Light heavyweights agree to August clash
A former champion and a TUF winner have agreed to a big light heavyweight bout this summer.
Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader will meet when the UFC holds its fourth nationally televised card on the Fox network. The UFC announced the fight late Monday. Machida and Bader will square off at UFC on Fox 4, which takes place Aug. 4 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Machida (17-3, 8-3 UFC) will be looking for just his second win in five fights. The former champion has dropped three of his last four – two of them coming in 205-pound title fights. “The Dragon” started his career 16-0, and his UFC career 8-0, including a light heavyweight title win over Rashad Evans at UFC 98. He defended the belt once with a controversial unanimous decision win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 104. But he lost the belt with a first-round knockout, the first defeat of his career, at UFC 113.
Machida then met Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 123 and dropped a split decision that even Jackson said he thought Machida had done enough to win – though UFC president Dana White agreed with the two judges who scored the fight for Jackson. With two straight losses, Machida met UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture at UFC 129 and got back on track in a big way with a front-kick Knockout of the Night victory that sent Couture into retirement. That fight got Machida a shot at Jon Jones‘ light heavyweight title, in part thanks to scheduling and injury issues with Evans. But Jones tore through Machida at UFC 140 in December, choking him unconscious in the second round.
Bader (14-2, 7-2 UFC) has put together a two-fight winning streak after the first losing streak of his career. The Season 8 winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” started his career 12-0, but was choked out by Jones at UFC 126. Jones went on to a title shot and Bader was forced to regroup. But as a 5-to-1 favorite against Tito Ortiz, who hadn’t won in nearly five years, Bader was upset when Ortiz tapped him with a guillotine choke at UFC 132 for one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
But Bader got back on track at UFC 139 last November with a quick first-round knockout of Jason Brilz. And against Jackson at UFC 144 in Japan in February, Bader dominated the former champion and Pride star, who was fighting in front of a loyal Japanese fan base, to take a unanimous decision. Jackson failed to make weight for the fight, and Bader received 20 percent of his hefty fight purse.
Though UFC on Fox 4 does not yet have an announced main event, the Machida-Bader fight is almost a certainty for the main card. The UFC on Fox card in January in Chicago featured four fights on a two-hour main card broadcast. UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller, which takes place Saturday in New Jersey, will operate the same way. The UFC also has announced that former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard, a recent UFC signee, will meet Brian Stann on the card.