Last October, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida walked calmly to the Octagon wearing his customary Gi and had an entourage behind him that proudly displayed the UFC Light Heavyweight belt to the crowd inside the Staples Center and watching in bars and living rooms across the globe. Although fans were shaking in anticipation to see his title clash against fellow Brazilian Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, those in attendance were also rocking out to his entrance music.
The song was “Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park and when the group’s deejay, Joe Hahn, heard about the champ’s choice, he was flattered. “It’s an honor,” the musician says.
Though Hahn didn’t see the fight that controversial autumn night, he’s been watching the sport casually since the UFC held their first card back in 1993. While the 32-year-old admits that he doesn’t “really know who everyone is,” he appreciates the intelligence of these high level athletes and their ability to change their game plan accordingly at the drop of a dime.
“A lot of these fighters, they aren’t meatheads. They’re very smart in the way they train and in the way they have to assess each opponent,” he explains. “There’s a big dynamic in what a lot of these guys have to do when they start off fighting in a certain way and they have to adapt to how the sport evolves. I think that’s cool. It’s just different because in a fight, in the spur of the moment, can go in any direction. That’s fun.”
Another thing that fascinates Hahn is how much the level of talent has gone up since MMA’s “underground days.” Fighters can no longer depend on using just kickboxing or jiu-jitsu. Nowadays they need to have a well-rounded skill set to win fights and advance up the ranks. “These guys are pretty brutal,” he says. “I’m more of a striker myself, so … you know, I try to take everyone down in the first few seconds.”
But Hahn doesn’t actually train in mixed martial arts. He has a better strategy when faced with danger. “The way I do it now,” he starts saying, “is if someone wants to fight me, I snap my fingers and send someone to kick their ass. That’s more gangster.”