Lyoto Machida is NOT going to be facing Jon Jones after all.
On yesterday’s emergency media call an apoplectic Dana White told listeners that with Henderson out of UFC 151 and Jones unwilling to take Sonnen as a replacement, the card was scrapped. The UFC president said Jones would be fighting Lyoto Machida on September 22 in Canada.
But it seems that the match was only provisionally agreed, and via Machida’s manager at that, and so when Machida was finally reached for discussion, he declined to take the bout with only a few weeks preparation. White had therefore wrongly announced Jones vs. Machida on the conference call.
Now Vitor Belfort has agreed to step in and fight on September 22 and Jones has agreed to face him, according to the UFC. White has also been reported as saying that Machida’s refusal to step up probably means he has lost his lead contender status and will need another fight to earn a title shot.
Henderson was forced out of the bout yesterday after a final examination by his coaches and doctors determined that he was not in condition to fight Jones. According to Henderson’s coach, the injury was sustained three weeks ago during an attempt to stop a takedown in sparring.
It has been diagnosed as a tear of the MCL ligament and is expected to heal normally without surgery. But Henderson’s absence from the card and subsequent inability to find a suitable replacement - or at least, one acceptable to Jones - meant the card was cancelled. White says it will be a “massive financial hit” for the company.