With an undefeated record and a unique fighting style that no one has been able to figure out, Lyoto Machida has become the wild card in the UFC light heavyweight title picture. Many believe he should be next in line for a title shot, while others feel he is too boring and needs to beat a higher ranked light heavyweight. While both carry valid arguments, it doesn’t look like Machida will get first crack at the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champ, Forrest Griffin.
There’s been a lot of speculation, but there’s no confirmation of anything yet. But I think it could be Thiago Silva, or even Quinton Jackson.
Those names are rather interesting for a couple of reasons. One, it was reported that Wanderlei Silva was given the choice to fight either Machida or Thiago in his next fight, and he chose the latter. Two, if Jackson turns out to be the one, that would obviously mean that there won’t be an immediate rematch between the former champ and Forrest. Having these two fight would likely mean Forrest wouldn’t defend his belt again till December likely against Chuck Liddell if he pulls out the victory over Evans at UFC 88. That fight could then set up a fight between the champ, Liddell or Griffin at that point, and the winner of Machida/Jackson. Not the worst scenario, and certainly a plausible one, but of course it comes with a lot of assumptions.
Regardless of what the UFC’s plans are for Machida, he understands the situation and doesn’t feel like there is any hurry for him to get his crack at UFC gold.
The event’s promoters always want a better show; they are right about what they tell me. They tell me to improve, and that’s a positive thing for me. It’s not really pressure, it’s more like constructive criticism. They want me to turn into a star, they want to build up my name, so they are speaking from their point of view, and I am trying to help make that happen.
…I’m ready for any situation that comes. If they let me fight for the belt, then great. I think it is my turn to go for it, but I am also not worried about it. I know my chance will come in the right time; if my turn hasn’t come up yet it is because it has not been the right time. I’m patiently doing my job until that day comes, and I always try to implement new things to my style of fighting and perfect my technique so that I’m able to get the belt and hold on to it for a long time when my turn comes.
As long a Machida keeps winning, the UFC can only avoid putting him in a championship fight for so long. It will be interesting to see if anyone’s able to figure him out in the meantime.
When asked who would give him the most trouble, he replied:
I always fight tough opponents, and they all give you trouble; they all have their strong and their weak points. So anyone in the top ten level is dangerous. I believe that Chuck Liddell would be the fighter that would give me the most trouble.
I’m not so sure I agree with that, but Machida definitely knows himself and his style better than I do. I just picture Liddell sitting back with Machida circling around and picking away at him with a leg kick here and a punch there; riding his way to a decision ala Keith Jardine. Personally I see someone like Wanderlei or Rampage, who like to get in your face giving Machida the most problems, but like I said, Machida knows himself better than we do.
Whether you like him or not, he’s not going anywhere, and until he loses, he has a very real chance at being a future UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.