Lyoto Machida is keeping his eyes on the task at hand and nothing else.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion and current Bellator contender is one of the eight men involved in Bellator’s recently announced 205-pound grand prix. Machida (26-10 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) is familiar with several of the names in the tournament – he’s defeated Ryan Bader and lost to Yoel Romero and Phil Davis. Although Machida has a win over Bader, he is not interested in making a statement against the Bellator heavyweight champion, much less in seeking out revenge against Romero or Davis.
“I don’t really care about who I’m going to face because there will be only one champion,” Machida told reporters at a media availability following Bellator’s Tuesday news conference. “If they put some obstacle in front me in my mind, I’m not going to be able to make it. That’s why I consider all those opponents very strong, very tough, and I don’t really care about anybody right now. My only focus is my next fight against Ryan Bader.” Machida kicks off the grand prix quarterfinals April 9 at Bellator 256 against Bader, whom he defeated by knockout at UFC on FOX 4 in Los Angeles in 2012. It’s been almost nine years since the two fought and a lot has happened since. Machida is coming off back-to-back split decision losses on the heels of a four-fight winning streak. Bader saw a seven-fight winning streak come to an end when he was stopped by Vadim Nemkov in August and lost his light heavyweight title and Bellator dual champion status.
Despite the history, Machida is approaching the matchup as a new fight. The 42-year-old says he won’t take anything from his previous win over Bader entering their second meeting.
“I think we’re always changing ourselves – day by day, changing,” Machida said. “Of course, we can’t change everything because we have core principles and our essence. But overall, we’ll always change. I can’t consider that fight in the past, I have to move on and just focus on my next fight against Ryan Bader. He’s a different fighter. I’m a different fighter with more experience and more fights under my belt. Now is a different moment.”