Is the UFC’s middleweight division one of the deepest going today?
So, if the promotion were to pass Lyoto Machida over for someone else – assuming Machida defeats Gegard Mousasi tonight – would you be upset?
Machida and Mousasi will square off in the main event of UFC Fight Night from Brazil, and “The Dragon” should be on the cusp of a titles hot with a win.
And I mean that with all due respect to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
Upon entering the UFC in 2007, Machida quickly rose through the ranks to become a contender, toppling the likes of Sokoudjou, Tito Ortiz and Thiago Silva to gain a shot at then-champion Rashad Evans.
Machida wasted no time, knocking Evans out and becoming No. 1 in the world.
His time on top, though, was short-lived. A controversial decision win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua forced an immediate rematch, and Machida was finished this time around.
Since 2010, he’s had his struggles with some of the biggest – and more powerful – light heavyweights, including decision losses to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Phil Davis.
But, after deciding to move down to 185, Machida has turned the tables, becoming one of the biggest middleweights out there. He looks to be in perfect shape, much like he was last October when he finished Mark Munoz.
A quick glance at his resume shows Machida has all the credentials to be a challenger again:
– The KO of Munoz, a former top contender at middleweight himself.
– His decision win over Dan Henderson and finishes of Ryan Bader and Randy Couture.
– A 16-fight win streak to begin his career, which started in 2003 and included victories over Stephan Bonnar, Rich Franklin and BJ Penn among his first six bouts.
If – and yes, even in Brazil, it’s still a big if – Machida can find a way to become the first fighter since 2010 to defeat Mousasi, he will have done enough in my eyes to warrant a title shot.
Let’s not forget that he was granted one when Henderson himself went down with an injury, only to say “No thank you” to the UFC at that time because he didn’t feel fully-prepared.
And no, I don’t think recent wins over Ilir Latifi, Mike Kyle, Ovince St. Preux and Keith Jardine warrants the same title-opportunity for Mousasi.