Well Lyoto has beaten Rich Franklin, BJ Penn, Tito Ortiz, Stephan Bonnar, Thiago Silva, Sokoudjou, and Rashad Evans, and he's done all of this without losing a single round. He's the second least hit fighter in MMA.
I can understand people's refusal to accept Machida until he's defended a few times... but if he had gotten the title from Franklin when he first defeated him (just two years from when Franklin would infact have the title) then I guess it'd be a different story.
Some good points here. I'm certainly not saying Machida hasn't proven himself, I just don't think he's invincible.
Franklin's a high-level win I'd forgotten about, I guess because it wasn't in Machida's UFC run. I don't put much stock in the BJ fight - I actually think it reflects really well on BJ (3 rounds, and BJ was pretty competitive for parts of it!) but not especially Machida with his 30 lb. weight advantage. Ortiz is a good solid win. Bonnar, Sokoudjou, Silva I see as B-level.
I guess what I'm saying is that Machida proved he was top-tier by beating those guys decisively. Not sure what to make of the Franklin fight as Rich was a different fighter then (but it's still damn impressive - no doubt who won that one!). Then he proved he was elite level and a champion by beating Rashad, who I see as a step above all those guys (except maybe Franklin).
I think Machida's a ton of fun to watch, and I never agreed with people who thought he was boring before the Silva & Evans fights.
But this thread's about the deepest divisions, and there seems to be a lot of voices talking about LHW as the deepest. I don't think Machida looks invincible until he defeats Shogun plus two more top 10 guys. Ideally that would've been Griffin and Rampage for me...
I think Shogun and Rampage would have the best shot against him (other than A. Silva, of course).