Josh Gross
Tuesday May 26th, 2009

Last week I offered a handful of reasons why Rashad Evans would beat Lyoto Machida. Well, we know how prescient I was. Anyhow, much of my Memorial Day weekend was spent trying to understand what happened.

After watching Machida's impeccable UFC light heavyweight title win enough times to fry my DVR, it's clear to me now why the 30-year-old Brazilian so easily managed to swamp a very talented opponent.

In the effort of fairness, here are five reasons explaining how Machida captured the UFC belt, and why light heavyweights across the globe will be hard pressed to find answers for the unbeaten, unblemished champion.

It's a mistake to simply label Machida a counter-fighter.

The first salvo to hurt Evans came late in the opening round and it was a result of a same-side combination -- first a kick, then a punch. Machida didn't move forward as a reaction to his opponent. Instead, he pressed and, most impressively, completed the attack before his rear leg returned to earth.

By blocking the roundhouse to the body, which came from the rear of Machida's southpaw stance, Evans couldn't raise his hands in defense of the oncoming punch. And even had he recognized what was next, he couldn't dodge out of the way since his weight had shifted onto his back leg after absorbing the kick.

Clearly, Machida likes to set up many of his attacking combinations with kicks, doesn't matter the leg.

Generally, combinations flow as fighters shift their weight. A left hook melds perfectly with a straight right because of a natural body shift. There are countless variations, though Machida doesn't seem to conform to any of them. Somehow he finds enough leverage, power and accuracy to launch rear-legged attacks that conceal follow-ups with his power hand.

Left kick. Left punch. All in one motion. I haven't seen many -- or any -- fighters capable of that. And it's hardly the only odd-sequenced attack in Machida's arsenal.More often than not, fighters stand balanced and centered. This promotes ease of movement and the kind of bounce that guys like Evans usually fight with.

Machida, however, stands erect with his weight shifted back. This is a major reason why he can stand so far away from his opponents and dictate fighting range.

Evans didn't have a shot to get close to Machida. His options were to lunge with his upper body and fire from the outside using overhand rights, or close in with his feet. And as far away as he was, a takedown attempt would have likely been shut down (though we don't know for sure since Evans didn't try, and he never bothered to fake one either).

Machida's ability to control distance is his first line of defense. Like his dad Yoshizo says, you can't hit what you can't touch.

I overestimated Evans' speed and underestimated Machida's. Not much more to say here. Machida was as quick as Evans -- meaning he's as fast as anyone in the division.

Standing as tall and far away as he does, Machida fights from a terrific vantage point. He has great eyes and can easily recognize what's coming. All that leads to wonderful timing.

Machida has an abundance of technique to compliment his athleticism. And nowhere was that more evident than the beginning of the end.

It took a few slo-mo viewings to really appreciate the straight left punch that buzzed Evans with a minute and half to go in Round 2.

In less time than it takes to blink, Machida deflected a pawing jab, trapped the arm and pulled it towards him, creating additional power and control while simultaneously countering with a straight left that plastered Evans squarely on the mouth.

Beautiful martial arts from a great martial artist.

Sensing the end was in front of him, Machida refused to let Evans off the hook. Whether he attacks or counters, when Machida has someone hurt, he goes after them. That's a trait shared by all successful fighters. And though some may have questioned a year ago whether Machida was interested or capable of closing out opponents, no one should have any doubts now.

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