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‘The sky is the limit’ - 43-year-old Lyoto Machida rejects retirement talk, calls out Salter

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida eyes a return to the middleweight division in Bellator.

At the ripe age of 43, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida is not ready to think about retiring from MMA just yet. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Although the ‘Dragon’ has lost all three of his last outings, Machida believes it may be time to drop back to the middleweight division and begin a new chapter in his Bellator career. With no fights lined up for himself in the near future, Lyoto knows who he would like to welcome him back to the weight class, recent title challenger John Salter.

“First of all, I would like to fight at middleweight.” Machida told Combate. “I want to fight John Salter, he has just fought Mousasi. I think it’s a good fight because of Salter’s rank. He was the last title challenger, he fought for the belt. The sky is the limit, we’re always thinking big,”

Away from the cage ever since April 2021, Machida would like to have a more active year in 2022. According to the Brazilian, fighting in the light heavyweight tournament was not part of his plans for his Bellator career, but he accepted to join the Grand Prix in order to fight more often.

“I’ve been training a lot.” Lyoto said. “I’ve been going to Fusion, which is a gym here in Orlando. Some UFC fighters train there. I train there three or four times a week. I train at home, too and I always keep myself in good shape. I want to fight more in 2022. I want more opportunities. Because of the whole pandemic mess, Bellator stopped for a while. Then they had the light heavyweight GP, where I went up in weight to fight. That wasn’t really my plan.”

“I want to fight at middleweight, which is my division.” Machida continued. “The opportunity appeared and I took it. I thought it could be good because I like to stay active. That’s part of the reason why I wasn’t so active. I wanted to fight at middleweight, then they offered me the GP, then I got eliminated and all that contributed to me not fighting as much. I want to fight more in 2022, I train with everybody and I feel like I’m in good shape. That’s why I want to explore more. I want to expose myself more in my fights so I can finish my career.”

Currently on a three-fight losing skid, Machida (26-11) dropped a unanimous decision in a rematch against Ryan Bader in the Grand Prix’s quarterfinals, back in April 2021. Before that, Lyoto had dropped split decisions in rematches against Gegard Mousasi and Phil Davis. The Brazilian’s last win happened in June 2019, when he knocked out Chael Sonnen with a flying knee.