Update – Lyoto Machida Turns Down Rashad Evans UFC 133 Fight

Another UFC main event has bitten the dust! Phil Davis is injured and the fight against Rashad Evans is off. Even worse, Philadelphia fans were teased with a bigger UFC 133 fight, which looks to have fallen through amidst conflicting reports.

The news comes less than a month before a show that has already had two changes in the main-event. The first main-event, Rashad Evans vs. Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title was canceled due to an injury to Bones. Now with Bones’ replacement Phil Davis on injured reserve, Evans is now ready to go without a foe.

Yahoo MMA reporter Kevin Iole tweeted that the fight is official as per Dana White on Wednesday afternoon.

Just got a text from @danawhite. Machida is in vs Suga Rashad, he says – @KevinI

Unfortunately for MMA fans the excitement lasted all of about an hour. Media out of Brazil later disputed Iole’s story. Two publications have quotes from Machida’s wife saying that Lyoto has officially turned down the fight. At this point, it appears that Machida turning down the fight appears to have more legs than the latter.

Once again this is another fine job of reporting by the MMA media. I blogged last month about how the MMA media continually misreported the Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz story. Several members of the media reported that the two had signed to coach TUF, then the fight was off, then the fight was on, and finally the fight was off because Showtime nixed the deal when in fact the fight was on.

Mike Chiappetta reported that Tito Ortiz was offered the fight and turned it down. I can’t say I blame him. There is no upside for Ortiz to take such a big fight on little notice. Chiappetta intimated that turning down the fight will not help his relationship with Dana White. I hope not. The guy just trained his butt off and dominated Ryan Bader. He deserves a break if he wants one, without repercussions.

I am starting to think that Rashad Evans is just a cursed fighter. Evans has probably had more fights changed due to injuries and cancellations in the last year than anyone else I can think of. Evans was originally set to fight Mauricio Shogun Rua at UFC 128 for the UFC light heavyweight title but had to pull out six weeks before the fight due to injury. Before that it appeared the UFC had to move mountains to get Rampage Jackson and Evans in the octagon together. It’s a good thing for Evans’ future opponents that they will be covered under the new UFC insurance policy.

I can’t say that I blame Lyoto Machida. I think it is hard to expect a professional MMA fighter to just immediately pick up and put together a camp on three weeks notice. In addition to strategy, getting your cardio right is almost next to impossible with that short notice. It is one thing for a fighter to do this on the undercard against a prelim fighter. It is another thing for a fighter to take a fight on short notice against an elite fighter.

Yes I know, Jon Jones took the fight with Shogun on short notice and did great. But, Jones was in fight mode. There was the fear of over training but I would imagine that it would be less of an issue with someone as young as Jones. I can’t imagine that Jones would have taken the fight on three weeks notice without a camp, but who knows.

This is a terrible blow to the UFC. Rashad Evans is sitting primed and ready without an opponent three weeks before the event. Other than Ortiz and Machida, I can’t think of anyone else that would be a suitable opponent on short notice. Going into a big market like Philadelphia without a real main-event could be potentially devastating to the live gate.

There is some talk about canceling the Rich Franklin vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fight and matching up Franklin vs. Evans. I can’t imagine the incentive to Rich Franklin to abandon what appears to be a relatively easy win to take a fight with a much tougher opponent on three weeks notice. It isn’t as if Little Nog and Evans are similar fighters either.

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Quite frankly I think Evans dodged a big bullet here. As much as I would have liked to see the rematch, I think it was a little unfair to ask Evans to prepare for someone as complex as Machida less than a month before the fight. Machida and Davis are about as opposite as two opponents can be for Evans. Take a look at what happened to Rick Story when you prepare for a completely different opponent on short notice. Evans was biting off a bit more than he could chew in my opinion.

At this point I think the UFC should book the fight but schedule it down the line, possibly UFC 136. I don’t think anyone would be real upset if they never saw the promised Phil Davis vs. Rashad Evans fight. If Machida and Evans are willing to fight, lock it in, and make it happen. I hope that the UFC doesn’t abandon the fight altogether.

I also think it may have been too much pressure for Machida to take the fight. It would have been the biggest fight of Machida’s career. After beating Evans, Machida has gone 2-2. Only one of his wins was anything to write home about and that was a fight against a 47-year old former champion on his way to retirement. A loss here would have been devastating and potentially set back Machida for the next year and a half.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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