Lyoto Machida is one of those fighters who people have an endless amount of opinions about. Some say he’s too boring. Others say his approach is too soft, which leads to him not finishing fights the way he’s capable of.
Say what you will, but one of the things that stands out about the Black House fighter is his honor. You won’t catch him in a back-and-forth, trash talking trade-off in the weeks leading up to one of his fights. Even comments from someone as vocal as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson don’t seem to awaken “The Dragon.”
The guy has the utmost respect for everyone he steps into the Octagon with. The case is the same with his pending UFC 129 fight against Randy Couture. When it comes to fighting “The Natural,” Machida talks about how honorable it is to battle the five-time UFC champion in what Couture is adamant is his retirement fight.
“It’s an honor,” Machida said recently through his interpreter and manager, Ed Soares. “It’s an honor to fight someone like Randy Couture and I feel that Randy Couture has helped build the history in this sport.”
Again, it’s not the pre-fight talk that fuels Machida’s drive to compete. History will show us that the banter before a bout can get a little ugly and out of hand – refer to the weeks leading up to the Jorge Rivera-Michael Bisping fight from UFC 127 and you’ll recall how pre-fight talk can get a tad bit crazy.
Instead of getting into a talking tug of war, Machida meditates – and probably sips on the occasional cup of urine – in preparation for his fight. The knowledge that he is entering the Octagon to challenge a man who has been on this planet for nearly 48 years, and collected more MMA accolades than most can ever imagine is motivation enough get out there and perform at his best.
Couture played an enormous role in making mixed martial arts what it is today. According to Machida, the only appropriate way to thank Couture for his years of blood, sweat, and tears is by testing him to his limit. He plans on mustering up the best Machida he can on fight night.
“He’s helped build the sport to what it is today,” Machida said. “And I just feel honored to be able to fight him and I feel that, out of respect, I want to give my best to Randy Couture on that night.”
The role of being the one to see Couture off into retirement first-hand is a big deal. It certainly gives the resume a little boost. To be “that guy” is something to hold onto and warrants a notch on the belt.
“I think that this plays an important part not only in history to be the last guy to fight Randy Couture, but this plays a big part in my career to have a legend like Randy on my resume,” said the former UFC light heavyweight champion.
Like Machida, Couture is also feeling the honor of stepping into the Octagon, but it’s not because it’s his last fight. To him, being in his last fight in the UFC is no different from being in his first fight in the Las Vegas-based promotion. The thing that sticks out for Couture is just being part of the ride – a ride that’s lasted nearly 14 years.
The fact that he’s sharing his final 15 minutes in the eight-sided cage with a competitor the quality of Lyoto Machida is also something he feels fortunate for.
“I’m excited to be a part of it,” Couture said recently. “Last fight or five more fights, it doesn’t really matter. It’s still an honor to both be a part of this show and to be fighting Lyoto, so it’s going to be great.”