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Machida confident in Weidman's striking skills against Belfort, says the champ has ‘evolved a lot’

Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida believes Chris Weidman is more than capable of standing with Vitor Belfort when they meet in December.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

After going five round with the champion last month at UFC 175, Lyoto Machida does not doubt Chris Weidman's chances against Vitor Belfort in the striking department.

Machida is in a unique position to make that statement. He has previously trained with Belfort and has recently faced Weidman in a bout that was entirely a stand-up battle. While he respects Belforts KO power, he believes Weidman has developed his game tremendously over the past couple of years.

"Weidman is ready to fight anywhere," Machida told "If he has to stand, he will. Vitor can obviously land a punch and end this, that's what makes this sport so captivating, but I think he will be ready to fight him there."

Machida's comment does not mean he favours Weidman the UFC 181 main event in December. He simply believes the middleweight champion is more than capable of hanging with his Brazilian counterpart and will undoubtedly make it a competitive battle.

Overall, he admits the bout is too close to call.

"It's a good fight for both. They both stand a chance. We can't underestimate either of them," he said. "Weidman has evolved a lot, has a big heart. Vitor is super talented, also evolved a lot, and is an athlete that works hard. When you have such a close fight like that, when it's hard to break down, it's hard to predict a result."

Weidman is expected to defend his title against Belfort in the main event of UFC 181. The event takes place Dec. 6 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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