Lyoto Machida Will Remain No. 1 Contender Regardless of Gustafsson's Performance

Damon Martin@@DamonMartinContributor IMarch 18, 2013

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

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida is in a precarious position. He stands as the No. 1 contender at 205 lbs., but doesn't have the desire to sit out for more than six months waiting to fight for the title.

Machida earned the top slot in the division back at UFC 157 when he defeated Dan Henderson, and now will watch closely in late April when current UFC champion Jon Jones defends his title against Chael Sonnen.

The problem Machida is having right now is the fact that he doesn't want to sit out for several months waiting for a shot at the belt while the rust gathers on his body.  He'd love to stay active, but the problem is there's no one near the top of the division for him to face right now.

"He doesn't want to sit out, but unfortunately there's no guys in the top 10 right now.  There's nobody really in the top 10 that doesn't have a fight, so it's a complicated situation," Machida's manager Ed Soares told Bleacher Report recently.   

"Because Lyoto's the No. 1 contender, but he doesn't want to sit out six months before he fights.  Now we've got to wait to see this Chael/Jones fight, I mean what if one of them gets hurt?"

Following his fight with Henderson in February, Machida went on a family vacation to Hawaii to relax, but he's not returned and is awaiting word from the UFC on what comes next.

It's a difficult situation because Machida will get the next shot at either Jones or Sonnen if he waits, and UFC president Dana White validated that over the weekend when he was asked if there was any chance UFC on Fuel 9 fighter Alexander Gustafsson could leapfrog him into contention with a win on April 6 over former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi.

"He beat Dan Henderson," White said referencing Machida's No. 1 contender spot. "Whether Dan wants to think that fight however it was done or whatever, he ran from me.  You've got to be able to cut the guy off and stop him and finish him. If a guy moves too much and is too elusive, you've got to be able to stop him. Cut him off and stop him.  Dan couldn't do that, Dan lost the fight."

There currently is not a single fighter in the top 10 of the UFC's official rankings that isn't already matched up with a fight or sitting out due to injury (Ryan Bader – who Machida already knocked out in 2012). 

It appears the waiting game will have to be Machida's lot in life for now, but following UFC 159 in New Jersey, if he's handed a bout agreement to face the winner later this year, it's likely everything will get much better.

"We don't know what's going on yet," said Soares. "Lyoto wants to stay busy, but we don't know what's going on yet."

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