Lyoto Machida’s Boxing Strikes
Observation: Lyoto Machida likes to use straight shots.
Explanation: “He knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and he uses that,” says Lito Angeles, author of Fight Night! The Thinking Fan’s Guide to Mixed Martial Arts. “That’s not to say he doesn’t do anything else; it just seems to be his main thing. Note that the straight punches he uses are more boxing than shotokan.”
Action for Your MMA Training: “In sparring, move in and out and from side to side, and when your opponent follows you, blast him right down the middle with a straight shot,” Lito Angeles says.
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Lyoto Machida’s Shotokan Stance
Observation: When Lyoto Machida is far from his foe, he tends to hold his front hand at shoulder level and away from his body instead of near his chin, where most fighters keep theirs.
Explanation: “Sticking his front hand out like that may be from his shotokan background, or it may be his way of lulling his opponent into thinking there’s an opening,” Lito Angeles says. “It could be both. In either case, he uses it as a feeler or a range finder.”
Action for Your MMA Training: If you really want to experiment with an extended lead hand, make sure you have the requisite speed and timing to nail your opponent when he comes in for what he thinks is the kill. “But I don’t recommend trying it in a fight,” Lito Angeles says. “Machida makes it work because he’s been doing it since he was a kid.”
Lyoto Machida’s Foot Sweeps
Observation: Lyoto Machida loves the foot sweep.
Explanation: “It’s another trademark of shotokan,” Lito Angeles says. “If your timing is right, it can work. If not, it can still off-balance your opponent for a moment, giving you a chance to hit him.”
Part of the reason the foot sweep is effective is almost no one uses it in MMA, Lito Angeles adds. That means few fighters are prepared to defend against it.
Action for Your MMA Training: Get thee to a shotokan tournament. It’s a great place to hone your foot sweeps against a live opponent.
Lyoto Machida’s Round Kicks
Observation: Lyoto Machida favors the round kick.
Explanation: “Shotokan is all about basic techniques — the round kick, front kick, reverse punch and foot sweep,” Lito Angeles says. “When shotokan practitioners fight, those are the techniques you see the most.
“He often uses the kick to set up punches. He doesn’t step in to deliver his round kick like Thai boxers do; instead, he flicks it out from wherever he is. It’s not as powerful, but it creates an opening for him to lunge in.”
Action for Your MMA Training: Head to the dojo and spend time kicking the heavy bag, then polish your technique on a sparring partner. When you’ve got it down pat, use it in combinations.
Lyoto Machida’s Fight Plan
Observation: “Some people have criticized Lyoto Machida for not being exciting to watch,” Lito Angeles says, “but he’s got a formula that works for him.”
Explanation: “There are still questions about how good he is on the ground, whether he has a chin and if he’s good in the clinch,” he says, “but his skills are such that he doesn’t let his opponents get him in positions that would reveal any weaknesses.”
Action for Your MMA Training: Vow never to fight your opponent’s fight. Do whatever it takes to make him fight yours.