He may have a UFC light heavyweight championship under his belt but that doesn’t mean Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida is resting on his laurels. The Brazlian-born champ recently opened up to Men’s Fitness about proving himself to fans, his training schedule, and the secret he learned when he fought in Japan.
As the years have gone by, his lightning moves have improved and are finally gotten respect from the ringside audience: “In the past, a lot of [fans] would miss my moves and nothing would happen to the opponent. Now they might miss my moves, but they see the other guy falling to the canvas. Now they get it.”
While his dad used to literally slap him in the face as a teenager if he missed a 5 a.m. wake-up all to begin training, Machida quickly realized that his success (and failure) were all up to him.
“I traveled alone for almost two years and would sometimes go 10 days without talking to my family or anyone. I was lonely. I learned something in Japan that my dad had always taught in me. In life, you’re always alone,” he revealed to Men’s Fitness about fighting on the Japanese grappling circuit after college. “You’re born alone. You die alone. And when you step into the ring, you’re alone. You’re responsible for your own actions and going out there and doing and not waiting for other people.”
He may now be reaping the rewards of years of hard work but Machida still gives much thought to his humble beginnings.
“I always look back at the beginning, at the time when I didn’t have a place to showcase my work, when I didn’t have fights scheduled, when I didn’t have fans, when I didn’t have money. I wanted all of that, and that reminds me how hard I have to fight for it.”
As for what is next, his father Yoshizo Machida summed it up the best: “I’d rate him as 75 out of 100 in terms of fulfilling his potential. When he won the title, I told him now is when the real work begins.”