After a two-year suspension, Lyoto Machida made his return on Saturday night in Sao Paulo in front of his countrymen. But his welcome back party was spoiled inside two and a half minutes by a left hook from Derek Brunson.
What was the high point of the fight?
As soon as the fight started, Machida looked right at home, seemingly having no rust from his lengthy layoff. He kept his distance and took on the counter-striking role, which was a classic showing from “The Dragon”.
But credit to Brunson for keeping patient and finding the right timing for his left hook. Once he did, he immediately followed it up with menacing punches from up top, which forced the referee to stop the fight.
Where to these two go from here?
What was left of the mystique from the “Machida Era” has been totally erased after this fight. He is no longer as elusive, his chin has taken enough damage, and opponents have begun to figure out the right strategy to fight him. Now on his third straight loss (all by stoppage), the 39-year-old Machida may need to get back to the drawing board and assess his next move.
A win against a former champion and a fighter of Machida’s stature is definitely a feather in Brunson’s cap. It opens up a lot of opportunities for him, and definitely puts him in the mix of next title contenders. Probably a win against someone in the top five like Chris Weidman or Jacare Souza could help solidify his position.
Watch it now, later, or never?
It would be hard for Lyoto Machida fans to watch this, but the changing of the guard scenario that took place makes this a must-see fight.