24 hours after reports indicating that he was ready to fight at UFC 133, Lyoto Machida has left the MMA world asking what happened. Veteran MMA reporter Dave Meltzer has shed light on the chaos and how Machida went from in to out in the blink of an eye.
While many in the UFC world are still buzzing about Tito Ortiz accepting a fight with Rashad Evans at UFC 133, most are still wondering what the heck happened to Lyoto Machida. Several MMA media sources reported that a Machida vs. Evans rematch at UFC 133 was official, only to retract their stories a few hours later. Was this a case of bad reporting or were they just pawns in Machida’s negotiation game?
Meltzer said on his F4Wonline.com podcast that the UFC were made aware of Phil Davis’ injury several days ago. He wasn’t officially out until he got an MRI, yet the writing was on the wall. Meltzer reports that Zuffa immediately contacted Tito Ortiz who turned down the fight. Meltzer reported that the UFC then contacted Machida. According to Meltzer, Machida was interested and the UFC were confident that they had a replacement all set.
This is where it gets interesting. Once Davis confirmed the injury with the MRI the UFC went into action to lock in Machida. Meltzer reports that Machida (who trains with Anderson Silva) made outrageous salary demands, demanding “Anderson Silva money.” Meltzer described “Anderson Silva” money as something over $1 million a fight. UFC president Dana White was reportedly furious at the demands and went back and forth with Machida. After getting nowhere, White went back to Ortiz and a deal was made.
It should also be noted that according to White, Tito Ortiz did not ask for more money. White told MMA reporters that Ortiz’s first rejection wasn’t any kind of negotiation ploy like the Machida situation.
This turn of events certainly makes a lot of sense if you look back on how the situation played out. Several MMA reporters, including some reputable ones reported immediately on Tuesday that Machida had accepted the fight. Technically he had, and someone probably leaked that information out. My guess is that it was probably Machida’s camp, hoping to put extra pressure on the UFC to meet his salary demands. My other hunch is that the Machida camp felt they had the leverage to hold up Dana White after Tito turned down the fight.
Another interesting tidbit from Meltzer is that the UFC had a third plan in place should Ortiz not make the deal. Vladimir Matyushenko would have been Rashad Evans’ opponent had Ortiz not reconsidered his decision. So whether Ortiz accepted or not, the UFC wasn’t interested in playing ball with Machida when it came to those kinds of crazy demands.
Needless to say for the minority of you complaining about seeing Ortiz vs. Evans, just know that you were spared a main-event of Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Rashad Evans.
As you could imagine this undoubtedly puts a big strain on the relationship between the UFC and Machida. Machida is not in any danger of being cut, but he won’t get a free ride to the UFC light heavyweight championship. White talked a few weeks ago about Machida being in line for the title shot, but that will change after the latest turn of events.
As for Machida, his wife gave a statement to the media about her husband’s decision to turn down the fight.
“The fight is close and for the sake of professionalism we can not accept it,” she said. “We always do our best, but there is only a few weeks [until the fight] and it wouldn’t be fair on the fans to put in a bad performance.”
But for $1 million he’d be happy to give the fans a bad fight.
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