After the fiasco surrounding the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Sept. 1 fight card, former light-heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida, declined the opportunity to face Jon Jones on Sept. 22 (now UFC 151), stating he needed more time to prepare for the current champ.
Vitor Belfort stepped in as Machida’s replacement, and he’ll get to test his skills against the youngest champion in the promotion’s history at UFC 151.
The move didn’t exactly endear Machida to the UFC, and it’ll probably end up costing him his number one contender spot.
Still, Machida feels like he made the right move, and his manager, Ed Soares, explained their decision during a conversation with MMAWeekly Radio.
“I know that in Lyoto’s heart and in his mind, he believes he can still be the light-heavyweight champion of the world,” Soares said. “So if he’s going to take this chance, and he’s going to take this opportunity to fight against Jon Jones, he wants to make sure he puts his best foot forward and be 100-percent. Because if he loses, it’s not just like he’s losing another fight. He really has to sit back and reinvent himself and figure out what am I going to do.”
Without a doubt, Lyoto Machida has been Jones’ toughest opponent to date, but it’s easy to understand why he turned down the opportunity to face “Bones” at UFC 151. Jones is one of the most gifted fighters in the UFC right now, and he’s a handful to deal with, even with a full training camp.
Given the fact that Machida is one of the few fighters who actually have a legitimate chance of beating Jones, it seems pretty logical that “The Dragon” would want to make the most of what could possibly be his last shot at “Bones.”
Unfortunately for Machida, his title shot is no longer guaranteed, but I’m sure he’ll eventually earn another opportunity to fight Jones.
David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 9 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter.