his explosive opponent at bay. Belfort’s corner begged him to find a way inside and close the distance on “The Dragon,” but he was unable to crack the code ... at least in the first five minutes.
The pair traded wild shots to start the second stanza, but nothing significant landed for either fighter. Belfort, though, was beginning to swell and get some redness on his ribs from the kicks. And then it happened: Machida uncorked a clean front kick that landed square on Belfort’s jaw. He crumpled over and was asleep before his head even hit the canvas, while Machida stood over him — unwilling to follow up with any unnecessary head bouncers — in a sign of total respect for his opponent. It was almost identical to what Anderson Silva did to Belfort several years ago, but seemingly much more violent — Belfort was out cold for a very long time, but was eventually able to get back to his feet as Bruce Buffer read the final result.
Ringside announcer Jimmy Smith said it best: Machida lulls you to sleep ... then he puts you to sleep. What an absolutely devastating finish. It’s definitely not the way Belfort would like to end his illustrious mixed martial arts (MMA) career, but the writing is on the wall. He has nothing left to prove in this sport, leaving his gloves behind in the cage after thanking his legion of faithful friends, family and fans.
He is, and always will be, an MMA pioneer and legend. Obrigado.
For complete UFC 224: “Nunes vs. Pennington” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.