When fans talk, UFC president Dana White listens. Unfortunately for Lyoto Machida (pictured), when they don’t talk, White listens even more.
Although Machida was promised next dibs (again) at reigning UFC light heavyweight king Jon Jones after posting an uneventful split decision victory over Dan Henderson at UFC 157, the fact that Jones has already choked “The Dragon” unconscious and the lack of buzz surrounding a rematch may have allowed Alexander Gustafsson to leapfrog Machida in line.
“Anything is possible,” White admitted over the weekend. “The problem is, nobody is clamoring saying, ‘Oh, I gotta see Machida fight [Jones].’ And Jones finished him so easily [at UFC 140], that’s the problem with that fight.
“And Machida didn’t make a statement in his last fight like TJ [Grant] did [at UFC 160]. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”
Jones and Gustafsson aren’t doing Machida any favors with their back-and-forth banter. Gustafsson kicked things off when he and his team released a Harlem Shake video that featured his friends holding up signs that read ”Jon Jones You Are Next.”
Jones then requested a tango with the Swede after steamrolling Chael Sonnen last month at UFC 159. The 205-pounders also exchanged pleasantries on Twitter this past week.
So, where does this leave the 34-year-old Machida? Probably on the outside of the Octagon looking in.
At the same time, Jones could be sidelined anywhere from six weeks to six months with a mangled toe. If Jones is forced to ride the pine for a half a year, Gustafsson and Machida will have to take another fight in the interim, perhaps a top contender bout against each other to solidify their top contender status.