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UFC Belem results: Lyoto Machida edges out split decision over Eryk Anders

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Lyoto Machida (EL) Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Lyoto Machida was bloodied in the second round, took some hard shots in the third and at times was very clearly the older, smaller and less explosive man. But “The Dragon” wouldn’t be turned back in his home area.

Machida edged out a victory over Eryk Anders by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46) in the main event of UFC Belem on Saturday night in Brazil. Afterward, Machida called out Michael Bisping to be his next opponent.

In the first round, Machida was his usual tactical self, attacking Anders’ legs and putting money in the bank with those low kicks with an eye toward later in the fight. Anders caught Machida with a knee in the clinch in the second, though, that split open the former UFC light heavyweight champion’s nose with a cut. The momentum seemed to turn there with Anders also landing some solid blows in the third.

Machida kept his distance better in the fourth and fifth, getting back to his first-round strategy. He landed damaging kicks and knees to the body and counter left hands. Anders had his moments, too, and sent Machida backtracking often with big left hands. It was a close fight, but the judges handed it to Machida by a slim margin.

Machida (23-8) bounced back from a first-round knockout loss to Derek Brunson at UFC Sao Paulo in October. It was only his second fight in more than two years due to a UFC anti-doping policy violation and USADA suspension. Machida, 39, made it very clear what he wanted next — to be Bisping’s retirement fight opponent.

“Michael Bisping, I’m here for you, man,” Machida said.

Anders (10-1) had a very good showing for someone with a fraction of Machida’s experience, especially given the partisan crowd. The former University of Alabama football player had won two fights in the UFC coming in. Anders, 30, did little to drop his stock as someone in the middleweight division to watch in the future.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko absolutely destroyed Priscila Cachoeira in her flyweight debut. The former bantamweight top contender pummeled and bloodied Cachoeira in the first round and did some more that in the second before finishing with a rear-naked choke at 4:25 of the round.

It was one of the most one-sided main card fights in the UFC in recent years. Cachoeira mustered just one landed strike, compared to more than 200 from Shevchenko. On top of that, referee Mario Yamasaki had numerous opportunities in both rounds to stop the bout, but didn’t take it until Cachoeira tapped to the choke.

Shevchenko rocked the Brazilian on the feet in the first, then took her down and smashed her over and over with punches and elbows from the top. Cachoeira’s blood was splattered on the mat by the end of the frame. The second round was more of the same, with Shevchenko getting into a mounted crucifix and raining down brutal ground and pound.

Shevchenko (15-3) is a shoo in to get the first title opportunity against inaugural flyweight champion Nicco Montaño. “Bullet” was coming off a tight, split decision loss to Amanda Nunes in a bantamweight title fight at UFC 215 in September. Shevchenko, 29, was won three of four overall and only has two losses — both to Nunes — since 2010.

Cachoeira (8-1) was making her UFC debut after an impressive run in regional promotions in her native Brazil. Cachoeira, 29, is nicknamed “Zombie Girl” and did show uncanny toughness Saturday night.

Michel Prazeres missed weight Friday by five pounds, then blew past the agreed upon fight-day weight by seven pounds Saturday. The Brazilian fighter got the win via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over Desmond Green, but it should come with a hearty asterisk. Green was likely giving up 15 pounds or more to Prazeres in the cage.

Prazeres (24-2) has won six straight, but has missed weight three times in his last four fights. He will likely be moved up to welterweight by the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission. Green (20-7), who will get a portion of Prazeres’ show and win purse due to the bad weight miss, has now dropped two straight.

After a violent round and change, Thiago Santos finished Anthony Smith via TKO with a wicked body kick and a flurry of punches at 1:03 of the second. Santos landed a spinning hook kick and a flying knee in the first, but Smith showed off an iron chin and ate them. The blow to the liver is what did him in.

Santos (17-5) has now won four straight and is looking like a real problem in the middleweight division. Smith (28-13) came in on a three-fight winning streak after a breakout 2017.

Also on the main card, Douglas Silva de Andrade defeated Marlon Vera by unanimous decision, Timothy Johnson knocked off Marcelo Golm by unanimous decision,

Tim Means and Sergio Moraes engaged in a fun, back-and-forth striking affair. At the end of it, Moraes was awarded a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) victory to close out the prelim card. Moraes (13-3-1) is 7-1-1 in his last nine fights and is climbing in the welterweight division. Means (27-10-1) has lost two straight and three of four.

On the FS2 prelims, Iuri Alcantara finished Joe Soto via first-round TKO, Polyana Viana beat Maia Stevenson by first-round submission and Alan Patrick defeated Damir Hadzovic via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-27, 30-27).

In the opener, Deiveson Figueiredo dominated Joseph Morales en route to a TKO at 4:34 of the second round that ignored the crowd in his home state of Pará.