Lyoto Machida Stands Alone as No. 1 Contender, Faces Winner of Jones vs. Sonnen

Damon MartinContributor IFebruary 24, 2013

Feb 23, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA;  Lyoto Machida (red gloves) celebrates after his bout against Dan Henderson (not pictured) during their UFC welterweight bout at the Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in less than a year, Lyoto Machida has earned a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title and a potential rematch with Jon Jones.

Machida defeated Dan Henderson on Saturday night at UFC 157 to pick up his second win in a row, putting himself into position to face the winner of the upcoming bout between Jones and former middleweight contender Chael Sonnen, who meet at UFC 159 in April.

The win on Saturday put Machida back in line for the shot after he earned a crack at the belt last August with a win over Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4.  Following that win, Machida was declared the No. 1 contender, but when he turned down a chance to fight Jones on three weeks' notice, he was put back in line and had to fight Henderson.

While the fight won't go down in history as an all-time great, Machida still got the win, and UFC president Dana White assures him that he will get the next shot at the 205-pound title.

"He just beat the No. 1 contender, which would make him the No. 1 contender," White said during the UFC 157 post-fight press conference.   "It wasn't a barn burner, it wasn't the most exciting fight you've ever seen.  You won't be writing stories about this fight till the end of time, but Lyoto won the fight. He beat the No. 1 contender.  He beat Dan Henderson."

Prior to the fight, Machida, who weighed in at 202 pounds (three pounds under the 205-pound limit), had teased that he might be considering a move down to middleweight.

With the win over Henderson and the potential to avenge his 2011 loss to Jones at UFC 140, Machida is staying put at light heavyweight now that he's getting a title shot.

"Now with this opportunity, I want to stay at 205.  I want to fight for the belt," said Machida.

The game for Machida now is waiting for the fight between Jones and Sonnen to play out in April at UFC 159.  At that point, he can begin preparing for an eventual showdown with the winner and his shot at the UFC light heavyweight championship.

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