I didn’t see much from Lyoto Machida on Saturday that makes me think he’ll fair better a second time around against Jon Jones. Presuming Jones beats Chael Sonnen in April,
that fight is up next at 205, UFC president Dana White said following Saturday’s card.
Earlier this week “The Dragon” told me that even after Jones strangled him unconscious in Dec. 2011, he’s "not convinced.” He spoke of wanting a rematch, which is rare for him since he hardly ever speaks of wanting anything.
"I'm living every moment as it comes," he said. "I enjoyed being champion but that it's gone. It's like this conversation. It will be gone in 20 minutes. It's behind, but could happen again."
Well, as of Feb. 23, Jones-Machida 2 is on.
"He's the No. 1 contender,” White told ESPN's MMA Live Extra. “Dan was the No. 1 contender. Machida beat him. That makes Machida No. 1."
However if people aren’t fired up what are the chances Zuffa finds a way to hold off? What happens if Alexander Gustafsson blows the doors off Gegard Mousasi? Or if it goes the other way? I bet both fighters would interest fans more than seeing Machida challenge Jones right now. So too Glover Teixeira, a teammate of Machida’s at Blackhouse, if he tops Ryan Bader in May.
Even Machida sounded less than sure of where he stood afterwards.
Said the 34-year-old Brazilian: "I thought I won the fight because I frustrated him and kept the fight where I wanted it."
Machida had an opportunity to assert himself over Dan Henderson and undoubtedly claim the shot. Instead, his effort was significantly less than definitive. Machida set out to stay away from Henderson's right hand and keep the contest standing. There was plenty of feinting, some nice movement to diffuse Henderson’s pressure, and the occasional punch and kick combinations punches. But nothing in the neighborhood of damage. Nothing that troubled Henderson, who wasn’t his sharpest either.
Nothing that made me think Machida was closer to having the right stuff to beat Jones.
Then again, to be fair, who does?
That adds to the point. We’ve seen Machida try already. He actually gave Jones a fight for the first five minutes, moving well and landing punches. Then Jones found that second round choke and Machida fell on his face. Considering that, Machida deserves credit for finding the courage to remain unconvinced.