Lyoto Machida may be the UFC’s top light heavyweight contender, but it may nevertheless take awhile for “The Dragon” to receive his next crack at UFC gold.
While Machida had previously set his sights on the winner of Jon Jones’ recent UFC 159 clash with Chael Sonnen, the Brazilian is now requesting to fight Alexander Gustafsson after learning that the injured Jones could be sidelined for some time. The winner of that title eliminator would then challenge “Bones” when the 205-pound champion is back to full strength.
“I am interested in this fight, because I think it’s a good idea to put Gustafsson against me. He is the No. 2 contender, and I am the No. 1 contender. Let’s see what happens,” Machida this week told Fox Sports. “I would like to fight before I fight for the title, maybe, because I don’t want to wait for a long time. I need to fight.”
When asked about a timetable on his potential clash with Gustafsson, Machida did not mince words, asserting that he would like to face the Swede “as soon as possible.”
Machida, 34, has earned back-to-back victories since he was choked unconscious by Jones in December 2011. The former champion kicked off 2012 with a second-round knockout of Ryan Bader and followed that triumph with a Feb. 23 split decision victory over former Pride Fighting Championships titlist Dan Henderson at UFC 157.
Gustafsson, 26, found himself pulled from the UFC on Fuel TV 9 headliner earlier this month after suffering a cut over his eye the week prior to the bout. “The Mauler” has won his last six fights, most recently outpointing ex-champ Mauricio Rua this past December at UFC on Fox 5.
Jones, 25, ran through Sonnen this past Saturday in the UFC 159 main event, securing his fifth consecutive title defense and tying the UFC record held by Tito Ortiz. Though dominant in his performance, Jones nonetheless suffered an open fracture dislocation to his left big toe while pushing off the canvas, and it is unclear when the champion will return to action.