by Dane McGuire
MMA legend and former UFC champion Lyoto Machida revealed in a recent interview with MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca he will test free agency after he fights out his Bellator contract following his next fight.
The 43-year-old is 2-3 in Bellator following a decision win over Rafael Carvalho, a TKO win against Chael Sonnen, and then three consecutive decision losses to middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi and in light heavyweight rematches with Phil Davis and Ryan Bader.
“[Bellator] came to us and said, ‘Let’s renew [the contract] one more time if Lyoto wants to,’ and whatever, and we said no, let’s fight this one first and then we’ll see,” Machida said. “Every fight is a different fight for me. I saw it that way in the past, and even more now.”
Machida hopes the final fight of his Bellator deal will be at middleweight and has his eye on title contender John Salter, 8-2.
As far as his long-term future, Machida made it clear he wants to be the one to make the call to hand up his gloves for the final time.
“I want to continue fighting. I don’t know if [I’ll do] three or four more fights. When I was younger, 10 years ago, I was taught to fight every fight as if it was my last; ‘Lyoto, a samurai enters a fight as if it’s last fight.’
You must give your all in training and in the fight, mentally speaking. And now, more than ever, I can’t come here imagining I’ll have three, four, five fights. Every fight is like my last fight. Not in a sense of ending my career, but in the sense of giving my all. And that’s when I’ll make my decision.
“The fire is still burning inside me and that’s what matters the most,” Machida added. “I want to innovate. I want to create a different game. I want to do different things that give me a different experience. And [I want to] fight.”
Machida has not competed since his loss to Bader at Bellator 256 on April 9, 2021 in the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal.
Bellator boss Scott Coker recently said:
“He wants to fight and we’re going to get him busy again,” Coker said of Machida via MMA Junkie. “He’s another fighter that will probably fight in March, April. We want to get all our big stars fighting between now and April. He’s had some losses, but he’s went though a gauntlet of just killers. It didn’t work out for him, but we feel he’s still got some gas left in the tank.”
“He’s done so much for the sport. To me, he’s a legend, and we’re going to let him finish it on his terms,” Coker added.