“Elusive” is the word most often used to describe Lyoto Machida. Because of his fighting style, it’s a perception that has formed in people’s minds, but thanks to the folks at FightMetric, a statistical analysis proves perception truly is reality in this case.

One of the best ways to measure effective defense and dominance is to look at the number of strikes a fighter absorbs. Because of variable fight lengths, the easiest way to consistently calculate this is to figure the number of strikes absorbed divided by the number of minutes fought. That gives you the number of strikes absorbed per minute of fighting, which we abbreviate as SApM.

Anderson Silva: 0.71 SApM
Georges St. Pierre: 1.01 SApM
BJ Penn: 1.23 SApM
Rashad Evans: 1.39 SApM
Frank Mir: 2.7 SApM
Fedor Emelianenko: 0.59 SApM
Lyoto Machida: 0.64 SApM

Both Fedor and Machida have proven harder to hit than all of the UFC’s champions. And it’s not like there is a shortage of data on any of these guys. These numbers are from their entire careers.

Assuming we’re using the term “elusive” to describe how difficult it is actually hit Machida, this analysis essentially proves he’s one of the most elusive fighters in mixed martial arts, second only to Fedor Emelianenko (at least according to the numbers).

We’ll find out on Saturday what Thiago Silva has to say about that at UFC 94.

Props to MMA Mania for the video find.