Eleven years to the day after his UFC debut, former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida picked up his first victory since 2014 on Saturday night in his hometown of Belem, Brazil.
Machida, now a middleweight, snapped a three-fight skid with a split-decision victory over Eryk Anders in the main event of UFC Fight Night 125.
It was the first career loss for Anders, a former standout linebacker at Alabama who struggled at times to figure out Machida’s famed karate style.
Machida constantly circled around the cage and made Anders chase. Both had their moments in what was a very close fight, but Machida got the benefit of the doubt on the scorecards in front of a very partial crowd.
“It’s an amazing feeling to come home in front of that crowd and get a win,” he said. “I’m very happy.”
Machida had his best moments in the first and fifth rounds. Anders bloodied him with a big knee followed by an elbow in the middle of the fight, but couldn’t capitalize on the damage.
“I just controlled the distance and tried to find the right time,” Machida said. “He’s so smart and he didn’t come, but I waited for my chances to strike and I felt I scored more points than him.”
Machida, who won a unanimous decision over Sam Hoger in his first UFC bout on Feb. 3, 2007, said he hopes to next book a fight with former middleweight champion Michael Bisping.
Also on the card, Valentina Shevchenko made a pretty convincing case for a women’s flyweight title shot in her first fight at 125 pounds.
Shevchenko completely dominated Priscila Cachoeira, outstriking the newcomer 217-1 before finally securing a rear-naked choke to force a tapout late in the second round.
Most of the damage was done on the ground as Cachoeira had no answer for Shevchenko, who was the top contender at 135 pounds before making the decision to drop down in weight when the new class was created.
““I was prepared to make my fight easy because I know there is no easy fight – you have to train really hard to make the fight easy,” Shevchenko said. “The most exciting thing about my performance in flyweight is I feel just as strong as I feel at bantamweight, but twice as fast.
“Now I expect to fight for the belt in a few months.”
Prazeres beats Green
Michel Prazeres had all kinds of trouble making weight for what was supposed to be a lightweight bout against Desmond Green.
Once the fight started, it was smooth sailing for Prazeres.
He used his size and strength to control position for much of the fight and nearly locked in a couple submission attempts in the second round en route to a unanimous decision.
Prazeres missed weight on Friday and then arrived at the arena seven pounds over the stipulated fight-night limit of 173 pounds. Green said Prazeres would walk to the cage about 17 pounds heavier and the bulk appeared to be an edge for Prazeres.
“It was a tough fight,” Prazeres said. “I was a little down because of everything that happened, so I was not inspired. It was a troubled week, even before the fight. I was worried about everything and didn’t want to not give a show to the fans.”
Douglas Silva de Andrade won all three rounds on all three scorecards in a bantamweight bout against Marlon Vera.
Silva de Andrade consistently pressured Vera and landed several big shots to keep him off balance.
Heavyweight Timothy Johnson punched his way inside and grinded out a win by consistently backing Marcelo Golm into the cage.
It was the first loss of Golm’s career.
Middleweight Thiago Santos opened the main card with a second-round stoppage of Anthony Smith in a back-and-forth thriller.
Both fighters had chances to put the fight away, but Santos finally took advantage with a body kick that dropped Smith and enabled Santos to end it with punches on the ground as Smith desperately grabbed for a leg.
“It was a war,” Santos said.”I knew he was a very tough guy. I did not expect anything different, but I said I was going to hurt him until he could not take it anymore, so I went there and did it.”
Iuri Alcantara highlighted the preliminary card with a first-round knockout of former bantamweight title challenger Joe Soto. Alcantara needed just 1:06 to snap a two-fight losing streak.
Lightweight Alan Patrick returned after nearly 16 months out of action to win a one-sided decision over Damir Hadzovic. It was his third straight win and fifth in six UFC fights.
Welterweight Sergio Moraes took a controversial split decision over Tim Means.
Polyana Viana used a rear-naked choke to finish Maia Stevenson in the first round of a women’s strawweight bout.
Flyweight Deiveson Figueiredo knocked out Joseph Morales late in the second round.