LOS ANGELES – Although he says his focus remains on UFC on Fox 4 opponent Ryan Bader, Lyoto Machida recognizes the luster of coaching The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil against old foe Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion answered questions at Tuesday’s pre-fight press conference in Southern California, and assured all in attendance that Bader remains the primary concern. However, Machida said he anticipates a third fight with Rua in the not too distant future and that coaching TUF: Brazil would be huge for both him and Shogun.
“I’m keeping my focus on Saturday,” Machida told reporters at the press conference in downtown Los Angeles. “Like Shogun said, we have a big fight. You have to keep your focus on that fight.
“I think (coaching TUF) will be a big opportunity for both of us. The trilogy will come for me and Shogun for sure.”
UFC president Dana White agreed that pitting Machida and Rua as coaches would be great for the show, which aired its first international version in Brazil this past Spring. White, however, added that he hasn’t begun to fathom the possibility of selecting coaches for the next Brazilian season.
“These two would be amazing coaches,” White answered when asked what he thought about Team Shogun against Team Dragon.
Ahead of a potential coaching spot on the reality show, Machida has an important fight against Bader that, if he performs well enough, provides the possibility for a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title. Current champion Jon Jones is already scheduled to defend his belt against former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson on Sept. 1 at UFC 151. The winner of that match-up will face the most impressive light heavyweight winner off the UFC on Fox 4 card.
Against Bader, Machida will face a fighter he first met while demonstrating fighting techniques on Bader’s winning season of The Ultimate Fighter. “The Dragon” recalls Bader’s enthusiasm in the gym, but doesn’t remember the fighter’s description of Machida sweeping the young Arizona State wrestler onto his backside when sparring. Bader said he remembered the the situation clearly, while Machida only recalls a focused fighter looking to find success in MMA
“(The first time I saw Ryan Bader), he was a great athlete,” Machida said of his UFC on Fox 4 foe. “Very big heart. He trained very serious.”
Since then, Machida has gone on to win and lose the 205-pound title, while Bader has earned wins and suffered the first two losses of his career, one to Jones, the other by upset to Tito Ortiz.
Bader recently added a Shotokan Karate expert to his training regimen to counter Machida’s famed karate techniques. When asked if this is a concern for him, Machida responded by playing down his opponent’s preparatory measures. The only thing he’s concerned with, he said, is his own gameplan.
“I’m just thinking about my preparation; I’m not thinking about Bader’s preparation,” Machida said when asked about Bader’s karate training leading into their fight. “I knew that he (has) a great karate guy, but for me it doesn’t matter. I just want to do my own style.”
One thing that Machida won’t have this time around is martial arts film icon Steven Seagal. The Dragon has admitted to training with the actor, and Seagal has even taken credit for some of the techniques Machida has used in the Octagon in the past.
Machida explained that Seagal was absent from his UFC on Fox 4 training camp, but added that Saturday’s fight with Bader may have some techniques that will leave spectators in bewilderment.
“This camp I didn’t train with Steven Segal,” Machida said, “but I had a lot of support from my family and my team. Maybe I’ll have a surprise on Saturday.”