When UFC President Dana White announced UFC 151 would be cancelled he assured media on the conference call that the next challenger for Jon Jones’ title would be former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Fans were later surprised to learn Machida had turned down the fight, but according to Machida’s manager Ed Soares it was a decision they had to make very carefully based on the implications even if it made the road to get back into #1 contender status a little longer.
“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 (UFC 152) or whatever it is, but for Lyoto it’s a much bigger decision in his life,” explained Soares on MMAWeekly Radio.
Getting a third crack at a title-shot in the same division is a relatively rare thing in the UFC, and, according to Soares, that was definitely part of the conversation when deciding on declining the UFC’s offer.
“Lyoto 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,” Soares continued, noting that Machida was definitely willing to fight Jones for the second time but doing it with less than a month to prepare simply was not enough time for the former champ.
“If he has to take another fight before the title fight, that’s okay too,” Soares admitted. “But one thing that we want to know is we want to make sure that he’s 100% prepared for this next title shot.”
Ultimately, as a result of Machida’s stance, Jones will defend his title against former champion Vitor Belfort on September 22 at UFC 152 while Machida waits to hear from his UFC bosses in terms of his next move.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC