After accepting an 18-month suspension from USADA following a positive drug test in April of 2016, Lyoto Machida is scheduled for his return to the Octagon. Set to face Derek Brunson at UFC São Paulo on October 28, “The Dragon” will get back to action after more than two years on the sidelines. But if you think that the time away from the spotlight has hurt Machida, think again.
“I think I have to take responsibility for what happened”, Machida told reporters during a media availability last Tuesday. “While I was fighting […], I didn’t grow up as a person and my career stopped. Then, from the moment I accepted that I made a mistake, it all started to change in my life. It was learning for life, as a person. It was my fault, and I accept this responsibility […]. At first glance, I thought it was too hard, But everything happens for a reason. I needed to withdraw from the public a bit to be able to improve technically and learn other skills.”
Involved in a doping incident for the first time in his career, Machida, now 39, admitted that he felt he was labeled a cheater by many fans, which is something that clearly bothered the athlete. After all, even UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who hasn’t even had his recent positive test thoroughly analyzed, seems to have already been judged as guilty in the public view.
“At the first moment that [potential] doping is announced, you end up being labeled a cheater”, Machida said. “For example, Jon Jones now. We don’t know what happened. His life is his and it is only he who knows [what happened]. Everyone has their own lifes.”
That being said, doping controversies should be a thing of the past for “The Dragon” now. With his return being only a matter of weeks, the Brazilian ex-champion weighed in on the positive and negative aspects of his long break from competition that is about to end in October.
“On the negative side, I think it’s the rhythm of competition. You lose that pace, there’s no way [to make up for that in training]. On a positive note, I’ve had enough time to make some adjustments in my game. On the ground, with my takedown defense and even standing up – which has always been my strength. There is always something that you can improve on.”
Lyoto Machida was last seen inside the Octagon in June of 2015 when “The Dragon” was knocked out by Yoel Romero. At 39 years old, the Karateka owns a career record of 22 victories and seven defeats.