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Lyoto Machida Fighting Former Strikeforce Champ Next

Lyoto Machida

Following Lyoto Machida’s jaw dropping, middleweight debut there’s been plenty of talk about “The Dragon” fighting men like Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping next, but as it turns out, he’ll face decorated vet Gegard Mousasi. The UFC has announced that the two will scrap in the main event of a “Fight Night” card, February 8th in Jaragua do Sol, Brazil.

Machida (20-4) is of course coming off a knockout win over Lyoto Machida at UFC Fight Night 30, which was quite the way to enter the promotion’s 185 pound division. Prior to the win, Machida dropped a controversial, unanimous decision to light-heavyweight Phil Davis at UFC 163.

Mousasi (34-3-2) has been more than open about the fact he wants to face a top contender when he returns from knee surgery, and recently “The Dreamcatcher” even asked to throw down with Machida. Mousasi hasn’t fought since UFC on FUEL TV 9 in April, when he scored a UD win over Ilir Latifi, who had replaced the injured Alexander Gustafsson. In Mousasis’s only other appearance this year, he submitted Mike Kyle in the first round at Strikeforce’s final card this past January.

So, while it’s not a bout that has the same superstar pull that Machida-Bisping or Machida-Belfort might, it’s still a big fight between two extremely talented fighters. Further, since Belfort is set to fight Dan Henderson on November 9th, and Bisping is still recovering from eye surgery, booking this fight for early 2014 makes a lot of sense.

It’s certainly a huge opportunity for Mousasi, who has been highly regarded amidst hardcore fans and pundits for years, but has yet to score a high profile win here in North America for the mainstream masses. It’s also going to be a tough challenge for Machida, and if he can get by the well rounded Mousasi, then a title shot eliminator might not be far off.

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