I realize this blog is more about Chicago sports and not MMA (and also that my last post here was posted sometime during the Cold War) but honestly I don't give a fuck. At UFC 98 Lyoto Machida destroyed Rashad Evans to claim the most contested belt in MMA, the UFC Light Heavyweight title. In doing so it seems that many people are making him out to be Jesus. Machida is, to be truthful, my favorite fighter, but I can easily put aside my bias to disect the possibilities of him being defeated. Let's go through the division to see if anyone can beat the Machida karate black belt.
CONTENDER 1!: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
-I love Quinton. He's hilarious, he has completely disregarded the need for any kind of ground game outside of "GET THA FUCK OFFA ME!" and "BITCH IMA PUNCH AND SLAM YO ASS!", and best of all he can actually beat the hell out of people who know that. The differences between Rashad and Rampage though, sadly, aren't very big. The only difference is Rampage has better striking (he could be the best boxer in the UFC) and his blocking is better. But the difference will look negligible when he fights Machida, who can't be hit by the slightly slower-than-Rashad strikes Rampage will throw. And Rampage sure as hell isn't taking Machida down.
-Also, let's throw Wanderlei Silva into this category as well. His strategy would be about the same, and after all, he's just too old.
CONTENDER 2!: Forrest Griffin
-Yes Griffin DID just lose to Rashad, who just lost to Machida, but Griffin was doing well in that fight until he got caught a couple times. If Forrest would stop underestimating his OWN jujitsu he might have-scratch that- WOULD have beaten Rashad. (It also wouldn't hurt if he started bleeding a little... it seems like he can't win if his face isnt soaked in blood). If Griffin can do that against Machida he may very well have a chance on the ground. standing, Forrest is best when using his kicks... and kicks are what Machida loves. Forrest is an extremely intelligent fighter, so he'll probably take the fight to the ground. If he succeeds in that he may be able to beat Lyoto... but it's still only a tiny chance because Lyoto is no slouch on the ground either.
THREAT?: He has a shot... maybe 25%
CONTENDER 3!: Anderson "The Spider" Silva
-The reason Silva is listed at number 3 here is because I don't think he'll pull his head out of his ass fast enough and Forrest is going to knock him unconcious. HOWEVER, if he does manage to awaken his killer instinct fighting Forrest (which is 100% what Dana White and Joe Silva are trying to do at UFC 101) the Spider will be Lyoto's toughest test. It would be the meeting of two fighters who appear, from all angles, to be invincible. Silva has so many different ways to hurt you its (seemingly) impossible to read his attacks. It is this quality that could prove to be the only REAL threat to a long, long Machida title defense.
THREAT?: If he's back to his old self; 50-50 chance. If he's not, we won't have to worry about it.
FINAL CONTENDER: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
-I am only adding Shogun so I can dis him. This guy was so unprepared and unconditioned for the Coleman fight that he couldn't knock out a guy WHO WAS DEAD for 3 full rounds. Then he knocks out Chuck Liddell and people think he's back? Are you nuts? EVERYBODY KNOCKS OUT LIDDELL! The guy blocks with his face! Shogun has one more shot to impress against somebody (winner of Griffin-Silva or maybe Rashad Evans) before I pronounce him dead for good. He hasn't looked impressive for about 18 months. Threaten Jesus? I don't think so.
THREAT?: FUCK AND NO.
Essentially, Machida is doing something I have always wondered about. These days fighters seem absolutely sure that the way to victory in MMA is through either Boxing or Muay Thai, a solid wrestling base, and/or BJJ skills. But what if somebody actually mastered a different martial art? Stepped outside the box? Machida has done that and the results aren't that surprising. His footwork is probably the prettiest thing I've ever seen, he has no hesitation to exploit an opening, and his strikes are dead on. He is the closest thing to an unbeatable fighter there is. Enjoy watching him while you can until he inevitably rises to Heaven to reign over us for a millenia.