One of the craziest days of UFC card shakeups got even crazier in the wee hours, as UFC is now reporting that Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will not be fighting Lyoto Machida as first planned.
After Dan Henderson, Jones’ planned challenger for UFC 151 on September 1, fell to injury, the leading mixed martial arts promotion offered the shot to Chael Sonnen, who recently decided to move up to Light Heavyweight. Sonnen accepted, but Jones declined the opportunity, giving UFC no choice but to cancel the show that had no marquee bouts beyond the main event.
Jones instead agreed to fight number one contender Lyoto Machida at Toronto’s UFC 152 on September 22, and the situation seemed settled.
Then came another twist: Lyoto Machida declined the fight.
Though his reasons are not yet clear, Machida was not interested in stepping up for an earlier-than-expected rematch with Jones, which again left the champion without an opponent for a planned main event. UFC quickly found a third replacement, however, and named veteran Vitor Belfort as the challenger for Toronto’s show, which will still be called UFC 152 despite the September 1 cancellation.
Just as it is unclear why Machida rejected Jones, it is similarly unclear why it is Belfort–not Sonnen–who gets the shot on September 22.