Machida Focused on Fighting, Not Feuds

May 22, 2008
Undefeated light heavyweight Lyoto Machida (Pictures) takes on the biggest challenge of his career Saturday when he meets former UFC champion Tito Ortiz (Pictures) at UFC 84.

Although most of the pre-fight publicity has centered on Ortiz's feud with Dana White and on his potentially permanent exit from the Octagon, Machida says he has remained focused on the bout itself. spoke with the Brazilian about his UFC stint thus far as well as his assessment of Ortiz's game. Do you think the media in general didn't give you enough credit for the victory over Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (Pictures)?
Machida: Yes, I think so. Unfortunately, mainly the Brazilian media gave more credit to Sokoudjou's victories over the Brazilians than my submission over him. Sokoudjou talked a lot before and after the fight. Did any of his words bother you? Or was this only a way of provoking you?
Machida: Every fighter needs to take advantage of the moment. They have the spotlights turned to them. They do this marketing to earn more money or recognition. I believe that the words he spoke weren't personal, just a professional way of promoting our fight. In your opinion is he a very good fighter due to the two victories over top fighters [Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona (Pictures)] or overhyped?
Machida: I don't believe the UFC would book a fighter who doesn't have a good game. I just think that wasn't his day. I got to impose my technique and won the fight. In that moment I was better. Sokoudjou is strong, trains a lot and maybe that was one of the toughest fights due to the pressure on me. Most of the fans said he'd knock me out because he did it against strong fighters in Arona and Minotouro and etc. But I never stopped believing I'd win. Is there a turning point where you can say you beat him because of this or that?
Machida: I always trained a lot. I never stop. I only decrease the intensity when the fight approaches, and when that happens I start training more specifically. I study my opponents. I trained a lot on the ground with Antonio Schembri (Pictures) and Walter Broca, and perhaps that training gave me a little more confidence. What was the main reason you changed the pace of your training? I mean, you didn't come to Rio de Janeiro this time.
Machida: When I go to Rio de Janeiro it's very good, however a little stressful. I have to change my routine. Training in my city [Belem, Para], I have the academy close to my home and this gives me the benefit of commodity and comfort. Because of that I decided to train here, and I brought the guys who would support me, like Schembri along with savate coach Daniel Wöirin. Black House lost its training center, moved to another place and a lot of fighters left. This is a kind of end without an official announcement. How does this affect your training regime?
Machida: When I could I went to Rio to train with Black House. This doesn't affect me because all professionals have the disposition of all fighters. Wöirin arrived here last Saturday, May 3, to support me again. Black House may have closed its doors, but the relationship between the fighters is still awesome. It will have been a long five months between that fight against Sokoudjou and the upcoming bout against Tito Ortiz at UFC 84. What did you do during this period?
Machida: I took some free time for one week after my fights. I traveled with my wife or only locked my house and slept the whole day [laughs], but I don't stop training completely. I don't stay without any contact or fight preparation. At least I practice running or swimming or weight training. Not 100 percent serious, just for fun. After this week, of course, I don't return with everything, but I keep going. A fighter can't stop training, or restarting will be very hard. You made a good point about training. Ortiz has been off since July 2007. What do you think of that?
Machida: He was off since July, but he's not silly -- he's training. Is this the most important fight of your career?
Machida: The fights I had, have and will have are considered the most important. I face each of them like a step. You're a fighter who doesn't have injury problems. Is there a secret to that?
Machida: I respect the limits of my body. If I feel tired, I decrease the intensity. I don't make use of medications. First I go through homeopathy and [ice my injuries] and take extra care with food. I think this helps to avoid injuries in my body, or if I'm injured, I can heal it quickly. You stated at the post-fight interview that you don't know how many "assassins" you'll have to eat to earn the number one contender position for the belt. Do you believe a victory over Ortiz will earn you that spot?
Machida: That joke about assassins was marketing over the fact I beat two guys with that nickname. I believe that with each of my fights that I get to please fans and organizers, I'll be closer to the belt. What do you think you need to do to be more popular?
Machida: The fans, in general, aren't used to my fight style. Even so, I'm making my place. The Americans, maybe they don't like my fighting style, but I'm winning. Back to Ortiz, is the key to victory stuffing takedowns and keeping it standing?
Machida: Indeed, I'm preparing myself for any kind of situation. My focus is to defend the takedowns and my priority is to fight on the feet. But if the fight goes another way, I'm ready and confident also. He's unhappy with the UFC. Is there a good or a bad point about that?
Machida: This is an issue I don't think about. My thoughts are about the fight, the training. If he's not focused on facing me, only on proving something to the UFC, this is his problem. I don't think about that. How would you define Ortiz?
Machida: Tito is a good fighter, but he stalls a lot, exploding at the end to impress the judges. He has great ground and pound and uses that very well, but I'm confident in my game. You trained at American Kickboxing Academy. What was the training like there?
Machida: I focused everything on the Tito fight. I had the opportunity to train with fighters stronger than me, and that was incredible. You spoke about your different fighting style. Did you already think of changing it to please the fans?
Machida: Never. This is exactly what makes me [unique]. To please the crowd, I already thought of adding some things to make the fights exciting. John Hackleman was interviewed once and said that he'd not like to see Chuck Liddell (Pictures) against you now. How do you analyze that?
Machida: I'm not vain over that. I just look to train more. I think my fans are starting to understand my game, my technique, so this is what makes me glad. Where would you rank yourself in a top-10 ranking of UFC popularity?
Machida: I don't have any idea of my popularity. I know I'm more respected and more recognized. But I have a reason for my name climbing the top-10 rankings. For this I know what to say: training and dedication. You're undefeated. This situation is one people always talk about. When you will lose, etc. How do you work on that inside your mind, inside your spirit, to not take too much pressure?
Machida: I don't think about that -- or I try to not think about that. I fight as if I never had fought before in my career. I point my mind and my energy for the next fight. That's it. I don't know if the fans outside of Brazil know, but your relationship with your family, especially regarding training, is very strong. Can you name them and their importance in your preparation for the fights?
Machida: My father, Mr. Yoshizo, is my master. He taught me everything I know. I owe a lot to him. This is hard when he praises me, so I never feel I'm good enough and I keep trying to improve. My mother, Ana, is my spiritual counselor. My brothers -- Chinzo is my coach and psychologist. I feel safe when he's at my side. Kenzo, he's my friend for chats and jokes. My brother Take, counselor for administrative issues. And my wife, Fabyola, who cares for me everyday. She doesn't complain of the crazy routine I give her. This is too much stress because she works with me, and the athlete's life is much too complicated on some occasions.