Who Should Lyoto Machida Fight Next?

Jake SauickieCorrespondent IMay 13, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24:  UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida (R) battles with UFC Light Heavyweight challenger Mauricio Rua (L) during their title fight at UFC 104 at Staples Center on October 24, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

As we all know, the Karate Kid was knocked out cold by the one and only Shogun Rua.

Rua found the openings in Machida's armor and he exploited them to take the title that is rightfully his.

Honestly, I didn't think Lyoto looked like his normal self. He looked like his normal self when fighting, but his physical shape wasn't the same.

It almost looked like he had a beer belly on him. Just like when Chuck Liddell fought Shogun back at UFC 97. But, who knows. Maybe he just didn't care about his six pack this time.

Machida will be taking some time off because of this crushing defeat. But he'll be back eventually.

The question is: When does he come back, and who should he fight?

My guess is that he'll be back in about seven to eight months. The reason I chose this time frame is because it's his first loss, he was undefeated for so long, and this is probably hitting him hard.

As for the possible opponents he can face...

The loser of Rampage/Evans, Randy Couture, Jon Jones, Forrest Griffin?

Rampage Jackson: Quinton is slated to face Rashad Evans at UFC 114, but should he come out on the losing end of that fight, would a Rampage/Machida fight be appealing to any of you?

I think it would be a great matchup. Although some of you may think I'm crazy, hear me out.

Rampage has a granite chin, great boxing, very underrated wrestling, and submission skills we rarely see.

Machida has his Karate and Sumo base, but on top of that he knows Muay Thai, Judo, and BJJ.

On paper, and from watching the two, Machida is without a doubt the favorite, but could it be possible that Rampage can execute that perfectly timed punch just like Shogun, or get the takedown his old buddy Tito Ortiz never could.

I like Quinton's odds with Machida, but also if Machida wins, he can get himself back into title contention very quickly.

Rashad Evans: Rashad is set to fight opposing Ultimate Fighter 10 coach and wants the belt back that was taken from him. But if he loses to Rampage, I wouldn't be surprised if the UFC execs paired him and Machida together another time.

Rashad recieved his first defeat at the hands of Lyoto Machida, and would without a doubt, want this opportunity to avenge his loss to the man who stole his belt.

Both men could reaffirm their position in the light heavyweight ranks with a win, but at the same time, a loss for either one could be detrimental due to the fact that it would mean back-to-back losses for either one and that's never a good sign.

Randy Couture: Moving on to The Natural; Randy has been aching for another shot at the title. He says he doesn't care who has it, it's just that he wants the one who ever has the belt.

He's beaten Brandon Vera and Mark Coleman since his return to light heavy and is now going to welcome James Toney to MMA.

I don't think this win over Toney puts Randy into title contention, but it does put him into a spot to face a top contender, possibly Machida, if you ask me.

Randy will be riding a three-fight win streak and Machida will be coming off of a loss. If Machida wins, he can say he beat The Legendary Randy Couture. If Randy wins, he can say he beat Machida and would then get a shot at whoever is champion.

I'd like to see this fight because Randy is a master tactitian and Machida is like an unsolvable puzzle. Either way, the winner is going to be put into the title mix.

Jon Jones: Jon "Bones" Jones has been steamrolling the light heavyweight division since his arrival.

He started out against some low class fighters and didn't really get noticed.

But once people saw his destruction of guys like Brandon Vera, Stephan Bonnar, and Matt Hammil, everyone saw this guy and started to take notice.

A fight with Machida would definitely be something I'd like to see; mainly because Machida is a defensive counter-striker and Jones is an offensive counter-striker, meaning that he likes to go backwards and hit you coming in; whereas Jon Jones likes to come forward and whenever you go to hit him, he counters.

This fight has guaranteed fireworks written all over it, and a win for either one in my eyes deserves a title shot.

Forrest Griffin: The Original Ultimate Fighter. At one time Forrest and Lyoto were set to face each other at UFC 70, but an injury forced Forrest off the card.

Also, they both have a common opponent in Stephan Bonnar.

Bonnar could help out either guy since he's fought both of them, trains with Forrest, and knows each guys style.

But anyway, Lyoto needs a notable fighter to fight since his embarrassing loss to Shogun, and Forrest needs another win to take a step closer towards the title he won over Rampage.

Since Forrest likes to come forward, I see this being an easy win for Lyoto. Also, since he and Anderson Silva are best buddies, the Spider could give some helpful tips to Lyoto on how to beat Griffin.

As for Forrest, he can implement the same game plan Shogun did on Machida to win the fight. After all, he does have those thudding leg kicks that can make guys buckle.

With Lyoto out of the picture at the moment, the light heavyweight division has opened up and a lot of people have taken notice at how many talented fighters there are.

On top of that, with Shogun as champion, there are a lot more interesting fights that can go down. (i.e. Shogun/Rampage, Shogun/Silva)

Lyoto will be back, but I have a feeling The Dragon is going to be taking a break for awhile, at least until he gets over his first loss.