After making an impressive middleweight debut, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida asked for Vitor Belfort, and his camp predicted it wasn't going to happen.
The prediction proved accurate. Instead, Machida will be getting another former light heavyweight champion moving down in Gegard Mousasi, who held the Strikeforce title.
Globo.com in Brazil reported the fight being planned for a show on Feb. 8, 2014, at Jaragua do Sul, Santa Catarina, Brazil, which has since been confirmed by MMAFighting.com sources.
Machida (20-4) knocked off fifth-ranked contender Mark Munoz on Saturday night in Manchester, England, with a first-round head kick knockout. The nature of the win immediately served notice that Machida would be a very serious contender in a division that is at its strongest level of depth in company history.
Mousasi (34-3-2), has been out of action with knee surgery since making his UFC debut with a win over late sub Ilir Latifi in April. After being recently cleared by doctors, he returns to middleweight for the first time in five years In his last match in the division, he knocked out one of UFC's current top contenders in the division, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza with an upkick in just 2:15. The win was in the finals of a tournament to crown Dream's first middleweight champion.
"Gegard wants to challenge himself against the best talent in the UFC, and continues his quest for the middleweight UFC title," said Mousasi's manager, Nima Safapour, to MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani. "This is the match-up we wanted. Lyoto is ranked fifth in the division now, and he is a former UFC champion. The fans are in for an excellent treat, and this fight in our minds will determine the No. 1 contender in the MW division."
Citing difficulty in making 185 pounds, Mousasi vacated the title, and actually fought at heavyweight in his next fight, submitting Mark Hunt in just 1:19. He continued to fight at heavyweight in Japan and light heavyweight in Strikeforce, where he debuted on Aug. 15, 2009, in San Jose, Calif., capturing the light heavyweight title in a 1:00 knockout over Renato "Babalu" Sobral. He lost the title being outwrestled to a decision by "King" Mo Lawal on April 17, 2010, in Nashville, a fight televised on CBS.
Aside from Lawal, Mousasi hasn't lost since 2006, when he was 21 years old.
Mousasi jumps into a division that is loaded with depth behind champion Chris Weidman, including former champ Anderson Silva, former UFC light heavyweight champion Machida, former UFC light heavyweight champion Belfort, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Souza, Michael Bisping and former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold.