The UFC has announced yet another fight change. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will not be fighting Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, or Lyoto Machida after all. Instead, Jones will now fight Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 in Toronto.
News broke early Friday morning that Lyoto Machida turned down the opportunity to fight Jones at UFC 151. Somehow or another Vitor Belfort wound up with the spot. I like Vitor Belfort but he hasn’t fought at light heavyweight in the UFC in oh I don’t know say…over seven years!
Dana White has also told the media that Machida is now out of the mix for the next title shot after turning down the fight. White said that Machida will have to take another fight before getting the title shot. I think that is a bit unfair. Machida earned the shot, was told he had the shot, and should be given fair opportunity to train for the shot. For Machida, he earned a title shot with a full camp and he shouldn’t be penalized for turning the fight down.
Interestingly enough Mauricio Shogun Rua was also offered the fight and turned it down. Now this is one that surprised me. Rua had a golden ticket here and may be out of the mix for awhile when it comes to a title shot. Rua also fought in Pride FC where they would take fights on short notice. Rua turning down the shot tells me that he just has very little interest in fighting Jones again.
The shock here is that they skipped over Chael Sonnen. MMA reporter Dave Meltzer speculated that they didn’t even approach Jones with Sonnen. Meltzer pontificated that the UFC may have assumed that since Jones turned down Sonnen once that he would do it again. However, according to Jones he would have accepted a fight with Sonnen at UFC 151/152.
“Dan Henderson got hurt, and our fight was canceled,” Jones added. “As difficult as it is to deal with everything that’s happened, I just didn’t feel like I had enough time to prepare both physically and mentally for a fight with a new opponent. I just didn’t feel I had enough time to prepare properly and perform at my best. Whether Chael Sonnen actually deserves a title shot really isn’t my place to say. But if he wants to fight on Sept. 22, then I’m fine with that.”
It should also be pointed out that Anderson Silva almost became an unlikely hero. The UFC middleweight champion reportedly called the UFC and offered to save UFC 151. Silva offered to fight at light heavyweight on the show. Unfortunately the call came to late and the event had already been cancelled.
The leap to Belfort simply boggles my mind. I understand things happen but to take a guy that that hasn’t even won in the UFC’s division in over eight and a half years! This comes off as armchair match-making to me in regards to a bunch of fans sitting around and saying, “You know what would be cool? Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort.” Would it be cool? Maybe, but this just lacks zero credibility. Strikeforce’s title matches made more sense! Was anyone in the light heavyweight division who has won a fight in oh I don’t know, the last eight years even under consideration?
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