Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida was recently handed an 18 month suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which will leave him sidelined for another 11 months while he finishes the remaining time left on his suspension.
Machida’s case with USADA has been a very public one, with ‘The Dragon’ blaming USADA for not being aware of the fact that the substance he disclosed taking, 7-KETO-DHEA, was on the banned substance list.
In the time since Machida’s last fight in the Octagon, a July 2015 loss to Yoel Romero, UFC veteran Michael Bisping became the UFC middleweight champion and successfully defended the belt at UFC 204 against Dan Henderson.
Now, with Bisping’s next opponent set to be Yoel Romero, Machida knows that the landscape of the middleweight division will change quite a bit in his absence. With that being said however, Machida believes when it’s time for him to return, there will be a new champ reigning over the middleweight division.
He spoke to MMAJunkie:
“I think when I come back, ‘Jacare’ will be the champ,” Machida told MMAjunkie Radio. “‘Jacare’ has a lot of potential. He deserves the chance. I don’t know why he didn’t have a chance already. But soon he will be the champion. Romero as well. Romero is a very strong guy. He’s a very explosive fighter, and I think he has a chance too.”
“It’s very hard to say because of 11 months, but I want to fight against anyone,” Machida said. “I just want to fight, and I’m very ready to fight. I can’t wait to fight again. I can’t wait to step in the octagon and have an opponent. It doesn’t matter who it is. I want to fight again.”
At the time of his suspension, Machida was on a 2-fight skid that had seen him drop a 2nd round submission loss to Luke Rockhold in New Jersey, before then suffering a TKO los to Yoel Romero at ‘UFC Fight Night: Florida’ in June.