It has almost become too cliché as the story revolves around a former world champion, and pound for pound great, travelling the long and winding road to redemption.
With a fairytale story, we enter the dragon for the UFC’s latest offering.
By Michael McDonald
On May 23 2009 it appeared that we were on the verge of the Lyoto Machida era and that the martial art known as karate was back. But before we could all get excited about the Brazilian, Machida suffered a brutal knockout at the hands of Maurício ‘Shogun’ Rua at UFC 113 almost a year later which derailed all his momentum.
However, after four years it appears that the freight train is back and, despite being 36-years-old, Machida has never looked more focused and rejuvenated than before. Riding a 4-1 record in his last five outings, it would appear that he has finally found his home in the 185lbs division.
While the Dragon is fighting to seal a remarkable comeback, his opponent is fighting a battle that is for more than gold.
For Chris Weidman, his challenge is to not only walk out of the Mandalay Bay Events Center as the middleweight champion, but to also gain the respect that he feels is long overdue after his controversial wins over pound for pound great Anderson Silva.
Despite Weidman not getting the respect from some fans who claim that both his wins over Silva were nothing short of a fluke, he has the respect of the bookmakers who have tipped him as the favourite coming into Saturday’s match up.
But we all know odds are nothing but statistics and the true reality of the fight will not be determined until Saturday night in Vegas.
What we do know is this is a nightmare match-up for the defending champion as he goes one on one with a fighter who has been known for his clinical and precise striking abilities and defensive wrestling.
While this fight may appear to be a stylistic nightmare for the champ, his wrestling skills and striking must be respected or Machida could share the same fate that his friend Anderson Silva experienced last year.
With both men fighting for more than gold the narrative has been written, the stage has been set and the fighters are ready.
However the story plays out it will be one contested out of respect, skill and the will of a champion.