Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida has always been a fighter that fans have pointed to as someone who might be better suited to dropping down a weight class. It looks like Machida will finally give those fans a chance to see if they’re right. He’s headed to middleweight, but will he find any measure of success?

Given that Machida was still regarded as a top-five light heavyweight prior to dropping down, the timing of this move is a little surprising. There have been better opportunities for Machida to drop to middleweight, but “The Dragon” has chosen now as his moment of opportunity.

Welcoming Machida to the division will be former Strikeforce title contender Tim Kennedy. The former serviceman has become a polarizing figure among fans given that he’s one of the more outspoken fighters in the company. Kennedy lobbied for big fights following his win over Roger Gracie, and it looks like he’ll get his wish with Machida.

Machida is a stylistic nightmare for nearly every fighter, and that will be the case against Kennedy as well. Always a smaller light heavyweight, Machida was able to counter the wrestling of many opponents who were touted grapplers and enjoyed a size advantage over the Brazilian. Now that Machida will be on a level playing field in terms of size at 185 pounds, Machida’s advantages will become even more evident.

Machida likely won’t enjoy as much of a speed advantage as he did at 205 pounds, but his footwork will still allow him to utilize his elusive karate style. However, it’s that elusive style that’s gotten Machida in trouble recently. His best strength is also his weakness because Machida is so elusive it often times makes his opponent look better, even when Machida is landing the more significant strikes. Dropping a weight class will mean Machida should enjoy more power behind his strikes, and we could see more performances like his bout with Ryan Bader if “The Dragon” isn’t taxed by the weight cut.

Machida’s style will always present a nightmare for his opponents, so unless his chin suddenly becomes nonexistent, he should find continued success at middleweight. Very few, if any, current top middleweights have the striking credentials to hang with Machida on the feet and very few fighters have the takedown skills to grapple Machida to the mat.

If he can manage the weight cut with no issues, then Machida could possibly look the best we’ve ever seen him. There will of course be an adjustment period of fighting at a new weight class, but his high-level experience should counter any uncertainty he may face.

Machida has already been given a relatively easy fight in Kennedy and could be only one fight away from a No. 1 contender’s bout or a possible title shot if he can finish Kennedy. Considering his title hopes at light heavyweight were all but washed away by his destruction at the hands of Jon Jones and loss to Phil Davis, that’s not too bad of a place for “The Dragon” to reside.

Photo: Lyoto Machida (MMA Fighting)

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.