Lyoto Machida is sort of in a familiar position heading into UFC Fight Night 36. Win and he could earn a shot at the UFC title. I say sort of familiar because the last time Machida heard those words he was fighting at light heavyweight. On Saturday night, he will be fighting at middleweight.
The fight will only be his second time competing at the 185-pound limit. Machida's first foray at middleweight came in October when he headlined Fight Night 30 against Mark Munoz.
That fight lasted a little more than three minutes and ended when Machida landed a devastating kick to the head of Munoz. The timing of that kick was in perfect sync with the television broadcast. The kick making impact at the same time commentators Joe Rogan and Jon Anik were remarking on how Machida was "looking to up his output" and "finish fights."
Finish he did, earning $50,000 for Knockout of the Night for a kick that Munoz attempted to block with his gloved hand. It was Machida's first KO of the Night bonus since he sent Randy Couture into retirement at UFC 129 in April 2011.
Now ranked No. 4 in the middleweight division, Machida will look to capitalize on that victory when he faces Gegard Mousasi on Saturday.
The last time Machida heard UFC president Dana White say that a win could earn Machida a title shot was when he faced Dan Henderson at light heavyweight at UFC 157. Despite winning that contest via split decision that title fight was not granted. Instead, the title shot went to Alexander Gustafsson who took champion Jon Jones into the deep waters at UFC 165, eventually losing a unanimous decision to Jones.
Machida, speaking to Combate.com acknowledged that he has been told of White's claims that a win over Mousasi could earn him a shot at the winner of the May 24 bout between middleweight champion Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort, but Machida seemed unimpressed with White's comments, "I haven't seen Dana's quote, but it was told to me. But I think it's a timing thing. It's not the time to think about it. Mousasi is a very tough fighter. First I have to overcome this barrier, and then I also have to relax. If I have to do another fight, I will do it with no problem. My way of thinking is like that, always positive. I will be more prepared for a new opportunity." (translation via Fernando Arbex)
Machida's words reflect the reality of the situation in the UFC, more than once title shots have been dangled in front of a fighter only to be taken away for whatever reason. As the former UFC light heavyweight champion said, there's no reason to look too far ahead when there's a real fight coming on Saturday night.
Speaking of that fight on Saturday night, Lyoto's brother, Chinzo, spoke to MMAbyNeko about how Lyoto will approach Mousasi, "Lyoto's strategy is to do what he always does, which to fight on his feet, but according to the course of the fight anything can happen and it can go to the ground. We have our strategy set, but everything will depend on the course of the fight." Chinzo added, "Each fight is a different fight, last time Lyoto fought, against Muñoz, he showed more aggressiveness and a lot of confidence in this division. He is coming to finish this fight." (translation via Fernando Arbex)
Machida and Mousasi will headline UFC Fight Night 36 from Jaragua do Sul on Saturday, February 15.
- MMA on Instagram: Celebrities, Selfies and the Cats You Asked For
- Ben Askren lashes out at Dana White over Pat Cummins signing
- Rashaed Evans out, Daniel Cormier vs. Patrick Cummins in new UFC 170 co-main event
- Dana White's UFC steroid testing call out to reporters
- UFC 170: Who is Pat Cummins and How Will he Fare Against Daniel Cormier?