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Lyoto Machida: Luke Rockhold’s ground game ‘doesn’t scare me at all’

Wander Roberto, Inovafoto

Fresh off the fastest win of his professional career, Lyoto Machida is already back in the gym to prepare for his next fight.

After dispatching C.B. Dollaway in 62 seconds at UFC Fight Night 58 in December with a vicious kick to the body, "The Dragon" will headline UFC on FOX 15 in Newark on April 18 against fellow middleweight contender Luke Rockhold, and is happy to be in his fifth straight UFC main event.

"That’s great because it shows that this fight is interesting and important, that people really want to watch it," Machida told "Being in the main event again is great, and I want to give the fans a great performance."

Machida is 3-1 since cutting down to 185 pounds, with his only loss coming in a five-round fight with UFC champion Chris Weidman, while Rockhold enters the bout coming off stoppage wins over Michael Bisping, Tim Boetsch and Costas Philippou.

"I think this is a good fight for me," the Brazilian said. "He has a good striking, but I’m ready. If the fight goes to the ground, I will also be ready for everything he does, and I will try to surprise him as well. He’s a top 5, he’s been doing great in his fights and his ground game is really good, but I can go to the ground with him and do well. His ground game doesn’t scare me at all."

Rockhold’s only loss in the past 13 fights came against former UFC champion Vitor Belfort in 2013, but Machida won’t look too much to that spinning heel kick to find openings to work on.

"Every fight is different. I don’t look much to the past, I just see how he is today," Machida said. "It’s hard to say. I can see holes in his game. I haven’t studied his fights yet, but from what I already watched before, his fights in the UFC and Strikeforce, it’s a tough fight, but I’m confident. He’s a complete fighter."

Belfort was the only fighter to finish Rockhold under the UFC and Strikeforce banner, but "The Dragon" is planning on giving the American Kickboxing Academy fighter another stoppage loss.

"I will go for the knockout or a submission, but I can’t make a prediction on how I’m going to win," he said. "(Rockhold) is really tough, so I can’t say much. We will have to wait and see."

Both Machida and Rockhold want a shot at the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort, a title bout scheduled for UFC 184 on Feb. 28. The Ronaldo Souza vs. Yoel Romero winner could also get the shot since they will now face each other at UFC on FOX 15.

"That might happen," Machida said. "Of course that I want to fight for the title, but that’s not something I’m thinking about right now. I have a tough fight ahead of me and I have to concentrate, but a win over Luke Rockhold will obviously put me right up there because we’re both close to fighting for the UFC title.

"2015 is going to be a great year, a year of big fights. I already have my first challenge. Rockhold called me out, and I’m ready. I want to become champion again. Rockhold is a tough guy, is coming off a lot of wins, and it’s going to be a big fight. My focus is the title. I want to be the middleweight champion."

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