Lyoto Machida was aware of the critics who once said he never finished fights. But now that those criticism has essentially vanished, Machida can admit he let all the talk get to him.
“I want to do well for my fans, I want to do well for my promoters, and I just want to improve,” Machida told MMAjunkie Radio through a translator. “There’s always that pressure.”
Machida has become famous in MMA circles for his opportunistic and “elusive” fighting style. However, when he opened his UFC career with five decision wins in six fights, people began to question if he could put away the highest level of competition.
Years later Machida has become one of the most successful knockout artists in company history. Few can match his highlight reel, and “The Dragon” credits that to his desire to produce definitive endings for his supporters.
“I just listened to my fans, and I’m always trying to improve and bring something to them because I want to listen to people who want to see me do well,” Machida said. “The knockout really happens when there is an opportunity.”
Not only has Machida developed into one of the UFC’s most devastating strikers, but he’s done it with style. From one-punch finishes to crushing head kicks, Machida said he diversifies his attack based on each opponent, and he stressed the importance of never repeating the same tendencies.
“I always try to adapt to each opponent,” Machida said. “You always have to have new tricks, and there’s always got to be something new.”
Machida (20-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) hopes to add another spectacular finish to his resume next week when he meets Gegard Mousasi (34-3-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 36. The event takes place Feb. 15 at Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil. The event airs on FOX Sports 1 with preliminary-card action streaming on UFC Fight Pass.
The five-round contest marks Machida’s second bout since dropping to the middleweight division this past year. It was a move many felt was overdue for the former 205-pound champion, and the results were immediate: The 35-year-old starched Mark Munoz in the first round of his divisional debut.
While Munoz is a respected foe and a solid win for any fighter, Mousasi brings an equally dangerous skill set and an even better career record.
Machida’s seventh UFC main event is just around the corner, and with a shot at the winner of UFC 173’s title fight between champion Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort potentially on the line, Machida is ready to prove his worth against a dangerous opponent.
“I’ve been following Mousasi throughout his career and when he was fighting in Japan,” Machida said. “He’s a great fighter.”