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Breaking down UFC 123: Rampage Jackson vs. Lyoto Machida

For first time ever, Machida looks to bounce back from loss


Ryan Remiorz / AP

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, from Brazil, is thrown to the mat by fellow Brazilian Lyoto Machida in the first round during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 113 on May 8, 2010.

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DETROIT — Following every one of the 16 consecutive wins Lyoto Machida strung together to start his professional career, the UFC light heavyweight would remind himself that the result of any fight has no effect on the next one.

As the former champion looks to bounce back from the first loss of his career in Saturday’s UFC 123 main event against Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, he’s looking to live by that mindset now more than ever.

“It’s kind of like when I won. It’s the same thing,” said Machida, through translator Ed Soares. “I always go into every fight trying to forget about what happened in the last. Whether I won or lost, it’s no different.

“I’m going in forgetting about what happened and it’s a new challenge every time.”

After claiming the light heavyweight title with a knockout win over Rashad Evans in May 2009, Machida claimed the reputation of an unbeatable man in the UFC.

Much was made over the fact he was the ‘least hit fighter in UFC history’ according to president Dana White and stats circulated that he hadn’t even lost a round under the organization, much less a fight.

Trained under the traditional martial arts concepts of humility and respect, Machida said he tried his best not to listen to the claims being made about him.

But it was difficult.

“When you’re in that situation, with so many people saying, ‘Lyoto has never lost a round. Lyoto never gets hit,’ it’s almost like your success affects you,” Machida said. “I always believed that wasn’t true. But the more people would say it, it was hard not to get it in my head.”

The Machida mystique came crashing down hard earlier this year, when current champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua knocked out Machida in the first round of their rematch at UFC 113 in May.

Suddenly, not only had it been proved that Machida could be hit, there was evidence that suggested he doesn’t respond well when it happens.

At least, that’s how Jackson saw it.

“When he does get hit, he goes down,” Jackson said. “Being a fighter, I can tell that wasn’t really a strong punch that dropped him. It comes with a price — if you’re not used to getting hit.

“That tell me, if you’re not getting hit in fights you’re not getting hit in sparring either. I let people hit me in sparring sometimes. I actually like getting hit.”

What remains to be seen now is how Machida responds to the first hit on his career.

After dominating his opposition for so long, it will be interesting to see if ‘The Dragon’ comes out a little gun-shy after suffering his first loss — which just so happened to end in vicious fashion.

Jackson says he remembers the first time he was knocked out, by Wanderlei Silva under the PRIDE organization in 2003, he came back hesitant in his next fight.

Known for pressuring opponents and aggressively trying to finish fights, Jackson says he came out uncharacteristically bobbing and weaving in his next fight.

Machida would likely love to say that won’t be the case with him Saturday, but as the Brazilian fighter admitted, he and everyone else will have to see how things play out.

“I’m prepared to give my all,” Machida said. “It’s hard to say what I’m going to do or not going to do. We’ll see Saturday night.”

While the loss to Rua left him minus a UFC belt and a perfect record, Machida says a familiar fire has been burning in him ever since May.

After wearing his emotion on his sleeve when he first claimed the belt in 2009, the former champion believes losing the belt has him as motivated as he’s ever been.

“Losing the belt gave me back that motivation,” Machida said. “I definitely have that hunger again. It’s back in me.”

Quick Hits:

Following a decision loss in his last fight to Rashad Evans in May, Jackson admitted he wasn’t as aggressive as he should have been.

With that in mind, aggression seems to be the theme of Jackson’s strategy for this fight.

“People can expect for me to try and finish the fight,” Jackson said. “I’m kind of proud of my fighting style — that I’m always trying to finish the fight.

“I’ve just got to be careful. Machida is a very awkward fighter. I respect him because he uses karate, he was undefeated for a long time, but I’m not a fan of his just because of his willingness not to engage. It’s just one of those fights where I’ve got to see how it goes.”

Jackson might have the ability to get to the fight to the ground if he chooses to, but given his recent history of standup fights and comments on brawling, it seems unlikely that’s his game plan.

Rua remains the only fighter who has given Machida significant problems from a standup aspect in the UFC, so Jackson might be playing with fire if he chooses to stand.

However, if Jackson is correct on Machida’s suspect chin and if the knockout loss had an effect on him, it could level the playing field.

Last Time Out:

Jackson: Unanimous decision loss to Rashad Evans at UFC 114.

Machida: Knockout loss to Mauricio Rua at UFC 113.

The Lines: Jackson, plus-220; Machida, minus-280

Final Words:

Jackson: On Machida’s boring style: “I wouldn’t watch a Lyoto fight. No disrespect to him, there are a couple fighters out there I won’t watch. I like guys who fight. This is the UFC. We fight in a cage.”

Machida: On Jackson’s comments he’s a boring fighter: “I don’t really know what is behind Rampage saying those things. I remember a story about a battle where there were 10 guys on one side and 100 guys on the other. On the side with 10 guys, one of them went to the general and said, ‘there are 100 guys on their side. What are we going to do?’ The general said, ‘we’re not here to count how many guys the enemy has. We’re here to fight in battle.’

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at LVSunFighting

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