Up until three weeks ago, Lyoto Machida and Mark Munoz were training partners and friends but that didn’t stop “The Dragon” from knocking Munoz out in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 30 main event Saturday. Machida stepped in to replace an injured Michael Bisping to face Munoz on the Manchester, England card and showed no visible joy after his one-kick KO of the “Filipino Wrecking Machine.”
The early part of the bout was filled mostly with feints and footwork as the two friends cautiously felt one another out. Then, Machida struck with a rear round house kick to the top of Munoz’ head.
Munoz had his right hand up to defend his head but it did him little good as the power of the former light heavyweight champion’s kick went right through the glove and put his opponent flat on his back. Machida rushed in on the grounded Munoz and cocked a fist but showed restraint in choosing not to immediately punch him.
The referee recognized that Munoz was done and slid in between the two and stopped the fight at 3:10 of the first round.
“It’s very hard for me because Mark is a very good friend for me,” Machida said in his post-fight interview.
“As a professional I don’t think about that. I just do my job here. Mark, thank you for fighting me. Sorry about that, my friend. It’s a job.”
Machida admitted that it was a challenge to make the middleweight limit but said that he intends to stay at middleweight as long as Dana White and the UFC brass let him. “I will stay at 185…but if they ask me to fight at 205 again, I will,” he said.
With the win, his first at middleweight, Machida improves his record to 19-4. Munoz dipped to 13-4, overall, and two out of his last three.