Lyoto Machida Has Designs On Being a Two-Division Champion in Bellator

With wins over the current Bellator light heavyweight and middleweight champions, Lyoto Machida hopes to add to his legacy by winning two titles in his new fighting home.

For the first time in nearly 12 years, Lyoto Machida will compete in a new home after signing with Bellator MMA as a free agent following more than a decade with the UFC.

Machida’s signing was somewhat surprising given his most recent performances where he edged out a powerhouse in Eryk Anders over five rounds and then sent Vitor Belfort into retirement with a spectacular front kick knockout back in May.

Ultimately, Machida decided to sign with Bellator to give himself a fresh start and the move has definitely reinvigorated the 40-year old former champion.

“I can’t wait to step into that cage and see what’s going to happen. I’m very excited,” Machida said ahead of his debut at Bellator 213. “I can’t wait to debut in Bellator. I’ve been in the UFC for such a long time, I believe that it was time to change. Sometimes in our professional careers, change is good. I have a new home, new opponents, and I have a lot of things to bring to Bellator.

“For me it was time to change, to have a new home in Bellator. I feel like I’m very excited for my fights in Bellator and I believe I can have a brilliant career in Bellator as well.”

Machida is jumping right into the deep end of Bellator with his first fight against former champion Rafael Carvalho on Saturday night in Hawaii.

With a win, Machida hopes that he’ll immediately move into a title shot against either current champion Gegard Mousasi or his next opponent Rafael Lovato Jr. after they clash in January .

“As soon as I win this fight, I deserve a title shot against Mousasi or [Rafael] Lovato, whoever wins. Let’s see what’s going to happen,” Machida stated.

Machida actually holds a win over Mousasi from their time together in the UFC so that could definitely be an interesting rematch should that fight happen.

In addition to the middleweight title, Machida hopes to eventually get a shot at light heavyweight gold as well because ironically enough he also holds a win over that Bellator champion as well.

“I’m going to fight in light heavyweight as well because I know I have a couple fighters I can fight over there,” Machida said. “I already beat Ryan Bader, who I respect a lot, he’s an amazing fighter. I have to take on everybody. In Bellator, I’ll be able to do that.”

With so many opportunities available to him starting with his fight against Carvalho on Saturday night, Machida feels like he’s being born again in Bellator.

“I take care of myself. I train everyday. I am a true martial artist and because of that I’m still able to compete at a high level with a high performance,” Machida said. “That’s why I believe Bellator is going to be a new moment for me.

“That’s why I believe I can have a brilliant career in Bellator.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.