A pair of MMA legends met after years of swimming in the same waters on Friday night, as former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida took on three-time title challenger Chael Sonnen in the co-main event of Bellator 222. There was little trash talk heading into the fight, something Machida said threw him off in the days leading up to the event. Sonnen, for his part, said that while it was virtually impossible to disrespect Machida, he needed to win the bout for his former teammates and mentors Dan Henderson and Randy Couture, who each fell to “The Dragon” before hanging up the gloves.
He couldn’t get it done.
Despite securing a takedown early, it was Machida’s control of the distance that proved to be the difference maker. After landing a flying knee and nearly finishing the fight in Round 1, Machida did just that seconds into Round 2. With the victory, Machida finds himself in a unique position, able to challenge for the title at either 185 OR 205lbs. The number one middleweight contender, the 41-year-old Machida took the bout at light heavyweight in order to stay busy. Interestingly, he holds victories over both titleholders, beating middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi by decision in 2014, and stopping light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Ryan Bader in 2012.
Heading into the fight, Sonnen claimed to have been promised a title shot against Bader if he was victorious at Bellator 222. After the bout, Sonnen retired from the sport with a 30-17-1.