Lyoto Machida is more or less on his way to a Middleweight title shot after convincingly beating Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 36: "Machida vs. Mousasi" last night (Sat., Feb. 15, 2014) in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Call him elusive, enigmatic, puzzling or unfathomable, but "The Dragon" brought the weapons to overcome "The Dreamcatcher" in a five-round fight that entertained most observers (and bored some, too).
Nonetheless, it was everything you'd expect from a typical and classic Machida fight, where he controlled every aspect of the bout on the feet and on the mat, only encountering minor trouble in the third round.
Watch full fight video highlights of Machida's performance right here.
Now, let's get to the meat.
UFC President Dana White declared that Machida could secure a title shot with a win against Mousasi. If so, he would be the next contender in line for the winner of champion Chris Weidman and challenger Vitor Belfort's bout at UFC 173 for the Middleweight championship in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Machida did win the fight even though he failed to secure an impressive finish. The former Light Heavyweight champion now boasts two dominant wins at Middleweight, and he's the worthiest challenger in the 185-pound division at the moment.
Some would not be opposed to Machida facing the co-main event winner Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, who beat Francis Carmont over the course of three rounds. "Jacare" has three wins since being signed to the UFC, and he's as good as anyone when picking out the best suitable option for the current champion.
The Brazilian pair are reluctantly game to throw down in a No. 1 contender eliminator match.
Although, "Jacare" was not promised a title shot with a win, and despite his lethal tear on the division thus far, he might be better suited to face the winner of Tim Kennedy and Michael Bisping when they duke it out at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations" Finale in a couple of months from Quebec City.
Souza did beat Kennedy almost four years ago, yet he also lost to Luke Rockhold in Strikeforcel. Rockhold has his hands full with Tim Boetsch at UFC 172 in Baltimore, Md., and the winner could be another option for Souza.
Also, if mixed martial arts (MMA) math means anything, Mousasi knocked out Souza almost six years ago at Dream 6, and Machida just convincingly beat that combatant.
From a marketing standpoint, Machida is a decent draw when the company desperately needs one. With the absence of Silva and Georges St. Pierre, the two biggest pay-per-view (PPV) stars in the company, UFC needs to either develop new ones (easier said than done) or lean toward the fighters with recognizable names.
"The Dragon" was a former 205-pound champion, and when he climbed up the ranks and achieved glory, he did it so violently. His performances over Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans were quite memorable because of the way he finished both men, and even his fairly recent performances over Randy Couture and Ryan Bader dropped several jaws.
With that being said, UFC is always looking to rewrite the history books, breaking as many records as it possibly can. Machida has the chance to become the third UFC competitor to hold a championship in two weight classes (B.J. Penn and Randy Couture are the others), an opportunity the brass might not want to pass up.
All things considered, Machida deserves the shot -- the current state of the division, as well as his name recognition and nice 185-pound resurgence, is a story UFC could spin well. Then again, meaningful matches are hard come by these days, making a Machida vs. Jacare main event in Brazil a showdown that would certainly draw major interest in South America.
Either way, let's just hope Machida's foot injury doesn't keep him out of the loop for too long.
For extensive coverage of UFC Fight Night 36: "Machida vs. Mousasi," including recaps, videos and more, click here.