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Weidman and Bisping picking Machida

Lyoto Machida
Lyoto Machida believes Vitor Belfort won't fight him.
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Damon Martin

Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2004. His work has been published in CNN, Bleacher Report, MMAWeekly.com, Yahoo! Sports, UFC.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He also co-hosts The Great Debate Radio MMA podcast, and has appeared on ESPN Radio and SportsNet Radio. Follow him on Twitter.

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Lyoto Machida still hasn't even officially made 185 pounds yet, but the former light heavyweight champion is commanding a lot of respect from the best fighters in the middleweight division already.

Machida faces top five ranked fighter Mark Munoz this weekend at UFC Fight Night from Manchester, England and despite his novice competing in the division, he's a heavy favorite to leave the island the victor.

Michael Bisping, who was originally scheduled to face Munoz on the card before suffering an eye injury, believes Machida's superior speed and footwork will do the job to get the win on Saturday.

Having prepared for Munoz for several weeks, Bisping believes he knows the wrestler's style and how it doesn't seem to match up very well with a striker like Machida.

"I just think Machida takes it in my opinion. Without underestimating Mark Munoz, I think that Lyoto Machida's footwork is going to be the key here," Bisping told FOX Sports. "He's going to move in and out of range, he's going to get into range to be allowed to strike and he's going to move out of range of Munoz's wrestling.

"I think Mark Munoz has a suspect chin. We saw Matt Hamill knocked him out, Kendall Grove had him wobbled, Demian Maia had him wobbled, he seems to get wobbled in a lot of his fights. Machida, he's capable of knocking guys out with one punch. I think this is a favorable matchup for Lyoto Machida, but I could be wrong."

Despite a loss in his last fight to Phil Davis while still competing at light heavyweight, Machida enjoys stepping into his first fight as a middleweight as a huge favorite carrying -360 odds against Munoz. The former champion has gone just 3-4 overall in his last seven fights, and Machida has to know that a loss in his first fight at middleweight would be devastating to his long term goals.

The middleweight elite seem to thing Machida is going to do just fine, however, because even the king at 185 pounds believes he will run roughshod over Munoz in his debut. Middleweight champion Chris Weidman has faced and defeated Munoz in a previous fight, and he just doesn't see how the former NCAA champion can get the best of Machida in this matchup.

"I think Lyoto Machida wins this fight," Weidman told FOX Sports. "I think it's a bad matchup for Munoz. I think Munoz is a little slower, more powerful type guy and Lyoto Machida is the opposite. He's in and out and I think he might just eat some of the punches and set ups that Munoz is going to be throwing at him. He's going to anticipate it pretty easily and be able to pick him apart.

"I think eventually he hits him with the big shot and I think he'll knock him out."

The confidence of both Weidman and Bisping bodes well for Machida, but it's possible that it could also push Munoz into a corner and an animal is sometimes most dangerous when he's wounded. Munoz will look to prove both fighters wrong when he faces Machida in the five round main event for this weekend's UFC on Fox: Machida vs. Munoz card live from England airing on FOX Sports 2.

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