Lyoto Machida is a legend in the world of MMA, but you may not know of his heavy connections to pro wrestling.
Machida went through the NJPW Dojo well over fifteen years ago, living with some rather famous names en route to his MMA career. Eventual Tokyo Dome headliner Shinsuke Nakamura and WrestleMania main eventer Daniel Bryan both roomed with the future UFC Champion, which Machida recalled when speaking to Fightful recently.
"It was in 2003 in the New Japan Pro Wrestling Academy. It was important to me, I learned so many things about fighting and life. I was by myself and not married, I didn't have kids, and I stayed with those people for almost 6 months. I lived there, slept there, ate there. It's a good memory for me. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to go through the academy and made so many friends. I didn't want to do pro wrestling. I trained it there back in the day, and I respect it and watch it sometimes, but I don't like to do it," Machida told us.
In Bryan's book, he mentioned healthy competition between Nakamura and Machida. In the house, you had Japanese speaking Nakamura, English speaking Bryan and Portugese speaking Machida, all performing at a high level ahead of reaching the pinnacles of their profession. Machida downplayed it and said they were both in favor of Simon Inoki.
"You know what happened? Nakamura just got to New Japan Pro Wrestling, and (Simon) Inoki wanted to promote both of us, me more in MMA, and Nakamura more in pro wrestling. There was some competition between us, but nothing really happened. There was a respect between us. Sometimes we trained together. I'm happy for the brilliant career he's had. I've not had any contact with him at all, because I moved to Brazil," Machida said.
In the years that followed, it got difficult to not see his former roommates. Machida said that he would often catch them on television, even if he didn't quite realize it was them at first glance.
"I saw Bryan, because he has a very good career. I'd heard that he retired and wrote a book. We had some great times and conversations, he was a nice guy. I really respect him. He was great, too. I'm so happy to see these legends and all of their success. Especially Bryan. I was watching TV and he had this beard, and I didn't recognize him. I was like 'I used to live with that guy!' I was so happy because of that," said Machida.
Following our story, Shinsuke Nakamura sent a tweet, saying he hopes to see Machida again.
I wanna meet him again someday. pic.twitter.com/ZgxkeWbOpn— Shinsuke Nakamura (@ShinsukeN) June 15, 2019
You can check out our full conversation with Lyoto Machida in the video player above. Currently, he competes in Bellator MMA, while Bryan and Nakamura both appear for WWE's Smackdown Live brand.