When he turned down a short-notice fight with Jon Jones at UFC 152, Lyoto Machida knew that in doing so, he was likely going to have to take another fight or two prior to getting another shot at the UFC light heavyweight champion.
And he’s ok with that.
Turning down the Jones fight with roughly four weeks to prepare was a difficult decision for Machida. Was it enough time to get some preparation in for the fight? Sure. But it was a short enough time that it wouldn’t allow Machida to be as fully prepared as he typically is for a fight, especially one of such magnitude.
“I want to serve the UFC and recapture the belt,” Machida said after declining the Jones fight. “I always respect my opponent. For those reasons, I must prepare myself in the manner I believe in.”
Having lost to the champ once already, Machida knew that if he didn’t win the fight, prepared or not, it would likely knock him out of even thinking about title contention any time in the foreseeable future.
If you lose two in a row to the current champ, third chances don’t often come around, so Machida decided to take a step back, even if that meant he’d have to wait around a little longer or even take another fight.
UFC president Dana White on Friday, at a media luncheon in Las Vegas, made it clear that Machida would indeed have to take another fight, and that it is likely to be against Jones’ original UFC 151 opponent, Dan Henderson.
“He should have taken the fight,” White said of Machida’s UFC 152 decision on Friday. “We've seen it, history always repeats itself. Look how long it took Rashad (Evans) to fight for the title again.
“So you wanted to fight Jon Jones, you climbed up to the title fight and you don't take it. Now you're fighting (expletive) Dan Henderson. Now you might not even get to the (expletive) title again. You lose to Dan Henderson you're not anywhere near Jon Jones.”
Evans went more than a year scheduling and rescheduling fights due to injuries and various other circumstances before he finally got the title shot that he had earned. Machida could find himself in the same situation, but he had to make the decision that he felt was right at the time.
Coming from a very disciplined traditional martial arts background, honor and respect are huge elements of Machida’s fighting culture, and preparation for battle is part and parcel to that.
As he said after the decision to decline the UFC 152 Jon Jones fight, Machida’s camp on Friday reiterated to MMAWeekly.com that he is willing to do what is necessary to fight his way back to the belt.
If that means a fight with Dan Henderson is next, Machida’s camp has no problem with that. Henderson will be on the mend for the next few weeks, but if the UFC wants Machida to fight Henderson next, that’s what he’ll do.
The likelihood of a Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson match-up was first reported by MMAFighting.com.
Stay tuned to MMAWeekly.com for more UFC 152 news and updates.