With Anderson Silva shelved for the foreseeable future, other UFC middleweights are finding out a division without "The Spider" is not so bad.
Guys like Michael Bisping, Ronaldo Souza, Luke Rockhold and even Tim Kennedy all have high hopes for stringing together some impressive victories and making a run at the title.
But no middleweight is more equipped and dangerous to capture divisional supremacy than former light heavyweight kingpin Lyoto Machida.
Remember, "The Dragon" recently dropped down to 185 and made quick work of No. 7-ranked Mark Munoz at UFC Fight Night 30 back in October, finishing the Filipino by a vicious first-round head kick.
He's now scheduled to take on former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi on Feb. 15 at UFC Fight Night 36. It will mark Mousasi's first fight at middleweight since 2008 when he knocked out Souza with a first-round upkick to win the inaugural DREAM championship.
It's going to be a tough fight for the Brazilian to say the least, but if he can get past Mousasi then he could earn a shot at the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort.
Now while this is great news for Machida, he was in this position once before. Having defeated Dan Henderson back at UFC 157, Machida was expected to get the winner of Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen, but that never came to fruition and he was ultimately eclipsed by Alexander Gustafsson.
And we all know how that played out.
So does Machida have to finish Mousasi to earn a middleweight title shot? Will a close split decision like the one he had opposite "Hendo" be enough to surpass worthy contenders like Souza and Bisping?
It all depends. But one thing is for certain: the middleweight division has never looked this good.
"You've got Vitor Belfort next, you have Jacare Souza, you have Lyoto Machida and the list goes on and on of all these nasty, nasty guys at 185 pounds," added White. "And let's not forget Anderson Silva could be back in a year and he's the No. 1 ranked [contender] in the world. That division could not be more exciting."
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