Sherdog was on the press conference call:
Rua, who was lauded for his calculated attacks against Machida, said he’s been planning and drilling alternative strategies but doesn’t forget that he’s facing an unorthodox striker.
“Many people think that taking the fight to the ground and working the ground with Machida would be a good way to win the fight, but that’s a very hard thing to (do) because Lyoto is a very good player on the ground and he’s trained a lot of sumo and wrestling, so he has a very good base,” said Rua. “Sometimes it’s very hard to get him down to the ground.
“When you prepare (for) a fight, you have to focus on the worst situation you can go through in a fight,” he continued. “Fighting Machida, the toughest situation you can find is fighting him standing up.”
Fighters are always vague and cagey when discussing their strategies pre-fight and rightfully so. Nevertheless, this little bit of entrail reading is very interesting to me.
First let’s put it in context — Shogun essentially “solved” Lyoto Machida’s innovative (for MMA) striking style at UFC 113. Before facing Shogun, Machida had utterly baffled every opponent he’d faced in the UFC, most notably Rashad Evans.
I’m hoping to be able to focus on breaking down what Shogun did in some detail before the fight, but let’s start with a quick summary:
- Machida’s Shotokan Karate style emphasizes evading strikes above all else;
- Machida fights outside the kickboxing range of most fighters, he lunges in to land punches then retreats and throws kicks from the far outside — aiming to land with his feet rather than his shins as Muay Thai-based fighters do;
- Machida looks to strike at the very instant when his opponent has committed to a strike and is therefore helpless to react;
- Machida is also a double threat from the clinch: Machida has incorporated a fair bit of Muay Thai into his clinch game, especially knees from the plum, he also has an arsenal of trips and sweeps from the most common wrestling tie ups;
- Machida loves to trip and sweep opponents while also landing punches and kicks from range;
- Machida uses a bewildering array of feints and misdirections to keep opponents guessing.
- Constantly walking down Machida and cutting off the cage while maintaining a tight defensive posture with his hands up;
- Ignoring the movement of Machida’s limbs and focusing entirely on his trunk;
- Refusing to strike first but immediately countering with kicks to the legs and body anytime Machida lunged in to strike.
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