Lyoto Machida has already held a UFC title at 205 pounds. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
History is within reach for Lyoto Machida.
Machida will challenge Chris Weidman for the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight crown in the UFC 175 main event on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, where a victory would allow “The Dragon” to join Randy Couture and B.J. Penn as the only fighters to capture UFC gold in two weight classes. He held the 205-pound championship from May 23, 2009 until May 8, 2010.
The road to 185-pound glory will not be easy to navigate. Weidman will enter the cage undefeated, having just beaten the incomparable Anderson Silva in consecutive bouts. The Serra-Longo Fight Team representative has shown few weaknesses since arriving in the UFC in 2011, with five finishes in his seven appearances. Weidman was a four-time All-American wrestler at Nassau Community College and Hofstra University before transitioning to MMA under the direction of former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra and striking coach Ray Longo.
Machida downshifted to the middleweight division following a controversial loss to Phil Davis in August. The elusive 36-year-old Brazilian karateka has gone 2-0 since. Machida last appeared on a UFC Fight Night marquee in February, when he picked up a unanimous verdict over onetime Dream and Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi. That five-round win came on the heels of a stellar debut at 185 pounds in which he felled Mark Munoz with a first-round head kick. Still, Machida has gone just 5-4 since starting his career with 16 straight victories.
With the Weidman-Machida title fight as the centerpiece, here are a few other points of interest on the UFC 175 lineup:
Perhaps no UFC champion inspires more confidence than Ronda Rousey.
The undefeated American judoka will put her women’s bantamweight title on the line when she collides with the surging Alexis Davis in the co-main event. Rousey has finished all nine of her opponents as a professional, rarely looking vulnerable in the process. The 27-year-old has successfully defended her 135-pound championship three times since crossing over from Strikeforce, submitting Liz Carmouche and archrival Miesha Tate with armbars before stopping 2004 Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann with a brutal knee strike to the body. Rousey sports 25-, 25-, 39-, 49-, 54-, 58- and 66-second stoppages on her unblemished resume.
Davis has pieced together a tidy five-fight winning streak since her majority decision defeat to Sarah Kaufman in March 2012. The 29-year-old Canadian last fought at UFC 170 in February, when she eked out a split decision over Jessica Eye in Las Vegas. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Davis has never been submitted in 21 career outings.
Nearly a year after a medical condition threatened to derail his promising career, the tallest man ever to compete in the UFC will return to the Octagon.
Diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve and enlarged heart, Stefan Struve has been cleared by doctors to meet “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 alum Matt Mitrione in a heavyweight showcase. The 7-foot Dutchman has not fought since he had his jaw broken in a technical knockout loss to Mark Hunt at UFC on Fuel TV 8 in March 2013. The 26-year-old Dutch submission specialist owns a 9-4 UFC record, which includes wins over Stipe Miocic, Lavar Johnson and Pat Barry. Struve has never suffered consecutive defeats.
Mitrione remains something of an enigma in the heavyweight division. He has spent his entire MMA career in the UFC but has yet to land a signature victory. Mitrione, 35, last appeared in March, when he knocked out Shawn Jordan with one second left in the first round of their UFC Fight Night “Kim vs. Hathaway” matchup. A natural striker with quick feet and heavy hands, Mitrione has lost only to Roy Nelson, Brendan Schaub and Cheick Kongo.
Urijah Faber had grown accustomed to starring in the spotlight.
The former World Extreme Cagefighting champion and Team Alpha Male patriarch must now take on a supporting role, as he moves to the Fox Sports 1-televised undercard to lock horns with Alex Caceres. Having never lost a non-title bout, Faber will try to rebound from his first-round technical knockout loss to Renan Barao at UFC 169. The setback halted a four-fight winning streak for “The California Kid” and left him in limbo at 135 pounds.
A quarterfinalist on Season 12 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Caceres faces long odds in an attempt to build on back-to-back wins. The MMA Lab representative raised many an eyebrow in January, when he submitted prized Roufusport prospect Sergio Pettis with a rear-naked choke at UFC on Fox 10.
UFC 175 will feature a trio of newcomers, as Rob Font, Guilherme Vasconcelos and Bubba Bush all set foot inside the Octagon for the first time.
Font, a 27-year-old Classic Entertainment and Sports champion, will carry a string of nine consecutive wins into his preliminary scrap with George Roop; “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 3 alum Vasconcelos, 28, will put his world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills on display against Luke Zachrich; and Bush, a 28-year-old Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder, will climb into the cage to confront a returning Kevin Casey having finished each of his last four opponents.