At 36 years of age, Lyoto Machida has proven time and again he still has what it takes to compete with the best competition Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has to offer.
The proof is in the pudding, as he earned himself a shot at the middleweight title, which he will attempt to claim when he faces division champion Chris Weidman at this weekend's (Sat., July 5, 2014) UFC 175 pay-per-view (PPV) event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Though "All American" is six years younger than "The Dragon," Machida has experience on his side, as he's been fighting in mixed martial arts (MMA) six years longer than Weidman. Still, Lyoto feels he'll be the stronger, faster, and smarter fighter come fight night.
Thanks in large part to his decision to drop down to the 185-pound division, as he recently revealed in his conversation with Yahoo! Sports.
"I have to train a lot smarter, but that is one of the things I've learned over the years, how to do things better and get the same result. I don't recover as quickly at 36 as I did at 26, but I'm smarter and more intelligent now than I was then. That makes a big difference. I'm more efficient. I'm more experienced as a fighter, obviously, and that makes a difference and will be helpful to me. But as a man, I'm more experienced in life. I have experienced a lot of victories and I've been through some defeats and tough times. But I've learned from all of that and I'm a smarter, better person than I was before."
While some athletes may lose the strength advantage in exchange for gaining speed when dropping down a weight class, Lyoto actually feels stronger in his new division. Something that bodes well for the Brazilian, as he'll be taking on lighter opponents.
"I feel the difference at this weight, and it's all to my benefit. I'm much stronger but at the same time, I'm much faster. I felt I was a fast fighter at 205 pounds, but I've gotten even faster and quicker. And now when I'm fighting guys who aren't as big, my strength will be even more of an advantage. So I'm not feeling pressure or any sense of urgency. I'm the best I've ever been, in terms of my skills, my understanding of what is going on in the Octagon and my conditioning. I'm confident that if I do what I've trained to do, I can win this title. My age isn't a factor at all, in my opinion."
With a win over Weidman, Lyoto -- the former UFC light heavyweight champion -- will not only capture the division strap and hand Chris his first-ever loss in MMA, he'll also become just the third fighter to win two titles in different divisions inside the Octagon.
The other two? B.J. Penn and Randy Couture, another man who knows a thing or two about dethroning much younger champions.
Will "The Dragon" join that prestigious club over Fourth of July weekend?