“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Machida era. We have just entered a new era in the light heavyweight division.”
Three years ago, that was the declaration made by UFC color man Joe Rogan moments after Lyoto Machida defeated Rashad Evans to win the light heavyweight championship.
Could you blame Rogan for saying something so bold?
At the time, Machida was untouchable and undefeated. Nobody could figure him out. He was proving that a karate master could succeed in mixed martial arts. And the fact that he had just handed Evans his first loss with a devastating knockout was the icing on the cake.
The Machida era wasn’t ending anytime soon — except that’s not how it played out.
Instead, Machida’s first title defense resulted in a controversial unanimous decision victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua that many thought should’ve gone to the challenger. And then, of course, Rua got his revenge seven months later when he knocked out Machida.
Suddenly, Machida wasn’t so invincible anymore, which proved further true in his next fight when his hesitance cost him a split decision defeat to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Machida did bounce back with an impressive front-kick knockout of Randy Couture, but then came the title shot against Jon Jones.
Let’s just say getting put to sleep with a standing guillotine choke, and then being dropped like bricks did nothing to restore Machida’s aura.
That brings us to the present. Can Machida rebound against Ryan Bader in August at UFC on Fox 4? And not just from the Jones loss, either. Can he fight the type of fight to prove that his recent 1-3 record is just him being in a funk?
If Machida wants to remain relevant, he’d better do more than just defeat Bader. He’d better make Rogan rave about him again.