Ortiz’s name has been tarnished by his record over the past few years but at the time he met Machida the former “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” was still a semi-credible competitor. He was coming off a draw against Rashad Evans and was 5-1 in the six scraps preceding that performance. Still, he stood no match for Machida, eating shots early and often. Also memorable, Ortiz nearly sunk in a late Triangle Choke but Machida stayed calm and collected, escaping the technique and eventually taking home the decision nod in what marks the Brazilian’s first big win in the Octagon. Neither Machida nor Franklin was a household name when they locked horns a decade ago in Japan at one of the nation’s annual New Year’s Eve events. In fact, it was only the third fight of Machida’s career. Rather than stumble against the more-seasoned Franklin who already had two UFC fights under his belt at the time, “The Dragon” ended up picking up a second round knockout with aid from a head kick. The outcome was the only loss of Franklin’s career up until his run-in with Anderson Silva nine fights later with the middleweight title in tow, while Machida won thirteen straight after the victory including the UFC belt. Machida’s triumph over Henderson wouldn’t make a “Prettiest of…” list when it comes to his career but there’s no arguing against the effectiveness of his strategy in the showdown. Machida kept Henderson at bay for most of the match-up, being economical with his offensive output but doing enough to maintain control in the eyes of officials. Henderson was never able to land his patented “H-Bomb” or do much of anything with consistency, finding frustration more often than Machida’s chin. The ensuing Split Decision win was supposed to earn Machida a title-shot, though fate ultimately dealt him a different hand in the form of a closely-contested decision defeat to Phil Davis and subsequent drop to 185 pounds. There are few finishes in UFC history as iconic as the knockout Machida dealt Couture a couple of years ago. Known for his karate background, Machida channeled his inner Daniel LaRusso and hit Couture with a front kick to the face sending “The Natural” down and out. The triumph snapped a three-fight winning streak for Couture and was the final fight of the Hall of Famer’s career. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Evans’ name at the top of this list. After all, Machida’s finish of “Sugar” ‘Shad earned him the championship. Evans was unbeaten when he and Machida mixed it up and was coming off consecutive victories over Michael Bisping, Chuck Liddell, and Forrest Griffin. Still, he didn’t even make it out of the second stanza with Machida, suffering one of the most brutal knockouts ever seen in the Octagon when he folded backwards into the fence. To date it’s the only time Evans has been finished. Machida would go on to successfully defend the belt against Mauricio Rua by way of a controversial decision, then lose it in an immediate rematch.
UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida will start a new phase of his career this coming weekend when he dips down to middleweight with hopes of following in the footsteps of friend by eventually winning divisional gold. While Machida’s main event match-up with Anderson Silva Mark Munoz at is certainly an important moment in the 35-year old’s run, it’s definitely not the first time he’s been put in a bout with high stakes against an apt adversary. And, as history has shown, chances are good he’ll come out on top when things are said and done. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC Fight Night 30