America’s celebration of diversity is perhaps its greatest strength—so too with MMA.
Think about the champions in each individual weight class…
Lightweight: BJ Penn (Hawaiian American)
Welterweight: Georges St. Pierre (Canadian)
Middleweight: Anderson Silva (Brazilian with African ancestry)
Light heavyweight: Rashad Evans (African American)
Heavyweight: Brock Lesnar (Caucasian American, part bear)
This is why the Lyoto Machida vs. Rashad Evans championship bout on Saturday night is both a win-win and a lose-lose situation. It would be great, of course, if Rashad Evans retained the belt, as he is a worthy role model to African American youth who are just now discovering our sport.
His opponent, Lyoto Machida, is a Brazilian man of paternal Japanese descent. This is significant, because there are no current UFC champions of Far Eastern ancestry. This is ironic, as we all know—from American cinema, the History channel, and now Spike TV (with shows such as The Deadliest Warrior)—that the Far East has a rich history of martial science.
How fitting would it be then for Lyoto Machida, whose first Karate instructor was his father, Shotokan master Yoshizo Machida, to take home the belt?
How do I see the fight going? I think Machida will frustrate Evans with his unique striking style, as he seems to do with all of his opponents, moving in and out, striking hard and backing out fast, like a ninja.
Evans is a great wrestler, and while he might score a takedown or two, don’t overlook Machida’s takedown defense. I see Machida winning by a unanimous decision (four rounds to one), but either way, it will be a great night for UFC’s diversity, as well as a sad one…until the next champ comes along, of course.