Lyoto Machida has chosen a new path to UFC gold.
After dropping a close and controversial decision to Phil Davis at UFC 163, Machida abandoned the light heavyweight division, opting to test his skills at 185 for the foreseeable future.
The move is significant and potentially career-changing for "The Dragon."
Machida poses problems for everybody at middleweight for a variety of reasons, a fact which will quickly land him in title contention.
So, start the slideshow to see why the Karate master will rocket up the middleweight rankings.
At 185 pounds, Lyoto Machida will fight at his optimal weight.
He has easily made the 205-pound limit throughout his career (often coming in to fights underweight) and now he will finally match up against fighters who are his size.
No longer will he have to deal with bears like Phil Davis and Jon Jones, and this will allow him to work his game without the threat of being put on his back.
This will result in a more fluent, less tentative Machida, and that is a scary prospect for the middleweight roster.
This is, by far, the most obvious reason why Lyoto Machida will excel at middleweight.
To put it simply, he's just really, really good.
There is no weak area in his game, and his power, speed and precision will overwhelm and frustrate every middleweight he faces (he and Anderson Silva will never fight, so don't give me that).
Even though any fighter can get caught, a point exemplified at UFC 162, Machida's striking is vastly better—on paper—than the entire middleweight roster (minus Silva).
His stand-up skills are absurd, and even if he does not score the knockout, he rarely gets outpointed or controlled on the feet.
One thinks some highlight-reel footage will emerge from The Dragon's trek to 185.
Machida's grappling was impressive at light heavyweight, and it will translate even better at middleweight.
There are few, if any, middleweights who will be able to take Machida to the mat, and even that is no guaranteed cakewalk. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is well-earned and well-tested, and he has only been submitted once in his 23-fight career.
Offensively, Machida is just as impressive.
His quick trips and throws have downed many a light heavyweight, and these techniques will be even easier against his lighter, smaller foes at 185.
Overall, Machida has a near-perfect skill set, and he will shine at middleweight.
Check this list out:
- Jon Jones
- Rashad Evans
- Randy Couture
- Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
- Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
- Phil Davis
- Dan Henderson
- Ryan Bader
Lyoto Machida faced the absolute best fighters the light heavyweight division had to offer during his six-year stint at 205.
He was the champion (albeit briefly) and he was always in title talks after dropping the belt, nearly securing a second chance at glory on several occasions.
This experience will help Machida immensely at middleweight. He has felt the power of these light heavyweight killers, and he understands the magnitude of a high-profile main event.
There is nothing at 185 that can surprise him, and he will be prepared for anything and everything that comes his way.
The UFC's middleweight division is weak.
After champion Chris Weidman and former champ Anderson Silva (that's still weird to write), the talent at 185 is thin.
The implications of this are obvious. Machida will not have to run through challenger after tough challenger as he did at light heavyweight.
If Machida wins his November 6 contest against Tim Kennedy at UFC Fight Night 31, his next fight will be a title eliminator if not a direct title shot.
The gauntlet of challengers is hardly intimidating at 185, and Machida will traverse them with ease and flair.