On Saturday night, in the co-headlining bout of Bellator Hawaii, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida made his promotional debut opposite former Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho.
After three closely contested rounds, Machida was announced the winner by split decision. While the former UFC champ is happy about this victory, he says he was a bit thrown off by the new setting.
Post-fight, Lyoto Machida opened up on the differences between his previous UFC bouts and this first bout in the Bellator cage.
“Tough opponent, tough fight,” Lyoto Machida told MMAjunkie of the experience. “I believe because it was my first fight in Bellator, in the beginning, I was kind of lost. Even though I have a lot of fights under my belt, many years in the UFC and other events, Bellator is different. Every time you step in a different cage, you can feel the difference, and that’s what I felt at the beginning of the fight.”
“Everything is different,” he added. “The walkout is different. I see my picture behind me and everything. Amazing show, but I think it’s a natural process to get used to being here. My next fight will be better, for sure. Everything already sunk in.”
Although he was somewhat joggled by the new experience of fighting for Bellator, Lyoto Machida says he’s very happy to have joined the promotion.
“I’m so happy to be here,” Machida said. “No regrets at all. Man, the treatment, everything, the public, the crowd, I’m so happy to be here. Bellator, for me, is my new home definitely.”
With his victory over the former champ Rafael Carvalho, Lyoto Machida asserts himself as one of the top contenders in the Bellator middleweight division, and perhaps the next man in line for reigning champ Gegard Mousasi, who he holds a victory over.
How do you think Lyoto Machida will perform in the Bellator cage?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/16/2018.