Lyoto Machida is always at or near the top of the UFC's Light-Heavyweight division. His speed and elusiveness combined with spectacular timing makes him a real puzzle to figure out. Machida made his name off of being hard to hit and countering his opponents as they attempted to close the distance. But what happens when his opponents don't give him that opportunity?
This past weekend Lyoto Machida dropped a decision to Phil Davis in what many people thought was a fight Machida was winning. The judges saw it differently. If you take a look at the scoring criteria,the decision may not seem nearly as surprising. Machida may get the nod in your book if you are looking at overall damage as he seemed to land the better strikes. The problem is, that was when he was throwing strikes. Davis never took a huge chance coming in, he never stood in the pocket, he fought extremely patient and forced Machida into a fight that he is not used to fighting.
Now if you take into account aggression and octagon control, those have to go to Davis. Phil controlled the pace and landed some takedowns along the way. He was controlling the center of the octagon for the bulk of the fight.
Machida's style is to stay on the outside, circling away from his opponent looking for perfect moments to strike. While this has been effective in the past, when a fight has close rounds, Machida loses those rounds because of how he doesn't control the center of the octagon or the pace of the fight. He fights totally reactive and that hurts him when he doesn't clearly win rounds.
I personally scored the fight for Machida, but it isn't crazy to think that Davis snuck the decision win. This will continue to happen to Machida as long as he continued to let his opponents dictate the pace of the fights he is in.