This Saturday, former UFC champion Lyoto Machida faces a dramatic turning point in his MMA career.
Essentially chased out of the light heavyweight division by 205-pound monsters like Jon Jones, Quinton Jackson and Phil Davis, the cut to 185 pounds has turned Machida into a vastly different fighter. He’s faster, more aggressive and packs just enough power that he can threaten anyone in the middleweight division. It’s no surprise that Machida is facing Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight Championship just two fights removed from his last loss.
The question is, does Machida have enough to take the win at UFC 175?
Unfortunately, defeating Weidman isn’t remotely similar to beating Anderson Silva. Many fans and pundits will never give Weidman enough credit on dominantly beating Silva the way he did, so a victory on Saturday normally wouldn’t be a legacy-builder for Machida by itself. But if Machida wins, he’ll attain something just as important — the distinction of being the third fighter in UFC history to ever win two championships in two divisions.
Although “The Dragon” may never become the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, winning at UFC 175 still makes him an all-time great.
If there’s one thing that hasn’t been established enough in the run up to UFC 175, it’s how difficult it is to win a UFC championship at all, let alone doing it in two different weight classes. When Hall-of-Famer Randy Couture won his first UFC championship, he was already 34 years old. It was unfathomable that he’d claim a UFC belt four more times over the next decade.
When B.J. Penn won the welterweight title at UFC 46, he was the first man to beat Matt Hughes in nearly two years and 13 fights. After that, the Hawaiian’s lightweight title run just seemed like the next natural thing to do.
For Machida, a double-division UFC title achievement would be less surprising than Couture’s, yet more probable than Penn’s. He’s always been a fantastic talent, but has been fighting in the wrong division perhaps. Hence, we might just see his most impressive performance ever this Saturday.