Lyoto Machida made karate a relevant discipline in mixed martial arts. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
When most fans think about karate’s effectiveness in real fighting, they think about “The Dragon.” Machida’s distinct style opened up new possibilities for what could work in MMA. He also has a spectacular highlight-reel of clean knockouts over quality opponents like Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva, Mark Munoz, Ryan Bader and Randy Couture. He proved to be a pretty good pay-per-view draw when fighting for titles, and he captured the UFC light heavyweight crown in 2009. “The Machida Era” did not end up amounting to what many thought it would, but Machida’s career remains both impressive and distinctive.
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