The win marked the last bout on Machida’s contract and rocketed the former UFC light heavyweight champion into an immediate top-5 ranking in the UFC’s 185-pound division. Afterward, with his eyes planted firmly on a title, the reinvigorated contender called outVitor Belfort, the division’s No. 2 ranked fighter who’s currently slated to fight at light heavyweight against Dan Henderson.
“Vitor Belfort is the best option for me right now,” Machida (20-4) told MMAFighting.com. “I want to fight him. It would be the best fight for me right now because he’s well ranked in the middleweight division.
“Even if Vitor loses to Dan Henderson, I’d want to fight him in our weight class.”
It’s a match-up that certainly makes sense. UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidmanand the division’s former kingpin Anderson Silva are tied up until December 28, at the earliest, while Belfort (23-10) is the owner of what may be the division’s most impressive current streak, having knocked out Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold in back-to-back spectacular performances.
Nonetheless, Machida’s management voiced doubts about the potential bout on Wednesday’s episode of UFC Tonight.
According to Ariel Helwani, Machida’s manager Jorge Guimaraes believes the match-up won’t take place, simply because Belfort won’t accept the fight.
Belfort has turned down fights in the past, with the most recent example being a proposed match-up against Tim Kennedy. It’s largely the reason he’s fighting Henderson at light heavyweight, as Belfort voiced hesitance about relinquishing his status as No. 1 middleweight contender, much to the displeasure of UFC President Dana White, who recently said that the Brazilian “drives me crazy.”
Even still, Machida continues to await his next marching orders while Belfort and Henderson are set to square off in the main event of UFC Fight Night 32 on November 9, 2013 at the Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil.