Former UFC champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida may have saved his decorated career in a sense when he snapped a three-fight losing streak by outlasting touted rising prospect Eryk Anders via split decision (highlights here) in the main event of last night’s (Sat., February 3, 2018) UFC Fight Night 125 from Arena Guilherme Paraense in Belém, Brazil.
The win was an absolutely pivotal one, as a knockout loss – a result many were picking to go down – may have spelled the end of the road for the nearly 40-year-old MMA great. That talk is off the table at least for now, however, and the Brazilian fan favorite can stave off those calls in favor of a potentially high-profile bout instead.
He appears to already have his mind set on an opponent when he called out former middleweight champion Michael Bisping, who is reported to be nearing retirement after to consecutive stoppage losses in the span of three weeks last November. As both near the end of their respective tenure in the Octagon, Machida admitted that at the post-fight press conference (via MMA Fighting), noting it’s a fight that’s been a long time coming:
“That’s a fight that should’ve happened a couple times and it didn’t,” Machida said. “I think we both matured together in this sport, so I think fight between Michael Bisping and myself would mean a lot.
“He might retire sometime soon, I could retire sometime soon, and people asked for that fight, so it’s a fight that interests me.”
It’s definitely a fight that makes a lot of sense at this point in both fighters’ careers, and Bisping is without a retirement bout after potential match-ups with Vitor Belfort and Rashad Evans fell by the wayside when he admitted he would not be fighting at March 17’s UFC London last week.
The soon-to-retire ‘Phenom’ is apparently on ‘The Dragon’s’ radar as well, but he affirmed he would rather not fight one of his Brazilian brethren if he had to pick:
“If I had a choice, I’d rather not fight someone from Brazil, but as a professional, I couldn’t say no. I would rather fight a foreigner, but Vitor is a guy who’s done a lot and he’s a great fighter, and I couldn’t say no.”
No matter what happens, however, Machida isn’t here just to participate – something many fans wondered about during his recent streak of brutal knockout losses. He knows his career may be closing soon, but he wants to maintain competitiveness at an elite level until that day arrives:
“I don’t want to be in this sport just to participate. I want to be in this to win, and that’s what motivates me every day to break down barriers and to get better every time, and to exceed my limits and to win fights. I want to keep moving (and taking) steps forward, and I want to keep winning fights and getting closer to the title.”
A crucial win in the books in his hometown, Machida couldn’t have hoped for a much better result outside of a knockout victory last night, and it’s injected new life into his fighting future for the time being.
Who do you believe Machida should meet in the cage next?