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Chinzo Machida brings a familiar style to Bellator 170

Chinzo Machida, Bellator Bellator MMA

Chinzo Machida knows the questions about brother Lyoto are coming. After all, Lyoto Machida (who is actually a year younger than Chinzo) hasn’t been talking much in the wake of a highly disputed USADA suspension, and when you carry the legendary Machida name, you’re going to get asked about your more famous sibling.

So the Bellator featherweight is ready to talk about his brother’s situation from the top.

“He’s making the best of it,” the elder Machida said. “He understands that the smart fans know he made an innocent mistake. He’s not going to let this be the final chapter of his career and he will return to fighting and make things right.”

Where that stands at the moment is that Lyoto Machida, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, must sit out another nine months due to testing a positive for a banned substance in a supplement — an odd sentence given other fighters have gotten lighter suspensions for far worse.

In the meantime, Chinzo Machida will fill the void for those who want their fix of Machida Karate.

Two months shy of his 40th birthday, Machida (4-2) returns to action Saturday night at Bellator 170, where he’ll make the short drive from Los Angeles’ South Bay region to the Forum in Inglewood and meet Jamar Ocampo (2-0) in a preliminary matchup.

“It’s time,” Machida said. “I know I have a short window to do this, so it’s time to go out and prove I can.”

While Lyoto Machida has been front and center on some of the world’s biggest mixed martial arts cards over the past decade, Chinzo has been more of a dabbler in the sport, preferring to focus more on international karate competition.

He won his debut MMA fight in Brazil’s Jungle Fight in 2005, then only competed twice more over the next eight years.

Machida finally began to make a splash stateside in RFA, where a spectacular flying-knee knockout win over Brian Wood went viral. A second RFA win in 2014 got him on Bellator’s radar.

“And then I injured my shoulder,” Machida said. “Between the surgery and the rehab and everything, I was out a long time. I wasn’t planning it that way but sometimes that’s how it happens.”

That’s lent Machida something of a sense of urgency as he makes his run through Bellator. He’s not expecting to go on some sort of crazy title run. But he’s also looking at making the sort of sustained run in MMA he’s never quite made the time for in the past.

Machida finally made his Bellator debut with a first-round TKO over Mario Navarro at Bellator 160, and the five months between fights marks his shortest career turnaround.

“The thing is, I am 39 years old, but I don’t feel that way in fighting age,” Machida said. “Many fighters my age, they have been in dozens and dozens of fights and their bodies are starting to break down. I’m not that way. I don’t have the wear and tear on my body, and I don’t go out and drink or smoke or party like some others do. I feel like I can have a good run of fights, maybe for two or three, years.”

While he’s looking to establish his own identity, when Machida talks about his opponent, it becomes clear he carries his brother’s familiar style: One in which patience is a virtue, as he awaits for an opening like the one which led to his memorable knockout of Wood.

“From what we’ve seen on tape, Jamar wants to take it to the ground,” Machida said of Ocampo, who has won both of his pro fights via submission. “I’m not afraid to go there, but I’m not looking to prove a point with him either. I’ll wait and see which sort of opening he offers and then when he presents it I’ll look to take advantage from there.”

Simply due to his age, it’s unlikely Chinzo Machida will match his brother’s heights in the cage. But that’s not the point.

“I simply want to show what I can do,” Machida said. “And never leave any questions. I’m putting my full heart and my full energy into this and I will represent Machida karate. That is what I am looking to do.”

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