Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida was recently removed from his title and consciousness alike in a rematch with fellow Brazilian and current champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The formerly undefeated fighter will be looking to bounce back from his loss against Rua when he takes on fellow former champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 123 this November 20th. Machida recently spoke with GracieMag.com about the impending match up and about why he thinks he will win.
“Couldn’t be a better opponent and the date is great, too; it gives me time to prepare,” Machida said of facing Jackson. “I already did an exchange in the USA and I foresee doing another one. I’m happy to be back and to prove I’m in the mix with the best of them. I’m working hard, I’m correcting a lot of things and putting a lot of effort in. I’m doing all aspects of fighting, the takedowns, ground fighting and striking.”
Machida gave “Rampage” props for having been a champion in the 205 pound division, where the belt changes hands more frequently than in any other division in the UFC, but also pointed out where he feels Jackson has weaknesses; weaknesses “The Dragon” is looking to take advantage of.
“First of all, he’s a former champion, so Rampage is someone with [potential],” said Machida. “A fight between two former champions couldn’t be more fitting, two fighters who want their place in the sun. He’s a strong guy who has good boxing and wrestling. I feel he’s a bit limited standing, but he’s really strong and, although he may defend well on the ground, he’s not that good there, either. As I feel MMA is a sport in constant evolution, one tends to seek out all the possibilities, regardless of the facet of the fight that comes up. I’m going to exploit Rampage where he isn’t totally dominant. But I’m prepared for anything, whether it’s standing or on the ground.”
Jackson himself is rebounding from a loss as he took home a unanimous decision loss to Rashad Evans this past May. The fight between Evans and Jackson is more well remembered for the pre-fight buildup than for the actual fight; an attention-drawing grudge match was built around the two men that saw both of them trading over-the-top insults. Machida was asked how he prepares to deal with Jackson should he adopt the trash-talking approach to hyping the fight and the Belem, Brazil native told GracieMag that he understands it’s all in promotion for the show but that he wouldn’t be caught acting that way.
“I see the professional side of it and know it’s his way of doing marketing,” he said. “But nothing is worth talking about before the fact, because it really comes down to fight time. I’d rather not focus on that. Saying you’re going to make something happen is easy, but it’s when we’re locked in battle that we see what happens. I don’t fall for provocation and I’m focused.”
Machida and “Rampage” will square off in the main event of UFC 123 which is scheduled to take place at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan.