Call UFC 163’s card by whatever adjective best describes it, but when UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo says that Chan Sung Jung fought to earn his spot in next week’s headliner, take him at the full extent of his word. In the same respect, trust former UFC light-heavyweight champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida if he ever claims that his UFC 163 foe, Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis, earned his right to fight in Brazil against another dangerous Brazilian fighter.

The four men who will fight in UFC 163’s two featured contests spoke to The MMA Corner via a teleconference on Thursday to promote the event, and as always, none of the four men lost focus on next Saturday’s event, which returns to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Aldo comes off of a unanimous-decision win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 156, while Jung fights for the first time since submitting Dustin Poirier at UFC on Fuel TV 3 last year. Machida, meanwhile fights for the first time since a hotly-debated UFC 157 decision win over Dan Henderson. Davis recently outpointed Vinny Magalhaes and takes another big step up in competition.

Davis always signs his name on the dotted line whenever someone comes to him with an offer to compete in the Octagon, so it came as no surprise when he said “yes” to Machida, knowing he would fight Machida in hostile territory. Naturally, preparing for Machida means preparing for a tricky counter-striker who can take most fighters down. Still, don’t think Davis did not prepare for Machida. He will bring what brought him to the dance, but he does know how to handle what Machida will bring as well.

“I brought in a couple of people to get a feel for what he does,” Davis said, “no one can really do what he does. He does it better than anybody. He has a really good certain set of skills. I don’t necessarily have to find a guy like him in order to win. I just have to be on my game and be extremely good at what I do.”

Machida, who fights in Brazil for the first time since 2006, understands Davis’ focus on what he does best. Throughout his UFC career, Machida strived to excel at doing what he does best, and it earned him a shot at then-champion Rashad Evans. He hopes to do it again, but

“I want to fight for the title,” Machida said, “my motivation is still there and there’s still motivation to win this fight, get through it and go for the title. My motivation is always high.”

Machida also receives motivations from the opportunity to compete against an athlete who worked hard to earn this step up in competition. However, when a fighter like undefeated heavyweight Daniel Cormier declares intentions to challenge UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones with a win over Roy Nelson at UFC 166, Machida thinks back to the UFC’s ranking system. A firm believer that all should adhere to the ranking system and not cut in line, Machida feels that Cormier will only enjoy one option if he should in fact drop to 205 with a win over Nelson.

“I believe there’s a ranking and it should be followed. There’s Glover Teixeira, Phil Davis. If Daniel Cormier moves down to 205, he should earn a could wins. I don’t believe he should cut in line. He should earn the title shot.”

Arguably, Machida could keep his own standing intact with a win over Davis, as could featherweight champion Aldo with a win over “The Korean Zombie” Jung. Jung holds potential to represent the UFC as its first-ever Asian-born world champion. When UFC president Dana White offered him the opportunity to replace Anthony Pettis, though, Jung didn’t believe it.

“I was in disbelief until Dana White announced I was in the fight,” Jung recalled. “Until then, I didn’t believe it was true. I was excited about it for a very long time.”

Jung’s fight with Poirier will arguably go down as one of the UFC’s all-time most intense fights at under 155 pounds, but it happened over a year ago. Questions about Jung’s cage rust served as the base of logic behind the initial negativity towards the bout. Still, Jung trained to prepare for Ricardo Lamas before that UFC 162 bout fell through, and the time away from the cage gave Jung ample time to prepare for Aldo in a much more different way.

“I had more than enough time to mentally prepare myself and recover from the injuries,” Jung said, “I think the time off actually helped benefit me.”

Aldo knows about time off. When he faced Edgar at UFC 156 earlier this year, it marked his first fight since facing Chad Mendes at UFC 142, due to injuries that led to two planned title defenses against Erik Koch fall through. Now, he comes off of a hard-fought win over a durable former UFC lightweight champion to aim for a second win in 2013 against a man who differs greatly from his original opponent. While Pettis’ technical, flashy style of striking promised a true technical striking classic, Jung’s relentless pressure and direct-attacking offense promise to present Aldo with a challenge that he will willingness combat head-on.

” I was already in the groove in training for Pettis,” Aldo said, “but he got hurt. I was already prepared and I had to make a few adjustments [for the Jung fight] but I feel fine.”

Aldo vs. Pettis carried another special attraction, as the winner would enjoy a guaranteed title shot against the winner of UFC 164’s original headliner of TJ Grant and UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. However, when an injury in training forced Grant from the bout, Pettis stepped in to get the rematch many though he’d get after a UFC on Fox 6 win over Donald Cerrone.

Don’t think for a second that Aldo did not already let that thought cross his mind. He knows with another successful title defense, the talks of a superfight will intensify further. He appreciates the opportunity to fight at lightweight if the offer arises, but Jung stands in front of him on Saturday, not Henderson or Pettis, so he will attend to that business before speaking on the subject of those extra ten pounds.

“One step at a time. I want to focus on my fight against the Korean Zombie then we’ll worry about a potential lightweight move. I don’t want to take too big of a step. I respect my opponent and can’t overlook him.”

Photo: Jose Aldo (Marcelo Alonso/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.