Machida has been without an opponent since defeating Randy Couture at UFC 129 in April. Many thought that White was punishing the former champion for asking for "Anderson Silva money" when asked to step in for Phil Davis at UFC 133 against Evans.
Now that their apparent rift is mended, Machida is back in the top contender spot. But regaining the title will be a tall order—both figuratively and literally—against the seemingly unstoppable Jones.
Here's the head-to-toe breakdown for this sure to be exciting championship bout.
Stylistically, both Jones and Machida are very elusive and creative strikers.
A master of Shotokan karate, Machida uses his uncommon footwork to keep his distance from his opponents, frustrating them before pouncing with hand and foot combinations.
Machida has used this tactic effectively, integrating lead leg kicks and jumping techniques to devastate opponents, most recently retiring Randy Couture with a jump front kick to the face at UFC 129.
Jones is a very creative striker as well, utilizing spinning elbows, jump kicks and any other move under the sun to baffle his opponents.
Not only is he creative, but his strikes hit hard—especially his elbows—making him a huge threat to anyone on their feet.
When Jones took the title in March against Shogun Rua, he dominated the striking specialist on his feet and showed that he can hang with the big boys.
But, because of Machida's tactical approach, elusive footwork and just as devastating strikes, he takes the slight edge in this category.
Both Machida and Jones are solid grapplers that can work their opponents on the canvas.
Machida is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt with a solid guard. He has only been put on his back a handful of times, but each instance Machida has held his own.
Jones is also a solid grappler, utilizing his wrestling background and coach Greg Jackson's Gaidojutsu. He has shown a very dominant top control, but has yet to reveal his bottom game.
Since Machida has shown a wider range of his grappling arsenal, specifically his guard, he again takes a slight edge over Jones.
In terms of pure wrestling, Jones has a huge advantage.
A top level junior college wrestler, Jones brought this experience to his MMA career, dominating every opponent he's faced with his vicious slams and takedowns.
Jones initially had trouble with Rampage Jackson at UFC 135, unable to take down the former champion in the opening round. He found his rhythm at the end of the fight, bringing Jackson to the mat before ultimately submitting him.
Machida has shown a solid takedown defense, but has no true wrestling experience. He has trained in sumo and utilizes sweeps efficiently, but Machida has never really used traditional wrestling.
A slick submission artist, Jones has a wide array of techniques that have tapped out some of the best in the sport.
Facing light-heavyweight prospect Ryan Bader at UFC 126, Jones took full advantage of his time on the canvas, sinking in a vicious guillotine choke in the second round. The tapout win earned Jones Submission of the Night honors as well.
Jones most recently submitted Rampage Jackson at UFC 135 with a rear naked choke in the fourth round. This was Jones fourth career submission win.
Machida also owns a solid submission game, but because of his propensity to stay standing up, he rarely has the opportunity to show it.
Owning only two career submission wins, Machida's only UFC submission win was against Rameau Sokoudjou at UFC 79.
Jones has shown a willingness to attempt a number of various submission techniques on the ground, especially vicious chokes, which gives him the edge in this category.
Both fighters are in incredible shape and have never been pushed around by their opponents.
However, when these two top light-heavyweights enter the Octagon, Jones will appear to be the bigger man.
When he squared off against Shogun Rua at UFC 128, UFC commentator Joe Rogan remarked that Jones looked like he was a weight class above of Rua.
Machida is roughly the same size as Rua, so the disparity will be apparent at UFC 140 as well.
Speculation has arose around Jones making the move to heavyweight in the future, so a strength advantage for the champion is not far fetched.
Lyoto Machida has been in the fight game since 2003 and has faced some of the best in the business.
Even before entering the UFC, Machida was beating top level fighters definitively, owning wins over BJ Penn, Stephan Bonnar, and Rich Franklin.
In the UFC, Machida has faced almost every top fighter at 205, including Rampage Jackson, Tito Ortiz, Shogun Rua, and Rashad Evans.
Despite being significantly younger than the former champion, Jones has been rolling through top level former champions as of late. Jones took out Rua at UFC 128 to take the belt and dominated Jackson to defend it at UFC 135.
The champion still has a long way to go in MMA, giving Machida a clear edge in experience.
Machida: Stylistically, Machida's game has been uncovered recently.
The enigma that was Machida karate is no longer a secret to the MMA world. What the former champion has to do is come up with a strategy that can make Jones and Greg Jackson scratch their heads when the Octagon doors close.
His karate style will still remain an asset, but if he is too tentative like he was in the Jackson fight or too aggressive like he was in the Rua fight, then expect Jones to remain the champion.
Jones: UFC 140 will be his forth fight this year, a huge toll on any fighter's body. Seemingly coming out of UFC 135 without a scratch, there was a scare that Jones would be out up to six months if not cleared by doctors.
How Jones responds to the constant training and competition remains to be seen.
Machida brings a new set of skills that will surely test the champion.
His karate style and solid takedown defense will pose a set of problems for Jones to solve.
When it comes down to it though, Jones has such a good wrestling base and a fantastic striking strategy that Machida may not be able to handle.
Although I believe Machida has a good shot at dethroning the champion, Jones' set of skills and pure athletic ability will give him the edge in this fight.
Prediction: Jones via TKO (third round).