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Lyoto Machida: This isn’t just a rematch with Ryan Bader, it’s a ‘mission’ to win the grand prix

Lyoto Machida is excited to take on Ryan Bader for the second time at Bellator 256.

MMA: Bellator 222-Machida vs Sonnen Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Former UFC light heavyweight champion is eager to begin a new chapter in his career. Just a few days from his debut in the Bellator tournament for the 205-pound division belt, the ‘Dragon’ feels excited to tackle the new format, especially against an old rival from his Octagon days: Ryan Bader.

Paired up against ‘Darth’ for one of the grand prix’s quarter-final bouts at Bellator 256, Machida tells Ag Fight how thrilled he is to try his hand at something new in his career. Furthermore, to have the opportunity to take on Bader once again - eight years after their first match - will be a good chance to show how much he has developed over the years, Lyoto thinks.

“I like this opportunity, because I think all the best light heavyweights are present. I also feel respected and it’s a great opportunity for me to show my skills. It means a lot to me. After a long career, it’s a big moment. The tournament is a different format. There are great fighters in the UFC, too. It’s hard to compare. Who knows, maybe one day fighters from different promotions will be able to fight each other?”

“I know what I have to do, to challenge myself, to face something different. This GP is different. I’m excited not only because it’s a rematch, but because it’s a mission. I’m excited. I had a good camp. A lot of things have changed. Eight years in the past, I’ve changed a lot. I can say I always do my best, though. I train hard and I’m always looking to improve. I want to enjoy this moment at light heavyweight.”

Currently on a two-fight losing skid, Lyoto Machida (26-10) dropped a couple of split decisions to Phil Davis and Gegard Mousasi in his most recent outings. Before that, the 42-year-old was on a four-fight winning streak, including UFC wins over Eryk Anders and Vitor Belfort, as well as Bellator ones against Rafael Carvalho and Chael Sonnen.

Now, Machida is expected to take on Bader at Bellator 256’s main event, on April 9, in Uncasville, Connecticut.