Making a successful debut at middleweight, Lyoto Machida (pictured, left) plans to continue marching through the division’s top fighters. The former UFC light heavyweight champion knocked out Mark Munoz at UFC Fight Night 30 just days ago, and he is already looking to Vitor Belfort (pictured, right) as the ‘best option’ for his next opponent.
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
It took just over three minutes for former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida to move himself into the top-5 of the UFC’s middleweight division. With a knockout victory over Mark Munoz this past weekend at UFC Fight Night 30, Machida made a statement to the 185-lb. division: “The Dragon” is back.
It was the best Machida (20-4) has looked in a number of fights, both physically and in terms of his performance. He was lighter and still powerful enough to stop a very game Munoz. Machida looked faster too – if that were even possible. While some guessed before the fight that the weight cut could have played a factor in the former 205-lb. fighter, the short fight negated any doubts.
“I expected a tough fight, maybe four or five rounds,” Machida said to MMAFighting.com. “I knew this fight could be over at any moment, but I expected it to be longer. I was ready for a long fight.”
As far as the drop in weight is concerned, Machida said it was easy.
“I was worried with my weight cut but I felt stronger and quicker at 185. I felt great. All the work was executed so I could lose weight without any trouble. I had [to] cut 3.3 pounds on the day before the weigh-ins, so I did a yoga class with Fabiano Gomes and lost it easily. I lost 3.3 in a yoga class.”
It certainly showed, too, as Machida looked to be at a more natural weight. The 6’1” has often been the smaller man in his fights at 205 pounds, but he used his speed and quick footwork to evade and attack his opponents. Now at 185, Machida showed that he has all the power from a higher weight class while maintaining, and even gaining, speed.
“I was No. 1 in the light heavyweight division for a long time,” Machida said, “[I] fought for the title several times, but moving down to 185 was the best option for me right now. I’ve fought all the best at 205 so this is like a new career for me.”
UFC President Dana White seemed to agree, and following the fight he had said that Machida could be facing Vitor Belfort next, so long as Belfort defeats Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 32 on November 9.
“Vitor Belfort is the best option for me right now,” Machida said, agreeing with White. “I want to fight him. It would be the best fight for me right now because he’s well ranked in the middleweight division. No hard feelings, I’m thinking what’s best for my career and where I can get with a win. Even if Vitor loses to Dan Henderson, I’d want to fight him in our weight class.”
Belfort has long been among the top three contenders in the middleweight division. When current UFC champion Chris Weidman earned the title from Anderson Silva earlier this year, Belfort was passed up on a title shot so that Silva could rematch for the belt. Belfort decided to then take a fight in the weight class above against Dan Henderson, presumably to keep his top-contender position if he should lose.
For Machida, he thinks regardless of Belfort’s next performance, a win over his fellow Brazilian could earn him a shot at the middleweight belt. With the UFC belt being challenged at UFC 168 at the end of this year by Machida’s long-time friend and teammate, Anderson Silva, the two could hypothetically be fighting one another sometime next year.
“A win over Vitor Belfort puts me in front of everybody in the rankings, but let’s see what happens. It’s too soon to talk about it because Anderson Silva is too far away from me right now. Even if he wins, I don’t know for how long he will want to keep fighting. I haven’t talked to him for a long time. I don’t know how it’s going to work, we have the same managers. I rather not to talk about it now. When we get there, we’ll figure it out.”
Regardless of what the next two months bring in terms of how the middleweight division will take shape, one thing is certain: Lyoto Machida is poised for another run of dominance in the Octagon.Tags: Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman, Dan Henderson, Dana White, lyoto machida, Mark Muñoz, mma, MMA NEWS, ufc, UFC 168, UFC FIGHT NIGHT 30, ufc fight night 30: machida vs. munoz, UFC FIGHT NIGHT 32, ufc fight night 32: belfort vs henderson 2, ufc news, Vitor Belfort