Ed Soares on the Real Reason Lyoto Machida Turned Down Jon Jones
Ed Soares, manager to some of the UFC’s finest Brazilian fighters, has talked about why light heavyweight Lyoto Machida turned down his chance to avenge his title fight loss to Jon Jones.
In an interview on the TV show Inside MMA, Soares implied that losing to the same champion twice could endanger Machida’s career. Stepping up to fight Jones on short notice wasn’t, therefore, an option the former champ could take lightly.
In his own words:
When you look at, you know, in the UFC, any guy whose lost twice to the same champion, what ends up happening is that they have to start reinventing themselves. BJ Penn had to do it, Rich Franklin had to do it, Chael Sonnen had to do it.
So basically for him to take that fight... in his heart, he knows he can beat Jon Jones, so if he’s going to fight Jon Jones, he doesn’t want to leave any regrets. Because if he went in there and lost the second time and had to reinvent himself, in his heart he believed he can beat him, I think that’s going to be a thorn in his side for the rest of his life. So I think those were the decisions.
That decision to pause before accepting to fight Jones has cost Machida dearly.
After his win against Ryan Bader on August 4 at UFC on Fox, Machida was unexpectedly given his second shot at Jones’ title after the incumbent champion’s fight with Dan Henderson.
What happened after will forever go down in UFC annals as one of the biggest debacles the promotion has had to face.
Henderson got injured and various men were offered an immediate fight in August. Machida was one of them, but refused on the grounds he was traveling to Brazil. Chael Sonnen then stepped up, but Jones himself refused to take that fight on such short notice.
In the aftermath, UFC 151 became the first non-event in the UFC’s history.
Machida was then given an option to fight Jones again at UFC 152, but again he refused, saying he wanted more time to prepare.
That sort of behaviour is not something that will endear you to the heart of UFC president Dana White.
That second refusal was enough to put Machida way back of the line for a title shot. Jones is now slated to fight Sonnen next year, after the end of a season of The Ultimate Fighter which they will both coach.
White has no regrets in that decision.
In an interview on the Dave Mahoney radio show, White explained that Sonnen was given a title shot because he stepped up when none of the other fighters he called did.
Soares, who also manages Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo, said that he has no regrets with Machida’s decision, adding that the Brazilian had much more at stake than most other fighters in the position for a title fight.
“It may be just another event for the UFC, but for Lyoto it wasn’t just another fight. It was the fight of his life. He wanted to make sure that he was prepared,” said Soares.
As things look now, the light heavyweight title race looks like this—Sonnen will get the first shot sometime after April 2013, and Henderson and Machida will have to face-off to see who the next in line is.
In the meantime, in an increasingly stacked light heavyweight division, the likes of Glover Teixeira, Phil Davis and Alexander Gustafsson will be snapping at all their heels.
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