Former UFC champion Lyoto Machida refused to pass the torch to a young, up-and-comer on Saturday -- especially in his native Brazil.
Machida (24-8) pulled out a narrow split decision against Eryk Anders at UFC Fight Night in Belem, Brazil. Machida won via scores of 49-46, 48-47 and 47-48. ESPN scored the middleweight bout 48-47 for Machida.
For Machida, 39, it is his first victory since December 2014, and snaps a three-fight skid.
"I can't put a price on it," Machida said. "It's my return to my home city. It's amazing. We used a lot of kicks, a lot of movement. He's a very tough fighter, but we came out with a victory."
Immediately after the result, Machida called for a fight against former champion Michael Bisping, who has flirted with the idea of retirement in recent months.
"Michael Bisping, I am here for you, man," Machida said.
Anders (10-1) came into the fight with plenty of momentum. The UFC offered the 30-year-old a main event slot in just his third appearance in the Octagon. Anders, 30, is a former linebacker for the University of Alabama.
A former light heavyweight champion, Machida's game plan was obvious from the beginning. He circled away from Anders throughout the entire fight, while scoring from a distance with leg kicks.
Anders failed to check the kicks, but they did not appear to limit his mobility. He did seem hesitant to let his hands go, however, especially when Machida switched stances in the later round.
The most significant strike of the fight arguably belonged to Anders, as he opened a deep cut on Machida's forehead in the third round. According to Fightmetric, however, Machida out-landed Anders in total strikes 63-to-41.
Shevchenko spectacular in UFC flyweight debut
Former bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko lived up to sky high expectations in her UFC flyweight debut, as she tapped Priscila Cachoeira via rear-naked choke at 4:25 of the second round.
Shevchenko (15-3) is considered a favorite to eventually hold the UFC's 125-pound title, and it was evident why on Saturday. She hurt Cachoeira with punches in the opening minute, before turning to a completely dominant ground game.
Cachoeira (8-1) was virtually helpless on the floor. Shevchenko easily maintained top position, and rained down elbows and punches. At the time of the finish, Shevchenko had out-landed Cachoeira in total strikes 217-to-1, according to Fightmetric.
The Peruvian-Kyrgyzstan fighter challenged Amanda Nunes for the 135-pound title at UFC 215 in September, and came up short via split decision. She is looking at a potential title shot against inaugural champion Nicco Montaño, who won the title in December.
"Before this fight, many media asked me, 'You have to fight for the title,'" Shevchenko said. "I know champion Nicco is injured right now, and that's why I decided to be stay in form, not waiting too much. I decided to step in the Octagon. If everyone wants to see me fight for the title, I do, too."