Former UFC champion Lyoto Machida plans on fighting for a while to come, regardless of the outcome of his fight against Ryan Bader tonight in the opening round of the Bellator light heavyweight grand prix tournament.
In their first meeting in 2012, Lyoto Machida knocked out Bader in spectacular fashion. Prior to the fight, Machida was looking to bounce back after a failed attempt to snatch the title from divisional kingpin Jon Jones. Fast forward to 2021, despite entering the bout as one of the biggest underdogs, Machida is determined to cap off his career with a Bellator world title, and to accomplish it at the age of 42 would be nothing short of extraordinary.
Lyoto Machida All Business Ahead Of Bellator Grand Prix Opener
While Lyoto Machida is eager to win the belt, he has a huge task ahead of him in the current Bellator heavyweight champion. Even though the former two-weight world champion lost one of his titles (at light-heavyweight) to Vadim Nemkov, he is determined to right the ship and it starts against Lyoto Machida. On the other hand, Machida understands that in the twilight of his career, focus and staying on task will be the key to getting his hand raised.
“We cannot forget that I always try to live the moment,” Machida told reporters during the Bellator 256 media day. “I always try to think in the present. I cannot foresee anything in the future. That’s why I try to live every single minute of my life in this moment. As a human being, I just said here you think to go to the future, you think to plan everything, you think to be stuck in the past. The hard task is to keep yourself in the moment.
While “The Dragon” is ready to fight, he understands that even if he gets through Bader for a second time, he still has a long road ahead of him.
In an eight-man tournament, Lyoto Machida will need to win two more times after that following a Bellator 256 win to capture the world title. At this point in time, the Brazilian isn’t looking at retirement with such a big threat looming in the background.
“In this moment, I just have this fight against Bader and I have a long path ahead of me. Lyoto Machida said. That’s why I cannot say anything about retirement or about the future but I have everything in my mind. I have everything that I have to do until I want to do it. Until I believe I can still can do it.”
The Hunger Remains Inside The Dragon
Lyoto Machida also spoke to why fear is such a powerful motivator for him in and outside of the cage. At the end of the day, the former champion loves to challenge himself, and this tournament sets him up with a big opportunity to do that.
“First of all, I like to challenge — I like to challenge myself, I like challenges,” Lyoto Machida said. “Since when I started my career, it was about challenging myself. When I was 17 years old, I was supposed to compete in the first MMA competition in my state in Brazil but they withdrew me because I was under 18 years old. But for me, that moment was a challenge. Of course, everybody has a fear, everybody has anxiety and stuff like that but to challenge that is the most important thing. That’s why I have still been competing in my career because I like to challenge myself.
It seems retirement is the furthest thing from Machida’s mind at the moment, and he understands the gravity of the position he is in with the grand prix. As with most tournament structures, staying healthy and injury-free is essential to coming out on top.
Additionally, the legend added that his time in the game is never a deterrent to his desire to step into the cage. With such a storied career, some would think passion for the fight game would fade away but that definitely isn’t the case for the 42-year old Machida.
“For me, it means a lot. Because after 20 years of a long career, that’s a great moment for me and I always try to motivate myself. That’s why I’m here.”
At Bellator 256, fans will find out if Lyoto Machida can not just beat Bader for a second time but also turn back Father Time. With a 20-year career still in progress, the legend has a few more tricks up his sleeve and was not prepared to concede that this will be his final title run.
Who do you think will prevail in the opening round of the tournament, will Lyoto Machida get the job done at the age of 42? Let us know below what you think!