Lyoto Machida scraped past Dan Henderson tonight at UFC 157 by split decision in a close, tense fight that offered little in the way of meaningful moments.
A cagey start as you might expect from these two potential 205lb title contenders. A litte surprisingly the first offense from Henderson is a couple of leg kicks, while Machida fllicks of a front kick of his own.
Again with the leg kick Hendo goes, though he’s attempting to use it to set up the big right hand. Machida’s nowhere to be found by the time that right comes however as he backs out of danger.
Mid-way through the round and the two continue to stalk each other. Henderson presses forward aggressively, but Machida escapes.
Again Hendo moves forward and he’s met with a mid-kick from Machida. Henderson responds soon after with a punch to the body.
With just over a minute of the round left Henderson gets caught with a straight punch as he presses forward. Then Henderson finally lands a nice shot, but Machida spins out before he can do any further damage.
Henderson rushes in and attempts a takedown, but Machida stuffs it. Then just as the round is about to end Machida lands a trip takedown of his own and lands a couple of ground and pound strikes before the bell sounds.
Onto round two and Machida fires off a head kick that’s blocked. Hendo lands a leg kick in return and soon after darts down for a leg looking for the takedown, but there’s nothing doing.
Machida lands a kick to the body and Henderson slips, but recovers. Hendo charges forward with punches but Machida keeps his head back out of danger as he hits reverse gear.
‘The Dragon’ tries to piece together a combo of punches and a big hook from Hendo wings just over his head.
Another takedown attempt from Henderson is thwarted almost as soon as it begins due to Machida’s excellent timing, meeting him half-way with a knee.
Kick to the body and a grazing punch from Machida. Hendo tries a superman punch that misses. He tries to jump in again and gets knocked off-balance by the Brazilian.
Again Henderson rushes in and is met with a knee to the mid-section, though he clips Machida with a left hand.
A minute to go and Machida’s elusiveness is definitely proving problematic for Henderson. Almost in desperation just to land something meaningful he runs forward and launches another superman punch that hits thin air followed by a kick. The round ends with Henderson throwing his hands up in frustration.
So we’re into the final round and it’s a tense, cagey start once again, before Henderson rushes in again with a combination of punches and a kick that doesn’t land in a meaningful way.
Machida misses with a counter and stumbles and that allows Henderson to get him to the mat, moving into his guard. Machida does well to lock Henderson down giving him little room to operate and that leaves him with little option other than to work a few body shots.
Machida attempts a kimura and that gives him the room to get back up to his feet with a couple of minutes to go.
‘The Dragon’ not showing any real urgency, but does land a front kick upstairs and attempts another high kick in the final minute.
So it’s down to the judges to separate these two in a close fight that didn’t feature a whole lot of meaningful offense. In the end it’s Machida who’s handed the split decision win (29-28 x2, 28-29).
This was a pretty underwhelming win for Machida and you have to wonder if he’s done enough to convince the UFC that he’s deserving of another shot at the light-heavyweight title here.