UFC middleweight star Lyoto Machida won’t be ready to return from a brief break in action taken to recuperate from several fights and surgeries for some time, but when the healing and relaxation is through, the former UFC champ already has an opponent in mind: the brash, sharp-tongued Michael Bisping. Machida’s proposition was reported by Ariel Helwani on Wednesday’s edition of UFC Tonight, who also stated that if the Brazilian gets his way, the bout would go down sometime in February.
Coming off consecutive lopsided losses to top contenders Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero, this bout would serve as a tough test for Machida (22-7, 14-7 UFC) and could determine whether or not the perennial contender can hang on to his position in the middleweight top five for much longer. A win, however, would solidify the spot. Bisping (27-7, 17-7 UFC) is currently ranked #8 in the UFC’s middleweight class and is currently on a two fight win streak, with each of those victories came against fighters currently ranked in the top ten by the UFC. Besting “The Count” would be a convincing way for “The Dragon to reassure the MMA world that he can still hang with the best competition on the planet.
As for the Brit’s willingness to accept the challenge, he seemed more than happy to cooperate if that is indeed what Dana & Co. choose to pursue. Just as one would expect, Bisping didn’t miss the opportunity to not only show the future hall of fame inductee the proper amount of respect, but also throw out some fighting words to heat up the discussion.
“A match between me and him is certainly something I would be interested in. I’ve got a lot of respect for Lyoto Machida,” said Bisping before going on to proclaim “When you decide you want to come back and you wanna do it, you know where I am. I’m always here, Lyoto Machida, the Dragon, lets do it.”
Just as it would benefit Machida to defeat Bisping, a win for Bisping would vault him to his highest point in the rankings since his TKO defeat at the hands of Vitor Belfort. A victory would likely allow Bisping to leap into the top five and maybe challenge for the next title shot, an honor that has eluded him during what has come to be seen as a very successful competitive career inside the Octagon.
Considering the upside for both men, this bout seems to make sense on several key levels so expect the UFC brass to at least give it some consideration. If given the green light, Machida vs Bisping could easily take the 3rd bout spot, or even co-main, on a PPV or simply headline a free TV card on FS1.