Bellator 228’s Lyoto Machida: “My Mind is Still Young. I Still Dream Like a Young Guy”

Former UFC light heavyweight champ and Bellator contender Lyoto Machida says the key to performing well at middle age is to stay motivated, and have a young mind.

Los Angeles, CA — Lyoto Machida (26-8) returns this Saturday at Bellator 228, taking on Gegard Mousasi in one of the promotion’s biggest events of the year. ‘The Dragon’ enters the night on a four-fight win streak, but has dabbled at both middleweight and light heavyweight of late.

So which is it then? Machida isn’t about to limit himself. “Both. Both. I can fight in both categories, I believe that I can flow in both categories, and that’s good for me, because I believe I can be very active throughout the year,” he told Cageside Press in advance of Saturday’s showdown.

Machida, of course, is a former UFC light heavyweight champion. But he’s competed for middleweight gold before. And at middleweight, Mousasi might be the biggest name available, despite recently losing the belt to Rafael Lovato Jr.

That doesn’t mean a win over Mousasi means more than the title, however. “No, I cannot say that. Because every fight has specific importance for me,” Machida explained. “You cannot underestimate the champ Lovato, he’s a great champion, true champion. Of course, Gegard Mousasi has more name, you gotta be honest. But this fight’s going to be huge I believe. So I was very open for both options.”

The fight against Mousasi, their second, following a UFC scrap in 2014, goes down in L.A. this time, as opposed to Machida’s native Brazil. ‘The Dragon’ made the move to the American west coast years ago however. So in terms of fighting between the two, “there is no difference, because now I have been living here for seven years, so I have a lot of friends here. Los Angeles is like my home. Brazil is my home country, and I have much more people in Brazil that can support me. But here in L.A. it’s not that much different.”

“I still believe when I step in the cage on Saturday I’ll feel like I’m home,” said Machida.

Machida is, of course, teammates with the legendary Spider, Anderson Silva. Who still, despite being on the decline, seems intent on continuing his career. “It’s up to him,” Machida said in regard to his teammate.

“It’s hard to decide something for someone else. I believe Anderson has the right decision,” he added. “He’s a legend fighter, he’s a top fighter all the time. It’s up [to] his decision.”

Anderson Silva is 44. Machida himself is 41. Asked about the secret to performing at a high level in middle age, Machida said that first of all, it’s motivation. “Motivation is really important. What motivates you to go to the gym and train every day. Even though I’m 41 years old, I make a lot of mistakes, but one thing, I try to improve. All the time when I make mistakes, I try to improve.”

As well, he added, “my mind is still young. I still dream like a young guy, and that’s the most important thing that can keep you up and ready to fight any time.”

Lyoto Machida faces Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 228, this Saturday, September 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, CA.