Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida was hoping to make a favorable impression in his middleweight debut, and you can consider it mission accomplished. The talented Brazilian looked outstanding in his 185-pound debut at UFC Fight Night 30 in England as he destroyed Mark Munoz in the first round of their main event fight.
The finish came at the 3:10 mark by way of a powerful left leg kick to the head. Munoz, who was ranked No. 5 in the division heading into the contest, was clearly stunned by the blow and “The Dragon” showed plenty of sportsmanship by not following up. The two competitors are friends and training partners, and you could see the strong level of respect that they had for one another.
It’s a tough blow for Munoz to take as he had looked outstanding in his last fight at UFC 162 against Tim Boetsch. It’s now the second time in three fights that he has been stopped. That other loss came against current middleweight champion Chris Weidman. He’ll have plenty of soul-searching to do in the wake of a loss that has to be seen as a serious career setback.
As for Machida, he continued to show a remarkable ability to manhandle opponents who have a wrestling-dominant skillset. While Munoz possesses power, his key to success was to find a way to get Machida to the ground and deliver some of his noted ground and pound. That didn’t happen and Machida secured a highlight-reel knockout like the ones he delivered against noted grapplers like Ryan Bader, Rashad Evans and Randy Couture.
Machida’s time in the 205-pound weight class ended with a controversial decision loss at UFC 163 in Brazil against Phil Davis. While in his post-fight comments Machida indicated a willingness to return to that division if the UFC wanted, his future now seems set at middleweight. There are a number of highly-attractive fights to pursue for Machida at 185 pounds. As Machida showed against Munoz, he has to be seen as an immediate title threat in the division.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.