UFC light heavyweight king Jon Jones turned down a UFC 151 scrap against Chael Sonnen because he felt eight days was not enough time to prepare for the former middleweight top contender. That ultimately opened the window for Lyoto Machida (Pictured) to step in and co-headline UFC 152 opposite Jones.
However, less than 12 hours after UFC president Dana White announced Jones vs. Machida II, “The Dragon” decided to exit the sequel and give Vitor Belfort the opportunity.
It’s not as though Machida was scared, hombre. The Brazilian felt one month’s notice wasn’t sufficient enough time to prepare for Jones and he preferred to capture home cage advantage.
“Lyoto Machida is eager to get back to training, and have another shot at the UFC light heavyweight belt,” Machida’s management expressed in a statement. “However, with the proposed fight against champion Jon Jones only four weeks away, Lyoto manifests that the deadline is unfeasible in order to have a training camp that is complete and worthy of his work.
Lyoto believes the bout could take place in Brasil at UFC 153, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro on October 13th, allowing him six weeks to prepare.”
Machida earned next dibs by putting Ryan Bader to bed earlier this month. He was slated to challenge the winner of UFC 151, but Dan Henderson was forced to bow out at the 11th hour after blowing the MCL in his knee.
UFC president Dana White wasn’t in a position to guarantee Hendo would reclaim his top contender moniker upon his return, and it’s highly likely Machida also lost his place in line. Nonetheless, the 34-year-old knows he made the right decision to bypass “Bones” this time around.
“I want to serve the UFC and recapture the belt,” Machida added. “I always respect my opponent. For those reasons, I must prepare myself in the manner I believe in.”
FYI – Jones submitted Machida just eight months ago.