Getting slapped by most people isn't something one usually looks forward to, especially when they're getting a slap from one of the most intimidating wrestlers of all time. Antonio Inoki is a different story.
That's what happened to Lyoto Machida after one of his first MMA fights in 2003. The New Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo project approached the legendary Inoki following a victory, and was promptly slapped. For most people, that'd be a major problem. Not so much in this one.
"Every Japanese guy, they want to be slapped by Antonio Inoki because there's a story that he slapped the face of a little boy and the boy had great success in his career. Now everyone wants to be slapped by Inoki because they want to be successful. I wasn't expecting in that moment. He was slapping a lot of guys in front of me - like Kazuyuki Fujita. I didn't expect it then, I was just there to bow to him! Suddenly he slapped my face three times. Maybe because of that, I had success in my career," Machida laughed.
Machida went on to MMA to have great success, even to this day in the world of Bellator, where he'll take on Chael Sonnen this weekend. Pro wrestling offers never came his way, according to "The Dragon."
"Not at all. I left Japan and put all my focus in MMA. I never had any offers to fight in pro wrestling after that," Machida said.
The sucess for Machida was almost immediate. Later that year, he beat Rich Franklin, before also knocking off Stephan Bonnar and BJ Penn before he even reached the UFC.
You can hear our full talk with Lyoto Machida above, and check him out in action against Chael Sonnen at this weekend's Bellator 222, live on DAZN from Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.
You can hear our full conversation with Machida above!