Lyoto Machida’s fight with Mark Munoz was a big gamble in more ways than one.
Not only was the former light-heavyweight champion making the drop to middleweight on short notice to face a top contender in an overseas fight, he was also on the final fight of his existing contract.
Losing in such a situation can be disastrous in terms of renegotiating your next deal - just ask heavyweight Roy Nelson, who lost a similar gamble against Stipe Miocic - but it worked out well for Machida thanks to a first-round head-kick KO.
“His win was actually bigger than we thought. I spoke to his manager and this was actually the last fight on Machida’s UFC contract,” UFC Tonight’s in-house reporter Ariel Helwani said on this week’s show.
“So his stock is a whole lot higher after his big win. He wants to fight Vitor Belfort next. But his manager believes Vitor doesn’t want to fight Lyoto.”
Machida told MMA Fighting this week that Belfort “would be the best fight for me right now because he’s well ranked in the middleweight division… Even if Vitor loses to Dan Henderson, I’d want to fight him in our weight class.”
However as UFC president Dana White has observed of late, Belfort appears to “be his own matchmaker” and is in the habit of turning down fights he doesn’t like. That includes any and all middleweight matches unless the title is on the line, which would of course rule out Machida.