Lyoto Machida will be fighting for a chance to earn a title shot this Saturday night in Brazil, hoping to win his second Ultimate Fighting Championship(UFC) title, in his second weight class. Machida will be taking on Gegard Mousasi, another middleweight star who has made the jump from the Strikeforce reigns to UFC title contention. Mousasi does not carry the most popular name for the casual fan, but as his record indicates, this will be no walk in the park for Lyoto “The Dragon” as he vies for another opportunity to carry the UFC gold around his waist.
Machida won his first UFC title in the light heavyweight division back in 2009 when he beat then champion, Rashad Evans, by gruesome knockout. He went on to only defend his belt once in the division, then wound up being knocked out a year after he won the belt. One of the key knocks on the dragon’s lack of success is his consistency performing at the top level. Since losing the light heavyweight title, Lyoto has garnered a record of four wins and four losses inside the octagon; losing the only title shot he received in that span to Jon Jones.
The former champion decided to make a career switch to the middleweight division, where he is coming off a brutal “knockout of the night” performance, putting his friend, Mark Munoz, to sleep with a vicious head kick in his debut. Many experts, and even the UFC president himself, Dana White, voiced openly that in order for Lyoto Machida to vie once again for a UFC title, he would have to make the cut to the middleweight division to become relevant again. In his latest fight against Munoz, the dragon looked refreshed and seemed to have gained his trademark elusiveness which had seemed to disappear in his recent octagon performances. The karate guru will look to propel his name into the middleweight rankings to the number one contender spot if he impresses at UFC Fight Night against Mousasi.
His opponent is no slouch, boasting his own impressive record of 34 wins with just three losses in his mixed martial arts career. Gegard Mousasi has not lost since 2010, and is looking to prove that he can hang with the best in the world come Saturday night. Another interesting middleweight match up to keep an eye on is the co-main event of the evening. Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza will take on Francis Carmont, a fight headlined but two other fighters who could potentially be contenders in due time. Souza was a former Strikeforce middleweight champion who has won two straight fights since coming over to the UFC. The Canadian, Carmon, is riding an 11-fight win streak, six of those wins coming in the UFC. Both heavy-handed fighters with superb grappling skills, the co-main event could wind up being one of the best slug fests of the night.
The middleweight division has become somewhat stalled with fighters waiting in the wings vying for their shot at gold. Vitor Belfort will get the first crack at champion, Chris Weidman, in May, and whoever can come out on top in the Machida vs Mousasi fight may potentially become the number one contender for the middleweight championship. Lyoto is looking to make his move in his new weight division while the fighters competing before him are looking to make leaps and bounds. UFC Fight Night this Saturday will provide a minor setback for some and spring-board for others, the fighters themselves will look to seize the moment in front of a raucous crowd in Brazil and make noise in the middleweight division.
by Justin Huffman