Lyoto Machida Adds Another Special Moment to His Highlight Reel With a Devastating Headkick to Finish Vitor Belfort…
There wasn’t a whole load of enthusiasm about this fight in the build-up. Both Machida and Belfort are two men whose careers are inarguably in decline. Both men have been cited for using performance-enhancing drugs in the recent past, and have amassed a number of losses.
Machida was coming into this one off a very narrow win over Eryk Anders, while Belfort had recently beaten Nate Marquardt. This was a fun match-up for UFC 224 fans, watching in the Jeunesse Arena, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with both men eager to put on a performance for their home crowd.
Both of these men are former UFC light-heavyweight champions. Meeting this time at middleweight, they’d never fought before, which is bizarre considering how long their careers have been and how well known they are. Anyway, fans were served up a delicious 2nd round finish. What more could you want?
Out of Nothing
As you might expect, it was very cagey in the cage from the beginning. Machida was counterstriking going backward, while Belfort was counterstriking going forwards. Typically, Machida plugged away with kicks, preventing his opponent from closing the distance.
Belfort’s corner pleaded with him to close the distance. Easier said than done against a fighter of Machida’s quality and style. The second round started with wild shots being traded but nothing major connecting. Then SNAP – it happened.
Machida landed the slickest front kick you’ll ever see, clipping Belfort’s chin. It was goodnight Brazil straight away, and he stayed knocked out for what seemed to be a couple of minutes. Respect to Machida for not following up. He stood over his downed opponent in a sign of respect. What a finish.
Could this be the start of Machida’s Indian summer? It’s his second win on the bounce, although this time around it was much more assertive. Before that, he had lost three in a row – to Derek Brunson, Yoel Romero, and Luke Rockhold – suggesting that he can’t hang out with the middleweight elite.
Belfort is definitely not an elite fighter right now – at least not since USADA got involved – and this was a sad way for the Brazilian to end his career. However, take nothing away from the quality of the finish. A fight against someone like David Branch might a good test for Machida, who at the very least can act as a gatekeeper for the top of the division.
After the fight, Machida called out recently almost-retired Michael Bisping. He also broke down his finishing move, acknowledging that it was like his most famous KO, over Randy Couture.
“I trained a lot for this fight, but I did not train the front kick that much,” Machida said after the fight. “But when you are well-trained and well-prepared, you can see the fight more clearly and be able to do things that you did not even train.”
Great finish, and it’s good to see a UFC legend rising back up the ranks again. Elsewhere, Amanda Nunes defended her title for the third time against Raquel Pennington. Kelvin Gastelum took a narrow win over Jacare Souza. Meanwhile, Mackenzie Dern submitted Amanda Bobby Cooper.