With the addition of the UFC’s newest middle weight contender Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida, many people are expecting the order of the division to shift drastically. Machida made his impression on 10-26-2013 at UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Munoz, in Manchester, England, by stopping his friend TKO (via head kick) at the 3:10 mark of the very first round. Machida clearly sent a message to the fellow 185’rs that he is here and his presence will be felt. Before the official decision was announced, many people were already planning Machida’s next bout.
Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort, since losing to Jon Jones in the light heavy weight division title bout, has returned to his middle weight division where he once was defeated in a title bout by former longtime middle weight champion, Anderson Silva. However, he has unquestionably been on a tear winning his last two bouts in a stunning fashion and creating some great highlight reels for the UFC to use. His first bout back at the middle weight division was against Michael Bisping for what was believed to be a title eliminator for Bisping; however, Belfort’s future was unknown since he had recently lost to the former longtime UFC middle weight champion Anderson Silva in such a devastating fashion TKO (via front kick and punches).
Belfort battled Bisping into the second round and stopped his opponent TKO (via head kick and punches). This victory led Belfort to welcome Luke Rockhold to the UFC middle weight division and Belfort did just that by taking Rockhold out at just 2:32 in the very first round TKO (via spinning heel kick and punches) in, yet again, a true highlight reel fashion. After that victory, it was hard to ignore the idea that Belfort had earned the middle weight title shot; however, that was not the case. Belfort will face long time MMA competitor Dan Henderson. The two are set to meet again at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson and with a win over Henderson, it should warrant him the immediate title shot. But will the new middle weight in the division spoil Belfort’s plan?
After Belfort’s last two fights in the UFC, many people believed he deserved the title shot already, but the UFC had some newcomers in the division to really start building the brand around so Belfort was waiting and is now looking to get past Dan Henderson. If Belfort does in fact get past Henderson, it looks like his days are numbered until he faces The Dragon in his new home at 185. This fight could truly derail Belfort’s plan at fighting for the UFC middle weight championship belt again and here’s why. Stylistically, this is a bad match up for Belfort. Machida is arguably the most elusive fighter today and uses his orthodox Karate style that is extremely hard to imitate for sparing partners and has knock out ability in his hands and feet, as will his possible future opponent, Belfort. However, Machida will use better counter striking and control the striking range. Both are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts, but Machida has a sumo background and uses that Karate distance at expert level making him incredibly hard to take down.
Machida looks great at his new home in the 185 pound division and does not possess the musculature body that Belfort is known for and seems to have a better gas tank, so as the fight progresses, Machida will have the advantage. Machida is looking to climb the ranks by recently being matched up against Gegard Mousasi, if Machida can get past Mousasi and Belfort defeats Henderson, we very well may see the title eliminator being Belfort vs. Machida. Until then, we can only speculate what will happen in the UFC middle weight division. The fact is, the newest UFC middle weight competitor is here and will shake things up.
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