Lyoto Machida: Distance and Timing

It’s all about Karate when it comes to Machida’s victories in MMA and the UFC. Well, it’s all about proving that Karate technique can work in such venues. For instance, the front kick: A Karate stand-by. Machida, and also Anderson Silva, pulled it off in MMA. And the Karate Man cheered.

Anyway, how does Machida do it? How has he won one bout after another, defending himself against being taken to the ground and knocking out opponents’ with strikes and kicks? Well, some of it is his expert use of angles but mostly it’s his mastery of distance and timing.

Tito Ortiz vs Lyoto Machida

So, what Machida did here was he kept out of range of Ortiz and kept nailing him in the legs with kicks. Ortiz, frustrated and getting worn out, was desperate and focused on taking Machida down to the mat and when he entered the Shotokan master’s zone, Machida planted a heavy knee into Tito’s body. Tito was down. He landed on that knee, must have been heavy impact there.

By Marcos Joel Reis (Flickr: Lyoto Machida) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Randy Couture vs Machida

Here’s what I see in this fight. Machida does his usual control of distance, wearing down and frustrating Couture and when he was just out of range, but just needed a bit of a step to get in range, and Randy wasn’t ready, Machida landed that front kick. The kick is designed as a feint with one foot and for landing the other one on the intended target. Randy, worn down and frustrated, and Machida feinting with one foot, and then throwing the other one, made this technique successful; the kick itself, a slight leap, put Machida right in range to nail it with the front kick. This move had it all: Timing, using distance and deception or feinting.


Thiago Silva vs Machida

This fight was a combination of expert use of angles and the control of distance and timing. Machida slipped Silva’s attacks, threw his own punches, and changed angles with each move. He used his usual deception and fluid movement. When one of his punches was blocked, Machida took another angle and threw a punch which landed and then he followed up; all timed perfectly, because it was in succession as Thiago recovered from the last attack; and Machida put himself out of range, by zoning, of his opponent’s nearest available weapon. Machida’s caution is on-point and his attack is perfectly timed. He is the best example of hitting hard but being hard to hit.

Featured image: By Machida (Wikipedia) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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