Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida had the same thought as just about everyone else when he watched his friend Anderson Silva lose the middleweight belt to Chris Weidman last year.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” Machida said by phone through an interpreter. “Anderson has that style where he plays around a bit and I just thought he was joking. Once I saw that a shot landed, it was pretty unbelievable.”
Machida, now a middleweight, has a chance to bring the belt back to Brazil when he challenges Weidman in the main event of UFC 175 at Mandalay Bay on July 5.
He said his quest is all about himself, however, and not a mission to exact revenge for his longtime friend, Silva.
“I got to see what it’s like to be champion before and it’s all I want: to be champion again,” Machida said.
Weidman didn’t just beat Silva on that one-punch knockout last July. He followed it up with another victory in the December rematch when Silva broke his leg while attempting a leg kick.
Despite what some could consider fluky circumstances in both fights, Machida gives Weidman full credit for the fact he was winning both fights when they ended and that Weidman had his hand raised at the end.
“He deserves all the credit,” Machida said. “There’s no other way around it. He won the two fights, he’s undefeated. He deserves everything.”
The event also includes a women’s bantamweight title bout between Alexis Davis and champion Ronda Rousey.
■ COKER REPLACES REBNEY — Former Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has been named the new president of Bellator MMA, replacing Bjorn Rebney as head of the Viacom-owned organization.
Coker, during a conference call with reporters last week, said he plans to go away from the tournament format that saw Bellator putting events on Spike TV on a weekly basis and go in a more traditional event route.
He said the goal is to rebuild the brand in order to bring viewers to the network. Part of that plan might involve reaching out to other organizations to bring in fighters with a name for big fights similar to what he did at Strikeforce.
“It comes down to the fighters, and that’s what we’re going to develop, world-class fighters and put those fights on TV,” he said. “We had a great platform with Showtime. The platform here is in three or four times as many homes. This is a star-building business. It’s not just about the league, it’s about building stars and making fights that you want to see, building fights that move the needle. Not all fighters move the needle, and we’ll do the best to move the needle for the network.”
Rebney, the founder, chairman and CEO, was relieved of his duties on Wednesday, along with COO Tim Danaher.
“It is with bittersweet emotions that I announce that I am leaving the company I founded. I have great pride in having turned my vision into reality, a thriving business with television distribution to over 140 countries around the world, a partnership with one of the world’s largest entertainment giants and wide array of sponsors, partners and strategic allies all over the globe,” Rebney said in a statement. “Viacom and Tim and I differed in our views of the right strategic direction for Bellator, but Tim and I both wish them well.”
Coker’s noncompete agreement with the UFC expired earlier this year.
■ GLENN WINS TITLE — Rick Glenn survived what appeared to be a desperate situation and rallied to take the World Series of Fighting belt from Georgi Karakhanyan on Saturday night at Hard Rock Hotel.
Karakhanyan took Glenn’s back early in the fight and transitioned to what looked like a deep armbar. Glenn endured the hold and rallied to beat up the champion until the fight was stopped after two rounds due to Karakhanyan’s broken ribs.
“When he took my back I could feel him breathing heavy and I was able to land a couple of punches. I just stayed on him. I knew coming in he was the big favorite. It’s nice now that I have this belt that I won’t have to worry about calling anyone out,” Glenn said. “I want to finish fights and I want to put on exciting fights for the fans. I don’t want to leave it in the judges hands and get screwed.”
The Las Vegas-based organization returns with a July 5 card in Daytona Beach, Fla. It will be the first WSOF card to air on NBC.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.