Remember how badly Lyoto Machida wanted a rematch with Jon Jones? Well, he didn’t want it badly enough to fight Jones on a month’s notice. In the latest chapter of the UFC’s most bizarre storyline of 2012, it was revealed late last night by MMAFighting that Machida decided he needed more time to prepare for another title fight against the light-heavyweight champ, and has turned down the opportunity. Machida had briefly been scheduled to face Jones at UFC 152 on September 22nd. (Yes, we’re calling it UFC 152 again. “UFC 151 will be remembered as the event Jon Jones and Greg Jackson murdered,” according to UFC president Dana White.)
The UFC’s next choice for Jones’s opponent was, logically, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, who also “won impressively” at UFC on FOX 4. But as Lance Pugmire of the LA Times tweeted, Shogun also turned down the fight. Unbelievable. And so, Dana’s hate list grows larger by the day.
But look, on the horizon…a savior. For some reason, middleweight contender Vitor Belfort was offered the chance to fight Jones at UFC 152, which he happily accepted. Said Belfort: “Where a lot of guys are acting like divas I think this is a big challenge for any fighter. I have all the respect for Jones. That’s why you can’t miss this competition. I will not let no one down. I come from the times of Carlson Gracie. He lives inside of me.” Belfort was originally slated to fight Alan Belcher at UFC 153 in Rio.
So there you have it: Jones will be making his next title defense against a 185′er, but not the one that you’d expect. Perhaps the fact that Chael Sonnen is coming off a loss was enough to disqualify him, although if Belfort turned down the Jones offer as well, who knows what could have happened?
A few more fun facts:
— Also from the MMAFighting report: “White added since Machida turned down the title shot, he will most likely have to fight another top contender before he gets an opportunity to fight for the title again.” Yeah, no shit. Jones didn’t want to fight Machida, the fans weren’t psyched about it, and now Dana doesn’t want it either. Maybe now would be a good time for the Dragon to drop to middleweight.
— This. What a difference two years makes.