Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida will take on Randy Couture at UFC 129 and it seems as if it’s a must-win fight for him. When “The Dragon” enters the cage in Toronto, he will likely have an understanding of where he stands among the rest of the stacked 205 lbs. division. Having already dropped two fights in a row, another loss for him could mean the end of his UFC days.
Let’s go back in time for a moment. On May 23, 2009, Machida knocked out Rashad Evans to capture the light heavyweight title. Following the win, Joe Rogan claimed the coming years to be “The Machida Era.” As we all know, this was not the case. Machida’s performance against Evans was a spectacular one, however, it was only circumstantial.
In his first title defense against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, we saw the champion fight the toughest battle of his career and earn the questionable decision victory. Then came the rematch. With a mix of emotions boiling up inside of him, Rua took action. Just past the midway point of the opening round, Rua knocked Machida down and finished him with punches on the ground. The referee immediately halted the bout, leaving Machida unconscious and Rua the champion. For the first time in his career, we saw Machida dominated and defeated.
Now, back to present time. Machida is coming off a close decision loss to Quinton Jackson in November. At this point in time, he is in desperate need of a win if he wants to stick around with the best fighters in the world. For most fighters under contract with the UFC, three consecutive losses is something to avoid at all costs. However, when you’re taking on a man who has built his career on defying the odds every time he fights, it can be nerve-racking.
A loss for Machida could potentially mean the end of his career in the UFC. On the other hand, a win could keep his name in the mix of the best in his weight class. There isn’t much of a chance he would be anywhere near another shot at the title, but it could earn him a fight with a top contender.
In reality, no matter how you look at it, it’s pretty simple. Machida needs to win at UFC 129. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.