Chuck Liddell successfully defended his UFC light heavyweight title five times from 2004-2006. Liddell got old and the UFC imported several highly-touted free agents from around the world. Most hardcore MMA fans thought the next dominant champ would come over in the PRIDE acquisition. As it turns out, the next Liddell may be a guy the UFC obtained when it purchased the little known WFA.
Lyoto Machida, 30, turned in a scary performance last night mauling the former champ Rashad Evans and winning an extra $60,000 for Knockout of the Night. The message has been sent. Machida may the light heavyweight who holds on to this strap for a while (3:05 mark):
"Now that I became the champion is when the real work begins," Machida said through his translator/manager Ed Soares. "My goal is to always go out there and become a better fighter everytime I stepped into the Octagon. Now with the title, it's even more responsibility to do that."
Machida said that he'll now go back to Brazil to examine his performance with his father and brothers.
UFC president Dana said he was blown away but he always knew it would be scary when Machida got comfortable with the Octagon and more aggressive. Hollywood stardom may also been in Machida's future. A reporter asked the Brazilian if he wanted to be the next Bruce Lee (5:20 mark). White immediately chimed in and said, "please say no." Machida did, saying that he wants concentrate only on defending his belt.
Former UFC welterweight champ Matt Hughes is an admirer of Machida's, calling him the total package (4:20 mark).