Lyoto Machida lived to fight another day, as ‘The Dragon’ took a calculated approach to out-pointing Eryk Anders on Saturday night.
The main event of UFC Belem on Saturday night in Brazil was set up for a passing of the guard. The former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida was long removed from his title reign. At 39, the Karate expert had lost his last three fights, and four of his past five. Eryk Anders, meanwhile, was part of the new breed. Undefeated at 10-0, he was looking to break into the top fifteen by finishing a legend.
The Alabama native spoke to Cageside Press ahead of the bout, explaining that he was ready for the long haul — and that Machida was just another opponent in his way.
That said, the pair were fighting in Machida’s home town. Anders had called for the fight back in December after his win at UFC Fresno. So how did it play out?
Anders held the center early, with Machida in his familiar karate stance. He opened things with a leg kick. The crowd was bellowing “Lyoto” over and over. Anders continued to stalk the Brazilian legend, but it was Machida using a leg kick to take Anders off his feet. Machida went right into guard, working to make space. Anders closed his guard and worked to control the wrists. Machida then backed off, while Anders threatened with an upkick. Machida launched some snapping leg kicks to the thigh of Anders, chopping at him. Finally, Machida stepped over and went back on top, but Anders scrambled up! They circled each other for the remainder of the round, mostly throwing single strike attacks.
Round two saw Anders land a big counter left on a Machida kick. Anders then drove his opponent up against the cage. Machida recovered, and freed himself, but the momentum had shifted. Anders led with the jab, and again nearly caught Machida coming in. Machida continued to work his leg kicks. In the final thirty seconds, Anders connected with another big left, which may have stunned ‘The Dragon’ — but the Brazilian was able to escape.
In round three, Anders caught a body kick early, taking Machida down. They were up just as quickly, but Anders opened up a nasty cut with a knee on Loyoto Machida on the way up. Anders launched a high kick. Machida fired back. Anders stalked his prey, showing surprising patience. Perhaps too much so, as Machida attacked with a left of his own. Anders fired another knee in a clinch. Anders then fired off another big left in the final thirty seconds of the third, chasing Machida down and landing another, then clinching along the fence. Machida was gushing blood by the end of the round.
Machida came out firing in the fourth, landing a body kick early. Anders continued to press forward. He then unloaded some wild punches that came up short. Machida continued to circle out of danger. On the next attack by Anders, Machida slipped escaping, and Anders rushed in. Machida made it back up quickly, however, only to be pressed into the cage. Anders battled for head position, but Machida was able to break free. He later caught a kick, which resulted in Machida looking for the neck of his opponent. The pair were way too slick with blood for that however. Anders worked for a single leg, briefly landing it. They would, however, go to the fifth round.
The final round saw Eryk Anders coming out and once again walking down Lyoto Machida. Machida threw a kick to the body, but Anders shrugged it off and kept pressing forward. Another counter left came close for Anders following a Machida kick. Machida would fire a big knee later in the round that was one of his better attacks; Anders lurched forward, but Machida failed to capitalize. Anders then scored a late takedown, only to be shrugged off the back of his opponent.
Ultimately, it went to the judges. Two saw it for the Brazilian legend, who called for a fight with Michael Bisping after the bout.
Lyoto Machida def. Eryk Anders by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)