Lyoto Machida is enjoying life at Bellator MMA and has a good close working relationship with the executive team, something that he wishes he had with his former employer, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Machida signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator on Sept. 12, ending an 11-year run in the UFC. “The Dragon” had a very successful run in the UFC, capturing the light heavyweight title at UFC 98 in 2009 with a highlight-reel knockout of Rashad Evans. While he lost the title in his second fight with Mauricio Rua at UFC 113, he went on to challenge again for the light heavyweight title against Jon Jones at UFC 140, losing via technical submission when Jones choked him out cold with a second-round guillotine. Machida then moved down to middleweight, where he earned himself another title shot, this time against Chris Weidman at UFC 175, losing via unanimous decision.
As soon as the news broke that the 40 year-old “Dragon” had signed with Bellator, there was no shortage of fighters clamoring to fight him, from former UFC foes Gegard Mousasi and Ryan Bader to younger contenders such as John Salter. Machida will make his debut for Bellator against former middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho as part of Bellator 210 on Dec. 15.
Speaking recently with MMA Junkie, Machida described his transition from the UFC to Bellator, the multiple call-outs he received and the close working relationship he has with his new employers.
“I’m speaking from the bottom of my heart: I’m very satisfied,” Machida said. “I’m very happy, truly. That’s cool. That’s cool. It shows that I’m still interesting, that people want to fight me. And I, more than ever, want to test myself, too.
“It was a very tough decision [to leave the UFC],” Machida added. “I really like the UFC. I can only say nice things about my old home. I had a good relationship with everyone. Even if it became distant, I had a good relationship with all of them. Even with the Fertittas, they always respected me a lot, so I can’t complain. Because of that, it was a tough decision.
“I’m loving the treatment I’ve been getting from Bellator,” Machida concluded. “It feels like I’m home. I’m feeling a difference in that sense, because in the UFC, I felt very distant from everything. I wanted to talk, I wanted to ask for something, and I felt very distant. Not at Bellator. I feel close, because I talk directly to Mike Kogan, I talk directly to Scott Coker. So that makes it a lot easier. I’ve been feeling at home and, the way I see it, relationship is everything.”