He utilizes the basic trip that you can see done in almost every good shotokan kumite. He also makes great use of straight counter punches which are easily distinguishable as a straight karate punch or lunge punch, not as easily mistaken for a boxing cross or jab like alot of karate fighters throw. Other than a few kicks here and there, one on Rich Franklin that was a classic karate front kick, this seems to make up for the bulk of his attacking techniques.
I can only truly attest to katas effectiveness based on what its done for me. Since ive only seen him do it as much as everyone else, but some of what he does IMO can be seen in Kata. One part caught my attention that seems notable was when Rogan pointed out how good he was at spinning when tito grabbed him, watching it seems like the turns in Kata; could have developed this ability of his. His hands almost always seemed to go into an opening kusanku type movement when on defense. And on the inside he uses both arms in alot of kata like positions that alot of other fighters dont seem to do.
His footwork and main attacking techniques are karate, his coordination with using his stance,footwork, upperbody and lowerbody techniques together are karate, and IMO were most likely developed through kata. He feints alot, and one time he brought his foot up exactly like Tekki/Naihanchi kata. Against BJ Penn he pulled Penns left arm with his right while pushing him down with his own left, this was a very Tekki esque technique. He did the same thing without the pulling hand against Veron White.
All in all his delivery system is very Karate. Even some of the postures he takes when punching downed opponents are identical to some postures in karate & kata. And, he trains in Karate and BJJ, not boxing or muay thai. So we really cant say his karate is ineffective, its what he knows, so anything he does can be attributed to that. Would this be different if it was a boxer? I dont think anyone would talk about it, they just assume if he wins it is, if he doesnt then hes just not good. With karate it always seems to be, is he really using karate? If he wins it must be something else, if he loses karate is ineffective. Do you ever see shadowboxing arguments? How about speed bag by itself wont make you a good fighter, but... Why is everything always taken out of context when trying to make a point? Ive only been here a month or so and can already tell everyone knows what Karate and its training methods are and/or are not, so why does everyone patronize each other and argue off pointless semantics, insecure maybe?
I wonder how much effect Machida will have on Karate & MMA seeing as how strongly he embraces it.