If Lyoto Machida earns another chance at Jon Jones by having an impressive win Saturday night, the title shot may just be a product of a shrinking light-heavyweight contender pool.
Jones has run through the competition throughout his entire MMA career, taking out former champions left and right, including Machida. But "the Dragon" was the first person to really pose a challenge to "Bones" when they faced off at UFC 140, even connecting with a few power shots in the first round.
However, Machida was put to sleep pretty brutally in the second round, the first time he had ever been submitted in his career. It also doesn't help that the karate ace is just 1-3 in his last four fights.
It will take another Karate Kid-style finish in order for Machida to get that second crack at the champ. He will have to really give Ryan Bader a beatdown and impress the fans.
Machida will also need some help from the guys fighting in the main event of the UFC on Fox 4 card.
If Mauricio "Shogun" Rua takes out Brandon Vera, he will make for a very good case for the top contender spot—and that's if he puts on a show as well. Rua is only 1-2 in his last three fights and lost the light-heavyweight title in humiliating fashion to Jones at UFC 128.
And there's a good chance that Rua will come through and finish Vera, as he is a heavy favorite against him.
But what about the rest of the 205ers?
Honestly, outside of Rua and Machida, there are limited options inside the division to challenge Jones.
Rising star Alexander Gustafsson is on a nice five-fight win streak and is coming off of a big win over Thiago Silva. The Swedish light-heavyweight, though, is only 25 and probably should face the likes of a former champ such as Machida or Rua before he gets a shot at Jones.
Other than Gustafsson, though, there aren't any real viable options inside the UFC.
It's really all in Machida's hands if he wants that second shot. And, with a little luck, I think that "the Dragon" may just pull it off.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!