When former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida found out last month that he was passed over for a shot at Jon Jones‘ title in favor of former middleweight challenger Chael Sonnen, he went to Twitter to express his disapproval.
Machida was far from the only person outraged by the decision. But now that some time has passed, “The Dragon,” like most others, has moved on.
“At the moment I was a little upset,” Machida said through an interpreter. “But it’s all good, it’s passed.”
On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Machida maintained that he still doesn’t believe that Sonnen, on his merits, deserves his April 27 title shot against Jones. But he also said he sees both sides of the situation.
“There’s always two sides to everything,” said Machida. “Looking at it from an athlete’s perspective, Chael Sonnen might have cut across a lot of people and maybe cut the line to get a shot at the belt. But for the UFC, it might be a good thing for this fight to happen at this time. There’s always two sides.”
Besides, Machida has something else to focus on at the moment: Dan Henderson. One of the most widely rumored fights on the upcoming docket is an expected battle between Machida and the former PRIDE and Strikeforce champion. While the bout is widely expected to end up at UFC 157 on Feb. 23 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., Machida would only confirm the fact the two will fight, not the date and time.
“This fight is expected to happen but there’s no date set,” Machida said. “We don’t know yet where its going to be or when its going to be, but I’m very happy to be fighting Dan Henderson.”
Henderson and Machida were the fighters who most felt the sting of being passed over for Jones’ next title shot. It was Henderson’s knee injury while training for a bout with Jones, of course, which triggered the chain of events that led to the cancellation of UFC 151.
Machida, for his part, had been promised a title shot against the winner of Jones-Henderson as a reward for his impressive knockout victory over Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX 4 in Los Angeles on Aug. 4. Machida then turned down an opportunity to fight Jones atUFC 152, wanting a full training camp to prepare for a fighter of Jones’ caliber.
But if Machida is upset to be fighting Henderson in what appears to be a No. 1 contender fight instead of getting a title shot, he isn’t letting on.
“I don’t see it in that way,” Machida said about fighting in a match that isn’t for a title. “It’s a good fight and its another challenge for me. If I want to fight for the belt again, I need to get through this fight first.”
The Belem, Brazil native now makes his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Redondo Beach. He’ll stay in California to train with his usual entourage, but he know he has to have his wrestling sharp if he’s going to keep a former Olympian in Henderson honest.
“I’ve already been training with Kenny Johnson, my wrestling coach, and also Glover Teixeira is going to be out here soon, and he’s got good takedowns,” said Machida. “All my sparring partners will give me good training.”