Lyoto Machida Says Wrestling Is A Difference-Maker, Picks Weidman At UFC 184

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Lyoto Machida nearly won Chris Weidman’s middleweight title in the main event of July’s UFC 175, but a slow start saw him edged out by unanimous decision. “The Dragon” has been largely quiet about the loss up until this point, focusing on the fact that it was a great fight he narrowly lost.

Machida had Weidman in trouble in the fourth round when the wrestler tired from the pressuring style he used in the opening rounds. Although the champion may have fought a bit cautiously, Machida spoke up to to state that his strategy of tiring the champ out was working.

The former light heavyweight champ understands why the champion did what he did to avoid getting knocked out during the fight’s turning point:

“My strategy was to get him tired and then start to impose my game, but he was very smart and managed to score some points. Maybe if I had started [to be aggressive] a little earlier, it could have been different. I can’t be sure, but it’s an assumption.

Like every champion, the title is important to him, so he didn’t do anything wrong. He played by the rules, did what should have been done. He was a very tough opponent for me. I went all out. He deserves to be the champion.”

The always-respectful Machida knows he could have fought more aggressively, but he also appears to accept the fact that the fight is in the past.

Now he’ll move on to face No. 10-ranked C.B. Dollaway in the main event of December 20’s UFC Fight Night 58 from Barueri, Brazil.

Although it was somewhat of a surprising booking, Machida knows that the gritty “Doberman” has a history of coming into Brazil and making the fans upset, so he can’t overlook Dollaway one bit:

“C.B. is a tough guy who’s winning fights and beating other Brazilians. I believe in my style and my team, and I’ll give my best. I don’t want to overlook him at all. People say ‘he’s ranked 10th,’ but it doesn’t matter to me at all.”

It’s obvious that Machida’s pinpoint striking is light years ahead of Dollaway’s, but “The Dragon” knows where American fighters have an edge over him. Machida said it would come down to his vaunted takedown defense against Dollaway’s NCAA Division I wrestling pedigree:

“Wrestling is a difference-maker nowadays. Americans come with this skill, so I must use my style against his.”

That’s probably an accurate assessment for the bout, where Machida will look to claw his way back to yet another UFC title shot. The belt will next be defended when Weidman finally has his long-awaited fight with Vitor Belfort in the main event of February 28’s UFC 184.

There are still roadblocks in the way of that fight actually happening, however, as the NSAC randomly drug tested the controversial No. 1 contender in Florida this week.

If it does happen, Machida thinks that it’s a difficult fight to predict. Having recently fought Weidman, Machida believes that the young champion will emerge victorious over another legend:

“Weidman versus Vitor is a tough matchup for both. Vitor has a chance of knocking him out, especially in the beginning of the fight, but I believe time is not on Vitor’s side. It’s common for a striker to lose his power during the fight, something which wrestlers deal with a little better.”

“The Dragon” knows Belfort has a better shot at defeating Weidman early on, but it’s up in the air as to how he will respond to fighting without testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT).

Do you agree with Machida’s assessment of the next middleweight title bout? And will we ever see “The Dragon” fight for the belt again?

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea for USA TODAY Sports

Outer Photo: Jason Silva for USA TODAY Sports

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