Las Vegas – As far as victories go in mixed martial arts, Lyoto Machida’s first round TKO over Thiago Silva at UFC 94 on Saturday night couldn’t have been more fruitful.
The win not only allowed Machida to improve his overall record to 14-0 and career UFC record to 6-0 while handing the previously unbeaten Silva his first career loss, but it earned him a $65,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus.
But most impressive of all is word that with the win, Machida has all but assured himself a guaranteed light heavyweight title shot, according to comments made by UFC President Dana White during the post-fight press conference for UFC 94. Whether Machida gets the first title shot at current champion Rashad Evans is uncertain, as White was quick to add that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s destiny still rests in his own hands.
“We don’t have [Machida] scheduled to fight Rashad next,” White said. “But he’s in the mix. He’ll probably have a title shot before the end of the year.”
White inferred that a win by Jackson against Keith Jardine in the main event for UFC 96 on March 7 in Columbus, Ohio will mean that he will get the first crack at Evans. However, a loss by Jackson could mean that Machida would become the new number one contender and get the first show at Evans.
Regardless of the outcome of Jackson vs. Jardine, White stated that Machida will “probably” receive his title shot before year’s end.
Branded by many as a boring fighter, Machida’s win over Silva at UFC 94 was another step in his evolutionart track from a talented prospect to a legitimate star. Known for an elusive counter fighting style that has had a tendency to garner boos from crowds in the past, Machida was anything but boring on Saturday night and was well received by the crowd during Friday’s weigh-ins and again during pre-fight introductions.
The undefeated Brazilian is not only winning fight fans over but has also earned the praise of his boss.
“The thing I said about this kid since the first time I ever saw him is if when you think back to Matt Hughes, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and any of the guys who have been the big stars here the past 10 years, they weren’t barn-burners when they first came into the UFC,” White is quoted as saying during the post-fight presser. “It wasn’t like highlight reels and excitement. What happens is guys get in the UFC. It takes them a little while. They have to feel like this is their home. They have to start to get the feel for it, get some fights under their belt, and I said when Lyoto gets that, he’s going to be very dangerous.
“I think he’s going to be one of the greatest fighters in MMA, and every time he comes out to fight, he proves it more and more. … He looks better every time he fights.”