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Safety first pays off for Machida

"Leaving it to the judges" has never been a hotter trend than it is right now.

At UFC 169 two weeks ago in Newark, N.J., the company set a new record for most decisions on a fight card with 10. On Saturday, amazingly, UFC Fight Night 36 in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil, tied that mark.

In all, the promotion has now seen 14 consecutive "prelim" bouts go the distance.

It's hard to believe this trend had no effect on some observers' perception of Lyoto Machida's performance against Gegard Mousasi on Saturday.

Criticism of Machida's "boring" style was bound to resurface following a fight in which he oftentimes feinted more than he threw, circled a great deal and landed a grand total of 35 strikes in 25 minutes, according to Fightmetric.

With everyone sort of at the end of his or her "decisions" rope, that criticism isn't really surprising -- but it's inaccurate.

The real numbers to focus on here, more so than the 35 strikes landed, were the judges' scores: 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46.

Machida (21-4) completely outclassed his opponent in the fight, which Mousasi admitted to afterward. The UFC had no problem with Machida's style, awarding him the $50,000 fight of the night bonus.

As good as Ronaldo Souza looks, Machida's next fight should be against the winner of a UFC middleweight title fight between Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort in May.

For all the head shaking and eye-rolling it's capable of generating, it remains one of the most difficult styles in the UFC to prepare for. The speed at which it operates at 185 pounds is a legitimate game changer.

Taking everything into account on Saturday, Machida is the most interesting fight for either guy -- even if he went the distance on a card that could have used a finish.