After Lyoto Machida put Rashad Evans to sleep at UFC 98 to capture the light heavyweight crown, most believed “The Dragon” would embark on an extended title reign. Unfortunately for the eccentric one, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua went circa 2004 and quickly shot that idea down this past May.
Although Machida owns a nearly immaculate resume, he will look to do something against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 123 that he’s never had to before – bounce back from a loss. Despite venturing in uncharted territory, the 16-1 Brazilian believes he knows how to find the way back to victory lane.
“In every fight, you have to prove why you are there. You have to prove something that tells people, and even tells yourself, why you are in there and why you deserve to be there,” Machida stated. “This is no different. I have to prove to myself and to my fans why I am still in there.
“I believe whoever is going to win this fight will shoot up the ladder in the 205-pound division. I believe that person is me.”
Since getting dropped by Shogun at UFC 113, the 32-year-old called upon his amigo Anderson Silva, as well as the talented squad at American Kickboxing Academy – home of newly minted heavyweight king Cain Velasquez – to help him recapture his mojo. While Machida has done everything in his power to return a much improved version, it didn’t stop Rampage from bumping his gums about his opponent’s less than spectacular style.
“There is a lot that can be said until the gates of the Octagon lock. Once the gate is locked, anything can happen,” Machida said of B.A. Baracus’ talkative ways. “We are equals in there, no one has an advantage, and we are really going to see who the best in the cage is.
“People should be excited to watch two ex-champions of the UFC fighting each other, to find their place back in the title picture in the 205lbs division. I hope I do enough to prove that I’m back for the title shot, or fight again then fight for the title.”
UFC 123 takes place November 20th inside The Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit, Michigan.