If new comments from Dana White are to be believed, both Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson have now been ruled out of an immediate light-heavyweight title shot and will have to fight each other to establish who gets back to the No.1 contender spot.
Henderson was of course originally supposed to fight current champ Jon Jones at UFC 151, but it seems his decision to pull out with a knee injury has cost him his shot at the strap for the time being.
Meanwhile, Machida was invited to be ‘Hendo’s’ replacement at UFC 151 but wasn’t available, and then was pencilled in to meet Jones at UFC 152 instead, but again refused, asking for more time to prepare for a rematch with him.
While Henderson’s situation was forgivable (though White recently partially blamed him for UFC 151’s cancelation, saying that he should have informed them earlier that he had a potentially fight-threatening injury), the UFC president says that Machida made a big mistake by refusing the title shot because now he’s going to have to fight Hendo instead.
“[Machida] should have taken the fight,” White told a media gathering on Thursday. “We’ve seen it, history always repeats itself. Look how long it took Rashad (Evans) to fight for the title again. So you wanted to fight Jon Jones, you climbed up to the title fight and you don’t take it. Now you’re fighting (expletive) Dan Henderson. Now you might not even get to the (expletive) title again. You lose to Dan Henderson you’re not anywhere near Jon Jones.”
He’s got a point. I wonder if it had been laid down in those terms to Machida and his management at the time – that refusing to fight Jones on four week’s notice would lead to a No.1 contender bout with Henderson instead – if that would have changed their minds on how to proceed.
Perhaps not. Henderson’s a tough fight for Machida, but stylistically his fast, in-and-out, rangey style could be the perfect antidote for his opponent’s fight-ending overhand right, and if he can get past him then that would generate a lot more momentum and interest behind a potential rematch with Jones.
It’s possible, but the only thing I know for sure is that this is a fight I want to see.