When UFC light heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson was forced out of a fight with Gegard Mousasi due to a cut late in the training process it seemed to clear the path to a pairing between the Swedish star and fellow top contender Lyoto Machida. Both men are in line for a title-shot but have been forced to fill time while waiting for champion Jon Jones to settle his score with Chael Sonnen.
Based on availability and the match-up making sense from a rankings perspective, Gustafsson expressed interest in meeting Machida to determine who the most deserving challenger was. Unfortunately, it looks like Machida doesn’t feel the same way.
“Lyoto is on stand-by list waiting for the winner of Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen. I think it is almost impossible for Chael to win this bout but anything may happen,” said Machida’s manager Jorge Guimaraes to Fighters Only Magazine, alluding to the possibility of Jones getting an immediate rematch if he falls at UFC 159 despite being a significant favorite.
“Lyoto is the number one contender and he is only waiting to see who is going to be the winner of this fight,” continued Guimaraes on his client’s plan. “(Since) the fight between Jones and Sonnen is going to happen now, it doesn’t make sense to fight Alexander. We’re almost there. If it were a little before, this fight could have already happened, but he just fought… and Dana White has made it clear that Lyoto is the number one. We’ll be waiting.”
Machida’s decision may not sit well with UFC brass having questioned his willingness to step up in the past when conditions weren’t ideal. “The Dragon” is 19-3, beating Ryan Bader and Dan Henderson in two tilts since being choked out cold by Jones in December 2011. Meanwhile, Gustafsson holds a career mark of 15-1 and has won six straight since his lone stumble including success against Matt Hamill, James Te Huna, Thiago Silva, and most recently Mauricio Rua.
PHOTO CREDIT – MMAWEEKLY