After completing an 18-month suspension, Lyoto Machida is preparing to make his UFC comeback on October 28 in São Paulo, Brazil, in the main event of UFC Fight Night 119.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion, however, thinks neither the time away from the sport nor his age -- he's nearly 40 years old -- will hinder his championship aspirations.
Despite suffering two of the most brutal losses of his career in his last two fights against Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero, "The Dragon" is positive that he'll be able to start another run toward the top later this month opposite Derek Brunson.
"I'm going back to fighting now," Machida told AG. Fight. "And I had every reason to retire. I'm coming off two consecutive defeats. I had some surgeries. I had my nose operated [on], my hand, my elbow, plus I was suspended. So there's no other reason that makes me go back other than to be champion. I'm not here for fun; I'm not coming back to show anything to anyone -- I'm coming back to be champion.
"I'm not just going there to compete. I'm going to win. This is the most important thing for me, and that is my goal now. So, of course, there is nothing else that motivates me but to be a champion again. That is my goal, and I would never fight for anything but that."
Machida was suspended on the eve of a planned fight against Dan Henderson in April of 2016 at UFC on FOX 19. After getting tested by USADA, Machida spotted an ingredient of a supplement he had been taking on a list of prohibited drugs and admitted the use. Despite having served the full suspension, the Brazilian said the duration of the punishment may have been a bit exaggerated.
"I think this is a turn[ed] page, something I've already gone through," Machida said. "Now, I'm waiting for the moment of my return, my fight. It's hard to say if I would do something different [if I could go back]. Everything I did back then was right. I was doing everything right. In my conception, I have done nothing wrong. And as a result of all this, I had the suspension that really was a long suspension."
The substance in question is 7-Keto, which can be found in supplements distributed in the United States. Due to the availability of the product, Machida feels like 18 months was perhaps too long of a suspension.
"USADA is rigid, but I don't know how far it has been a benefit for the sport," Machida said. "We are not an Olympic sport. MMA is more entertainment-oriented. So, sometimes simple, routine things you can use, like a serum, can get you punished. The rigidity is great, but I don't have the knowledge to speak if this is good or bad now."
Machida made his UFC debut in February of 2007 as a light heavyweight before winning the division's title in 2009. In 2013, the Brazilian Karateka dropped down to middleweight, where he lost a title fight to then-champion Chris Weidman in 2014.
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