Less than two years ago, Lyoto Machida put Rashad Evans to sleep to capture the UFC light heavyweight crown. He also bumped his record to a perfect 15-0 in the process. After successfully – albeit controversially – defending his title against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in his next outing, Machida quickly found himself on the wrong end of a two-fight streak.
As “The Dragon” enters Saturday’s pivotal UFC 129 scrap against soon-to-be-retired Randy Couture, fans remain baffled as to why “The Machida Era” ended before it ever began. While appearing as a guest on Wednesday’s edition of Jim Rome is Burning, UFC president Dana White dropped his two cents on the subject.
“This is what I think happened; A guy goes through his entire career, he’s got this incredible elusive style, nobody can figure him out, he’s explosive, got knockout power, but then once you start making a lot of money, it starts messing with your head and you start doing things differently,” White told the ESPN host.
“I think if Machida comes out like the old Machida, I think he can beat anybody in the world.”
Machida lost his belt to Shogun in their immediate rematch at UFC 113, and then followed it up this past November with a controversial split decision defeat to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
The bright side for the Brazilian is that White appears to have softened on the “must-win” stance he issued several months back. Understanding it’s his job as a promoter to say just about anything to generate pay-per-view buzz, he couldn’t stop boasting about Machida’s skills during yesterday’s pre-fight press conference.
The former 205-pound champions meet this Saturday inside the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada.