There comes a time in every fighter’s career when things start to go downhill. For Lyoto Machida, last night was evidence that the once brutal knockout artist, is no longer on top of the hill.

Against Luke Rockhold, fans saw ‘The Dragon’ struggle to deal with a bigger fighter, something he had much success with early on in his career. Machida vowed to come back quickly after the loss, because he felt the way he fought was not an accurate representation of the fighter that he has become.

After last night’s devastating loss to Yoel Romero at UFC Fight Night 70, it’s apparent that ‘The Dragon’ is nearing the end of his career. And as fans, all we can do is send our praise to Machida, as he helped change the face of MMA.

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Back at UFC 98, Machida knocked out Rashad Evans to take the light heavyweight championship. What he did that night was more then just show that Evans was vulnerable to a really good counter striker – Machida showed a style that many fighters learned to incorporate into their games.

Karate is often a very misunderstood art. It behooves me that more fighters didn’t assume a karate background, as it’s elusive foot movement and striking have benefited everyone who has used it. Machida showed that the art of defense is equally as important as offense in the sport of MMA.

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Throughout his career, Machida put together a very respectable record of 22-7. He entered the UFC undefeated, but the losses started flowing more regularly after he was decimated by Mauricio Rua in a light heavyweight title rematch at UFC 113. Since then, Machida made another run at the light heavyweight belt, eventually getting choked to sleep by Jon Jones. He made a move down to middleweight, which led to an unsuccessful attempt at Chris Weidman‘s belt.

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Despite the recent lack of success, Machida introduced the world of MMA to something new. Comparing the champions of today to the champions of old shows the disparity in talent level. Machida was able to expose that gap many years ago, and for that, the sport flourished.

As an MMA fan, I am very thankful for all that Machida has done for the UFC, and MMA in general. He is not done, but he won’t be making another tile run in the foreseeable future.

(Comment below with you favorite Lyoto Machida moments)