Tonight’s UFC Fight Night 125 takes the franchise to Brazil for the first time this year. The event is headlined by Lyoto Machida vs. Eryk Anders in a light-heavyweight contest in which Machida hopes to break a three-year losing streak. The 39-year-old former light-heavyweight champion hasn’t won a UFC contest since beating C.B. Dollaway way back in December 2014. Machida last appeared in the Octagon in October 2017, when he was knocked out by Derek Brunson in the first round. That fight marked Machida’s return from a lengthy drugs ban.
By way of contrast, 30-year-old former Alabama Crimson Tide football player Anders goes into tonight’s fight with a perfect 10-0 record. Former linebacker Anders kept his perfect record intact when he beat Markus Perez at UFC Fight Night 123 last December.
As reported by MMA Mania, Machida is hoping that a return to his Shotokan karate roots will help him to overcome the challenge of Anders. Machida claims that his karate style will make things difficult for the aggressive Anders.
“This fight, I want to go back to my roots and focus on karate more than anything. Karate style can be very tricky for all my opponents. Eryk Anders is a very aggressive fighter, he likes to come all the time. That matches my style.”
The fight against Machida is a step up for Eryk Anders who ended Markus Perez’s perfect record in his last fight. According to AL.Com, Anders recognizes the importance of coming up against a former champion in Machida. If he can beat Machida, Anders believes that he will move into the top 15, and that will lead to fights against bigger names.
“I feel like I’m in control of my destiny. I think I go out here, I get a victory over Lyoto, and I’ve kind of put some legitimacy to my name. I will have beaten a former champ, even though he’s certainly not in his prime anymore.
“Hopefully, it will put me in that top 15, so that I can start getting bigger fights and work my way up the food chain a little bit.”
Clearly, Anders recognizes the importance of tonight’s fight, but the importance of the match for Machida should not be overlooked. The UFC rumor mill claims that if Machida suffers another knockout loss he will be cut from the UFC roster, so a loss to Anders could end Machida’s career. Anders has disposed of seven of his 10 opponents in the first round of his fights and Machida’s has been K.O’d in his last two fights.
Whatever the outcome, Machida vs. Anders should be an interesting contest. You can catch the fight on Fox Sports this evening.