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Bellator jitters? Lyoto Machida admits he was 'kind of lost' in debut win

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HONOLULU – Former UFC champion Lyoto Machida has been fighting internationally for more than a decade, but even he admits his Bellator debut went different than expected.

“Tough opponent, tough fight,” Machida told MMAjunkie following his win at Saturday’s Bellator 213 event. “I believe because it was my first fight in Bellator, in the beginning, I was kind of lost. Even though I have a lot of fights under my belt, many years in the UFC and other events, Bellator is different. Every time you step in a different cage, you can feel the difference, and that’s what I felt at the beginning of the fight.”

Machida (25-8 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) and former Bellator middleweight champ Rafael Carvalho (15-3 MMA, 6-2 BMMA) met in the co-feature of Saturday’s DAZN-streamed Bellator 213 event from Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu.

Carvalho had success in the early going, and Machida admits he was struggling to get comfortable in those opening moments.

“Everything is different,” Machida said. “The walkout is different. I see my picture behind me and everything. Amazing show, but I think it’s a natural process to get used to being here. My next fight will be better, for sure. Everything already sunk in.”

Machida made the necessary adjustments on the fly, turning more to takedowns than usual and being careful not to expose himself to damage during exchanges in the pocket. The 40-year-old middleweight said that focus on distance and timing earned him the contest.

“He’s so long, very tall,” Machida said. “At the beginning, I had to find the range and to keep out of his reach. That was the fight.”

Lyoto Machida at Bellator 213.

Machida had to battle through a split-decision read, but he insists he had no concerns and felt he had done enough to claim the win. After having his nose cracked and bloodied in the opening round, Machida said he was fine over the final two frames.

“I was sure I won,” Machida said. “The only thing that he did was he punched my face in the first round. After that punch, I didn’t feel anything.”

Machida has made it clear he wants to challenge for the Bellator middleweight title, a belt held by a man he beat in 2014 in Gegard Mousasi. Whether or not his victory over Carvalho was enough to earn him that shot remains to be seen, but Machida believes his performances will continue to improve now that his promotional debut his behind him.

“I’m so happy to be here,” Machida said. “No regrets at all. Man, the treatment, everything, the public, the crowd, I’m so happy to be here. Bellator, for me, is my new home definitely.”

To hear more from Machida, check out the video above.

For complete coverage of Bellator 213, check out the MMA Events section of the site.



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