Lyoto Machida on Saturday stepped into the Octagon in his hometown of Belem, Brazil, and did so while in the midst of the first three-fight losing streak of his 15-year career. Stoppage losses to Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero and Derek Brunson preceded Machida’s UFC Fight Night 125 main event opposite Eryk Anders at Guilherme Paraense Arena.
“The Dragon” chopped down Anders with a leg kick in the first round and seemed content to attack the unbeaten prospect’s legs while keeping him glued to the mat in the butt scoot position. Anders eventually returned to his feet but not before significant time had been bled off the clock. From there, Machida employed his familiar counter-based strategy from the outside, allowing the former University of Alabama linebacker to come to him while looking to land a knockout blow.
The fight seesawed back and forth across five rounds, with neither man willing to relent. Anders appeared to have a slight edge entering Round 5, but Machida turned up the heat when it mattered most and showed he still had something left at age 39. The judges rendered a split decision in his favor before a boisterous crowd of 10,144, as Machida returned to the win column for the first time in more than three years.
Afterward, an elated Machida extended a show of gratitude toward his counterpart and reaffirmed his belief that Anders has a bright future ahead of him. He then set his sights on Michael Bisping, indicating he was more than willing to serve as the opponent in the former middleweight champion’s retirement fight in the not-too-distant future.
Domination on All Fronts
Valentina Shevchenko made her debut as a flyweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s fledgling 125-pound weight class, as she battled promotional newcomer Priscila Cachoeira in the co-main event. Shevchenko picked up where she left off in the bantamweight division, dominating the undefeated Brazilian before submitting her with a rear-naked choke in the second round. “Bullet” opted to grapple for much of the match, as she took down Cachoeira with ease, implemented punishing ground-and-pound and opened a sizeable gash on the Parana Vale Tudo representative’s forehead. The fight could have been stopped on multiple occasions in both rounds, but referee Mario Yamasaki allowed it to go on until Shevchenko sealed the deal with the submission. During her post-fight interview, Shevchenko continued to lay the groundwork for a potential showdown with UFC women’s flyweight champion Nicco Montano.
Meanwhile, Michel Prazeres picked up his sixth straight win with a unanimous decision over Desmond Green. Their bout was decided on the canvas, where Prazeres applied his crushing top game and threatened with multiple submission attempts, including arm-triangle, guillotine and north-south chokes in the second round. UFC officials later confirmed that Prazeres’ days as a lightweight were over after he missed weight three times in four appearances. The Brazilian was five pounds overweight against Green.
Elsewhere, Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith engaged in a middleweight barnburner that netted “Fight of the Night” honors. Both men enjoyed success in the first round, where Smith countered a flurry from the Brazilian, transitioned to full mount when the action spilled onto the canvas and unleashed his ground-and-pound. Before long, Santos managed a reversal and the two middleweights were back on their feet. Santos drew blood with a standing elbow strike near the conclusion of Round 1. He zeroed in on Smith’s body with crushing kicks in the middle stanza, flooring the former Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder with a shot to the liver that left him defenseless. Santos teed off with punches until referee Marc Goddard intervened and awarded him his fourth technical knockout victory in as many appearances.
Timothy Johnson and Marcelo Golm went the distance in a heavyweight showcase that played out entirely on the feet. A two-time NCAA All-American wrestler, Johnson utilized crisp boxing and a suffocating clinch to overwhelm the Brazilian prospect. As the fight wore on, Golm became visibly fatigued, allowed Johnson to take over and lost a unanimous verdict. The setback was Golm’s first in seven career appearances. He had stopped his first six opponents in the first round, two of them in less than a minute ... Douglas Silva de Andrade improved to 3-2 inside the Octagon, as the Brazilian walked away with a unanimous decision over Marlon Vera. Andrade routinely beat Vera to the punch, putting his stamp on the fight with quickness, power and accuracy ... Sergio Moraes took a split decision from former King of the Cage champion Tim Means on the undercard. Moraes was superior on the mat and held his own in the standup, answering sharp straight punches from Means with wild haymakers. Though contentious in nature, the loss dropped Means to 1-3 in his past four bouts.