I know most MMA fans have yet to give Lyoto Machida the nod as one of the pound for pound best in the sport, but with wins over Tito Ortiz, B.J. Penn, Rich Franklin, and Stephan Bonnar, he is right on the brink of stardom.
Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida
Wins: 13 Loses: 0
6'1" 205lbs 30yrs
A win over undefeated Thiago Silva at UFC 94 should result in a LHW title shot. Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida will be another battle of undefeated fighters, and in my bias opinion, I believe Machida's counter-striking will win over Rashad's ever evolving boxing skills.
Machida is well-rounded, his Shotokan Karate has yet to show a weakness in the Octagon, and his BJJ skills have produced two submissions. I will even go as far to predict a Lyoto Machida vs. Anderson Silva LHW championship match in 2009...if Dana White lets it happen.
Dana White believes, "A lot of people think (Machida's) style is too evasive and not engaging" (CBSSports.com). Rampage Jackson's exciting knock-out style may bump Machida out of the No. 1 contender spot and keep Machida in the shadows of the LHW division.
2009 would be a breakthrough year for Machida if the UFC promotes Machida as one of the pound for pound bests in the sport, but instead they appear to be giving in to some fans who think he is a boring fighter.
Nonetheless, I still believe that Lyoto Machida, title shot or not, is one of the Top 5 pound for pound MMA fighters in the world. He would offer a difficult challenge to Anderson Silva, GSP, and even Fedor Emelianenko.
If you don't believe me, tune in on January 31st and see Lyoto dismantle the popular, hard hitting, exciting, marketable, Thiago Silva. Then you can update your P4P list and put Lyoto Machida in your Top 5.