Lyoto Machida and Gegard Mousasi were light heavyweights at this time last year, and now they're in the 185 lbs division aiming to become champions. It marked a return to the division for Mousasi and just Machida's 2nd fight in the weight class after he destroyed Mark Munoz late last year. The crowd in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil was electric, and these two former LHW champions (Machida in the UFC and Mousasi in Strikeforce) squared off in the night's UFC Fight Night 36 main event.
As you can expect, these two tacticians played a waiting game for much of the opening round. The first hard and clean strike came from Machida, who fired off a kick to Mousasi's body. Machida tried to get inside and land a right uppercut but Mousasi avoided it well. Mousasi flicked out that jab and caught Machida once. Machida caught Mousasi with a good counter-left as Mousasi was coming in on him. It was tentative, it was a chess game, and after the first 5 it seemed to be a Machida round.
Machida immediately attacked Mousasi with a jumping kick but Mousasi was just out of range so no damage was inflicted. Machida buzzed Mousasi with a hard head kick that landed somewhere around the neck area, but Mousasi was able to score with a right hand seconds later. Mousasi's best offense of the fight up to this point was a brief but accurate combination to Machida's head, and he followed that up with some leg kicks, and he closed out the 2nd with another kick to the lead leg.
Mousasi opened up the 3rd with a sneaking left hook and then tried for a takedown but Machida thwarted his efforts. Lyoto started to increase his offensive output, catching Mousasi with body kicks, punches, and knees to the body. Mousasi had a cut on his nose and it looked like Machida was going to dominate the round, but he was able to score with another combination to the head. Regardless, it was still arguably Machida's strongest round.
Round 4 began with Mousasi completing a takedown only for Machida to scramble to his feet instantaneously. Lyoto was comfortably switching stances as Mousasi backed off and didn't pressure. Machida took Mousasi down and worked to advance to side control, but Mousasi swept him and managed top position. "The Dragon" attacked with a kimura and later an omoplata, but they were low-percentage to begin with and Mousasi easily fended both attempts. Mousasi was working on taking Machida's back but lost the position and ended up on his back, where he threw an illegal upkick to a downed Machida. No point deduction was given, and the round ended with Machida on top but without the time to actually do anything significant.
The 5th and final round saw Machida connect with some hard knees, and Mousasi answered with a good left hand that forced Lyoto to back up. Machida began to bleed from his nose, possibly from that left hand. Mousasi found himself on the bottom with 2 minutes remaining after losing his balance; Lyoto trying to attain full mount. Mousasi prevented it but Machida soon gained back mount with both hooks in and tried for a rear-naked choke. Machida couldn't flatten Mousasi out, Gegard scrambled briefly to his feet before dropping back on his own. From there, with seconds left in the fight, Machida dove in hard on his guard with a vicious right hand that appeared to hurt Mousasi as he covered up until the final horn sounded. A very technical and well fought bout, and in the end Machida was awarded a deserved decision.
Official Result: Lyoto Machida (20-4) def. Gegard Mousasi (34-3-2) by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46).
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