Lyoto Machida interrupted his training in Belem, Brazil - where he prepares for the upcoming challenge versus Randy Couture at UFC 129, on April 30th, in Toronto, Canada - to talk exclusively with Fighters Only’s Eduardo Cruz.
He talked about his preparation, strategy, placement in the division and his strong desire to avenge the decision loss he suffered to Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.
“My training was completely executed in Para where I trained with Glover Teixeira, who came to give a hand. He is a very good fighter at takedowns. Coach Dorea also came in and Paulo Afonso, who is multiple Karate champion, a man with a very explosive game. Actually the team is the same but these athletes came for additional support,” he said when asked to name who was around him in the camp at present.
In Couture, ‘The Dragon’ faces an adversary recognized for his strong clinch game against the cage and the Brazilian has trained for this aspect of Couture’s game heavily, concentrating on avoiding the takedown in order to put his karate to use.
Interestingly, Machida - who practices a family style called Machida Karate - says the fight could still go to the mat, if he decides to take Couture down and surprise him. It is possible as after all, we have seen Machida’s very effective foot sweeps in past fights.
“Sure, I intend to take him down” Machida said when asked by this possibility. “Because I believe in a transitional game, a game with kicks and punches to surprise him with a takedown. This is not going to be a wrestling fight, this is going to be an MMA fight.”
The former light heavyweight champion turned the conversation to the unanimous decision loss to Quinton Jackson late last year. He does not accept that the judges’ decision was the right one and is furious that the result damaged his running for the title shot.
“That fight was not conclusive. It would be a great fight and nothing would be more fair than a revenge (rematch) because even Rampage himself recognized the loss at the end… but that’s it, I can’t stay bothered because I have to move ahead.
“I was sad about the loss because I would have been the next in line after Rashad Evans, who got injured and couldn’t dispute the belt. Then it would have been me fighting Shogun and not Jon Jones - but that’s okay, I think now I have got to look for what belongs to me.”
During the conversation, Lyoto recalled an occasion where the veteran Couture had called him out. It was back when the karateka became the champion, but Machida doesn’t see it as a literal challenge. Instead, he embraces the opportunity.
“Indeed Couture spoke about it for a long time [fighting me]; when I became the 205lbs champion and then he asked again later to face me. He believes a lot in his strategy and I feel nothing but respect for the fighter and hero that he is. He helped to build this sport and put it at the current level of its evolution.”
Part of that evolution has been the increase in size and strength of the modern athletes now entering the MMA game. Machida has noticed this and remarked that physical conditioning is now often the decisive aspect in many fights.
“I take care of all the necessary aspects and the physical part is no different. These guys are coming very strong in power now. Phil Davis for example, who is lighter than other heavyweights, used his strength to hold the fight with Rogerio Minotouro. There exists a concern with this aspect, certainly.”
At the end of the conversation Machida took the time to thank fans for their support on Twitter and Facebook. The last question concerned who he would like to fight if he gets past Couture at UFC 129. He needed no time. “Rampage,” he said instantly.
“The revenge with Rampage would be the fight I would choose after defeating Couture. It makes all the sense,” he explains.