by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
Newly crowned light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida will make his first title defense against former champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in a bout to be scheduled soon.
UFC president Dana White made the announcement at the post-fight press conference for UFC 98.
The undefeated Brazilian stopped previously unbeaten Rashad Evans with pinpoint punches that laid the former champion out midway into the second round. It was his seventh straight Octagon victory and fifteenth career win.
White kept with an earlier refrain on Machida’s swtich from dull to devastating.
“I think this kid needed to feel comfortable in the Octagon, and I think he got over that hump,” said White. “I was blown away by his performance tonight. Absolutely blown away.”
The victory on Saturday was a validation of his investment in the Machida’s tactical, karate-based style, which drew early criticism from fans.
“We bought the WFA to acquire his contract and Rampage’s,” added White. “I’ve always thought this kid was talented.”
Former welterweight champion Matt Hughes, celebrating a close decision victory over Matt Serra, praised the new champion while sizing him up.
“He’s good, obviously really good,” said Hughes. “The thing he’s got going for him is he’s very different. If I was going to fight somebody like him, I would bring two or three karate guys in. His head’s back, his legs are forward. (He’s) obviously good on the ground, good wrestler; he defended Tito’s shots. He’s kind of the total package.”
With Jackson on deck to face Machida, White acknowledged it would be difficult to find someone to solve Machida’s riddle.
“It might be the Machida era right now,” he said.