Lyoto Machida snapped a three-fight losing streak Saturday night in his hometown of Belem, Brazil but the 39-year-old former champion needed some help from the judges in order to secure the victory.
Machida (23-8) squeaked by rising middleweight contender Eryk Anders (10-1) via split decision in the headline bout of a UFC Fight Night event.
Despite landing the more damaging strikes throughout the fight and taking Machida down in each of the final three rounds, Anders, a former University of Alabama linebacker, suffered the first loss of his mixed martial arts career.
Judge Marco Rosales scored the five-round main event 48-47 (three rounds to two) in favour of Anders. Judge Guilherme Bravo had it 48-47 Machida but judge Tony Weeks scored the bout a controversial 49-46 (four rounds to one) for Machida.
MMA fans and media watching the event—many of whom thought Anders had done enough to win—questioned Weeks’s scorecard.
Overall, Brazilian fighters went 9-2 on the 11-fight card with five of those wins coming by decision (three unanimous, two split).
Machida had been knocked out by Derek Brunson and Yoel Romero and submitted by Luke Rockhold in his previous three fights and hadn’t registered a victory since finishing C.B. Dollaway back in December 2014.
In the co-main event, former women’s bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko made her flyweight debut and brutalized UFC newcomer Priscila Cachoeira for more than nine minutes before submitting her with a rear-naked choke late in the second round. Shevchenko outstruck Cachoeira by a margin of 230-3 in the one-sided mauling.
Shevchenko, whose only two losses in the UFC were razor-thin decisions to current 135-pound champ Amanda Nunes, should be a no-brainer to challenge Nicco Montano for the 125-pound title.
Here are the complete results from UFC Belem:
— Lyoto Machida def. Eryk Anders by split decision
— Valentina Shevchenko def. Priscila Cachoeira by submission (rear-naked choke)
— Michel Prazeres def. Desmond Green by unanimous decision
— Timothy Johnson def. Marcelo Golm by unanimous decision
— Douglas Silva de Andrade def. Marlon Vera by unanimous decision
— Thiago Santos def. Anthony Smith by TKO
— Sergio Moraes def. Tim Means by split decision
— Alan Patrick def. Damir Hadzovic by unanimous decision
— Polyana Viana def. Maia Stevenson by submission (rear-naked choke)
— Iuri Alcantara def. Joe Soto by TKO
— Deiveson Figueiredo def. Joseph Morales by TKO