“If Lyoto Machida wins, he could possibly be next in line for a title shot,” White said.
Machida (20-4) is coming off a first-round knockout win over Mark Munoz in his 185-pound debut in October. The division is pretty crowded at the top – Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza takes on Francis Carmont on the same card Feb. 15 in Jaragua do Sul – but Machida does have pedigree. He’s the former light heavyweight champion and at one point it seemed like he would hold the title for a long time.
That didn’t happen. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua knocked him out in 2010. Machida got a title shot at 205 against Jon Jones a year later, but was submitted in the first round. Middleweight might be a better fit for him, but he didn’t move down until now because his longtime teammate Anderson Silva was the champion.
White did not mention that Mousasi would earn a chance at the title if he beats Machida. The bout will be the veteran’s 185-pound debut.
Weidman and Belfort fight at UFC 173 on May 24 in Las Vegas. The top of the weight class is pretty stacked with those two, Machida, Mousasi, Souza, Carmont, Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping, Tim Kennedy and Mark Munoz.