Lyoto Machida, who will fight Rashad Evans for the light heavyweight title at UFC 98, has been criticized by many fans -- and even by fellow fighter Rampage Jackson -- for having a boring style of fighitng. Others say that Machida's only job is to win fights, and that his undefeated record shows that his style is effective.
But when I asked Machida Tuesday how he responds to that criticism, he said through his translator that he takes that criticism to heart, and he does view it as part of his job to entertain the fans.
"Lyoto says that, of course, it's part of his job to entertain," translator Derek Lee said after Machida responded to my question in Portuguese. "It's a sport, but it's also entertainment. He's getting paid to entertain his fans. But he believes the criticism inspires his training because he can hear what people are saying and use that in training to adapt and get better in any way he can."
Machida also said that he approaches each fight as a mental challenge, not just a physical one.
"As he goes through training, his mind is a big part of it," Lee said, translating another answer from Machida. "He thinks the fight begins before he steps into the ring, and that his mind can be used as a weapon. He sees his body as a sword, as a samurai would."
And ultimately, Machida says that a fighting style matters less than how the fighter implements it.
"The martial art is not what builds the athlete," Machida said. "The athlete builds his own art. It's a matter of how you train."