After winning his middleweight debut with a quick KO over highly-ranked Mark Munoz at UFC Fight Night late last month, Lyoto Machida immediately began fielding questions about challenging for the 185 pound title. His next bout will not be for gold but will come against another former light heavyweight champion in Gegard Mousasi
Brazilian outlet Globo reports that the matchup is planned for a Feb 8 show at Jaragua do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Machida has won three out of his last four fights and Mousasi has not lost for over three years.
The 205 pound Strikeforce champ Mousasi has not competed at middleweight for years. Last April he made a successful UFC debut at light heavyweight.
Now, "The Dreamcatcher" will drop back down twenty pounds in order fight in what his management hopes will be a number one contender's bout. "This is the match-up we wanted. Lyoto is ranked fifth in the division now, and he is a former UFC champion. The fans are in for an excellent treat, and this fight in our minds will determine the No. 1 contender in the MW division," Mousasi's manager Nima Safapour told MMA Fighting.
Of course, just about every fighter and their camp seem to believe that their next fight is a number one contender's fight. Hey, nothing wrong with trying out the power of suggestion on UFC match makers.
Both Machida and Mousasi are highly skilled and, depending on how their bout goes and how everything else in the division shakes out (Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman II, Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort in their light heavyweight/sabbatical from middleweight bout, etc.), perhaps the winner of the Feb match will indeed find themselves challenging for a UFC belt.
Who do you think deserves the next shot at the UFC middleweight division? Is it too soon to say? Let us know in the comments section.
Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda