Lyoto Machida wants nothing more than to get a second chance to face Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title, but he also wants to be fully prepared.
Following Dan Henderson’s injury that forced him out of UFC 151, Jon Jones was left in the midst of a shuffle of opponents, eventually shifting to UFC 152 on Sept. 22. It was Machida that got the first call to step in and face him in Toronto.
Machida was afforded the rematch with Jones after knocking out Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4 in early August, but never imagined the fight would come together so quickly.
Ultimately, Machida opted to pass on the title shot on short notice because he knows that a second loss to Jones would essentially mean never getting another crack at the belt so long as he holds it.
“Every guy who has lost to a champion twice in that weight division basically has to reinvent themselves and most likely change weight divisions. For us, the way I look at it, that’s a big step. For the UFC potentially, it’s just another event. It’s just UFC 151 or 152 or whatever it is, but for Lyoto it’s a much bigger decision in his life,” Machida’s manager Ed Soares explained when speaking to 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. 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.”
Timing was ultimately the deciding factor for Machida to turn the fight down because even though he desperately wants to wrap that UFC title back around his waist and avenge the loss to Jon Jones, he just needed more time to prepare.
“We even told Dana, we said, ‘Listen Dana, three weeks to train for a fight…’ It was four weeks, but everyone knows the last week before the fight you don’t train, so it was three weeks preparing himself. We said, ‘Dana, we need four weeks of preparation to prepare for Jon Jones.’ So I said, ‘We’d be willing to take the fight in October in Brazil because that would technically be five weeks of preparation, so that would be two or three weeks after with five weeks of preparation leading into the fight,” Soares revealed.
“So we were willing to do that, but unfortunately that didn’t work for them.”
The downside of turning the fight down for Sept. 22 means that Machida now has to watch Vitor Belfort get a title shot against Jon Jones, and it also means he might have to get back in the cage to compete again before fighting for the belt.
Machida can live with the decision because he knew in his heart that if he fought Jones at UFC 152, he just would not have been ready.
“If he has to take another fight before the title fight, that’s okay too,” Soares said. “But one thing that we want to know is we want to make sure that he’s 100-percent prepared for this next title shot.”
To hear Ed Soares’ entire interview, including updates on Anderson Silva and the Nogueira brothers, listen to Wednesday’s edition of MMAWeekly Radio.