When an undefeated (7-0) Lyoto Machida made his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut in 2007, it didn't take long for him to prove he'd be a force in the highly competitive Light Heavyweight division.
After racking up six consecutive impressive victories, "The Dragon" earned himself a shot at the 205-pound title against then-champion Rashad Evans. One minute into round two, the Brazilian striker was the new 205-pound champion, knocking "Suga" clean out, ushering in "The Machida Era" in the process.
That era, however, didn't last long as Mauricio Rua emphatically yanked the title from Machida's hands by knocking him out in the very first round at UFC 113, getting revenge on "The Dragon" following a controversial decision loss seven months prior.
Since that loss to "Shogun" -- the first of his career -- Machida has had mild success in the division, going an even 3-3. After his latest loss to Phil Davis at UFC 163, Machida decided to shed some pounds and make the drop to Middleweight division in hopes of a new start.
And as he prepares to make his 185-pound debut this weekend (Oct. 26, 2013) at UFC Fight Night 30 in Manchester, England, against Mark Munoz, part of the new beginning is fighting without the pressure that comes with being an undefeated mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter.
He explained his thought process to Yahoo! Sports:
"I'm 35 years old now and I have more than 20 fights in my career and when I was young, I was desperate not to lose. Before I got the title, that was the one thing I was so worried about: Don't lose. I don't want a loss now, but it's different. Since I won the belt, I lost by submission, by knockout, decision, every part of the game. I've been around and I understand the business. At my age now, there is less pressure. There is always pressure to perform, but I don't worry about losing so much now. I just want to go out there and perform the best way that I can."
While the division title is no longer held by friend and training partner Anderson Silva, Machida could set himself up nicely for a run at the strap with a few quality wins; however, at this point in time, that's the furthest thing from his mind.
"Of course, everyone thinks about the title, but I prefer right now not to even talk about it. It makes no sense, because I'm just arriving at 185 pounds. I need to fight the best in the world and get some wins before I do any of that talk."
How about it Maniacs, can Machida start a new era in the Middleweight division or will Munoz "Donkey Punch" the Brazilian back up to Light Heavyweight irrelevance?