While Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is taking all the heat for UFC 151 getting cancelled, there are a few players in this game of cat and mouse who came away relatively unscathed despite largely committing the same crimes.
One of those players is Lyoto Machida.
After Dan Henderson got injured and pulled out of the planned Sept. 1 event in Las Vegas, Chael Sonnen was asked to step in to fight Jones. As you well know by now, "Bones" declined this option and instead offered to fight Sonnen, or whomever else, at UFC 152 on Sept. 22 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
With the extra time, the powers that be at UFC removed Sonnen's name from the mix -- because really it never belonged there in the first place -- and simply inserted Machida, the number one contender after his knockout win over Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4.
They didn't even ask him, actually. They just went ahead with a conference call and announced the new UFC 152 main event assuming "The Dragon" would accept the conditions.
But he didn't.
Neither did Mauricio Rua, which also may have helped to take some heat off, before Vitor Belfort finally stepped in to save the day. After all that's happened, it wouldn't be surprising if UFC President Dana White just wants to do away with his entire 205-pound division, considering the only guys willing to step in and help out on short notice -- Belfort, Sonnen, Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva -- were all middleweights.
Now that the smoke has cleared, Machida's manager Ed Soares has spoken to MMAWeekly.com and revealed the Black House camp knows full well the Brazilian is likely going to have to take another fight before getting the title shot he was promised, and they're just fine with that.
"If he has to take another fight before the title fight, that's okay too. But one thing that we want to know is we want to make sure that he's 100-percent prepared for this next title shot."
Expounding on his last sentence, Soares attempted to again convey why exactly the decision was made to turn down the Jones rematch and no, it wasn't because he wanted Anderson Silva money:
"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 152 or whatever it is, but for Lyoto it's a much bigger decision in his life. I know that in Lyoto's heart and in his mind, he believes he can still be the light heavyweight champion of the world. So if he's going to take this chance, and he's going to take this opportunity to fight against Jon Jones, he 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."
That is undoubtedly the best explanation yet from any of the many fighters who turned down short notice fights. It's reasonable and well thought out.
Then again, Machida has spoken extensively about a move down to 185-pounds. Assuming he lost to Jones again, wouldn't that move simply come sooner rather than later?
That's a question for you Maniacs to ponder while Joe Silva and Dana White ponder whether or not to give Machida another fight before he gets the title shot he was promised. If they decide to do so, and it's possible they won't, who do you think he should be matched up against?