Lyoto Machida has achieved a lot, but winning the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix at age 42 would be a great way to end his legendary career.
Just days before his rematch against former champion Ryan Bader in the first bout of the eight-man tournament, the Brazilian knows he has a tough road ahead of him, especially as he enters the Grand Prix as one of the biggest underdogs.
However, Machida doesn’t really think of the Grand Prix as a potential final run. Rather, he is simply focused on the task at hand.
“We can’t forget that I always try to live in the moment,” said Machida MMA Fighting during Bellator 256 media day. “I always try to think in the present. I cannot foresee anything in the future. That is why I try to live every minute of my life in this moment. As a person, I just said here that you think about going into the future, you think you plan everything, you think you are stuck in the past. The challenge is staying in the moment.
“Right now I just have a battle with Bader and I have a long way to go. Therefore, I can not say anything about retirement or about the future, but everything is in my head. I have everything I have to do as long as I don’t want to do it. Until I believe that I can still do it. “
Usually fighters competing at a high level above 40 are already a rarity in mixed martial arts, but Machida does not think of his career as just a number.
He prefers to judge his future by the passion he still finds in the sport, and there is no shortage of motivation when it comes to preparing or thrilling Machida for an upcoming fight like this.
“First of all, I like to challenge – I like to challenge myself, I like challenges,” Machida said. “Since I started my career, I have set myself new challenges. When I was 17, I was supposed to compete in the first MMA competition in my state in Brazil, but I was dismissed because I was under 18. But for me this moment was a challenge. Of course, everyone has fear, everyone has anxiety and the like, but challenging that is the most important thing. This is why I still compete, because I like to challenge myself.
“I like to face different things. This Grand Prix is a new moment for me, and I love going to the academy every day to still have it. I believe that he is still motivated to train and achieve whatever you want to achieve. It has nothing to do with age or physical condition, because physical condition you can achieve if you exercise, and motivation is your mind. If you need to achieve something, you can do it. This is why I believe that I still have the motivation to do what I want to do. “
The Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix won’t be short of trials, after the ViacomCBS promotion in recent months has made several high-profile signings to support the 205-pound division.
The addition of fighters such as Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Corey Anderson has led many to believe that the Bellator light heavyweight class can face any promotion, including the UFC.
As a former UFC light heavyweight champion, Machida knows how difficult it is to win a title in his previous promotion, but he definitely supports the talent that was added to Bellator ahead of the grand prix.
“I believe in light heavyweight right now, Bellator has a good, good group of fighters,” Machida said. “That’s why they decided to host the Grand Prix. There are great fighters in the UFC, of course, but since we are at Bellator, I can believe that for me the best fighters are here at light heavyweight right now.
“Of course there are very good fighters in the UFC. The UFC is considered to be one of the largest tournaments, so it’s hard to compare. Everyone has their own retinue, their own group of fighters, so you just have to respect that. Who knows, one day they may oppose one to the other. “
Although he is not ready to say that this may be his last race, Machida knows that the upcoming Grand Prix will be one of the toughest challenges of his entire career.
“I really love this opportunity because I believe that only the best light heavyweight fighters will attend this event,” Machida said. “That’s why this is a great opportunity for me, and I feel respect, I feel like this is a great chance to showcase all my work.
“It means a lot to me. Because after 20 years of a long career this is a great moment for me and I always try to motivate myself. That’s why I’m here.”