The crowd may have booed his efforts, but Lyoto Machida nevertheless felt certain of victory before hearing his name called.
The Brazilian picked up a split decision over former Strikeforce king Dan Henderson on Saturday in the UFC 157 co-main event at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Though the bout was largely devoid of action, Machida believed he was fully deserving of the victory.
“I felt that I won the fight, because in my score, I kneed him many times. I kicked him. I took him down,” Machida told Fox Sports after his win. “In the third round, he didn’t take me down. I slipped, and he took advantage of this. I felt I won the three rounds, and I was very surprised by the split decision.”
Henderson never seemed to get started standing, as his offense was stifled by the karateka’s sharp defense. Each time Henderson charged forward in an effort to land one of his patented right hands, Machida quickly retreated to avoid the blows and occasionally countered with straight shots of his own.
“It was my game plan to keep the fight standing up and to avoid the ground position and his right hands,” said Machida. “Look at my face. Nothing. [He kicked me] just a little bit in the legs, but I can put ice on that and it will go away soon. I can make my distance, and I kick hard. I didn’t let him grab me, and I [avoided] a lot of wrestling.”
Machida did find himself on the bottom during one exchange in the final frame, as Henderson used the former champion’s slip to force him to the canvas. Machida’s guard proved difficult to penetrate for the two-time Olympian, however, and the southpaw avoided taking any major damage before scrambling to his feet. With his vertical base regained, Machida opened up slightly more in the bout’s final two minutes in an effort to steal back a round in which he felt he was trailing.
“When I slipped, he took advantage and kept the fight on the ground just to [score] points,” said Machida. “I thought, ‘I have to keep the fight standing up and be more aggressive and try to knock him out.’”
With the victory in his rearview mirror, Machida is eyeing a shot at the UFC light heavyweight championship. Whereas the Brazilian turned down a short-notice title fight with Jon Jones last year, Machida said he is now eager to receive another crack at the gold.
I hope [I am next in line for a title shot],” said Machida. “It depends on the boss, Dana White, but for me, it’s good. I will [ask for the fight].”