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Machida doesn’t see potential Bisping fight as a farewell, wants two more bouts in 2018

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Lyoto Machida is not considering retirement following his Vitor Belfort win at UFC 224, and wants to for a title after dealing with Michael Bisping.

MMA: UFC 224- Belfort vs Machida
Lyoto Machida
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Lyoto Machida is not ready to hang up his gloves just yet. Following a highlight reel KO win against veteran Vitor Belfort at UFC 224, ‘The Dragon’ feels like he is in too good of a place to consider retiring. Even though he called out fellow seasoned vet Michael Bisping shortly after the win, it was not with intentions of making it a goodbye fight.

In fact, as Machida explained to Bloody Elbow, he wishes to partake in one last middleweight title run before calling it a career for good. In order to make that happen, the 39-year-old revealed his intentions of fighting two more times in 2018.

“I don’t intend to take a break, right now,” Machida said. “I want to fight once or twice more this year. I really feel like fighting and I want to be a champion again. I don’t see the Bisping fight as a farewell. I’m not thinking about that, right now. I showed I’m doing well and I want to climb the ranks so I can secure another title shot. I don’t think about changing weight classes (since Bisping stated he would he moving back to the light heavyweight division) at the moment. I believe it’s a fight many people want to see, so we can make some adjustments so it can better suit both athletes.”

With two wins and no defeats in 2018, Lyoto not only defeated Belfort, but also edged out prospect Eryk Anders in his hometown of Belem, in a fight he won by razor-thin split decision. This marks the first time Machida won two bouts in a row since 2013-14, a feat he chalks up to making some new changes to his training routines.

“I’m always trying to perfect my skills and this time it wasn’t different. I spent some of my camp in Belem, alongside my father and brothers, and the other part in Los Angeles, with my coaches and the support of my family. I’ve been changing some aspects of my training program in the last six months. I have less body fat and I have better athletic performance. I really took care of my physical and mental health, so I could perform well in my last two outings and the results came as we planned. I’m showing that you’re able to overcome some challenges just with focus, dedication and the right tools.”

When it comes to the starching front kick that knocked Belfort out cold in Rio de Janeiro, in almost identical fashion as the one Anderson Silva used to knock Vitor out back in 2011, Machida doesn’t have much to say other than it being just one of the many secret weapons he carries in his karate arsenal and that it wasn’t really something he planned ahead, before the fight.

“I don’t train that kick specifically, it’s a part of my karate arsenal. I think that’s crucial to always keeping myself in tune with original martial arts. That way I can always explore my repertoire of strikes at the right strategic time. I was really focused on finding a way to surprise Vitor and finish the fight. When I saw the opportunity, I connected with the kick. My plan was to knock him out and surprise him. We can’t plan which strike will be responsible for that, so it was improvised, in a way.”

The current UFC middleweight champion, Robert Whittaker, also comes from a background in karate, although he fights in a style that differs a lot from Lyoto’s. This could make for an intriguing matchup between both fighters. However, as Machida’s puts it, all those credentials don’t count for much in MMA since it’s a different kind of martial art. Nonetheless, the Brazilian doesn’t rule out taking on ‘The Reaper’ if he still holds the belt after meeting Yoel Romero at UFC 225.

“Robert has been doing a great job, but I don’t plan to fight against his style. I believe that, in MMA, we just have a martial art. It’s not my karate against his or jiu-jitsu against karate. My goal is to go after whoever has the belt. If he has the belt, of course I’m interested in fighting him.”

Lyoto Machida currently runs a two-fight winning streak, with wins over Eryk Anders and Vitor Belfort. Those victories snapped a three-fight losing skid with defeats to the likes of Derek Brunso, Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold.