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Lyoto Machida: Tim Kennedy is tough, but I wanted to fight Vitor Belfort or Chael Sonnen

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

It’s a fresh start for Lyoto Machida when he takes on Tim Kennedy for his middleweight debut at UFC Fight for the Troops 3 on Nov. 6.

Machida, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, decided to lose an extra 20 pounds after a loss to Phil Davis at UFC 163, and he has a tough mission ahead. Kennedy, a special forces soldier, will have the home turf advantage as the bout takes place at a military base in Fort Campbell, Ky.

"I like challenges like that, fighting a war veteran inside his ‘home’," Machida told MMAFighting.com. "I have no problems with that. When the time comes, the crowd will want to see a good show."

"The Dragon" still believes he deserved to win against Phil Davis at UFC 163, but that’s in the past. Now he plans to leave no doubt in the judges’ heads -- if the fight goes the distance.

"I will get there with the objective of being more aggressive," he said. "At UFC 163, I wasn’t 100 percent, my foot was a little hurt so that took some of my confidence. Phil is a great fighter, with good takedowns. Tim looks to be a big and heavy guy, too. I’m used to train with heavier and stronger guys, so we’ll see how it goes."

Machida is curious to see how his body will react when he cuts down to 185 pounds for the first time in at least 10 years.

"It’s my first fight at this weight class. I didn’t cut down to 185 pounds yet, but I believe it won’t be too hard because of my body structure," he said. "I guess I’ll just cut down for the weigh-in. It’s hard to train when you focus on cutting weight. But who knows, maybe I’ll try the cut two months before the fight to see how my body will react in training. It’s actually a good idea, I’ll think about it."

Machida leaves the 205-pound division with a UFC record of 11 victories in 15 fights with wins over four former UFC champions (Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Rashad Evans, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz), and he plans to join BJ Penn and Randy Couture on the list of fighters that have won UFC titles in multiple weight classes.

"It’s a big opportunity, something I have in mind, for sure," he said. "Let’s see who I will fight at middleweight first and then take one step at a time. It’s my debut, I don’t know how I will feel there yet."

First things first. Machida anticipates a tough match-up, but Kennedy wasn’t the opponent he had in mind.

"Tim Kennedy is a tough guy, but I wanted to fight (Vitor) Belfort or Chael Sonnen next," he said. "But sometimes you can’t choose. The UFC asked me to take this fight, and I’m in."

"Fighting Belfort in Brazil would be a good option for me. He has his fans, I have mine, and it would be a great fight. But they decided not to do it. And Sonnen always has something to say, and he wanted to fight at light heavyweight, so maybe that would be a good opportunity to fight him too. He said he wanted to fight me in a parking lot, so I tried to make that fight, but the UFC chose Kennedy. Who knows, maybe I’ll fight (Sonnen) in the near future."