UFC 163: What's Next for Lyoto Machida and Top Stars

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UFC 163: What's Next for Lyoto Machida and Top Stars
Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

MMA fans and the hobbled fighters themselves bore down on HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro for UFC 163, and the ensuing result was more injuries to an already battered card and some controversy seemingly perfect for reality television. 

Jose Aldo vs. the Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, may have been the main attraction, but plenty of other bouts featured startling outcomes.

Perhaps no fight was bigger than Phil Davis vs. Lyoto Machida, which left the latter questioning the judges and the rest of us wondering about the judging process. 

Then you have Aldo emerging triumphant over the Korean Zombie. Aldo now has plenty of options in front of him after winning a wild main event. 

If you dropped the necessary cash for the pay-per-view event, you're probably pretty frustrated at the outcome, whether it was sloppy fighting or decisions by judges. 

Regardless of the overall satisfaction with the end product, UFC 163 told us several things about the top stars moving forward. Let's go over what appears to be in the cards for Machida and others as we sift through the aftermath of UFC 163. 

 

Thales Leites Makes Triumphant Return 

Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

We'd be lying if we said the middleweight bout between Thales Leites and Tom Watson was a sexy one. It was, in fact, a sloppy one in which Leites emerged victorious courtesy of his ground work more than anything. 

It's a triumphant return for Leites, nonetheless, after spending time in smaller circuits. The best part? He scored the victory in his hometown after four years out of UFC. 

So what's next for the 32-year-old Brazilian? Well we now know he can remain competitive in the middleweight division, which is a start. 

For now he'll be held to two or three more buildup bouts. He was gassed for most of the fight with Watson, so working on his conditioning is the first step. After that, Leites may be able to work his way up to a title shot. 

There's a long path in front of Leites, but he started down it in a big way at UFC 163. 

 

Lyoto Machida Is Shocked and on the Rematch Trail 

Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

A large portion of the MMA world was left in shock last night as Bruce Buffer stepped to the mic and read Phil Davis' name rather than Machida's.  

Machida is right there with the fans and has already asked for a rematch, as he stated in an interview with MMAFighting.com:

So why the outrage? Simple—classic Machida fight. Evade relentlessly, pick points, land strong attacks and go back into evasive mode. Most had Machida landing a large number of significant strikes over the course of the night, but it simply was not enough in the minds of the judges. 

Large portions of the MMA community have expressed disbelief at the result, including Dana White:

It was an unfortunate turn of events for Machida in front of a home crowd, but certainly one he can recover from. As of now we have no doubt Machida will continue to ask for a rematch. 

Machida can ask away about rematches, but he needs to spend the off time between fights finding a way to score more points. He needs to convince the judges—not himself through picky, conservative attacks—that he deserves to have his hand raised. 

 

Jose Aldo Shines in Sloppy Bout 

Leave it to the main event of an already sloppy card to not live up the hype. Jose Aldo took care of business as usual, but not in the dominant fashion you would expect. 

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Instead, Aldo won the first three rounds of the fight but did so without most of his signature kicks, as he appeared to break his foot on the first kick he attempted.

It took Chan Sung Jung, also known as the Korean Zombie, apparently struggling to get his arm back in its socket for Aldo to pounce and finish the fight in the fourth round. 

So what's next for Aldo? There are a plethora of rematch candidates in his division, including Cub Swanson, Frankie Edgar and Ricardo Lamas. But there is also the possibility of Aldo jumping out of the featherweight division. After five straight title defenses, is it really that hard to see Aldo making the jump to another division? 

Probably not. He discussed the option in the post-fight press conference and essentially said he would leave that decision up to Joe Silva and Co.: 

Should Aldo and his team choose to move up, he could be looking at the winner of the lightweight bout set to take place between Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis at UFC 164. 

In other words, it's time for Aldo to finally move up into a more competitive division or settle for a rematch against opponents he has already defeated.

We'll see what happens. 

 

Follow me on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling

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