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Bellator 180's Chinzo Machida trusts experience in 'martial arts as a whole' to make a difference

Featherweight Chinzo Machida has only one more pro MMA bout over his opponent, but he’s still banking on experience on Saturday.

Machida (5-2 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) is a unique case. At 40, he’s only had seven MMA bouts, which were basically spread throughout a 12-year period. Meanwhile, Bellator 180 opponent James Gallagher (6-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA), who happens to be half Machida’s age, only kicked off his pro career in 2015 – after a significant amateur run.

Looking at records alone, it doesn’t seem like there’s much of an experience advantage. But, with a lifetime of karate and a former UFC champ for a brother, Machida’s numbers are deceiving.

“I really trust my experience,” Machida told MMAjunkie. “Not only my experience in MMA, but in martial arts as a whole. I’ve been training (karate) since I was four, and following my dad’s teachings. I’ve been following Lyoto’s trajectory in MMA for a long time, too. I think experience will make a difference.”

Bellator 180 takes place Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Bellator: NYC main card airs on pay-per-view following the Bellator 180 undercard on Spike.

There have been a few reasons for Machida’s timid record. More recently, between 2014 and 2016, he was recovering from a shoulder injury. Before that, there was karate – which, for him, entailed competing, teaching and promoting the Machida family’s specific, defense-driven style. And then, of course, there was a lot of focus put into helping with his brother’s very successful MMA career.

But Machida is now on a roll. After a TKO over Mario Navarro to kick off his Bellator run this past August, he went on to dispatch Jamar Ocampo at at Bellator 170 with yet another knockout. And, currently free from any serious injuries, he credits his background for helping him perform at a high level.

“I’m feeling fast and strong in training,” Machida said. “And Machida Karate, which we’ve adjusted to a more ‘real’ type of contact fighting, has also given us the ability to defend ourselves without letting our opponents hit us. This is one of our weapons, and it allows us to lead long lives in martial arts.”

Machida still trains with Lyoto, who’s currently serving an 18-month suspension following a USADA violation, and says his brother’s absence from the cage in no way disrupts his own training. Kings MMA leader Rafael Cordeiro also helps hone his striking.

While there was specific ground and defensive work done to prepare for an opponent who’s finished all but one of his professional fights via submission, Machida says he’s keeping an open mind as to where their bout can go.

“I can’t think that he’s strictly a jiu-jitsu guy, that he’s going to take me down and do jiu-jitsu alone,” Machida said. “The fight starts on the feet, so I need to be prepared both to attack on the feet and to defend on the feet.”

The future, should he manage to stop “The Strabanimal” train on its tracks, is one that Machida is still not putting too much thought into. But looking to be a part of Bellator’s roster “for a lot longer,” he admits his current situation has sparked his ambition a bit.

“Every fighter in there has a dream, which is to be a champion,” Machida said. “I’m no different. But one step at a time. My challenge is Gallagher. I have to watch out for him, he’s a dangerous guy. We’ll see what happens, but my dream of being a champion has awakened even more.”

For more on Bellator NYC and Bellator 180, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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