However, after losing a controversial decision to Phil Davis at UFC 163 last night (Sat., Aug. 3, 3013) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, "The Dragon" may have moved away from a title shot for the foreseeable future faster than he avoids attacks from his opponents.
The 35-year-old Brazilian is no stranger to being involved in controversial decisions. Remember, there wasn't a mixed martial arts (MMA) pundit on Earth who felt his hand should've been raised over Mauricio Rua at UFC 104 in Oct. 2009. And many experts complained about his split decision victory over Dan Henderson at UFC 157 this past February.
Indeed, he was the No.1-ranked Light Heavyweight in the promotion since defeating "Hendo" (details here).
However, Alexander Gustafsson is now set to be the next challenger for division champion Jon Jones at UFC 165, and the pair are currently on a "World Tour" to promote it, which is a strong indication of how the Zuffa brass feels about the Brazilian.
Remember, Machida could have had his rematch with Jones almost a year ago at UFC 152, but he turned it down, citing three weeks as not enough time to prepare for Jones (details here). Now that opportunity may never arise again for "The Dragon" after failing to convince the judges he deserved the important victory.
Hours before the co-main event kicked off on pay-per-view (PPV) in South American, and thousands of miles away in Canton, Ohio, the enshrinement of legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells took place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Why is this relevant? Parcells -- who coached in three Superbowls and lost one AFC title game -- always stressed that there are never any guarantees that a team will get back to either one in the future.
The same can be said for title shots in the UFC. With injuries, among other variables, the path to earn a crack at a shiny strap is never a certain one. Neither is the road to a redeeming rematch. In other words, to thumb down a title shot could very well end up being the equivalent of not cashing in a lottery ticket.
The Black House-trained fighter is a veteran of four UFC title fights, winning two of them. His last chance was against Jones at UFC 141 back in Dec. 2011, and it may end up being his final one.
He rolled the dice when he turned down the rematch last August. And even if he deserved the decision victory over Davis last night, it's hard to feel bad for the former champion based on his track record.