by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
With a new UFC belt sitting in front of him, Lyoto Machida said his preparation for Rashad Evans boiled down to timing and aggression.
It took Machida just under nine minutes to rip the title from Evans’ hands at UFC 98.
That Evans struggled to find his range and offensive rhythm was only a by-product of the overall game plan. Matching up with Machida karate was difficult for anyone, the new champ said at the post-fight press conference.
Finishing the champion came down to seizing the moment when he was most vulnerable.
That moment, as Machida called it, was called “kyo.”
“Which basically means when you’re opponent has no defense,” said Machida through translator Ed Soares. “So what I did is I studied it, to make sure I attacked at the right kyo, and that’s exactly what I did. I timed his mistake properly.”
In the second round, Evans walked into a straight left hand that buckled him. In the subsequent scramble, he stood on shaky legs. The “kyo” had arrived.
“I’ve been training with a new physical trainer and I’ve also been working on being a lot more aggressive,” said Machida. “But at that particular moment, as soon as I hit him and I felt that he felt it, I knew in my heart that right then I had to go in and finish the fight.”
The fight’s end, a flurry of punches that sent Evans keeling backwards, was another decisive counter to charges that he was boring.
“As soon as I hit him with that final punch, and I saw his legs bend back like they did, I saw that most likely he was out,” said Machida.
The challenge moving forward was to avoid complacency.
“Now that I’ve become the champion, is when the real work begins,” he said. “My goal is always to go out there and become a better fighter every time I step into the Octagon, and now with the title, its even more responsibility to do that. So what I’ll do is I’ll go back home, my father will analyze the tapes with my brothers, and see the mistakes that I’ve made, and try to improve.”
Machida stressed that like the Gracies, family made his art possible.
“The only difference is that we’re showing it through karate, and the Gracie’s are showing it through jiu-jitsu,” he said.
“It’s hard to match up with Machida Karate. That’s my base,” commented the newly crowned light heavyweight champion. “Some guys have a base in Jiu-Jitsu, some have a base in Muay Thai. My base is in Machida Karate, and it’s a difficult style to understand.”
But one thing’s for sure. As the new champion said after his win… “Karate is back.”