I must admit that it wasn't until the amazing KO victory over Thiago Silva at UFC 94 that I actually started paying attention to the outstanding and unorthodox fighter Lyoto Machida.
Upon first impressions, Lyoto strook me as perhaps a little different, if not even a little uncautious in his fighting style as his karate stance seemed to leave him wide open to attacks, unlike the more conventional MMA stance. Yet it wasn't until I realized how he was putting this almost luring stance to excellent use that I began to contemplate that I might be witnessing a new legend in the making.
Well, sure there are many amzingly talented individuals in the sport of MMA today (GSP, Fedor, Anderson Silva to name but a few), but I cant help think that like all great fighters, their reign is never eternal, but Machida might be different!
After all I remember a time when BJ Penn seemed almost invincible, but to me MMA has always been a game of Rock-paper-scissors. One minute all the craze is BJJ, the next it is striking, suddenly everyone is shifting towards wrestling and it seems that the once invincible fighters styles are being canceled out by another e.g. GSP vs BJ Penn in UFC 94 - where GSP used wrestling and Ground'n'Pound to nullify Penn's boxing and BJJ skills.
But what makes Machida so different?
Well, it's not very often that you see such amazing talent with all the core MMA skills (wrestling, striking, judo, bbj etc) being put to use in such an unorthodox manner that even the best don't know how to defend against it, never mind replicate it in a sparring environment.
Does anyone remember a guy called Naseem Hamed from the mide 90's in the boxing circuit, his style was so unorthodox, by the time anyone could figure out to beat him he had already won the world title and defeated many other world class opponents.
Although I don't wont to compare Lyoto Machida to anyone else, especially anyone else in boxing which is a totally different kettle of fish, my main point is that when you get someone who can make the likes of Rashad Evans look defenseless whilst robing him of the UFC title, you have to be asking yourself, what else is this guy capable of doing?
I just think we might be witnessing a new era of MMA, at least in the terms of opening our minds to possible new styles, such as variations of karate (which BTW is the same style GSP grew up on) being incorporated into our arsenal of existing MMA styles.
But remembering that it's only early days for Machida, as he will now have to face up to an onslaught of world class contenders who will be hunting to take his belt, and whilst I'm in no way suggesting that he is undefeatable, I am definitely keen to see how the Machida story plays out in the future.
Grip strength and wrist exercises