The Machida era begins

For Machida to cement his legacy, he’s got a lot of work ahead of him. (UFC PHOTO)

For Machida to cement his legacy, he’s got a lot of work ahead of him. (UFC PHOTO)

NEIL SPRINGER -- SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 11:59 AM ET

Immediately following Lyoto Machida’s brutal knockout of Rashad Evans at UFC 98, announcer Joe Rogan was quick to say the ‘Machida era’ had begun in the light-heavyweight division.

Some will argue it’s too early to make such a claim, but it’s also a difficult point to argue. With a perfect 15-0 record under his belt, Machida has looked untouchable in the octagon.

He’s also silenced critics of his evasive style by ramping up the aggression in his last few outings. This was never more evident than last night when, upon dropping Evans with a straight-left, Machida swarmed the former champion en route to his impressive title victory.

This could be the beginning of a legendary title run.

However, for Machida to cement his legacy, he’s got a lot of work ahead of him. A quick survey of the light-heavyweight landscape reveals a number of intriguing matches for the new champion -- Quinton Jackson, Mauricio Rua, Forrest Griffin and Luiz Cane are all interesting possible opponents.

Jackson, who is likely next in line for a title shot, would prove to be Machida’s toughest test yet in mixed martial arts. The former UFC light-heavyweight champion has devastating knockout power in both hands and tremendous wrestling to his credit.

Things just got really interesting at 205 lbs.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR HUGHES?

In his post-victory interview with Joe Rogan, Matt Hughes made mention of two things -- firstly, he wants rematches with Thiago Alves and Georges St. Pierre; and secondly, his contract with the UFC is finished.

Though Hughes proved to be resilient against Matt Serra -- he managed to regain his bearings after being rocked following an accidental head-butt -- it’s difficult to believe that rematches with Alves and St. Pierre would end any differently.

He also needs to put more wins together before he earns a shot at either man. The welterweight division is stacked with talent and Hughes is bound to have trouble with wrestlers the likes of Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Anthony Johnson.

Though it was nice to see Hughes return to the win column, retirement still can’t be too far off.

EDGAR CLOSE TO A TITLE SHOT

Frank Edgar put on the best performance of his career last night against former lightweight champion Sean Sherk.

Showing off some impressive boxing skills, Edgar looked light on his feet and continually frustrated Sherk with his angles and head movement. The win has immediately thrust him into the UFC lightweight title picture.

While BJ Penn is set to defend his championship at UFC 101 against Kenny Florian in August, there is no definitive challenger for the winner.

Gray Maynard seems to be the best candidate for the job -- sporting a five-fight win streak, which includes a victory of Edgar. However, the winner of Clay Guida vs. Diego Sanchez at the Ultimate Fighter finale won’t be too far off either.


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