Lyoto Machida Believes He Should Earn a Title Shot with a Win at UFC 157

Damon Martin@@DamonMartinContributor IFebruary 12, 2013

August 4, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Lyoto Machida during UFC on FOX at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson will battle it out in the UFC 157 co-main event, and a lot is on the line for both fighters as they look to climb the ranks of the light heavyweight division.

The fight between Machida and Henderson features the two fighters ranked second and third in the recent UFC fighter rankings, just below champion Jon Jones. 

UFC officials have made it clear that the rankings aren't there solely for the sake of matchmaking, but it would be hard to deny either Machida or Henderson a title shot after UFC 157 is concluded.

Henderson was already supposed to have had a title shot in 2012, but a knee injury forced him out of UFC 151 and his scheduled bout against Jones.

Machida was also promised a shot at the belt after defeating Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4 last August, but following Henderson's injury he was offered the fight on short notice to face Jones at UFC 152 but ultimately had had to turn it down without proper time to prepare.

Now the two contenders hope to solidify their place atop the division with the fight at UFC 157.

"I believe that out of this fight whoever wins should definitely be the contender for the title," Machida said during a UFC media conference call on Tuesday.   "If we're No. 1 and No. 2, then the title shot's definitely on the line in this fight."

Machida has only fought once since losing to Jon Jones at UFC 140 in December 2011, the victory over Bader in August.

While he wishes that he could have taken the opportunity  to face the champion last September, Machida knows he wouldn't have been at his best.  A second loss to Jones, even on short notice, would have also all but eradicated Machida from a future title shot so long as Jones held the belt.

"I obviously wanted a title shot a lot, but it wasn't the right situation. I had about 20 days to prepare for the fight and Jon Jones had been training for two or three months.  So it wasn't the right time to do it," Machida explained.

"I was upset, but everything happens for a reason, and hopefully (I'll) get back on top this year."

If Machida can beat Henderson, then it would go a long way to putting him back into title contention. 

Jon Jones has said in the past that he didn't have a lot of interest in a rematch with Machida after defeating him so emphatically with a second round guillotine choke in their last match-up.

Machida could force his hand however if he beats Henderson and stands alone as the top contender at 205lbs.

Damon Martin is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.