Ladies love underdog Machida

Lyoto Machida practices at Xtreme Couture Gym ahead of this weekend's UFC fight in Toronto December...

Lyoto Machida practices at Xtreme Couture Gym ahead of this weekend's UFC fight in Toronto December 7th 2011. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:35 PM ET

Up close and personal, Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida doesn’t look much like a fighter — there’s nary a blemish on his tanned face. In fact, if it wasn’t for the slight cauliflower ear, Machida could be a model.

There were several “I love yous” coming from a group of attractive young women standing just behind me as the Brazilian went through a very light workout Wednesday at Xtreme Couture Gym, out on Kipling Ave. At first I thought the sweet nothings were for me … but no such luck.

Anyway, Machida might not look like a fighter but he is one, and he’ll be in for the fight of his life when he takes on champion Jon (Bones) Jones for the light-heavyweight crown at UFC 140 on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.

The general consensus around the mixed martial arts world is that while Machida, who briefly held the light-heavyweight belt in 2009, has a unique fighting style and sublime skills, he won’t be able to dethrone Jones.

But Machida isn’t letting any of the negative sentiment get to him.

“I feel I’m in a much more mature stage of my life,” Machida said through a translator yesterday. “I’ve experienced everything now. I’ve experienced what it’s like to be a champ, what it’s like to lose. I experienced what it’s like to be knocked out, what it’s like to come back and have a big win. I’m better prepared today than I was a year ago.”

Jones brings a special set of problems for the 33-year-old Machida in that he is very long — long legs, long arms — and it will be difficult for the elusive Brazilian to get inside his defences, something he will likely need to do to win this bout.

“Obviously Jon Jones is an incredible athlete,” Machida said. “But I believe in what I study, I believe in how I’ve trained, I believe in my technique. So we’ll see on Saturday night.

“Every fighter makes mistakes,” Machida said of Jones’ previous fights. “I did notice some things he was doing wrong, which maybe some of his other opponents didn’t catch on. I’ve studied his past fights well and the things I have discovered I’ll show Saturday night.”

One thing you notice during Machida’s workout is how fast his feet are. You wouldn’t want to get in the way of one of his kicks. Then again, you wouldn’t even see it coming.

Will his feet be fast enough to dethrone Jones? Former light-heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz doesn’t think so.

“I think Jon Jones is on a roll,” Ortiz said. “His confidence is through the roof. He feels untouchable. Machida is not a punching, knockout kind of guy.”

PEOPLE’S CHAMP

Speaking of Ortiz, maybe he really is the “People’s Champ.”

Not only did the fighter formerly known as the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” walk onto the mat to an eruption of applause and cheers, he also gave his training wraps to some youngsters and autographed the bandages for the boys when he was done his workout. Although he has a head that looks as if it’s made out of cinderblock, maybe Ortiz is just a big softy?

“I kind of expected that,” Ortiz said when asked if he was surprised by his reception. “I’ve got so many people twittering me … ‘Can’t wait til you come,’ ‘We’re coming to the training session’ so I wasn’t surprised.”

Among the topics discussed with Ortiz, who turns 37 in January, retirement seemed to be the main thing on his mind. And, basically, he said, enough is enough.

“I’ve been through some battles in my years, almost 15 years of competition,” the MMA legend said. “May 30, 2012. That will be 15 years. Fifteen years has been my goal. If I make it 15 years, maybe it’s time to hang up the gloves? Fifteen years and I’ve done my deal. Walk away while I’m still healthy, you know? I don’t want to have any more surgeries. I have three boys, I have a family to take care of … Walk away healthy, walk away on my terms.”

One of those terms would be fighting Forrest Griffin again. Though Ortiz has to get by Rogerio Nogueira on Saturday night first, he’s got one fight remaining on his contract after that and he said he would like it to be against Griffin.

QUICK HITS

You can’t listen to Frank Mir, says Minotauro Nogueira. Mir has complained that he didn’t get the proper respect after beating Big Nog for the heavyweight title back at UFC 92 because the Brazilian revealed afterward that he hadn’t been in the best health after spending a week in hospital with a staph infection. “Frank’s the kind of guy you can’t really pay attention to what he says. He always likes to talk and try to confuse you with what he’s saying,” Big Nog said. The two fight again Saturday night … Although media and fans were on hand to see the fighters for UFC 140 work out, one of the biggest buzzes created at Xtreme Couture Wednesday was from the announcement that Canadian great Georges St. Pierre has pulled out of his UFC 143 match against Nick Diaz. It appears that an ACL injury will shelve the welterweight champion for at least 10 months. Diaz will now fight Carlos Condit for the interim title … Hey, isn’t the Rock the People’s Champ?

MACHIDO’S KARATE KID KICK

The last time Lyoto Machida was in town, he sent Randy Couture sprawling to the canvas after delivering a Karate Kid kick to the chops of the mixed martial arts legend at UFC 129.

“That victory and that fight was very important to me because I have a lot of respect for Randy Couture and to come up here where Randy Couture had a lot of fans ... It was very different because I wasn’t used to having most of the fans on my opponent’s side. This time around I gladly would accept the fans being on my side.”

It could have been the spectacular fashion in which Machida disposed of Couture that got the Brazilian a shot at reclaiming the light-heavyweight crown when he fights Jon Jones on Saturday night.

“To be honest, it was a big surprise (to get the title shot) because the way things were working out with contenders and also Jon Jones having the title, he will be fighting now four times, which is a lot for a guy to fight in a year. So it was definitely a big surprise.”

To the delight of the onlookers at Xtreme Couture Gym, Machida pulled out the Karate Kid kick on a couple of occasions.


Videos

Photos