Lyoto Machida danced and dazzled his way to yet another victory inside the Octagon at UFC 157. The “Machida Riddle,” which has become one of the toughest puzzles to solve in MMA, found another victim in Dan Henderson, as Machida used his signature techniques to avoid being hit by the dreaded “H-Bomb” of Henderson.

The win effectively put Machida at the front of the line for the next crack at an UFC title shot, but is that where the Brazilian belongs?

There are two answers to this question.

The first is obviously that, yes, Machida deserves the opportunity. Machida was originally supposed to receive a title shot after dropping Ryan Bader back in August. But that opportunity failed to materialize after the Brazilian refused to face UFC champion Jon Jones on short notice. Instead of getting the title shot he rightfully earned and was bestowed upon him by UFC President Dana White, Machida was forced to face a fellow top contender in Henderson. Machida fought a smart fight and took home the decision victory, which made him the top contender by default, with virtually all other top-level guys coming off losses, with the exception of Alexander Gustafsson. (Gustafsson faces his own tough challenge in Gegard Mousasi, which could leave Machida as the lone title contender at 205 pounds.)

By the “old-school” method of thinking, Machida is the clear and rightful No. 1 contender.

But as we all know, in a league where Nick Diaz and Chael Sonnen have been granted title bids, there is no set standard for deciding who is going to be getting a shot in the future.

Machida has a number of issues that could see other contenders skip ahead of him.

He already holds a loss to the current champ, Jones. It was not a close loss either. Nobody could make a case that Machida was ever in the fight, and the Brazilian lost in devastating fashion.

In addition, Machida has yet to evolve his game during his UFC tenure. Of course, the theory is that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Machida’s style is very hard to emulate in training and even harder to figure out inside the Octagon, which has made him one of the toughest match-ups in the light heavyweight division. Yet, it wasn’t enough to win the title from Jones and it’s barely gotten him by on some decisions in recent memory. Nothing has changed about Machida’s performances in the cage to suggest that he’d fare any better against the monstrous reach and size advantage of Jones in a rematch.

Another reason Machida could find himself on the outside looking in for a title shot is his lack of drawing power. The Brazilian is very popular among the “hardcore MMA crowd,” but he isn’t exactly what you’d call a draw in terms of pay-per-view buys. The numbers from his bout with Jones were not good at all, and possible champion Chael Sonnen has already downplayed Machida’s ability to draw pay-per-view buys.

The UFC is in the business of making money, and Machida as a title challenger or champion is a scenario that the UFC financial department would likely wish to avoid. The UFC is in a hard place with giving Machida a future title shot. There are plenty of pros and cons to such a move, and although Machida has earned his chance from victories in the cage, it may be his losses both in and out of the Octagon that do him in.

Photo: Lyoto Machida (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.