Last Friday, former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida made a surprising switch from the UFC to Bellator MMA.
Machida, who is fresh off an impressive head kick knockout of another veteran in Brazilian Vitor Belfort, stated that the UFC matched the offer he received from Bellator but had already given Bellator President Scott Coker his word that he would join them.
Coker announced that “The Dragon” could fight in both the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions while in Bellator. Machida holds wins over current light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader and middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi during his time fighting in the UFC.
Mousasi fought Machida back in 2014 winning by unanimous decision. After the fight, Mousasi accused Machida of cheating by greasing himself up for the fight. He was also critical of Machida after the Brazilian was suspended for 18 months by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for using banned substances.
Mousasi talked to MMA Fighting.com and implied Machida may have moved to Bellator to avoid USADA testing (via Bloody Elbow):
“He’s older, and there was drug testing in the UFC. But if I fight him, he would need a lot of drug testing, too. Look at his physique, I think that says enough. He’s a skilled guy, no doubt about it, but when you get older, everything goes a little bit downward. Fighters, they cannot fight until 47 years-old as they did before. If they’re clean, it’s difficult, especially against high-class fighters. They can beat a little bit lower guys, but against top competition, it’s difficult when you’re 41 or whatever and still be able to physically – skillwise, maybe, but on the highest level, small things make a big difference.”