UFC 224 is starting to come together, and it looks like there is going to be at least one high profile Brazil vs. Brazil match-up on the fight card slated for May 12 in Rio de Janeiro.
MMAWeekly.com sources confirmed that Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort have verbally agreed to fight at UFC 224. Contracts have not yet been signed for the bout, which was first reported by Combate.com.
If it becomes official, the match-up pits two former UFC champions against one another in what is expected to be Belfort’s retirement bout.
Coming off of a victory over Nate Marquardt at UFC 212 last summer, Belfort (26-13, 1NC) had been angling for a retirement bout with Michael Bisping at the next UFC Fight Night in London, but Bisping – who is also expected to retire after his next bout – would have none of it. Belfort, 40, is now expected to end more than two decades of professional competition opposite his fellow former UFC light heavyweight titleholder.
Although Machida (23-8) has been fighting nearly as long and is just one year younger than Belfort, he has not indicated that he is ready to follow Belfort’s ride off into the sunset.
Machida returned late last year following a two-year suspension for a UFC Anti-Doping violation. He got knocked out by Derek Brunson in his return bout in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in October, but recently took a decision win over Eryk Anders in the UFC Fight Night 125 main event in Belem, Brazil.
Machida will make his third start in a row in Brazil when he faces Belfort in what could easily serve as the co-main event of the UFC 224 fight card.