At UFC 98, when Lyoto Machida made Rashad Evans look like a sleeping fish on the canvas, Joe Rogan so famously said: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Machida era.”
Unfortunately for Machida, that era only lasted a little while. A controversial split decision win in his first title defense against Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua at UFC 104 prompted Dana White to call for an immediate rematch. At UFC 113, Shogun got his revenge, viciously knocking out the dragon in the first round.
Machida had some success following his title reign in the light heavyweight division. He racked up some big wins against the likes of Ryan Bader, Dan Henderson and Gegard Mousasi. His eventual move down to the middleweight division led him to a title fight with still champion Chris Weidman, in which the Dragon lost via unanimous decision.
Machida’s last fight against Luke Rockhold was scary, to say the least. I can’t recall a time in my MMA watching career, with the exception of Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson, where one fighter dominated the other like Rockhold did with Machida. Machida looked beat two minutes into the fight.
A fight with Yoel Romero is very dangerous for Machida at this point in his career. According to Matt Erickson of mmajunkie.com, Machida feels that a win over Romero will keep him entrenched in the title picture.
While I can’t disagree with Machida’s way of thinking, I don’t think he has a win sealed up against Romero. Romero will certainly push the Dragon to his bounds, so we will see if the battle tested veteran can put up with that type of pressure.
If Machida exits Hollywood, Florida with a win, there isn’t a clear path up for him. Machida was dismantled my Rockhold, and beat decisively by Weidman. Like the title says, ‘The Window Of Opportunity Is Closing Fast.’ We very well could be witnessing the last chapter in the MMA career book of Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida.