Testosterone replacement therapy is out and so is perpetual user Vitor Belfort.
That leaves Lyoto Machida as the next main course for UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman to attempt to devour.
It's a stylistic matchup that is sure to raise hairs on even the most closeted combat fans around, one that came to fruition for "The Dragon" after just two divisional victories since dropping down from light heavyweight in 2013.
With that said, along with the fact that the Brazilian is as confident and collected as they come, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Machida suggested his striking will play a major role at UFC 173 in a recent interview with MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz:
I’ve fought a lot of wrestlers before, and I know Weidman has a good wrestling, but I’m confident on the work I’m developing with my team. I believe in my striking game against Weidman’s wrestling. He’s complete in every aspect of the game, but I’m confident in what I do.
If Machida is able to conquer the athletic puzzle that is the undefeated Weidman, he'd do something that even the greatest mixed martial artist of all time was unable to do.
In fact, if the former light heavyweight kingpin captures middleweight gold on May 24, he'll become only the third fighter in UFC history to win a championship in two different weight classes, following the footsteps of Randy Couture and B.J. Penn.
But Machida isn't one to lose focus and get caught up in all of the what-ifs:
This is the consequence of our work. I can’t focus on that. Records and numbers are cool, everybody wants that, but I try not to think about that.
Either way, it's going to be interesting to see if Machida can overcome the odds, outpoint a dynamic champion with tremendous natural abilities and reclaim a UFC title.
If he's going to do so, his striking needs to be at an all-time high. If not, Weidman may once again knock off one of Brazil's most heralded names in the sport.
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