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RIO DE JANEIRO – Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida doesn’t know Vitor Belfort like the back of his hand. But the two did train together.

Around 2010, the ex-champions shared time at the Black House gym in Southern California. The relationship fell short of avowed teammates, because they didn’t have enough time to forge that bond.

“We never had something really serious, like training for a fight together,” Machida (23-8 MMA, 15-8 UFC) told MMAjunkie.

When the idea of fighting Belfort (26-13 MMA, 15-10 UFC) recently came up, Machida viewed it as an exciting opportunity rather than a betrayal of a bond, as frequently is the case when training histories enter the picture.

Rebounding from a career-threatening skid, Machida thought Belfort was a good matchup to get back in the UFC’s good graces. And so, he eagerly signed on to face “The Phenom” at UFC 224, which takes place Saturday at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

Belfort and Machida meet on the pay-per-view main card followingn prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

Belfort’s history with Machida’s current coach, Vinicio Anthony, has been identified as a factor in the fight. But Machida downplays its significance.

“Vinicio is one of my oldest friends,” he said. “We trained together in karate; we were together on a Brazilian team for karate competition. He went to train with Belfort a couple of times, but he quit that. After a while, I invited him to help me. It has nothing to do with Vitor Belfort.”

The way Machida sees it, the matchup is about two veterans with respect who want to test their skills in the octagon. The fact they’ve traded a few punches matters little.

For more on UFC 224, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.