Come May, it will be Lyoto Machida and not Vitor Belfort stepping inside the Octagon to challenge Chris Weidman for the middleweight title at UFC 173.
UFC officials announced the change recently, and despite still being medically suspended, Machida plans to be 100-percent and ready to go come Memorial Day Weekend.
Machida has just two fights at middleweight, but owns wins over Mark Munoz and Gegard Mousasi. He is also a former UFC light heavyweight champion, having won the belt from Rashad Evans.
“I was at home when Ed Soares called me and said I would have the opportunity to fight for the belt,” said Machida, in an interview posted on UFC.com. “I’m still on vacation, enjoying my family. I was surprised with the decision, I didn’t expect this fight now, but I was also very happy for the chance.”
Machida is still rehabbing a foot injury suffered in his decision win over Mousasi, but stated he is no longer feeling any pain.
“I already walk normally and I’m walking a little faster now,” he added.
Being a friend and training partner of Anderson Silva’s, Machida watched closely the two times Weidman defeated “The Spider.”
“Chris is a well-rounded opponent with good cardio and an impressive will to win,” he said. “He can knock anyone out, has a good ground game and is ready to give a hard time in any kind of fighting style.”