Lyoto Machida vs. Luke Rockhold May Be in the Works

Scott HarrisMMA Lead WriterAugust 21, 2014

USA Today

A major fight in the UFC middleweight division is reportedly under discussion. 

Luke Rockhold, who has won two straight and has long requested a big-time opponent, may face Lyoto Machida, the former light heavyweight champion who just lost a five-round decision to middleweight champion Chris Weidman.

That's according to Rockhold's training teammate and current UFC light heavyweight Daniel Cormier, who holds a side job as a commentator on the TV program UFC Tonight and announced the discussions on that program Wednesday night (h/t MMA Fighting).

Rockhold (12-2) was the Strikeforce middleweight champion when that promotion folded. Riding a nine-fight win streak that included victories over current UFC standouts Jacare Souza and Tim Kennedy, Rockhold made his Octagon debut in May 2013 against Vitor Belfort. However, Belfort stopped the Rockhold hype in its tracks with a first-round head-kick knockout. 

Lyoto Machida
Lyoto MachidaUSA TODAY Sports

Since the loss, Rockhold has notched first-round stoppage wins over Costas Philippou and Tim Boetsch. However, the 29-year-old has been spoiling to avenge the Belfort loss, repeatedly taking Belfort to task for his use of TRT and calling him a "dirty" athlete.

Rockhold may get closer to his desired rematch—or even a middleweight title shot—if he can get past Machida. 

Machida (21-5) has been impressive since dropping down to middleweight. He's 2-1 in the UFC at 185 pounds, with wins over Mark Munoz and Gegard Mousasi before earning the shot at Weidman, which he lost despite a solid performance.

If it does indeed take place, the matchup between the two could be an interesting contrast of styles. Rockhold is a grappler first and foremost. He won two world jiu-jitsu titles in 2007, around the time he made his pro MMA debut. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt now trains alongside Cormier, UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and a slew of other standouts at American Kickboxing Academy in California.

Machida is renowned for bringing an unabashed karate style to the cage. The quick, elusive light heavyweight is often criticized for a perceived lack of action, but he is admired among hardcore devotees for his finely tuned offensive and defensive skills. Machida, also a BJJ black belt, works with Anderson Silva and the luminaries of the Black House gym.