During his seven-plus years with the promotion, few have been able to solve the enigma that is Lyoto Machida.
And while the Brazilian may no longer be the octagon assassin that he once was, Saturday night’s bout at UFC 175 against middleweight champ Chris Weidman has the potential to become the ”superfight” that MMA fanatics have been waiting for.
No need to wait for Anthony Pettis to step into the cage with Jose Aldo, and for now anyway, we can forget about any chance of a meeting between Jon Jones and Cain Velasquez, Weidman-Machida has all the necessary ingredients, and it’s a fight that’s actually going to happen.
Originally slated to face Vitor Belfort before the former champ failed a random drug test in February, Weidman’s reign over the middleweight division has consisted of two very convincing wins against Anderson Silva, which instantly launched the current 185-pound king into super-stardom.
That’s what happens when you defeat Goliath himself, especially twice. But just two years removed from living in his parents’ basement and coming off injuries to both knees, Weidman will begin a new chapter on Saturday night when he faces his first challenge as the champion against someone other than Silva.
A perfect 7-0 since quietly breaking into the UFC with a win over Alessio Sakara in March of 2011, Weidman represents a new generation of mixed martial artists armed with elite physical attributes and an unprecedented knowledge of the sport.
For Machida however, Saturday represents much more than just a shot at the middleweight belt.
It’s an opportunity to prove that he still belongs among the truly elite at the age of 36, and a chance for the Brazilian to become just the third fighter in UFC history to win titles in two separate divisions.
Following his somewhat surprising loss to Phil Davis in his final appearance as a light heavyweight last August, Machida’s stock temporarily dropped before the former 205-pound champ earned his shot at the middleweight belt with consecutive wins over Mark Munoz in October of 2013, and Gegard Mousasi in February.
Overshadowed by Silva and out-performed by Jones, ”The Dragon” may not have another chance to occupy the same spotlight that briefly shone on him during his one-year run as light heavyweight king. But even if beaten, a strong showing against Weidman could lead to a rematch.
Regardless of the outcome, our attention will remain sharply focused on the octagon for the duration of the fight because both Weidman and Machida have proven to be extremely rare talents capable of history-making performances.
And while we’ve been hoping for a big-name bout between two of the sport’s very best in order to satisfy our super-fight fetish, Saturday’s middleweight showdown gives us exactly that.
UFC 175 Fight Card
- Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida
- Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis
- Stefan Struve vs. Matt Mitrione
- Uriah Hall vs. Thiago Santos
- Marcus Brimage vs. Russell Doane
- Urijah Faber vs. Alex Caceres
- Kenny Robertson vs. Ildemar Alcantara
- Chris Camozzi vs. Bruno Santos
- George Roop vs. Rob Font
- Luke Zachrich vs. Guilherme Vasconcelos
- Kevin Casey vs. Bubba Bush