Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight knockout artists Lyoto Machida and Derek Brunson clashed last night (Oct. 28, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 119 inside Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Returning at 39 years old after two years away from the cage, lots of questions circled this bout for “The Dragon.” It was anyone’s guess whether Machida could still keep up with the world’s best, and the Brazilian was motivated to prove the sport wasn’t done with him just yet.

As for Brunson, questions surround him too, but that’s the case every fight. Would Brunson attack with a nearly comic level of disregard for his opponent’s offense? Would he look uncomfortable like he did (in an arguably winning performance) against Anderson Silva? Or would the wrestler come out looking to shoot?

Brunson opened up with some patience, kicking and looking to work inside. Then, Machida cracked him with a left, and Brunson lunged in moments later. Machida was moving well and seemed to have a read on his opponent quickly.

Perhaps the caused him to be a bit too confident, or age slowed him down a bit. Either way, “The Dragon” sprung in with a clean left hand but was slow to escape to safety afterward. As he backed away, Brunson swung a wide left hand that whacked the side of Machida’s head and took out his knees.

With his feet stuck in the mud, Machida was an easy target. A second left hand from Brunson sent him to the mat, where follow up punches sent him deep into unconsciousness.

There isn’t all that much to analyze here. Brunson was more patient than usual, but Machida’s distance control and tricks had him controlling the exchanges. A single punch changed all that, and Brunson saw his hand raised as a result.

First and foremost, Brunson hits terrifyingly hard. He didn’t lunge into the left hand that stunned Machida, but he did duck down and load it up. It’s a sign of development from Brunson, as him realizing that he can fire off knockout shots without losing his stance could be a huge development.

He called out Luke Rockhold, and that’s a fantastic contest.

As for Machida, is this the end? I wouldn’t argue. Machida looked sharp in this contest and may still be a top 15 fighter, but his time near the mountaintop is over. It’s hard to say for sure, but Machida seemed a bit slower, and the first hard shot that landed ended his night. Brunson is a heavy hitter, but those are also a pair of signs that Machida is starting to slip.

As a striker, slipping means knockout losses and further damage. Machida has little left to prove, so his next move should either be retirement or a big step back in competition to see if Machida still has much left in the tank.

Last night, Derek Brunson flattened his opponent in the very first round. Who should the Middleweight contender face next?

For complete UFC Fight Night 119 “Miller vs. Trinaldo” results and play-by-play, click HERE!