When news first surfaced about the cancellation of UFC 151, UFC President Dana White announced light heavyweight champion Jon Jones (16-1) and former title-holder Lyoto Machida (18-3) would fight for a second time at UFC 152 in Toronto. However, last night it was learned that Machida had turned down the fight and Vitor Belfort (19-6) would be facing Jones on September 22 rather than “The Dragon”.
The Brazilian’s management released a statement earlier today explaining why Machida declined to take the fight, revealing the 34-year did indeed want more time to prepare as had been speculated and would have been willing to face Jones two weeks later in Brazil.
“Lyoto is eager to get back to training, and have another shot at the light heavyweight belt. However, with the proposed fight being only four weeks away, Lyoto manifests that the deadline is unfeasible in order to have a training camp that is complete and worthy of his work ethic,” stated the press release. “Lyoto believes that the bout could take place at UFC 153, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro on October 13, allowing him six weeks to prepare.”
Machida also addressed the matter directly, writing, “I want to serve the UFC and recapture the belt. I always respect my opponent. For those reasons, I must prepare myself in the manner I believe in.”
The UFC has not yet commented on Machida turning the bout down and it is unclear if the decision will affect the #1 contender status he earned by knocking out Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 4.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC