Rafael Cordeiro has saluted Lyoto Machida and Mark Munoz for their willingness to fight each other despite being friends and training partners.
Machida has stepped up on short notice to take the middleweight fight following the withdrawal of Michael Bisping due to an eye ailment. Munoz and Machida have trained together for years and are good friends. They are even traveling to England together for the October 26 fight in Manchester.
“Lyoto and Mark both trained together for a long time and they are both students of mine. I think this is going to be a great fight. For sure there’s some small problems with it - just two days before they got the call, they were training together at Gracie Torrance Jiu Jitsu,” Cordeiro told Fighters Only at his Kings MMA training center.
“I personally don’t like the fight because I like both guys, but they agreed to do it because they are professionals. They are going to prove that friends can fight against each other and keep a great relationship.
“I’m going to be in Lyoto’s corner because we were already planning this for the fight with Tim Kennedy which got cancelled. We are just keeping all the same arrangements we made for that.
“For me its just one more fight between two great guys. I love Mark a lot, he is my man since the beginning. Lyoto is such a nice guy too. Its going to be a great show, they will fight and then they will hang out together.”
The fight will be Machida’s debut in the UFC middleweight division. Given that he is taking it on short notice against someone who is on the fringes of the contender picture, it is fair to say he is taking on an extremely difficult task.
“Well, Lyoto always trains hard. He is light anyway for 205lbs in my opinion, he walks around at 207, 208lbs. For him its easy to fight at 185lbs. He just needs to close his mouth to food a little bit,” Cordeiro says.
“I think he started his career at 185lbs so its not going to be too hard for him. And he is very professional. Lyoto has the Japanese mentality of training. He has that martial arts philosophy of facing challenges.”
Machida has also been hovering near a light-heavyweight title shot and Cordeiro thinks that if he beats Munoz he will probably find himself fast-tracked to a middleweight title shot. With Machida and Anderson Silva also being friends and training partners, Machida’s immediate future could contain a lot of friendly fire.
“I think if Lyoto wins he gets the title shot but also you have Jacare, he did a great job in his last fight. I think he deserves the opportunity to fight for the belt. It doesn’t matter who is the champion. In my opinion everybody wants the belt, everybody fights for the belt,” Cordeiro says.
“Its a dream for all fighters so all guys in the top five or top ten deserve the chance to fight for the belt. Jacare deserves it, Lyoto deserves it. Mark works so hard, he deserves all the best also. So if guys have to fight, lets fight.
“Like right now Lyoto is going to fight with a friend and team mate. They don’t fight because they hate each other, they fight because they are professionals and they need to put food on the table for their children.
“This is the sport, this is the business. I agree with [friends] fighting each other because this is about [achieving] dreams, its about getting the belt.”
Cordeiro is the former head coach of the Chute Boxe team in Curitiba, Brazil, a powerhouse in the MMA world prior to the demise of PRIDE FC. Much of the Chute Boxe talent subsequently moved to the UFC and Cordeiro relocated to the USA, where he formed Kings MMA.
In 2012, he was voted Coach of the Year in the Fighters Only World MMA Awards. He counts Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, Machida, Fabricio Werdum and more among his current and former students.