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Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida is all set to return to the Bellator cage at Madison Square Garden this weekend, but he admitted noticing that something was missing from the build-up.
Machida (25-8 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) takes on fellow veteran Chael Sonnen (30-16-1 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) on Friday night in New York City, and says he’s been surprised at a lack of trash talk from his usually vocal opponent.
Talking to MMA Junkie Radio ahead of the bout (go to the 1:42 mark in the video above), “The Dragon” said there was a healthy respect between the pair, but admitted that he wouldn’t have minded if Sonnen had engaged in a little pre-fight smack talk to help sell the fight.
“He’s very respectful of me, and I appreciate that,” he said. “But actually, I’d like him to promote the fight a little bit more, because he knows how to do that. I’m not worried about trash talk. If it’s going to be good for the fight, I’m OK, man.”
Machida is looking to register his second straight win under the Bellator banner following his free-agency switch from the UFC last year.
Despite his decorated career, the Brazilian admitted he felt new nerves when he made his promotional debut against Rafael Carvalho at Bellator 213 last December.
And with his “Bellator cage jitters” out of the way, and a split-decision win under his belt, Machida says he’s ready and relaxed ahead of his second appearance for his new promotion.
“I was a little bit concerned about my first fight (in Bellator) because, as a fighter, you never know,” he said. “When you step into a different cage sometimes you can feel the pressure. My fight was against a very tough opponent, Rafael Carvalho, who’s a former middleweight champion. Now I can’t wait to step in there again.”
Machida and Sonnen’s light-heavyweight clash will form the co-main event at Madison Square Garden, and Machida said he was happy with his card placement because he knows bigger and better things lie just around the corner.
“Bellator has to do what’s going to be the best for the event,” he said of being placed behind the Rory MacDonald-Neiman Gracie welterweight title bout. “I’ll have my turn. I’ll have my chance to have a main event in Bellator. I know I’ll have to wait a little bit, but soon I’ll be fighting for the title or something like that.”
MMA Junkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio. You can also check out www.siriusxm.com/siriusxmfightnation.
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