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Machida outfoxes Mousasi as Weidman or Belfort await

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The pair traded heavy blows © Getty Images
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UFC middleweight contender Lyoto Machida dominated Gegard Mousasi in a five-round unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 36.

Machida (21-4) controlled distance and rocked Mousasi with several hard left head kicks en route to the win. Judges scored the bout 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46.

The performance very well might net Machida (21-4) a title shot against the winner of a UFC middleweight title fight in May between Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort.

"I obviously would like to get the champ," Machida said. "It's up to the UFC. President [Dana White] has to decide who I'll get."

The main event contest in Jaragua do Sol, Brazil, did not provide the highlight-reel finish of Machida's UFC 185-pound debut in October, when he knocked out Mark Munoz just three minutes into the first round - but it was nearly as impressive.

The former UFC light heavyweight champ got off to a somewhat cautious start, but seemed to pick things up as each round progressed.

He broke the ice in the opening frame with a left kick to the body and had Mousasi visibly frustrated midway in the second with his ability to circle away from exchanges.

The Brazilian crowd erupted in the second round when Machida landed one of the biggest strikes of the fight, a high left head kick. Mousasi (34-4-2) appeared undeterred, however, and answered moments later with a combination.

"He's a great fighter, he's a real champ," Machida said. "I wanted to finish it in another way, but I was able to get the points."

Just when it appeared Mousasi was starting to find his range, Machida switched his approach and had him confused again. He landed a spinning back kick in the third round and opened a cut on the bridge of Mousasi's nose during an exchange.

Machida's corner told him he was well ahead after the third round, which appeared to have an effect on his strategy in the fourth. He spent a long period circling away from Mousasi, before executing a trip in the center of the cage.

With just seconds remaining in that round, Mousasi landed an illegal upkick from his back while Machida had a knee on the canvas. Referee Mario Yamasaki paused the bout, but did not take away a point from Mousasi.

Machida actually came out more aggressive in the fifth, even taking Mousasi's back in the final minute. He landed one last right hand as the bell ended what was a tense, but relatively one-sided affair.

Machida entered the contest as the No.4-ranked middleweight in the world, according to ESPN.com. He is attempting to become the third fighter in UFC history to win a title in multiple weight classes, joining BJ Penn and Randy Couture.

This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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