COMMENTARY | Lyoto Machida was regarded as a potential middleweight title contender as soon as he dropped down from light heavyweight. He put a stamp on that sentiment at UFC Fight Night 30 with a head kick knockout of the always tough Mark Munoz. "The Dragon" made news after the fight by stating at thepost-fight press conference that he would be willing to face his teammate, Anderson Silva, if it were for the middleweight title.
Of course, before that fight can take place, "The Spider" has to get through the man who took the 185 pound belt from him, Chris Weidman, at UFC 168. Even if that happens, there's no guarantee Machida will be next in line.
However, Machida going on the record that he would fight Silva is news. The UFC has had difficulty putting together fights between teammates. The most famous recent example being a potential bout between heavyweights Daniel Cormier and champion Cain Velasquez.
UFC president, Dana White, has gone on record in the past, and stated teammates should fight. "It's business, it's what they do for a living." Silva responded to White's assertion by saying: "It's not normal for me to fight a guy that I live with every day."
Mixed martial artists need to train with other high level fighters in order to be successful. It's inevitable that fight teams will sometimes have two fighters in one weight class that are in title contention, and should logically fight. There's no perfect solution to this problem.
The decision for teammates to fight is always a difficult one. It's easy to see why a promoter like White wants to be able to put together every fight that makes sense from a rankings and money perspective. It's also not hard to see why teammates aren't comfortable competing in a violent contest against friends.
It'll be interesting to see how Silva responds to Machida's willingness to fight him. The UFC has considerable control over its fighters, but it cannot make the elite fighters who have bargaining power take a fight against a teammate. It's a complicated issue, where neither side is necessarily right or wrong.
Machida made headlines in and out of the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 30. His future at middleweight looks very bright, and the odds that he and Silva will eventually fight have never been higher.
Joe Napoli has been following MMA since the dark ages.