It’s time for the mixed martial arts (MMA) world to get a look at a 39-year-old Lyoto Machida as the former UFC light heavyweight champion makes his awaited return to the Octagon later tonight (Sat., Oct. 28, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 119 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Machida is returning from a 18-month suspension stemming from a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation dating back to April 2016. He will be stepping right back into the middleweight fire by matching up against proven divisional knockout artist Derek Brunson, who will be fighting in Brazil for the first time in his career.
While some people will tune in to UFC Fight Night 119 to see the co-main event between welterweights Demian Maia and Colby Covington, most of the attention will be cast upon “The Dragon” and his headlining act opposite Brunson. After all, Machida left the division last year as one of its most consistent contenders. He’ll look to regain that same middleweight notoriety when he makes his first career appearance in Sao Paulo.
Like many MMA veterans his age, Machida must prove that he’s still a world-class threat inside of the cage when he squares off with Brunson later tonight. More importantly, Machida needs to show the ability to fight clean, and win clean. Remember, before his lengthy suspension “Dragon” had lost his previous two outings against former UFC champion Luke Rockhold and Cuban powerhouse Yoel Romero. Not only did he lose, but Machida was completely overpowered and flattened by both middleweights.
Luckily for Machida, Brunson is the perfect type of opponent to gauge his abilities at this point in his career. Brunson is extremely athletic, equipped with elite wrestling skills, is a seek-and-destroy type of fighter, and can finish a contest with one single punch. That type of mixture is going to test Machida’s discipline after a long layoff, the same counter-striking capabilities that made him a household name so many years ago, and his resolve to weather a storm against a younger and stronger opponent.
If Machida is able to get past Brunson in his return then he’ll be in consideration as one of the key players in the middleweight division entering 2018. But if the former UFC champion is unable to make good on his comeback from suspension then he may want to think about moving back up to 205 pounds. With a shortened list of top contenders, Machida could fight his way back into contention much quicker as a light heavyweight.
We’ll find out if the Karate assassin can pull off yet another magic trick later tonight at UFC Fight Night 119 against a hungry Derek Brunson.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 119 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 2 at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.