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Bellator targets fall debut for Lyoto Machida at 185 or 205

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Lyoto Machida will jump “into the mix” for a title shot in Bellator.

After confirming a new multi-fight deal with the former UFC light heavyweight champion and top-ranked middleweight, Bellator President Scott Coker told MMAjunkie that Machida (24-8 MMA, 16-8 UFC) will make his promotional debut in the fall against an opponent to be determined.

“Whether he gets a title shot or not, I’m not sure, but as far as getting in the mix and fighting big fighters, we want that to happen,” Coker said.

Machida has signaled he’d like to compete at middleweight and light heavyweight. Coker said the ex-champ could potentially face the winner of an upcoming superfight between middleweight champ Gegard Mousasi (44-6-2 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) and welterweight champ Rory MacDonald (20-4 MMA, 2-0 BMMA), which is set for Sept. 29 in San Jose, Calif.

“Maybe not in the fall, but maybe next year sometime you’ll see Gegard fighting Lyoto,” Coker said. “You might see Rory fighting Lyoto.”

Machida has history with champ Mousasi. The two faced off in the octagon in 2014 at UFC Fight Night 36, with Machida earning a unanimous decision. But that’s just one of several options the promotion sees for “The Dragon.”

“You might see Fedor (Emelianenko) fighting Lyoto. (Ryan) Bader. (Muhammed) ‘King Mo’ (Lawal). Phil Davis. There’s just a lot of great fights we have at both weights.”

Machida ended an 11-year UFC tenure with a highlight-reel knockout of Vitor Belfort, stopping the ex-champ at UFC 224 with a front kick to the face. It was his second consecutive win since a disastrous 1-4 run in the octagon that prompted questions of retirement.

Machida brushed off such talk and said he wanted to retire Michael Bisping. But before he could do so, the ex-middleweight champ officially hung up his gloves.

Now, Machida gets a fresh start in a promotion where new and return opponents abound.

“We always said we were going to go after every free agent that we like, and we really like Lyoto, and he will be a great fit for us,” Coker said. “We’re excited to have him on board, and we can’t wait to put him to work.”

For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.



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