Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Karate Kid Mastering MMA

If Ralph Macchio's character, Daniel-san, from the The Karate Kid learned Brazilian jiu-jitsu, left the crane for the film reel, and was transported to modern day American commissioned MMA, Lyoto Machida would be it.

Machida's latest test this time was against ground and pound specialist and UFC veteran champion, Tito "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Ortiz. Machida has great stamina but unlike Ortiz, he conserves his energy and only releases his chi when he either makes an opening or an opponent makes a mistake. Either way, Machida turns from a methodical, technical fighter to a fire-breathing dragon.

Machida seems to be boxing's version of Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker, the defensive southpaw champion from lightweight to jr. middleweight. They are both mechanical masters of their respective field, though admittedly, Machido is much more multifaceted than the hand to hand combat wizard. Machido also, until now, holds that invincibility of aura that the prime Whitaker always carried with him into the ring. Every time a fierce opponent has entered the octagon to topple the undefeated Machida, he has systematically dismantled them, usually without much concern. The same was tru until there was less than a minute left in the third round of the fight against Ortiz. This is where the similarities between Machida and Whitaker end.

Ortiz, who stated he was fighting his last fight for the UFC, caught Machida in a tight traingle choke then caught Machida in an armbar before the slippery Machida evaded certain defeat. Facing certain defeat against a proven finisher, Machida once again demonstrated that he has more in his arsenal than a gi with a black belt. As long as Machida keeps training the way he does, Quinton Jackson must feel like Shakespeare's poetic proverb of King Henry: "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."

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