UFC light heavyweight Lyoto Machida, who recently turned down an offer to face Jon Jones at UFC 152 later this month, has stated he did so because four weeks' notice was simply not enough time to prepare.
In a released statement, Machida’s management wrote the Sept. 22 date of UFC 152 in Toronto would not have allowed the fighter to have a training camp that was “complete and worthy of his work.”
“I want to serve the UFC and recapture the belt,” Machida said. “I always respect my opponent. For those reasons, I must prepare myself in the manner I believe in.”
The statement went on to say six weeks would give Machida enough time to prepare and that he “believes the bout could take place in Brazil at UFC 153,” which is scheduled to take place Oct. 13.
That scenario appears unlikely, as the UFC announced on Friday it had replaced Machida with Vitor Belfort, who will come up from middleweight to challenge Jones at UFC 152.
UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta confirmed to ESPN.com both Machida and Mauricio Rua turned down the Sept. 22 fight with Jones.
Speaking on Belfort, Fertitta added, “Thank God for old-school, real fighters.”
Machida has taken heat in the past for turning down offers from the UFC. In August 2011, he declined an opportunity to headline UFC 133 against Rashad Evans on short notice, drawing the ire of UFC president Dana White.
A former champion, Machida (18-3) earned the title shot with a knockout win over Ryan Bader at a UFC on Fox event last month. He lost to Jones via second-round submission in a title fight last December.