Lyoto Machida is the newest addition to the Bellator middleweight division, and he’s fueling up with everything Gegard Mousasi has been saying about him.
“The Dragon,” who defeated current Bellator champion Mousasi via unanimous decision after five rounds back in 2014 in the UFC, told MMA Fighting he’s targeting an October or November date to make his Bellator debut — and he is in the promotion to become champion.
Mousasi has accused Machida of using steroids and being greased when they fought in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil, and “The Dragon” responded to his comments in an interview with MMA Fighting.
”Everything Mousasi says only motivates me,” Machida said. “I have a win over him and I think he’s a little bothered by it. But I think it’s an easier fight to promote now. I’m very motivated and I want this opportunity, especially with him as a champion.
“Fighting in Bellator is a dream come true for me. Having a belt is a bigger dream,” he continued. “But I just got to the promotion, one step at a time. I have to fight first, feel well, and then think about this. I want the Bellator belt. I’m not here to be part of the roster and just fight. I came here to become champion and remain champion for as long as I can.”
Regarding the topic of drug-testing, Machida — who had a run-in with the United States Anti-Doping Agency for what many considered an unfair 18-month suspension for disclosing the use of 7-keto-dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) — says it feels good not to be required to report his whereabouts anymore.
“I’m in favor of the anti-doping system in the sport, I believe it’s good for the sport, but I’m not in favor of how USADA deals with many cases,” Machida said. “I think sometimes they are too harsh and don’t take into consideration how the situation occurred, the athlete’s past, similar situations that could be seen when making a hard decision on a professional athlete’s career, who lives and depends on it.
“I won’t say I left the UFC because of USADA, no way, but today I feel lighter without USADA,” he continued. “I feel lighter. The thing that you have to report where you are going generated so much stress. Today I’m free, more relaxed. I’m living happier in that aspect.”
Another aspect of freedom that signing with Bellator gives Machida is the opportunity to compete in multiple divisions, he says. “The Dragon” will focus on going after the middleweight belt now, but isn’t ruling out competing at light heavyweight — he also holds a win over current 205-pound champion Ryan Bader — and even at heavyweight.
“A fight with Fedor (Emelianenko) would be a superfight,” Machida said. “I’m a fan of Fedor, have been a fan since he was in PRIDE, a great champion, and since I like to challenge myself, new challenges, that was one of the offers that came with my move to Bellator. Of course, fighting Fedor would be an honor, a dream.”
The 40-year-old veteran is happy to join Bellator and is embracing the new challenges that will come in the future. Yet, he admits that it felt weird to leave the UFC after being part of the promotion for more than a decade.
“Of course that was sad, I wanted to stay a little longer, wanted to fight more,” Machida said, “but I believe that life is made of cycles, and my cycle in the UFC was over and now there’s a new moment, a new cycle, a new promotion, and I’m happy and motivated for this moment in my career.
“My (UFC) contract was renewed before my last fight, so I felt really comfortable with ending it and going after something different. I had a good relationship with Bellator, Scott Coker and Mike Kogan.
”They made me an offer and the UFC matched it, but I had already given my word to Bellator and that’s very serious to me. They asked me if they gave me ‘X’ I would go to Bellator, and I said yes. It was a big opportunity. I thought it was the moment to change, do something different.”
Machida (24-8), a former UFC light heavyweight champion and middleweight title contender, left the company after back-to-back wins over Eryk Anders and Vitor Belfort.