Lyoto Machida was as surprised as anybody to get the call to replace Vitor Belfort against middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 173 May 24. "The Phenom" was set to challenge Weidman but says the UFC asked him to step aside after the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which will regulate the May 24 Vegas bout, banned testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which Belfort has been using for years.
"It was a surprise for me, I wasn’t expecting that," Machida told MMAFighting recently.
"I thought I would fight around June or July and got this news."
The former light heavyweight champion last fought and win Feb. 15 against Gegard Mousasi. He is still not cleared to train because of a medical suspension resulting from that bout, but believes that he will be soon and that he'll have enough time to prepare for Weidman.
"[Manager] Ed [Soares] called me and said ‘I think they had a problem with Vitor and you’ll have to fight for the title’," he said.
"I said, 'sure, that’s great.' I was already slowly returning to training."
Machida feels fit at his new fighting weight of 185 pounds and believes his 'always be ready' attitude towards conditioning will be key to his successfully filling in on relatively short notice against Weidman.
"I’m still suspended, but I believe I’ll be completely cleared to return to training next week" he said.
"I’m always active, so it helps my performance."