Lyoto Machida Impresses In Middleweight Debut

MANCHESTER, England — Former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida made his middleweight debut Saturday, 11 days earlier than anticipated, against training friend and top five contender Mark Munoz. Despite being good friends, both put their friendship aside to headline the third fight card 0f 2013 in England.

And the man they call “The Dragon” did not disappoint.

Machida rocked Munoz with a left leg kick to the head, knocking him out. Just over three minutes into the first round, Munoz laid on the ground, eyes shut after the vicious kick. After pouncing on top ready to strike, Machida held a fist high in the air, allowing referee Leon Roberts to come in and stop the fight without needing to throw anymore strikes.

The win earned Machida the knockout of the night bonus and quickly cemented himself as the new star ready to climb middleweight contention. His victory was so impressive, current middleweight champion Chris Weidman took to Twitter to give his take on Machida in his division debut.

Despite admitting the weight cut from 205 to 185 was tough, Machida says he looks to remain in the middleweight division for his future. The long tenure of fellow Brazilian Anderson Silva as the middleweight champion was the primary reason for his move up to the light heavyweight division, where he found immediate success and became a champion.

Now, following his controversial decision loss to Phil Davis at UFC 163, along with Silva losing the middleweight title in July, it appears Machida will look to join Randy Couture and BJ Penn as the only fighters to become a UFC champion in multiple weight classes.

Having a size disadvantage in the light heavyweight division, Machida relied heavily on his speed to overwhelm opponents in the octagon. As a middleweight, the speed of his striking was displayed against Munoz, and with his size at 185 and impressive victory, the middleweight division has quietly found a future contender in Machida.

Originally scheduled to face Tim Kennedy in his middleweight debut, UFC President Dana White moved Machida up to headline against Munoz and replace Michael Bisping, who suffered an eye injury and had to withdraw from the fight. A win over Kennedy at UFC Fight For The Troops November 6 could show his worth in the division, but a victory against a top five contender, coming by first round knockout, should easily move him in the top 10 contention list, if not flirt with top five contention.

His future seemed bleak after UFC 163, but Machida has found a new, comfortable home in the UFC middleweight division. And it won’t be a surprise to many if a title shot happens in 2014.

Warning: Video comes from the UFC. Viewer discretion is advised



Follow Brandon Boles on Twitter: @BrandonBoles

Twitter: @FullScaleSport

(Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE)

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