On May 25th, Vitor Belfort will fight for his third UFC title in just over three years when he fights Chris Weidman at UFC 173.
After that, and barring some sort of circumstance that warrants an immediate rematch, Lyoto Machida should indeed be next in line.
Saturday night, Machida defeated former Dream middleweight champion and Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi by unanimous decision in the very definition of a ‘chess match’ in MMA. The decision wasn’t a surprise to anyone including the very competitive Mousasi who found Machida’s head a few times but ultimately couldn’t string more than a punch or two together.
During the post-fight press conference, Machida arrived wearing an air-cast on his foot, a product of a kick that landed wrong. As of now, there is no official diagnosis on the foot but Machida said he thinks it may be broken. While this is bad for Machida’s foot, it may be good for the title timeline. He can sit and rest and heal up with a return to training likely coming before the May title defense between Weidman and Belfort.
The question isn’t whether or not the foot will hold him from a title shot though. No, fans and media found themselves asking if Machida is ready which, immediately following the final bell, I promptly stated.
Machida left the light heavyweight division on a loss to Phil Davis that most see as a controversial one to say the least. When he dropped to middleweight, not only did he appear to be in the best shape of his — or almost any other fighter’s — life, but he took out a guy whose fingertips rest on the cliffs of contendership year after year in Mark Munoz. A clean head kick with the presence of mind to pull a final punch punctuated his control in a chaotic sport.
He is undefeated now after a win against Mousasi that carried very obvious title implications to begin with. The victory wasn’t a spectacular crane kick or a one-sided display of dominance. It was classic Machida. Forgive the phrase but it put the ‘arts‘ in mixed martial arts. His hands were low (not in cocky ignorance but in technique) and his timing was impeccable.
Place him at the gate that is Chris Weidman’s undefeated record or put him in deep waters with the resurgent shark that is Vitor Belfort. Joe Rogan declared the ‘Machida Era’ just after his knockout win over Rashad Evans to claim the light heavyweight belt. Although he did properly name what Machida’s career would become, he simply did so at the wrong time.
For more on Machida and complete UFC Fight Night 36 Results visit SciFighting.com