Lyoto Machida is no longer the number one light-heavyweight contender.
UFC president Dana White confirmed Machida’s loss of pole position during an appearance on FUEL TV last night. The Brazilian earned the spot with a big knockout win over Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 4 - but then lost it because he didn’t ‘step up’ to fight Jon Jones on short notice.
When Dan Henderson was forced out of UFC 151 with Jones and a mutually agreeable replacement couldn’t be found, the UFC cancelled the September 1 event and moved Jones to their September 22 event in Canada.
On the conference call announcing the cancellation, White told listeners that he had spoken to Machida’s manager and that the karate stylist would be facing Jones on September 22 rather than waiting for the winner of Jones vs. Henderson as had been originally planned.
But Machida’s manager hadn’t actually spoken to Machida, because Machida was on a plane. Instead he had assumed he would take the fight - but when Machida got involved he turned it down, saying four weeks was not long enough to prepare. This added another layer to the UFC’s already considerable embarrassment and Machida’s title shot was the casualty.
“When I make a fight, I don’t say a word until everything is signed. I did exactly what I never do. That big media call was the next day and Machida couldn’t be reached and his manager thought he’d take the fight,” White says.
“Before this happened he was terrorizing me for a title shot, and then he said four weeks wasn’t enough. But then things start going in another direction. It happened to Rashad Evans. He was out of a fight for a year and a half. Machida is not next in line now. He will need to go fight somebody else first.”