On UFC Fight Night 30 in Manchester, England on Saturday, Lyoto Machida took down Mark Munoz with a vicious head kick for a knockout victory. With the win, he moved to 20-4-0 and rebounded from a controversial loss to Phil Davis.
More importantly, "The Dragon" entered the middleweight title picture with a win in his first fight at 185 lbs.
He made the move from light heavyweight to middleweight for this fight, taking on a game opponent in Munoz. Just one round in, The Dragon connected with a brutal kick to the head and walked away with a knockout victory.
Machida didn't lay another strike upon his opponent and ended the bout with class.
It was a pleasant ending to a brutal fight.
In a division that's ruled by champion Chris Weidman and the legendary Anderson Silva, Machida has some work to do. With three wins in his past four fights, however, The Dragon has enough momentum to become a contender.
Keep in mind that the general consensus was that the judges robbed him against Davis.
Four Straight Strong Performances
For those unfamiliar with him, Machida is a former UFC light heavyweight champion. As previously alluded to, he lost his final fight at 205 lbs to Davis in controversial fashion.
This spurned a series of angry tweets from UFC president Dana White, who claimed that the judges got the decision wrong.
In Machida's middleweight debut, he didn't leave it up to the judges. In response, White had a more pleasant tweet.
One minute and 44 seconds into the fight, Machida made himself at home in his new division.
His victories at light heavyweight may not matter to middleweight pundits, but they are significant. He defeated three quality opponents, and when it was all said and done, he re-established his status as a lethal finisher.
He earned knockout victories over Ryan Bader in August 2012 and Munoz at UFC Fight Night 30 on Saturday. He also took a split-decision win over Dan Henderson in February 2013, giving him a recent signature victory.
If the UFC president said that The Dragon should have won the one fight he lost during that stretch, it's clear that Machida is in championship-caliber form.
Before Machida receives an opportunity to face Silva or Weidman for the UFC Middleweight Championship, he'll likely receive what would equate to a No. 1 contender's fight. Notable possible opponents include Vitor Belfort and Ronaldo Souza, who rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the division rankings, per UFC.com.
Both fighters would make for headline-stealing opponents.
Belfort will face Dan Henderson on Nov. 9, 2013, while Souza is coming off a TKO victory over Yushin Okami. Both fighters are in position to battle Machida, as is Henderson, and all of those fights would be main event-caliber bouts.
One way or another, The Dragon deserves the opportunity to fight for a title shot.
Due to his name value, he might face the winner of Weidman vs. Silva. It would be better for him to get more accustomed to fighting at middleweight first, but he has done enough in his UFC career to warrant immediate title consideration.
With his knockout win over Munoz, Machida has officially resumed his career as a championship contender.
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