Ultimate Fighting Championship star Lyoto Machida resisted a drop to middleweight for years because his good friend and longtime training partner Anderson Silva held the belt in that division.
Now that Silva is no longer champion, Machida has made the move to 185 pounds, and he will be making an immediate impact if his debut at the weight is any indication.
Machida knocked out Mark Munoz with a left kick to the head in the first round of their bout on a card in Manchester, England, on Saturday night.
Machida was plenty successful at light heavyweight, winning the belt and defending it once before losing to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in 2010, but had mixed results the last few years. Including the loss to Rua, Machida was 3-4 in his final seven fights at 205 pounds.
He immediately made an impression on his new division, and Machida intends to remain at middleweight.
“I will stay at 185, but my bosses are (UFC president) Dana White and (UFC co-owner) Lorenzo Fertitta,” Machida said. “If they ask me to fight at 205 again, I will do that.”
White seems to like the idea of Machida as a middleweight, and he already has an idea for his next fight.
“I’m just talking here as a fan, not as a promoter, I think a lot of people want to see him and Vitor Belfort. That would be a fun fight,” White said at the postfight news conference. “Vitor’s got to win down in Brazil. And who knows — (Machida) could fight someone else before that. But I’m just saying, as a fan, and speaking for many fans, that’s the fight they want to see. At least that’s what everyone was screaming at me on the way out of the arena tonight.”
Belfort is scheduled to fight Dan Henderson in Brazil on Nov. 9.
White also announced that lightweights Melvin Guillard and Ross Pearson will meet in a rematch early in 2014. Their fight Saturday night ended in a no contest after Guillard cut Pearson with a knee that was deemed illegal.
■ CARL WINS TITLE — Welterweight Steve Carl became the first champion in World Series of Fighting history with a fourth-round submission win over Josh Burkman on Saturday at Coral Gables, Fla.
The Las Vegas-based promotion waited until its sixth event to a crown a champion.
Also on the card, Jon Fitch rebounded from a loss to Burkman to gain a split decision win over Marcelo Alfaya.
■ GUSTAFSSON FIGHT SET — Top UFC light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson will fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the main event of a card in London on March 8.
Gustafsson was hoping to get a rematch against Jon Jones after a back-and-forth battle with the champion in September, but Jones instead will defend the belt against Glover Teixeira.
Should Jones and Gustafsson both emerge victorious from their respective fights, they will meet again later in 2014.
■ SONNEN TO COACH ‘TUF BRAZIL’ — Chael Sonnen has built himself into one of the UFC’s most marketable fighters largely on talking trash about the people and fighters of Brazil in an effort to promote fights.
Now Sonnen will be mentoring some of that nation’s young talent, having been named a coach for the third season of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.” Sonnen will coach against Wanderlei Silva, one of the most outspoken critics of Sonnen’s rhetoric. The two then will fight at the conclusion of the season in 2014.
Sonnen first has a fight scheduled with Rashad Evans at UFC 167 in November.
■ 2014 SCHEDULE OUTLINED — White laid out ambitious plans for the UFC’s schedule in 2014.
There will be 13 pay-per-view events and 14 on Fox Sports 1 throughout the year. The UFC will once again put four shows on the Fox network, with the first coming Jan. 25 in Chicago, the week before Fox airs the Super Bowl.
Four more events will air on Fox Sports 2.
White indicated there will be international versions of “The Ultimate Fighter” in China and India, in addition to the Brazil and Canada/Australia versions.
There also will be six overseas events designed specifically for international markets to help foster global talent.
■ LION FIGHT — Las Vegas-based Lion Fight muay thai will host an event at Hard Rock Hotel on Friday night.
Fabio Pinca will fight Malaipet for the welterweight belt, and Magali Foroni squares off against Tiffany Van Soest in a women’s bout.
The first bout is scheduled for 5 p.m. with the main card airing live at 7 on AXS TV.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.