It’s been a hard road for former UFC champ Lyoto Machida these past few years. Two stoppage losses to top middleweight contenders Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero were followed by a two-year suspension for 7-Keto-DHEA, a substance Machida didn’t realize was illegal due to its absence from the Portuguese version of the USADA banned substance list. His return in October 2017 ended with a first-round knockout to Derek Brunson, and had a lot of people wondering whether Machida’s days in the UFC were numbered.
Across from the 40-year-old Machida was 30-year old Eryk Anders. Anders is a rising star in the UFC, a former Alabama Crimson Tide player whose two fights with the promotion have resulted in impressive wins. Even with his fast ride to the top of a UFC card, Anders was still a heavy favorite coming into his fight with Machida off his knockout power, something Machida has seemed susceptible to in his past few fights.
In the end, it took a bit of a gift decision for Machida to overcome Anders, with the judges rendering a split decision 48-47 Machida, 48-47 Anders, and 49-46 Machida. Anders was the aggressor through the majority of the fight while Machida used his patented karate stance to keep him at a distance while firing off endless kicks. Anders was undoubtedly the more dangerous fighter in the cage and managed to split Machida’s head open with a big knee, but in the end, the judges awarded Lyoto the win off his active kick game. A cynic might suggest a hometown advantage for the Brazilian in Belem came into play.
Round one saw Machida controlling the fight, attacking Anders’ legs with a steady stream of leg kicks. But in round two Anders responded with some big left-hand counters, looking dangerous and catching Machida in two exchanges that made the Brazilian look concerned. A big knee from Anders in round three left Machida bleeding all over the place and unable to do much but throw ineffectual kicks from the outside.