Been there, done that.
That's the tract Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Jon Jones took last night (Sat., April 27, 2013) at the UFC 159 press conference (watch replay here), informing mixed martial arts (MMA) media members in attendance at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., that he isn't too high on a rematch with Lyoto Machida when different, and bigger, 205-pound contenders lie in wait.
"I’ve fought Lyoto Machida before," said Jones. "I fight for the people that support me, but I also fight to prove critics wrong. A lot of people believe that I have been successful because I appear to be larger than my opponents. And with Alexander Gustafsson that would be no more. So fighting Alexander Gustafsson -- a guy who is 6'6" or 6'.5 pretty long arms himself, long legs -- I think that would be a great thing and that is who I’d love to fight next."
Machida, who "Bones" choked unconscious while standing at UFC 140 back in Dec. 2011 -- earned a second crack at Jones with a split decision win over Dan Henderson earlier this year at UFC 157. It was clearly a close match, with "The Dragon" playing his patented game of keep away to pile up points with the judges.
UFC President Dana White was not thrilled with the performance, but he assured the Brazilian that there was "no doubt" he was next in line behind Chael Sonnen, who Jones thrashed last night in UFC 159's main event (watch highlights here) en route to a first round technical knockout (and broken toe). And this was all before Alexander Gustafsson, another viable top contender in the midst of a six-fight win streak, was forced to withdraw from a pivotal divisional match up with Gegard Mousasi because of an eye injury.
That missed opportunity, apparently, will work against "The Mauler" and a possible shot at Jones next.
"Alexander should have fought that night ... and he didn’t fight," White explained. "Jon Jones isn’t going to be fighting anytime soon apparently. He has a compound fracture. When I went into the Octagon, the bone was sticking out of his toe. I’m not a doctor. I don’t know how long that takes to heal, but it can’t be too quick."
Indeed, Jones will likely need some time to rehabilitate his injury, which looked remarkably better (see pic here) after getting some much-needed medical attention. It would therefore presumably make sense that Gustafsson and Machida compete in a No. 1 contender eliminator match to clear up any confusion and keep the division moving while Jones recovers.
Even if the Machida camp doesn't think it "makes sense." However, things have changed, and all things considered, it now makes all the sense in the world, even if White uncharacteristically doesn't want to provide knee-jerk speculation.
"We’ve got to see what happens with Jones -- how long he is going to be out -- and we’ll go from there," White concluded.
Been there, done that.