If these NBA playoffs have been too rough and violent for you, then this column is probably not for you. Rather than to write some more about how great these playoffs have been, today it is time for The Hoops Manifesto to make way for The MMA Manifesto. If you don’t know what MMA is, that is that sport where you are allowed to punch, kick and choke your opponent (and I’m not talking about hockey).
And if we are going to talk MMA, we have to talk about the man of the hour – newly crowned UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida. The Dragon’s mix of Shotokan karate and Brazilian Jiu–Jitsu has taken the fighting world by storm, and his name is now in the mix for best pound-for-pound fighter in the world (along with GSP, Fedor and Anderson Silva). And, perhaps most interesting, he has shown that karate can be an effective tool in the octagon.
What the 14-0 Machida has done over his past two UFC fights is truly stunning. His knockouts of previous undefeated Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans were devastating, with neither opponent having a chance in either fight. His dismantling of Evans on Saturday was especially impressive, as, per usual, Machida barely got touched throughout the fight. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee couldn’t be a more fitting description of Machida’s fighting style. With precision, pin-point kicks and punches his offense is deadly, especially considering he leans back when he kicks his opponent, nullifying any chance of a counterstrike. But his defense might be even more impressive than his offense. Extremely quick and light on his feet for his size, The Dragon dodges and weaves his opponent’s strikes and is next to impossible to take down.
Next up for Machida is apparently top contender Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. As formidable as the former champ is, he has no shot at beating Machida. Jackson has proven to have no desire to check his opponent’s leg kicks, and it cost him the belt when he fought Forrest Griffin. The Karate Kid will eat him up with kicks, and Rampage’s aggressive style will allow Machida plenty of openings to strike.
So if Rampage doesn’t have a shot at beating him, then who does? Undefeated fighters don’t stay undefeated for too long, so Machida is bound to lose soon, right? Maybe not. Scanning UFC’s current light heavyweight division (perhaps the company’s strongest weight class) there are no names that jump off the page at you as a potential knight to slay The Dragon. But there is one man who would have a shot at beating Machida. That would be middleweight king Anderson Silva.
Silva, like Machida, is a puzzle that few opponents can solve. Silva is also one of the rare fighters who can go up in weight and still be successful. So Silva going up to light heavyweight and fighting Machida in a “superfight” that Dana White is so fond of would be a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Silva and Machida are training partners and have stated that they have no interest in fighting one another. And even if they did step into the octagon to face one another, would they even fight? Both Brazilians tend to dance around the ring and wait for their opponent to make the first move. Would there even be a first move if these two went at it?