With Move To Middleweight, Lyoto Machida Takes the First Step Towards Making History

By Adam Martin

Not many fighters have the chance to win the UFC title in two separate weight divisions, but Lyoto Machida just might get the opportunity.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion makes his much-anticipated middleweight debut this weekend, when he takes on Mark Munoz in the main event of UFC Fight Night 30. And with Munoz currently occupying a spot in the top 10 at 185 pounds, a decisive win for Machida would establish him as one of the top contenders in the weight class and put him one step closer to a title shot.

If Machida gets that shot and wins the UFC middleweight championship, he would join BJ Penn and Randy Couture as the only two fighters in 20 years of UFC history to win belts in two divisions. That’s something special.

It’s not like others haven’t tried to accomplish the feat. Just earlier this year, former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar fought Jose Aldo in a bid to become the UFC featherweight champion. Although Edgar put up a hard-fought battle, he ultimately lost, and while he remains a top contender in the division, there’s certainly no guarantee he will ever get a crack at the 145-pound belt again – or the 155-pound belt, for that matter.

But, unlike Edgar, Machida hasn’t yet had his chance to fight for a second title, and that’s why the hope of him doing it is still there.

In fact, if UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman retains his belt against Anderson Silva at UFC 168, I think Machida will be his next title challenger, assuming he beats Munoz this weekend. If Silva wins, though, it makes things harder, since he is Machida’s friend and they have said they won’t fight each other, although that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

For the purposes of this article, let’s say that Machida knocks out Munoz and Weidman knocks out Silva again, and the UFC decides this is the next middleweight title fight. In my opinion, a potential Weidman vs. Machida matchup is extremely intriguing, and even though Machida was narrowly defeated in his last outing by a wrestler in Phil Davis, it’s a different matchup against Weidman, who is a good 20-25 pounds lighter than Davis.

As a light heavyweight, Machida was regularly weighing in at 203 pounds – two pounds under the limit – and he was taking on giants like Jon Jones and Davis who were stepping into the cage at nearly 230 pounds. But as a middleweight, Machida is going to be fighting guys that weigh, at most, 210 pounds, and I truly believe the fact he will no longer be at a size advantage is going to help him immensely as he attempts to make a run for a second title and chase UFC history in the process.

The weight cut to 185 for Machida, by the way, should be pretty easy, considering many middleweights are cutting down from 220 pounds at the start of their camps. In fact, I have absolutely no concern of him missing weight, and believe he’ll be in the best shape of his career, which is scary to consider, since he was already one of the most dangerous men on the planet.

I’ve never really been a fan of Machida’s “elusive” style, and there’s about a hundred fighters I’d rather watch compete for the purposes of entertainment, but I respect this man’s talents. And as far as pure striking goes, there really aren’t many in the sport that can hang with him.

At 205, Machida was too small to deal with the new wave of light heavyweights like Jones and Davis. But at 185, I think he’s going to feel right at home, and this Saturday night in England, I think he’ll start his road to the UFC middleweight title with a bang over Munoz, and then you’ll start to see the UFC market him as a possible dual-division champ, just like they were doing with Edgar earlier this year.

Only, unlike Edgar, I think he can actually go all the way. But that remains to be seen.

UFC Fight Night 30

Lyoto Machida vs. Mark Munoz

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UFC Fight Night 30: Machida vs. Munoz is due to take place on October 26, 2013 at Phones 4u Arena in Manchester, England.

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