Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida earned a clear unanimous decision win over Gegard Mousasi in the main event of the UFC Fight Night 36 card that took place in Brazil on Saturday night. Machida used lots of movement to frustrate a usually stoic Mousasi, while landing the majority of the harder strikes during the five round bout.
It wasn’t a barnburner, and wasn’t expected to be with the two stylistically being non-aggressive fighters that like to counter their opponents. However, Machida was masterful in his use of distance and speed to get the better of the exchanges with a dangerous fighter like Mousasi.
The co-main event also featured a middleweight bout between two high ranking middleweight fighters in “Jacare” Souza and Francis Carmont.
I asked a question before the bout if it were possible for the winner of that bout to leap the winner of the Machida/Mousasi bout with an impressive win. Souza won the bout, but it wasn’t in the most aesthetically pleasing fashion against a fighter with decent but not impressive resume in Carmont.
So here are the top three reasons why Machida should get the next middleweight title shot:
- He has won both of his middleweight bouts and stylistically poses problems for Weidman or Belfort
- The division is in need of clear challengers
- Machida has more name recognition than any of the other contenders
Lyoto Machida has looked very comfortable since his move to the middleweight division, winning both fights convincingly, including a first round KO over decorated wrestler in Mark Munoz. Machida is a very young 35 years old, meaning he hasn’t taken a ton of damage during his career due to his style while still harnessing a huge speed advantage against most opponents. His use of distance and movement coupled with is speedy unorthodox striking poses a problem for any fighter he faces in the cage. Also, one of the most underrated part of his game is his takedown defense, coupled with his ability to get right back to his feet if taken down. Machida has defended 80% of the takedowns against him in his career while facing some of the best wrestlers as a light heavyweight in the UFC. Machida has the advantage on the feet against almost any fighter he faces.
Some fans are arguing that Machida should face “Jacare” Souza next in a fight to determine a true number one contender. That sounds fine, except those two fighters are really the only two legit contenders at this point in time. A fight between those two would eliminate a potential contender down the road. Which brings me to my last point about name recognition.
Machida has been in the UFC a very long time and has headlined or co-headlined a ton of fights in his career. He’s not a huge PPV draw, but he has name value and would certainly bring more to the table than any other middleweight not named Anderson Silva or Vitor Belfort.
I think Machida would have a real shot at dethroning the current champion Chris Weidman, and would likely defeat Vitor Belfort who has become fairly one dimensional in his approach later in his career. It looks like the UFC will take a wait and see approach with letting the Weidman/Belfort bout happen before who announcing who gets the next title shot. I hope we get a chance to see Machida in the cage opposite either Weidman or Belfort later this year.