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‘UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Hendricks’ premieres Wednesday night

It’s time for another edition of “UFC Primetime.”

The latest three-part series will chronicle UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks‘ road to UFC 167. The first episode will air Wednesday night on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT, following new episodes of “UFC Tonight” and “Ultimate Insider.”

Episodes two and three will air in the next two weeks leading up to their Nov. 16 fight in Las Vegas.

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Lyoto Machida willing to fight Vitor Belfort even if ‘The Phenom’ loses to Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 32

Fresh off his first-round head kick knockout win over friend and training partner Mark Munoz at UFC Fight Night 30 last weekend (Oct. 26, 2013) in Manchester, England (watch it here), Lyoto Machida has already set his sights on his next opponent.

“The Dragon” (via MMA Fighting) says the fight that makes the most sense for him at the moment is a bout against fellow countryman Vitor Belfort, seeing as how “The Phenom” is the hottest fighter in the middleweight division following back-to-back knockout victories over Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping.

And regardless of the outcome of Belfort’s upcoming fight against Dan Henderson on Nov. 9, 2013 at UFC Fight Night 32 in Brazil, Vitor is still ranked No.1 on his hit list (sorry, Mr. Bisping).

Machida makes his case:

“Vitor Belfort is the best option for me right now. I want to fight him. It would be the best fight for me right now because he’s well ranked in the middleweight division. No hard feelings, I’m thinking what’s best for my career and where I can get with a win. Even if Vitor loses to Dan Henderson, I’d want to fight him in our weight class.”

Since the Henderson vs. Belfort fight will be contested at light heavyweight, a loss for “The Phenom” will likely have no affect on his status as a top middleweight contender, so a fight against “The Dragon” does indeed make sense.

According to Machida, A win over an established veteran and streaking fighter such as Belfort should catapult him straight to the top of the division rankings and inch him closer to the 185-pound title.

In addition, should Lyoto get his much-desired shot at the gold, he doesn’t seem to object to the idea of potentially fighting another training partner in Anderson Silva if it came down to it.

He explains:

“A win over Vitor Belfort puts me in front of everybody in the rankings, but let’s see what happens. It’s too soon to talk about it because Anderson Silva is too far away from me right now. Even if he wins, I don’t know for how long he will want to keep fighting. I haven’t talked to him for a long time. I don’t know how it’s going to work, we have the same managers. I rather not to talk about it now. When we get there, we’ll figure it out.”

Of course, “The Spider” first has to reclaim his title as he will attempt to do on Dec. 28, 2013 when he faces current division kingpin Chris Weidman at UFC 168 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

And should the cards fall into place, it seems Lyoto has no qualms in putting hands (or feet) on his good friend, as was the case in his destruction of “The Filipino Wrecking Machine.”

Machida vs. Belfort, who wants to see it?

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Official UFC rankings updated after UFC Fight Night 30: Lyoto Machida Top 5 Middleweight overnight, Jimi Manuwa still outside looking in

Pee pee-free diets are good for Middleweight rankings.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida made his 185-pound debut this past weekend (Sat., Oct. 26, 2013) at Phones 4U Arena in Manchester, England, taking out Mark Munoz with a first round head kick knockout (watch highlight-reel finish here).

It was impressive, especially considering that “The Dragon” was able to do it on relatively short notice (even though he was already training to fight Tim Kennedy next weekend at “Fight for the Troops 3“) in replace of the injured Michael Bisping (more details here). So impressive, in fact, that Machida leapfrogged the tail-end of the Top 10 to land at No. 5 on the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion’s updated rankings.

Munoz, meanwhile, dropped to slots, creating a domino effect that caused Francis Carmont — who was victorious in his last appearance — to drop one position to No. 8.

Jimi Manuwa, meanwhile, remains un-ranked despite a three-fight win streak inside the Octagon and an undefeated professional record (14-0). “Poster Boy” can change all that, though, sooner rather than later. Not much noteworthy movement elsewhere with so few ranked fighters in action at UFC Fight Night 30.

And John Lineker only has himself to blame for not advancing his position.

If you’re wondering how the world’s largest MMA promotion (in conjunction with FightMetric) compiles its list, here’s the criteria:

Rankings were generated by a voting panel made up of media members. The media members were asked to vote for who they feel are the top fighters in the UFC by weight-class and pound-for-pound. A fighter is only eligible to be voted on if they are in active status in the UFC and a fighter can only appear in one weight division at a time. The champion and interim champion are considered to be in the top positions of their respective divisions and therefore are not eligible for voting by weight-class. However, the champions can be voted on for the pound-for-pound rankings.

That voting panel includes MMAmania’s own George Halvatzis Jr, Matthew Roth and Michael Stets. You can check how our rankings stack up compared to the overall consensus by selecting either “George Halvatzis Jr. (MMAmania.com),” “Matthew Roth (MMAmania.com)” or “Michael Steczkowski (MMAmania.com)” in the voting panelists tab at the top of the page.

Below are the updated UFC.com rankings (+/- = movement in rankings):

Pound-for-Pound
1. Jon Jones
2. Georges St. Pierre
3. Jose Aldo
4. Anderson Silva
5. Cain Velasquez
6. Renan Barao
7. Demetrious Johnson
8. Anthony Pettis
9. Chris Weidman
10. Ben Henderson

Flyweight
Champion: Demetrious Johnson
1. Joseph Benavidez
2. John Dodson
3. Ian McCall
4. John Moraga
5. John Lineker
6. Jussier Formiga
7. Timothy Elliott
8. Chris Cariaso
9. Louis Gaudinot
10. Darren Uyenoyama

Bantamweight
Champion: Dominick Cruz
1. Renan Barao (Interim Champion)
2. Urijah Faber
3. Michael McDonald
4. Raphael Assuncao
5. Eddie Wineland
6. Brad Pickett
7. Scott Jorgensen
8. T.J. Dillashaw
9. Mike Easton
10. Takeya Mizugaki

Featherweight
Champion: Jose Aldo
1. Chad Mendes
2. Ricardo Lamas
3. Frankie Edgar
4. Cub Swanson
5. Chan Sung Jung
6. Dustin Poirier
7. Dennis Siver
8. Nik Lentz
9. Clay Guida
10. Erik Koch

Lightweight
Champion: Anthony Pettis
1. Ben Henderson
2. Gilbert Melendez
3. T.J. Grant
4. Josh Thomson
5. Gray Maynard
6. Rafael dos Anjos
7. Khabib Nurmagomedov
8. Nate Diaz
9. Jim Miller
10. Donald Cerrone

Welterweight
Champion: Georges St. Pierre
1. Johny Hendricks
2. Carlos Condit
3. Rory MacDonald
4. Jake Ellenberger
5. Demian Maia
6. Nick Diaz
7. Martin Kampmann
8. Jake Shields
9. Matt Brown
10. Robbie Lawler

Middleweight
Champion: Chris Weidman
1. Anderson Silva
2. Vitor Belfort
3. Ronaldo Souza
4. Michael Bisping
5. Lyoto Machida *(Not ranked)
6. Luke Rockhold
7. Mark Munoz
8. Francis Carmont
9. Costa Philippou
10. Chael Sonnen

Light Heavyweight
Champion: Jon Jones
1. Alexander Gustafsson
2. Glover Teixeira
3. Phil Davis
4. Rashad Evans
5. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
6. Dan Henderson
7. Chael Sonnen
8. Gegard Mousasi
9. Mauricio Rua
10 Lyoto Machida

Heavyweight
Champion: Cain Velasquez
1. Junior Dos Santos
2. Daniel Cormier
3. Fabricio Werdum
4. Antonio Silva
5. Travis Browne
6. Josh Barnett
7. Alistair Overeem
8. Frank Mir
9. Stipe Miocic
10. Roy Nelson

Women’s Bantamweight
Champion: Ronda Rousey
1. Cat Zingano
2. Miesha Tate
3. Sara McMann
4. Liz Carmouche
5. Sarah Kaufman
6. Alexis Davis
7. Jessica Eye
8. Amanda Nunes
9. Germaine de Randamie
10. Jessica Andrade *(Not ranked)

See anything else that stands out?

Let’s get some feedback, Maniacs, then compare this list to the one recently compiled by the SB Nation rankings committee here. To compare these to the last official UFC rankings click here.

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Jessica Andrade was surprised Rosi Sexton wasn’t knocked out at UFC Fight Night 30

Jessica Andrade dominated Rosi Sexton at UFC Fight Night 30 in Manchester, England, and she was surprised the British veteran was able to survive the first couple rounds on Saturday.

“I feel I showed what I can do in this fight,” Andrade told MMAFighting.com. “Every time I go in there, you’ll see a better Jessica. I still have a lot to learn. I was really relaxed and focused coming to this fight. We always get a little anxious before the fight starts, but I was more relaxed now than in my UFC debut. If you watch my UFC debut, you will realize that I looked more relaxed and confident now. I knew what I had to do so it was easier to get in there and win.”

Andrade landed 206 significant strikes against Sexton, and UFC president Dana White felt the fight should have been stopped before going to the judges. The Brazilian thought the referee came close to ending it, but props to Sexton for surviving.

“I was surprised she didn’t go down,” she said. “I knew she was tough because I saw all of her fights and saw she couldn’t handle the punishment. I thought that the referee would stop the fight or should go down some moments during the fight, but she survived — and that’s good because the fight was more exciting for the fans.”

White compared Andrade vs. Sexton to UFC 166’s main event, and Andrade took that as a compliment.

“Some people compared this fight to Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos, some people said that I’m a prettier version of Cris Cyborg,” she said with a laugh. “Cris is fighter that I look up to, my style if very similar to hers. I like to go there, walk straight forward and beat someone, so it was great to hear people comparing me to Cyborg.”

After her first win inside the Octagon, Andrade wants to get back there as soon as possible. Jessica Eye, who defeated Sarah Kaufmann a week before at UFC 166, could be the perfect opponent.

“I’ll fight anyone they put in front of me,” she said. “If they want me against Jessica Eye, that’s great. I will watch her fights and train hard to do another exciting fight for the fans. I’m just waiting for my next fight.”

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Quick Hit: UFC Fight Night 30 affirms middleweight division as hugely improved

Don’t look now, but if we learned anything at UFC Fight Night 30, it’s that one of the UFC’s most exciting divisions is middleweight.

To those who’ve been watching the sport for more than a few years, this sounds almost comical. To those who’ve been watching even longer, it could almost be passed off as a pathetic attempting at trolling.

And yet, it’s true. There are many ways to illustrate just how lackluster middleweight has historically been, but perhaps the best reminder was the reign of Anderson Silva when he was forced to defend his UFC middleweight title against Patrick Cote, Thales Leites and Demian Maia. Those are all accomplished fighters, but two of them don’t even compete in that weight class anymore. The other was cut from the UFC and only recently returned after a mostly successful stint in regional MMA.

Silva’s resume is impeccable, but his peers can barely hang onto employment? That’s hardly the mark of talent-rich division.

And when he wasn’t defending his title against complete non-challengers, Silva was moonlighting as a light heavyweight. There aren’t many fighters who force the UFC to give them challenges in different weight classes because the one they’re competing in is abysmally thin enough to force boredom.

Remember Silva not doing anything in title fights because he couldn’t be bothered to fight competitors that far below his level? That is the scarlet letter middleweight has been carrying around.

Yes, Silva is arguably the greatest fighter of all time. He’s going to make most fighters look bad. Even very good ones. But it’s one thing for them to look bad at Silva’s hand and it’s quite another for them to demonstrate the rigors of simply maintaining position in the weight class is too tall an order to handle.

That’s all behind us now, however. Now we have a middleweight division with a new champion (Chris Weidman). We have a man some consider the best fighter ever trying to reclaim a title he lost when he was brutally knocked out. If nothing else, that creates intrigue at the top of the division.

We have more than that, though. Today, there’s depth in this space. We have an infusion of talent from Strikeforce (Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza and Gegard Mousasi). We have a surging veteran (Vitor Belfort). We also have a former UFC light heavyweight champion dropping down to stake a new claim in Lyoto Machida.

The reality is middleweight isn’t just thin in the UFC. It’s thin in all of MMA, much as lightweight isn’t just strong in the UFC, but other organizations as well. My point is not that these institutional or existential reasons for middleweight not being very good are all of a sudden changed. But right now in this division, there’s a reason to enjoy the sudden intrigue that’s now there. Maybe the circumstances that have created this are ephemeral, but they’re here now. Might as well enjoy them before things change.

One wonders how much Silva being so dominant made things so lackluster. Something similar is happening at light heavyweight with Jon Jones dominating everyone he fights. Yet, Alexander Gustafsson happened and that all changed. Daniel Cormier is also making his way down, which adds to that narrative. Just as things were getting boring, now there’s a reason to pay attention.

Perhaps the best thing for any division, be it middle or flyweight, is to have things shaken up when they get stale. Lucky for us, that’s exactly what we’re getting at middleweight right now. With new blood at the top, middle and bottom and a rearrangement of the division’s hierarchy, all of a sudden there’s hope.

The middleweight division is dead. Long live the middleweight division.

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Fortunes changed for five at UFC Fight Night 30

The biggest news coming out of Saturday’s UFC event in Manchester, England, was not the results of any of the matches or any potential title implications.
It’s about UFC publicly tipping its hand for its new European business strategy.
UFC President Dana White after the show talked about plans to run 12 to 16 European shows a year. Garry Cook, the UFC’s Managing Director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, talked about expanding the office, including the hiring of a matchmaker, who will double as a talent scout.
It’s the beginning of a new era when it comes to the promotion. Up to this point, every UFC event has been available in some form, whether it be cable, network or pay-per-view television, in the core United States market. And every show since Zuffa purchased the company has been put together under the auspices of matchmaker Joe Silva, who handles the lightweights through heavyweights, and in recent years, Sean Shelby, who handles with flyweights through featherweights, as well as the women.
They have made most of the calls on new talent to be signed, and how to bring that talent through the ranks. Matchmaking itself is an art and a minefield. Some fighters have more star power than others. Some fighters with star power may have glaring weaknesses and it’s best to avoid a certain type of opponent on their way up. Some fighters may be consistent winners, but boring to the audience, and you have to be cognizant of that as far as where you put them on a show.
There are a multitude of lessons that matchmakers learn based on experience, and this is the first major change of the system as it has been in place.
While a new matchmaker would have to work with Silva and Shelby in coordinating not only the name talent on the main roster, but in time, the newly signed European talent that at some point will have to get exposure on major North American shows if they are truly going to rise to the top. Then it will become a fight as to whether they are used on the European circuit, where they would be the not familiar, or on a major North American show, where they will eventually need to be on if they have potential to be title contenders and worldwide stars.
This represents a major change in the way the company has created its lineups. Inevitably, it was bound to happen, as it’s only humanly possible to put together a finite number of shows in a given time period and the company’s goals have always been creating a sport practiced and competed in worldwide.
Exactly how many of the European shows will air in the U.S. is unclear. But with 35 televised events, between pay-per-view, FOX, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, scheduled for 2014, and attempts to keep up a regular schedule in Brazil as well as North America, the simple math says times are changing.
One UFC source this week noted to us that if and when the plans for Europe go through, that many of the events won’t air on U.S. television.
They may air on the Internet, which is fine, but Internet broadcasts of UFC prelims of major shows rarely break 50,000 viewers worldwide. The audience that would watch prelims of smaller shows would, if anything, be less than that. The technology is there for the super fans to see just about everything, but that is only a tiny percentage of the audience, and not the audience that is the key. In a business that revolves around exposing names and creating stars, those shows and the fighters on those shows will mean very little in North America.
Besides having a regular presence throughout Europe, The idea behind this is expanding into new markets and running existing ones on a regular basis. It’s also to have live television that will air in prime time throughout Europe. The big UFC events currently start at 3 a.m. in London, for example. That’s fine for the biggest UFC fans, it’s not a time slot that is going to result in any big numbers of viewers unless there is something gigantic going on.
The idea is to sign European fighters to fight on the shows with the idea of creating local stars in the key countries. One thing that has become clear is a key in developing interest and awareness of the brand is having national stars, like Georges St-Pierre in Canada, the multitude of big names that come from Brazil, Michael Bisping in the U.K. and Alexander Gustafsson in Sweden.
But to create those new stars, there has to be significant viewership for these events on television in the markets, and a receptive media.
The question becomes how much existing star power will be needed to sell tickets and get viewers in Europe to watch the television. With American fans picking and choosing what they watch more and more, even on shows like Saturday, which are televised into the U.S., the number of viewers for a show airing at noon on the West Coast, where UFC’s highest concentration of popularity is – particularly for an Fox Sports 2 broadcast – is limited.
Lyoto Machida may have looked spectacular in his middleweight debut, but the benefit when it comes to interest in future Machida fights in that division is nothing compared to what it would be had that show aired live in prime time on a bigger platform. Keep in mind that at least some of the shows will include some name stars that won’t even have the visibility of Saturday’s show.
For example, Conor McGregor is a natural to be a European headliner, particularly for a show in Ireland. But if he’s on a show that isn’t televised, when most fighters are only doing two fighters a year and the goal is three, that takes him off an existing North American show. That removes a potential star from the U.S. scene during that cycle, slightly diluting the star power of the major shows, and the average American UFC TV viewer will see less of him or any European star on the rise.
But the key to the success of this venture is the European audience. Are they willing to support the UFC brand name for shows that will be filled with lesser-name stars, at least at first? Having the shows in prime time is great, but only if the fan base is willing to watch what would be shows with less star power on a consistent basis. If they are, then with familiarity, the successful fighters featured will theoretically become stars to the European fans, and hopefully stars that can be competitive will emerge from different countries. And if a true superstar emerges, perhaps they can become a major national attraction.
The WWE brand name has been successful exported in many European countries, but there is a huge difference. With WWE, they usually tour a few times a year and are careful not to burn out the markets, but the nature of their industry allows then to run the live events filled with the biggest stars. It’s not a matter of more places being run diluting the star power of the events.
Historically, the popularity of combat sports in different countries revolves around national heroes. There was amazing short-term popularity of MMA and kickboxing in Croatia during the prime of Mirko Cro Cop in the early and mid-2000s, or in Switzerland in the 1990s during the prime of kickboxer Andy Hug. It’s even more pronounced in boxing currently in Germany and The Ukraine with the Klitschkos, or in recent years in the U.K. with Ricky Hatton, David Haye, Amir Khan or Carl Froch.
But a lot of that, such as in kickboxing, it was a short-term boom based on a charismatic superstar and had no legs once that star was no longer around.
Will these types of shows be able to consistently draw in major arenas? And if the television deals are strong enough financially, will it even be necessary to run these frequent events in big halls? Clearly, a key component is television partners who are not just looking at airing the major U.S. events with the big names to garner viewership today, but those with long-term goals in building the sport.
Another key to this growth is training facilities. If, say, a fighter from Poland emerges with some star quality, right now, to really compete at the top level, the best places to learn and grow are still camps in North America and Brazil.
If the Polish star ends up living in Albuquerque, N.M., San Jose, Calif., South Florida, Montreal or Rio de Janeiro, their value in being there all the time for media and public appearances in Poland is compromised. Rome isn’t built in a day, but the ultimate goal is not for stars to emerge, but for roots to grow where you can have top quality training and depth or training partners in these emerging markets.
But don’t kid yourself, with it is going to come major changes in the UFC business and in American fans being able to keep up with that business.
Here’s a look at how Fortunes Changed for Five stars on Saturday night:
LYOTO MACHIDA – The former light heavyweight champion could not have looked better in his middleweight debut. Machida (20-4), looked in his most impressive shape physically, while knocking out previously ranked No. 5 contender Mark Munoz in 3:10 with a left high kick.
The win was so impressive that Machida could get a title shot tomorrow in his new division and few would complain. Very few could solve the Machida riddle at light heavyweight, and it’s probably going to be more difficult for the middleweights.
Dana White talked about Vitor Belfort as a next opponent, which makes sense. Right now, you’ve got Machida, Belfort (23-10) and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (19-3) all on the horizon as legitimate contenders should Chris Weidman retain the title against Anderson Silva on Dec. 28.
But if Silva wins, as he’s favored to do, the situation becomes frustrating. It’s questionable whether Machida or Souza would face Silva, although Machida just beat a friend and training partner in Munoz. Silva has also said he has no interest in facing Belfort again. So the division is either en route to its most exciting period in its history, or a frustrating logjam whether the best fights are the ones that can’t be made.
If the Belfort fight doesn’t happen, perhaps the best opponent for Machida would be Luke Rockhold (10-2) or Tim Kennedy (16-4), provided Kennedy beats Rafael Natal on Nov. 6.
JIMI MANUWA – Manuwa, one of the big stars of the U.K. MMA scene before signing with UFC last year, moved his record up to 14-0, with all 13 knockouts and one submission. In stopping Ryan Jimmo, he’s continued his streak of never seeing the third round of a fight.
Dana White said that it’s now time to move him into bigger name fights. A name that stands out is Thiago Silva (16-3), who is more experienced, but it the kind of fighter who can test Manuwa at his strength. That can be his final test before hitting the Phil Davis, Alexander Gustafsson and Dan Henderson level fighters.
JOHN LINEKER – With his third straight devastating knockout, Lineker (23-6) kills the axiom of flyweights not having punching power. But he’s also killed the concept of flyweights, given that he missed weight for the third time in Saturday’s win over Phil Harris.
Dana White spoke after the show about getting him with Mike Dolce and making assurances he can make weight. But if that’s the case, he’s very lucky. A third time missing weight should be an automatic signal that you have to move up to a division the promotion can be assured you can make weight in.
Sure, Lineker vs. John Dodson (15-6), coming off Dodson’s equally impressive knockout of Darrell Montague, is a natural match up in the division. But Lineker first has to prove he can fight in that division before getting the benefit of a shot against a top ranked contender like Dodson.
JESSICA ANDRADE – Having just turned 22, Andrade (10-3) came highly touted in her UFC debut. But she simply couldn’t handle the size and strength of Liz Carmouche, in losing via ground and pound on July 27.
In going against someone her own size in Rosi Sexton, Andrade left a different impression. She came off like a female 2001 model Wanderlei Silva, an aggressive puncher with accuracy and stamina.
Her problem is just that: going against someone her own size. Andrade, at a listed 5-foot-2, is stocky and strong, but doesn’t have the genetic size to handle the bigger and stronger women at 135 and that poses a natural limitation to her upside. Her style is entertaining. She had one of the best fights of the night, even though it should have been stopped in the second round and turned ugly in the last round when Sexton seemed like target practice more than competition by round three.
It is likely only a matter of time before more women’s weight divisions are opened up. It’s not a move I’d recommend rushing into for UFC at this point, but at some point it is a lock to happen. Given Andrade’s age, she’s likely to be around, and be a star, when that day comes.
AL IAQUINTA – The finalist of season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter, Iaquinta (7-2-1), has shown a complete game with disciplined stand-up in winning decisions over Ryan Couture and Piotr Hallmann. But the jury remains out on where he stands in the deep lightweight division. Myles Jury (13-0), who has a stellar record but also hasn’t broken through to the higher level in the division, or solid mid-level fighter Matt Wiman (15-7) would be good next tests to see if he’s going to be ready for the bigger names.

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UFC Fight Night results recap: What’s next for Lyoto Machida?

There are many potential suitors for “The Dragon,” but who will be at the center of his next move?

In a “Knockout Of The Night“-winning performance, Lyoto Machida made quick work of his friend, Mark Munoz, who succumbed to a headkick by the Brazilian in the first round (watch full video highlights here).

Making his Middleweight debut, Machida looked outstanding physically prior to the fight (see side-by-side here) and eventually inside the cage, too. He was able to circulate faster, as he was lighter on the feet, yet still possesses the same power with the ability to finish a fight against nearly anyone when he hits him clean.

Now, this is where it becomes interesting for the former Light Heavyweight champion.

Although an immediate title shot against the winner of Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva at UFC 168 seems a bit unreasonable (maybe not after this), he is not far away. This may upset the Machida nonbelievers, who may think he is either overhyped or given title shots too generously; however, he immediately inserted himself in the Top Five of his new home after one fight.

Maybe some question the legitimacy of his opponent, Munoz, and that Machida being heavily favored, needs a tougher test to establish himself as a title contender at 185 pounds. The truth is, Munoz never troubled Machida and “Filipino Wrecking Machine” was stopped faster than he has ever been in his entire career.

He could face Michael Bisping, the fighter he replaced in the main event because of the European suffering an eye injury, and it would be a decent fight. Bisping has been unable to obtain a title shot in the promotion to date despite chasing one for a while now. Machida may need a tougher opponent, which is not to say “The Count” is not tough. It’s jus that for someone who has been longing for a title shot for the duration of his UFC tenure and has not earned it yet, Machida may look better against a more accomplished opponent.

There is talk of an anticipated bout with Vitor Belfort, but he hands his hands full with Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 32 (and even if it would make sense for Machida to face the winner of that fight, nobody wants to see Machida duke it out with Henderson again … at least not any time soon). Regardless, with Belfort’s topsy-turvy demands and the controversies that revolve around him and his TRT usage when it comes to being licensed in the United States, it may be risky to book a fight with title implications if that title fight cannot happen in Brazil.

Anyway, he already has a fight.

Gegard Mousasi, who has not been seen or heard since his win over Ilir Latifi at UFC on Fuel TV 9 earlier this year in April (apart from petitioning a fight with Belfort) could be another great option for Machida. “The Dreamcatcher” has fought all over the world in Strikeforce, Dream, K-1, PRIDE FC and Deep, and his toughness and durability would pose potential problems for “The Dragon.”

Then, there’s a fellow Brazilian by the name of Ronaldo Souza.

“Jacare” has finished all six of his latest opponents by stoppage (in UFC and Strikeforce), and he looked outstanding in his latest victories against Yushin Okami and Chris Camozzi, not letting either of them see the second round.

Souza is in a familiar place when it comes to his fellow Brazilian counterpart — he is more or less one win away from being considering the next title challenger and this would be a perfect title eliminator fight. Book that fight in a headlining slot in Brazil, and watch the sparks fly.

Whatever is next for Machida, one thing is for sure: He proved that he can still be a dangerous and dynamic force in his new division, and that when he is on his game, he looks like one of the world’s best fighters. With a controversial loss to Phil Davis at UFC 163 now erased from his memory, he can focus on what he needs to do to compete for a title in the weight class below the one he was fighting at for so long.

With a performance identical or at least close to the one we saw at UFC Fight Night 30 against Munoz, that shot would not be far away.

For complete UFC Fight Night 30: “Machida vs. Munoz” results click here.

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UFC Fight Night 30 Prelims: Al Iaquinta Outduels Piotr Hallmann to Unanimous Decision

The Serra-Longo Fight Team has reason to tout Al Iaquinta.
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UFC Fight Night 30 bonuses: Lyoto Machida earns award for knockout of Mark Munoz

If there’s a way to make a weight class change in one’s thirties look more flawless than Lyoto Machida’s middleweight debut at UFC Fight Night 30 on Saturday, it would have to be extraordinarily spectacular. Machida, along with each of the other winners of the post-fight bonuses, earned $ 50,000 for his Knockout of the Night award at the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester, England.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion, 35, dispatched friend and training partner Mark Munoz, 35, at just 3:10 of the first round with a blistering head kick. Munoz was able to partially block the strike, but to no avail. The thundering kick sent Munoz crashing to the mat, his arms flailing above his head. Machida dove in to finish him off, but pulled back at the last minute as referee Leon Roberts intervened.

Machida’s victory raises his record to 20-4 while Munoz slides to 13-4.

Earning Submission of the Night and doing so in his UFC debut was Nicholas Musoke, who submitted long-time UFC veteran Alessio Sakara in the very first round with an armbar.

While the middleweight pair began the fight rocking each other with winging punches, it was Musoke’s armbar from the guard which he turned into a Russian variation that ended the bout on the ground. The tap came officially at 3:07 of the very first round round. Musoke climbs to 11-2-1 in MMA while Sakara drops to 15-11 with 1 no-contest.

Last, but certainly not least, middleweights Andrew Craig and Luke Barnett each earned Fight of the Night honors with their two-round chaotic affair. Barnatt, 25, pumped his jab the entire first round, but close to the end of the frame drilled Craig, 27, with a one-two combination that sent the American reeling. Barnatt, however, failed to capitalize and Craig was able to make it to the second frame. The Brit would not be held back, though, and used an uppercut to rock Craig again. As the American tried to recover, Barnett landed a hip toss where he was able to secure back control and eventually a rear naked choke 2:12 of the second round.

The win brings Barnatt’s record to 7-0 while Craig slides to 9-2.

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UFC Fight Night 30 results recap: Biggest winners, losers from ‘Machida vs Munoz’ in Manchester

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to United Kingdom for the 14th time on Saturday (Oct. 26, 2013), delivering an action-packed night of fights at UFC Fight Night 30 from Phones 4U Arena in Manchester, England.

In the night’s main event, Lyoto Machida wasted no time in his Middleweight debut, knocking out his friend Mark Munoz (watch full fight video highlights here) in the very first round via head kick. Machida looked faster, lighter on the feet, and even more crisp with his punches, proving this new home could have been the right one all along for “The Dragon.”

Unfortunately, in a sport like mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs, while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows. Every competitor who steps foot in the eight-walled cage is looking for that moment of glory.

Some capture it, others don’t.

There were several shining stars on UFC Fight Night 30, including submission experts and familiar faces securing big wins. With that said, it’s time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in England.

Drum roll please …

Biggest Winner – Lyoto Machida

Like Jon Anik said on the broadcast, “Welcome to the Middleweight division, Lyoto Machida.”

It did not take long for “The Dragon” to finish Munoz, earning the fastest stoppage of his career and unleashing a devastating left leg head kick that knocked out his former training partner in round one. Machida did not follow up with punches, and they were not necessary anyway because Munoz was clearly out.

This is a 185-pound debut even more successful than anyone would have anticipated, as Machida looked a class above Munoz and was not troubled — nor hit badly — in any point of the match.

It will be interesting to see whom the brass decides is next for Machida. He is always a fighter who revolves around title contention. And even though an immediate Middleweight title shot seems is premature, if he can do the same to his next opponent, the discussion will be inevitable.

Runner Up — Jimi Manuwa

In front of his English crowd, Manuwa did not win the way he may have wanted to, with Ryan Jimmo bowing out of the fight because of an injury. However, Manuwa looked pretty good for a guy who started training for the sport in 2008 and the crowd ate up his every move.

What is ironic is that out of Manuwa’s three UFC fights, his opponent either could not continue because of injury or doctor stoppage.

Still undefeated, Manuwa should now anticipate a notch up in challenges, and maybe it is too soon for a Top 10 opponent, although that type of competitor is not far and looms in the distance waiting for him. Still undefeated (14-0), Manuwa proved that his hype is legit after beating a seasoned veteran like Jimmo.

Biggest Loser — Mark Munoz

It is difficult to see Munoz in this category because he is such a nice and respectful dude. And there is no shame in losing to Machida. The reason he takes the cake on this one is because he lost in the first round by knockout and was unable to trouble his opponent even once during the course of that round.

Munoz will come back, and presumably stronger, but it proves that he is somewhat a long way from being considered as a legitimate title threat. And depending on which platform you visit, his Top 10 status is most likely in jeopardy.

“Filipino Wrecking Machine” is no slouch, with wins against Tim Boetsch, Chris Leben and Demian Maia in his last three appearances; however, it is the important fight that will propel him to the top that he has lost with Chris Weidman, Yushin Okami and now Machida taking those chances away from him.

He is still 5-2 in his last seven, which are all the fights that followed his loss to Okami more than three years ago; therefore, losing only three fights out of a possible eight in three years is quite good. Although, he needed this win to prove he was one of the top middleweights in the world and now that passes him by.

Runner Up — Alessio Sakara

“Legionarius” has been with the company since 2005, making his debut at UFC 55, but after suffering his fourth-consecutive defeat by way of submission at the hands of Nicholas Musoke, that may be all she wrote for his UFC career for the time being.

Sakara looked good in the opening minute of his fight with promotional newcomer Nicholas Musoke, besides being tagged by his opponent, too. Sakara was dishing out the punches, not afraid to engage in a war, though once the fight hit the ground, his night was cut short.

He lost by first-round armbar (watch full video highlights here), and that is his second loss via stoppage in his last four bouts. He was disqualified at UFC 154 against Patrick Cote for punches to the back of the head and Chris Weidman schooled him for three rounds at UFC on Versus 3 more than two years ago. His last win was a stoppage over James Irvin in 2010 more than three years ago.

Sakara is now 15-11-(1), with a promotional record of 6-8-(1). With the recent and surprising roster cuts, and the fact that there are more to come, the promotion could cut ties with the Italian striker.

For complete UFC Fight Night 30: “Machida vs. Munoz” results click here.

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