Machida showed to be a step quicker than Mousasi throughout the fight, earning the judges’ scores of 49-46, 50-45 and 50-45.
“He’s a great fighter … a real champ,” Machida said of Mousasi in his post-fight interview. “I wanted to finish it in a different way, but I couldn’t, but I was able to get the points.”
The first round consisted of a lot of measuring, with momentary leg kicks from each fighter happening every so often. Machida was the more active of the two fighters, charging forward with strikes at times, but not landing a significant blow until near four minutes in.
The second round started the same as the first, but Machida landed a head kick halfway through the round. Mousasi ate the strike, holding onto his opponent’s leg to get a takedown, but Machida got loose. After another slapping head kick by Machida, Mousasi followed up with a one-two combination in the later stages of the round.
Machida continued landing strikes, scoring with a straight left hand, and later pressing Mousasi against the cage, landing another head kick in the process. Mousasi scored a brief combination in the middle of the round, but Machida remained light on the feet, sneaking in short strikes and moving well through the end of the round.
Mousasi secured a takedown early in the fourth frame, but Machida fought to quickly get back to a standing fight. Machida got a trip takedown and worked from his opponent’s guard, but Mousasi swept and then worked from his foe’s guard. After a scramble, Mousasi ended up on his back and landed an upkick while Machida was on knee, bringing a pause to the action by the referee to see if the fighter was OK after the illegal blow. The action continued, but just for a few seconds before the end of the round.
In the fifth round, Machida landed a hard knee and later put Mousasi on his back, working from guard and landing short strikes. Machida secured his opponent’s back and worked to sink in a rear-naked choke. Near end of the fight, Mousasi reversed position and Machida returned to his feet, allowing him to jump into guard and land one more punch before time expired.
Machida, who improved his record to 21-4 on Saturday, said he would like to face the UFC middleweight champion for his next fight, but added that it’s ultimately up to UFC President Dana White and the organization.
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