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UFC Fight Night 36: Lyoto Machida dominates Gegard Mousasi

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida (L) and Gegard Mousasi square off at the weigh-ins. Screen capture courtesy Dana White's Twitter page.

UFC Fight Night in Brazil began with a long string of decisions and ended with two very interesting matchups: middleweights Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida v. Gegard Mousasi and Francis 'Limitless' Carmont v. Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.

Five-round fight with title-fight implications

Iranian born Dutch fighter Mousasi is an unknown commodity to many fans who only follow the UFC. He is a former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and all-around journeyman who has only recently moved to the UFC. He won his first bout in a ho-hum three round decision against I forget who.

Machida is a former UFC light heavyweight champion whose debut at middleweight was a first round kick to  the face KO of highly-respected Mark Munoz. Unable now to run the 205 pound gauntlet, the 185 pound division looked ripe for the shotokan karate man known as The Dragon.

Machida used his mastery of distance and left-right movement, as well as switching stance, to keep Mousasi guessing the whole night. Machida moved in and out with his patented flurries, but tonight his respect for Mousasi’s inside striking and power inhibited the length those attacks. The Brazilian’s movement is beautiful to watch. Even an accomplished Dutch kickboxer like Mousasi would move forward to attack and find himself looking back over his shoulder to try and find an opponent who’d slipped and ducked away.

Machida may now get a shot at the middleweight belt, but only after Chris Weidman defends it against Vitor Belfort. As  much as Machida outclassed a skilled opponent, it wasn’t the kind of win---or opponent---to stoke the fire of fans to want to see him take on the champion. Perhaps Machida needs another fight at 185.

For his part, Mousasi proved he belongs in the UFC and that he is a dangerous opponent for anyone in the weight class. The world’s top promotion can only sharpen his skills.

Three-round fight

Canadian Francis Carmont and Brazilian Ronaldo Souza have looked impressive of late. Souza now has three straight wins since joining the UFC, including a KO of Yushin Okami. Carmont had had six straight UFC victories. This fight matched two up-and-coming fighters who’d demonstrated bucket loads of danger  and potential.

Souza is a highly-decorated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter with scary power in his right hand, but after having Carmont’s back for the entire first round he was unable to finish. The long, lanky limbs of Carmont, combined with his kickboxing acumen, effectively nullified Souza’s power, and the second round appeared to favour the Canadian.

Carmont’s problem in the third, and his problem overall, is his inconsistency. One round he looks impeccable with his technique and rock-solid jaw, but the next sees him flounder and look unmotivated. Like fellow Tristar Gym  member Rory MacDonald, Carmont seems to point-fight rather than dog-  fight. It’s a problem many fighters who began as kick boxers have in the UFC (MacDonald, however, began as a mixed martial artist), and may be a problem with coaching at the highly-respected Montreal gym.

Souza won the decision to the soccer-style cheers of the Brazilian fans in the stadium, but the stock of both men went down in what could only be described as a letdown effort.

The good news is that Dana White and the UFC are putting together these fights that people sorely want to see, which answers long-asked questions, sorts out divisions, and more often than not creates memorable, exciting events.

Click here for all the results.

Follow me on Twitter @RenkoStyranka

 

 

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