Former UFC light heavyweight champion and crème de la crème Karate master, Lyoto Machida, was on commentary duties for Karate Combat 42 in the Dominican Republic. While I was on location covering the event, I had the opportunity sit down with the combat sports legend for an exclusive interview.
With combat sports only existing through a marriage of sport and spectacle, I asked Machida about ways that Karate Combat could possibly navigate a traditional martial art with the sport and wild spectacle side of things. Of course, I had to ask when we would see Machida inside of a Karate Combat pit, and it might actually happen sooner rather than later.
Machida was also asked about the satisfaction he gets from the success of guys like Conor McGregor, who uses a lot of Karate in their own personal fighting styles. Lyoto also weighed in on the upcoming Anthony Pettis vs. Benson Henderson trilogy going down at KC 43 on December 15th in Las Vegas. Before it’s all said and done, I had to ask Machida about the new Karate Combat President drinking his own pee. Yes, that actually happened, and yes I saw it in person.
Lyoto Machida video interview
**I didn’t have a microphone on me, so Lyoto Machida’s voice is a bit drowned out. My apologies for the wonky audio
Ex-UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida talks with Bloody Elbow’s Eddie Mercado at KC 42 in the Dominican Republic
Balancing traditional Karate & the spectacle side of combat sports
EM: Karate is a traditional martial art, and combat sports seem to only thrive if there’s also the spectacle side of things. So what do you think is the best way for Karate Combat to balance the traditional arts side, the sport side, and the spectacle side?
LM: So, since karate became so popular, we kind of lost a lot of martial arts concepts. I really understand that because sometimes it’s important to spread around the world in a different concept, which means like more sport. So by Karate Combat came in a different way, bringing more contact, more like more real Karate. So here it can be an Olympic champion, world champion Karate, and amateur league in sports, but here is different. You have to prove that your Karate is still efficient.
Paving the way for Conor McGregor
EM: The UFC was started to bring Jiu Jitsu to America. Later down the line you came along and you put Karate back on the map. Do you take satisfaction in seeing the success of guys like Conor McGregor who clearly use a lot of Karate in their styles?
LM: Yes! I’m very happy because since my time, like it was hard. In my moment when I was in my prime, I didn’t see any Karate guy. And after that I could open the door for a lot of Karate guys like [Stephen] Thompson, like Conor McGregor.
Or even just having contact with Karate a little bit, understanding a little more about the sport, because people became very curious about what is Karate. It’s not only what you can see in the movie, but real Karate can use that. So I’m very happy because I could spread Karate that way.
Finishing competitive career with Karate Combat
EM: When can we expect to see you competing in the Karate Combat pit?
LM: Let’s see. Let’s see. Can be a great opportunity if we do a very good deal. We can do that for sure. I know Karate Combat is growing a lot. They’re on a different level since they started everything a couple years ago. Now it is in the eye of everyone. Everyone talks about Karate Combat, so I hope one day, because my time is coming, little by little. I’m 45-years-old. A little bit more, I’m not going to be able to compete anymore. But I still train every day. I still want to do a couple more fights. Then maybe because I started my career in Karate, it would be great if I finished my career in Karate.
Utilizing the KC pit embankments
EM: How would you use the 45 degree embankments on the KC pit wall?
LM: I have no idea. I’ve never trained like that. I’ve never had a spot like that to train. But I believe in my skills. It’s just a small detail that you can take advantage, but that’s not the complete game.
Anthony Pettis vs. Benson Henderson at KC 43
Chris LeBeau (Kanpai Media): KC 43 in Vegas next month has a trilogy, Benson Henderson vs. Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis. How do you think that will go?
LM: That’s a hard fight, man. They already fought before. It was a very close fight, but Anthony Pettis is a showman. He always has something under the sleeve, right? So, but I don’t know, man. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. It’s hard to predict any fight at a high level. If you train at a high level, you already know that. One punch sometimes can finish the fight, they can change the game. You never know. Both are very good strike.
New KC President drinking his own pee
EM: One last question. Were you surprised that the new Karate Combat President drank his own pee?
LM: Yes, I was very surprised because most of the people they cannot handle that. But he proved that he’s ready to assume as President haha.
Disclosure: Karate Combat is covering the author’s travel expenses to this event.
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