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Dana White: Money started messing with Lyoto Machida's head

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Lyoto Machida knows a thing or two about labels.

Fickle fight fans first called him "boring" and then "elusive" before graduating to "invincible." Then he became "exposed" and now he's a "head case."

Whatever happened to "The Dragon?"

It seemed like a fitting nickname, as the Karate master at one time was all the rage, blowing through 16 consecutive opponents. The list of victims was as impressive as it was long. Names like B.J. Penn, Rich Franklin, Thiago Silva, Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans.

And don't forget Benjamin, the one name that UFC President Dana White (via MMA Live) believes started the Brazilian's downfall:

"This is what I think happened; A guy goes through his entire career, he's got this incredible elusive style, nobody can figure him out, he's explosive, got knockout power, but then once you start making a lot of money, it starts messing with your head and you start doing things differently. I think if Machida comes out like the old Machida, I think he can beat anybody in the world."

Machida was at the top of his game in the early months of 2009, winning "Knockout of the Night" in dominant victories over the previously mentioned Silva and Evans, the latter of which earned him the light heavyweight title.

Color commentator Joe Rogan was quick to rush in "The Machida Era," believing just as strongly as everyone else there wasn't anyone that could figure out the puzzling game the Brazilian brought to the Octagon.

Enter the "Shogun."

Two consecutive match-ups against Mauricio Rua and all the weaknesses in Machida's game were made glaringly evident. As the saying goes -- if you haven't lost in mixed martial arts -- you just haven't fought the right opponent yet.

Rua was the man to finally take the Black House product out, mopping the floor with him at UFC 113. Months later, albeit in less convincing fashion, Quinton Jackson added another loss to Machida's record, taking a split decision in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

When it rains, it pours.

After reaching the top of the 205-pound mountain, and looking every bit the world-beater he once was, the former champion may be on the verge of losing his job.

That is, of course, if he loses his next bout, a light heavyweight match-up against the one and only Randy Couture.

The two former division champions will square off at UFC 129: "St. Pierre vs. Shields" this Saturday night (April 30) from the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. Whatever the outcome, "The Natural" is leaving the Octagon for good.

And if Couture wins, Machida may have no choice but to join him.

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