Lyoto was born in Salvador, Brazil, as the third son of the highly ranked head of the Brazilian branch of the Japan Karate Association, Shotokan karate master Yoshizo Machida (町田嘉三). Yoshizo moved to Brazil from Japan when he was 22 years old, where he met and married Lyoto's mother, Ana Claudia, who is of Portuguese and Italian descent. Growing up in Belém, Lyoto began training in karate at the age of 3 and earned his black belt at the age of 13. He also began training in sumo at the age of 8 and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and boxing at sixteen. He won a number of amateur karate tournaments, including the 2001 Pan American Karate tournament. Later he travelled to Thailand to study Muay Thai, to Japan to study grappling at the NJPW Dojo and finally to United States to pursue his UFC career.
He was the runner-up in the 2000 Brazilian Sumo Championships in the 115 kg division. As an adult, he became Brazilian Champion twice, and placed second in the South American Championship. He defeated American fighter and jiu-jitsu black belt Rafael Lovato Jr. at L.A. Sub X. In addition to his sumo and karate achievements, he has a college degree in Physical Education. Lyoto's older brother Chinzo is also a Shotokan karate champion and MMA fighter, who fights in Bellator MMA. Lyoto and Chinzo fought in a karate tournament final over ten years ago in which Lyoto gave Chinzo a cheek scar that still exists today. His other brothers include Kenzo Machida, a TV journalist for one of Brazil's biggest TV stations, and Take Machida.
Machida began his career in mixed martial arts under the management of legendary professional wrestler and MMA pioneer Antonio Inoki in Japan. On May 2, 2003, he defeated Kengo Watanabe by decision in his professional debut on a card promoted by New Japan Pro Wrestling in Tokyo. During his early fights he competed under the name of Lyoto, written in all caps.
In his second fight, he defeated future UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar by technical knockout due to a cut in the inaugural event promoted by Jungle Fight in Manaus, Brazil. This was Bonnar's first professional loss.
On December 31, 2003, he took part in Inoki's annual event Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003, where he fought future UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin in an catchweight bout in which both men weighed in at 214 lbs. In front of over 40,000 fans at Kobe Wing Stadium, Machida defeated Franklin via TKO in the second round. He staggered Franklin with a counter left punch and knocked him down with a front kick to the face, finishing up with punches which forced the referee to stop the fight. This was Franklin's first professional defeat.
Following this, Machida went on to compete for the K-1 promotion, where he beat kickboxers Michael McDonald (by submission) and Sam Greco (by split decision) under MMA rules. When K-1 began promoting Hero's, a series of fight cards featuring only MMA bouts rather than cards mixed with kickboxing matches, Machida was transferred there. He took on former UFC Welterweight Champion B.J. Penn on March 26, 2005, in Saitama at Hero's 1 in an openweight match. Machida weighed in at 102.0 kg (224.9 lb) while Penn weighed in at 86.5 kg (191 lb). Machida won by unanimous decision.
Machida made his UFC debut on the preliminary card of UFC 67 against Sam Hoger and won by unanimous decision. He was expected to fight Forrest Griffin at UFC 70, but Griffin became ill with a staph infection and was replaced by undefeated David Heath, who Machida beat by unanimous decision. He next faced judo practitioner and Pride Fighting Championship veteran Kazuhiro Nakamura at UFC 76. Machida won by unanimous decision and Nakamura would later test positive for marijuana.
At UFC 79, Machida faced Sokoudjou, a judo practitioner making his UFC debut after back-to-back upset knockout victories over Pride veterans Antônio Rogério Nogueira and Ricardo Arona. Machida submitted Sokoudjou with an arm triangle choke at 4:20 of the second round.
Machida's next fight was at UFC 84 against former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz, in what was thought to be Ortiz's final UFC appearance after a dispute with UFC President Dana White. Machida frustrated Ortiz with lateral movement and counterstriking while successfully defending against the former champion's takedowns. In the closing minutes of the third round Machida knocked Ortiz down with a knee to the body. As Machida moved in to finish the fight, Ortiz almost locked in a triangle choke before transitioning to an armbar attempt. Machida managed to escape and win by unanimous decision, with all judges scoring the fight 30–27 in his favor. Years after the bout, Dana White revealed that the only time he ever awarded a personal check of his to a fighter was to Machida, for defeating Ortiz.
In the co-main event of UFC 94, Machida faced fellow undefeated Brazilian contender Thiago Silva. The two were originally scheduled to meet at UFC 89, but a back injury forced Silva to withdraw from the contest. UFC President Dana White indicated in the pre-fight press conference that Machida would receive a title shot with a victory, while Silva would need to defeat Machida and win one more contest before earning the same opportunity. Machida was able to knock down Silva twice during the first round before ultimately knocking him out after tripping him and jumping in landing the knockout punch at 4:59 of the first round, scoring his first UFC knockout victory and winning his first Knockout of the Night bonus award.
Despite Machida's knockout of Thiago Silva, Dana White indicated that he was not the number one contender for a title shot. Instead, a scheduled fight between former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson and Keith Jardine would determine Machida's title fate. A victory for Jackson would earn him a fight with champion Rashad Evans, but a win for Jardine would mean Machida would be awarded with a title shot. Jackson won the fight via unanimous decision, but torn ligaments in his jaw forced the former champion out of the bout. Instead, Machida would challenge Evans for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 98. Jackson would retain his title shot against the winner of that match upon returning from injury.
Machida then met Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans in another clash of undefeated fighters on the main event of UFC 98. Machida scored an early knockdown in the first round and ultimately knocked Evans out with a flurry of punches at 3:57 of the second round, becoming the tenth UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. His performance earned him Knockout of the Night honors with a $60,000 bonus for the second time.
Machida was expected to face Quinton Jackson in his first title defense, but Jackson opted to coach the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter instead. Pride Fighting Championship's 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix winner Maurício Rua was then selected as Machida's first title challenger. The bout took place on October 24, 2009, at UFC 104, with Machida winning by unanimous decision, 48–47 from all three judges, with one stating that Machida "landed the more damaging strikes throughout the fight" and was the more "effective aggressor".
Out of the three judges, Nelson Hamilton gave Machida rounds 2, 3 and 4. Cecil Peoples and Marcos Rosales each gave Machida the first three rounds. In spite of this, a significant amount of the audience in attendance booed the decision after it was delivered, voicing their support for Rua. Writers for a number of sports websites and magazines also claimed they felt Rua had won. There were also MMA fighters in attendance who voiced support for the decision, among them were several of Machida's training partners, including Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, Junior dos Santos, José Aldo, Rafael Cavalcante and Anderson Silva. A FightMetric analysis of the fight suggested that Rua had been more aggressive and had landed more blows to the head and legs than Machida, while CompuStrike reported that Rua landed almost twice as many strikes as Machida did. Both FightMetric and CompuStrike explicitly state on their websites that they are not intended to be used to judge MMA events, and are merely a way to track a fighter's activity.
Because of the controversy surrounding the close decision, on May 8, 2010, at UFC 113 in Montreal, Canada, Machida and Rua rematched, seven months after their original fight. In the much anticipated rematch, both fighters started aggressively and scored significant points in striking exchanges, with Machida scoring two takedowns during the round. Rua showed strong defense on the ground, spinning to attempt a kneebar before both fighters returned to their feet. In a striking exchange, Rua swerved to avoid a left straight from Machida and landed a powerful counter overhand right to the temple, which knocked Machida down. Rua then took the full mount and proceeded to knock Machida out with ground-and-pound, making him the new Light Heavyweight Champion at 3:35 of round 1, with Machida suffering his first MMA career loss.
In his first fight after losing the title, Machida faced Quinton "Rampage" Jackson on the main event of UFC 123. During the first round Machida landed several leg kicks and some counter punches while Rampage predominantly landed from the clinch, utilizing stomps and punches to Machida's side. Both Compustrike and Fightmetric records show that Rampage out-struck Machida when counting blows such as stomps and elbows to the thigh in the clinch, while Machida landed more strikes during the standup exchanges. In the second round, Compustrike and Fightmetric records show Rampage as the busier overall fighter, and Rampage also scored a takedown. The cleanest and most significant blow of the second round was an uppercut landed by Rampage. In the third round, Machida landed a counter left that stunned Rampage and followed it with a flurry of punches, kicks and knees that backed Jackson into the cage. When Rampage tried to retaliate, Machida scored a takedown, eventually gaining full mount and attempted a submission. At the end of the bout, Rampage was declared the winner via split decision (29–28, 29–28, 28–29).
In the post-fight interview, Rampage expressed that the fairest thing would be to offer Machida an immediate rematch, as he felt he had lost the fight. Five of 7 media outlets scored the bout in favor of Machida. However, since UFC President Dana White personally felt that Rampage won the fight, he denied the possibility of an immediate rematch. This generated some controversy, as White had previously awarded an immediate rematch to Rua in spite of a unanimous judgment decision awarded to Machida in that fight.
Machida was then set to face UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture on April 30, 2011, at UFC 129. UFC President Dana White had indicated that Machida was under pressure to perform in his upcoming bout against Couture, saying, "this is a must-win for him." Machida defeated Couture via KO with a jumping front kick to the face at 1:02 of the second round, earning his third Knockout of the Night bonus award. Machida's kick received praise for being similar to the "Crane kick" featured in the 1984 movie The Karate Kid. Dana White commented that Machida's performance versus Couture put him back into the mix at the top of the division, but stated that he was not yet the next in line for a title shot. Joe Rogan ranked it as the 4th Deadliest Head Kick Knockout in 2015. Machida was then briefly linked to a rematch with Rashad Evans at UFC 133, replacing an injured Phil Davis. However, Dana White claimed that Machida wanted "Anderson Silva money" for taking the fight on short notice and the UFC decided to schedule Tito Ortiz for the fight with Evans.
Machida was in talks to face Phil Davis, but the fight wouldn't end up happening due to Davis needing more time to recover from knee surgery. Instead, Machida replaced an injured Rashad Evans and faced UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones on December 10, 2011, in the main event of UFC 140. After a first round that saw Machida rock Jones with a punch, in the second round Jones took Machida down and cut him with an elbow strike. After standing up, Machida was knocked down with a straight left counter and then caught in a standing guillotine and choked unconscious at 4:26 of the second round, losing the title bout by technical submission. Both men won Fight of the Night honors.
Machida then faced The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner Ryan Bader on August 4, 2012, in the co-main event of UFC on Fox 4. In a dominant performance throughout the contest, Machida knocked out Bader with a counter right hand at the 1:32 mark of the second round. As a result, Machida was expected to get another title shot. Following the abrupt cancellation of UFC 151, Machida's rematch with Jon Jones was expected to take place at UFC 152, but Machida declined the fight citing that he did not have ample time to prepare, and was replaced by Vitor Belfort. As a result of turning down the fight at UFC 152, it was later confirmed by the UFC that Machida no longer had an immediate title shot.
Machida faced the Final Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, Pride Middleweight Champion, Pride Welterweight Champion and at that time #1 contender Dan Henderson on February 23, 2013, on the co-main event of UFC 157. The winner of the fight was expected to get a title shot. Machida defeated Henderson via split decision, but ultimately Alexander Gustafsson was given the title shot against Jon Jones.
Machida returned to his native Brazil to face Phil Davis on August 3, 2013, at UFC 163. Davis defeated Machida by unanimous decision. This caused controversy among many MMA fans. In one sample, 13 of 13 media outlets scored the bout in favor of Machida. ESPN scored it for Davis. Davis had takedowns near the end of rounds one and two, and landed a few punches on the ground, which formed his only significant offense in the fight. Many UFC affiliate bloggers also scored the fight 30-27 in favor of Machida. UFC President Dana White stated shortly after the fight that he had Machida winning all three rounds, and later told Yahoo! Sports that "Machida definitely won" and "MMA judging sucks". Fightmetric analysis shows that while Davis landed more total strikes, Machida landed the more significant strikes. ESPN released a similar analysis tracking each fighter's activity in each category, and reporting the 29-28 victory scored by the three judges at ringside. After the loss but before his move to middleweight, Machida remained higher than Davis in the official UFC rankings.
Dana White announced on August 21, 2013, during Fox Sports Live that Machida would be dropping down to the middleweight division. He was expected to face Tim Kennedy on November 6, 2013, on the main event of UFC: Fight for the Troops 3. However, Machida was pulled from the bout and was set to face his friend and training partner Mark Muñoz on October 26, 2013, at UFC Fight Night 30, replacing Muñoz's original opponent Michael Bisping, who was forced out of the bout with an eye injury. Machida defeated Muñoz via head kick KO at the 3:10 mark of the first round, earning him his fourth Knockout of the Night award. Machida was praised for demonstrating class and sportsmanship by not throwing any additional punches to the grounded Muñoz after knocking him down before the referee stopped the fight.
In his second bout in the middleweight division, Machida returned to Brazil and faced former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard Mousasi in the main event of UFC Fight Night 36 on February 15, 2014. Machida won the fight via unanimous decision after five rounds, also earning his second Fight of the Night bonus award.
Machida was then expected to get a title shot against the winner of the UFC 173 fight between UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort. However, after Belfort withdrew from the bout on February 28, 2014, it was announced that Machida would replace him in the main event UFC 173 on May 24, 2014. On March 24, 2014, it was revealed that Weidman would need to undergo knee surgery. The title fight with Weidman was rescheduled and eventually took place at UFC 175 on July 5, 2014. Machida lost the fight via unanimous decision. After Weidman had controlled much of the action throughout the first three rounds with his wrestling and relentless pressure, Machida began to find his range on his strikes in the fourth. Machida landed a number of hard strikes in the round including a left hook which stunned Weidman at the very end of the round. Machida would continue to find success striking early in the fifth as well. However, Weidman would land several hard shots of his own later in the round before seemingly clinching the round with a takedown and controlling Machida from top position for over a minute, although Machida managed to stand up and attack with a flurry of strikes in the closing seconds of the fight. Despite losing on the scorecards, Machida earned his third Fight of the Night bonus award for his performance.
Machida next faced C.B. Dollaway on December 20, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 58. Machida won the fight via TKO only 62 seconds into the first round after landing a body kick that dropped Dollaway, finishing him with a barrage of punches that forced the referee to stop the fight. Machida also earned a Performance of the Night bonus award.
Machida faced Luke Rockhold on April 18, 2015, at UFC on Fox 15. He lost the fight via submission in the second round.
Machida faced Yoel Romero on June 27, 2015, at UFC Fight Night 70. After a fairly competitive first two rounds, Machida lost the fight via knockout in the third round.
A rematch with Dan Henderson was expected to take place on April 16, 2016, at UFC on Fox 19. However on April 13, the UFC announced that Machida declared the usage of a banned substance during an out-of-competition sample collection the week prior. Machida stated that he was unaware that the substance was prohibited both in and out of competition. Therefore, he was removed from the bout and Henderson was re-booked for another event at a later date.
On August 13, 2016, Machida faced former Strikeforce middleweight champion and UFC welterweight contender, Jake Shields, in a grappling only benefit event called Submit Cancer. After gaining top control, Shields submitted the much larger Machida by inside heel hook with just 30 seconds left in the match.
Machida was expected to face Dan Henderson for the second time in his career at UFC on Fox 19. He was pulled from the bout after he admitted to taking 7-Keto-DHEA, a USADA banned substance. He was ultimately suspended for 18 months by USADA. He will be eligible to return on October 8, 2017.
In his first fight after returning from his suspension, Machida is expected to face Derek Brunson on October 28, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 119.
Machida uses a unique, unorthodox style in MMA that combines elements from his diverse training background. His style is based mainly on tactics using Shotokan karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but also integrates techniques from wrestling and sumo, which Machida says makes him "fully prepared for any situation" in the Octagon. Often described as "elusive," Machida relies on cautious and precise counter-striking that frustrates his opponents into making mistakes. Machida has earned considerable respect from MMA fans, fighters, and commentators for his effectiveness and winning ways. At the same time, his cerebral and conservative style is sometimes deemed boring and unsatisfying to watch. Machida has drawn fire from fans, and criticism from MMA commentators for his limited aggression and many decision victories. In response to these criticisms, Machida said, "If you don't like it, sorry. I always try to win." He also stated that he believes fans are coming to appreciate the efficiency of his style just like they came to appreciate Royce Gracie's jiu-jitsu.
Machida defied expectations at UFC 94, where he earned Knockout of the Night honors for his first-round stoppage of then-undefeated Thiago Silva. Machida noted that he started to include weight training in his preparation for the bout. Commentators hailed the knockout as a step in the right direction toward building interest in him as a potential champion. In addition, Machida showcased his improved English during interviews for the event, which gave him the ability to connect with fans more easily. Machida's limited English was previously seen as a marketing liability. After knocking out Rashad Evans at UFC 98, in the post fight interview with Joe Rogan, Machida announced to his fans, "Karate is back! Machida Karate!" Many fans have referred to his style as "Machida Karate" since then.
In an issue of MMA Unltd magazine, Machida once again mentioned the phrase "Machida Karate", claiming that it was based on a very traditional form which is very different from modern sports karate. He also said that the karate seen nowadays has lost many techniques over the years in which it was practiced, and that his style was one of the very few that still kept those techniques. "My style is Machida Karate and it is a very traditional form", he said, "It differs from sports karate which we usually see in karate schools and competitions as it has many elements which were lost in the style including the use of knees, elbows, takedowns and even some submissions". Machida is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Walter Broca.
During his fight with Ryan Bader, Joe Rogan mentioned that Machida's karate style meant his fighting distance and range is at least a foot farther than a typical boxer or Muay Thai fighter. Machida controls the range and avoids being hit or rushed effectively, but does so in a way that is different from Anderson Silva (who controls range through a variety of strikes and kicks) and Jon Jones (who controls range using his reach). Like Silva though, Machida changes stance from southpaw to orthodox frequently, with minimal drop-off in efficiency. While his kicks do not seem to land with as much power because he does not step into his kicks, they have quicker release with no tells, so they are difficult to anticipate and counter. Despite this purported lack of power, Machida's combination of accuracy, traditional kicking style, and frequent hip and eye feints have allowed him to finish several fights with his kicks, as he did against Randy Couture, Mark Muñoz, and C. B. Dollaway.
Machida's wife is named Fabyola, and they have two sons named Taiyô (町田太陽) and Kaitô (町田怪盗).Ultimate Fighting Championship
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship (One time)
One successful title defense vs. Maurício Rua
Knockout of the Night (Four times) vs. Thiago Silva, Rashad Evans, Randy Couture and Mark Muñoz
Fight of the Night (Three times) vs. Jon Jones, Gegard Mousasi and Chris Weidman
Performance of the Night (One time) vs. C.B. Dollaway
2011 Knockout of the Year vs. Randy Couture
Mixed Martial Arts Hall of Fame
Black Belt Magazine
2009 Fighter of the Year
2014 Fight of the Year vs. Chris Weidman at UFC 175
2014 Most Noteworthy Match of the Year vs. Chris Weidman on July 5, 2014
2014 July Fight of the Month vs. Chris Weidman