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Much to Dan Henderson’s dismay, Lyoto Machida snags title shot at UFC 157

Judges side with Machida in close, uneventful co-main event

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Associated Press

Lyoto Machida, left, of Brazil, celebrates his split decision win against Dan Henderson, right, after their UFC 157 light heavyweight mixed martial arts match in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

UFC 157

Ronda Rousey celebrates defeating Liz Carmouche after their UFC 157 women's bantamweight championship mixed martial arts match in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. Rousey won the first womens bout in UFC history, forcing Carmouche to tap out in the first round. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Launch slideshow »

Dan Henderson shook Dana White’s hand, congratulated Liz Carmouche on a great fight and walked right past Lyoto Machida without a word or gesture.

Henderson bailed from the UFC 157 post-fight press conference early after his split-decision loss (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) to Machida. He allotted just enough time to give Machida’s performance in the co-main event a scathing review before his exit.

“Normally that’s not my type of fight, a little bit boring,” Henderson said. “He did a good job moving around and was real hard to hit. I needed to stay in his face and cut him off a little bit better and make him fight. He did a good job not fighting.”

Based on their reaction, the sold-out crowd at the Honda Center commiserated with Henderson. No one in the arena could make out a word of Machida’s interview in the octagon with the outpouring of boos after octagon announcer Bruce Buffer read the decision.

“I’m sorry the fight wasn’t as good as the fans wanted,” Machida said. “My strategy was to keep away from the right hand and to keep the fight standing.”

Aside from one successful takedown from Henderson in the third round, Machida was able to execute that game plan. It was “The Dragon’s” passivity that frustrated fans, as he spent most of the fight moving back to get away from Henderson’s advances and rarely traded with the veteran.

But Machida wasn’t too worried when all was said and done because he got what he wanted — a title shot. White announced that Machida would officially face the winner of a UFC 159 bout between Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen despite the lackluster performance.

“Lyoto took some big shots from Dan,” White said. “Dan took some big shots from Lyoto. It wasn’t a barnburner. It wasn’t the most exciting fight you’ve ever seen. You won’t be writing stories about this fight until the end of time, but Lyoto won the fight.”

Machida officially took the top-contender status away from Henderson, who was slated to meet Jon Jones last year before an injury forced him out of the fight. Henderson, a former PRIDE and Strikeforce champion, has now earned two UFC title shots within the past four years that he never received.

Perhaps that frustration also helps explain the usually mild-mannered 42-year old’s anger after UFC 157.

“I won the fight, but not officially,” Henderson said. “I hit him whenever he wanted to fight. He ran away most of the time.”

Official fight statistics somehow prove and disprove Henderson’s claims at the same time. Henderson indeed out-struck Machida at a 54-28 clip

All but one of Machida’s strikes, however, landed significantly while less than half of Henderson’s did. Machida also went 1-for-1 on takedown attempts as opposed to Henderson’s 1-for-3.

“It was anybody’s fight,” White said. “I gave it to Machida, barely.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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  1. Uneventful, Case? Now you send like the xenophobic troglodytes who booed the fight. It was a fine example of martial arts. FightMetric scored the fight a blowout, 30-27, which it should have been,.

  2. Make no mistake, I thought Machida won - and although I scored it 29-28, I can see 30-27. Maybe "uneventful" wasn't the best choice of words, but I think FightMetric supports that as well to some extent. Look at the statistics. It's not often you see someone win a three-round fight after landing less than 10 strikes per round.