We have a big UFC middleweight division fight announcement on our hands today. MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani first reported that top contenders Lyoto Machida and Luke Rockhold were targeted for a spot on UFC on Fox 15 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on April 18th. Rockhold later confirmed the news on Twitter as well as announced it as the main event.
Happy to announce my next fight against Lyoto Machida as the main event on FOX April 18th in Newark… http://t.co/zaT6QyA3t8— Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) January 8, 2015
Machida (22-5) served as the headlining act for the UFC's final card of 2014, and the former light heavyweight champion dazzled with his brutal body kick (and punches) TKO win over C.B. Dollaway in Barueri, Brazil. The 36-year-old is 3-1 at middleweight, with his sole defeat coming to reigning champion Chris Weidman. As an interesting side fact, Machida has won a post-fight bonus in all of his middleweight bouts, including the now-defunct KO bonus against Mark Munoz, as well as consecutive FOTNs against Gegard Mousasi and Weidman.
Rockhold (13-2) has been superb since losing his UFC debut to Vitor Belfort. The ex-Strikeforce middleweight champion has scored 1st round finishes over Costas Philippou and Tim Boetsch, as well as a 2nd round guillotine choke against Michael Bisping last November. It marked the first time that Bisping had ever been submitted in his MMA career. Rockhold's accomplishments in Strikeforce include wins over Ronaldo Souza and Tim Kennedy, both established top 10 middleweights.
It's terrific matchmaking and is arguably the best non-title fight in the middleweight division right now. There's no question it deserves to be the main event and it will surely make for fascinating viewing for however long the fight lasts.
With the main event now official, expect several more bouts to be announced for this card over the next few weeks.