A light heavyweight battle between Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida is in the current UFC plans based on a comment made on Thursday by Dana White at a UFC luncheon.
In discussion of Machida turning down the originally announced shot at champion Jon Jones at UFC 152 on Sept. 22 in Toronto, White mentioned that he felt Machida made the wrong decision. He said that instead of getting the title shot, now Machida (18-3) will be matched up with Henderson (29-8), and would have to win that fight to be back in line for a title shot. Another UFC source confirmed that was the direction the promotion was aiming.
"[Machida] should have taken the fight. We've seen it, history always repeats itself. Look how long it took Rashad (Evans) to fight for the title again. So you wanted to fight Jon Jones, you climbed up to the title fight and you don't take it. Now you're fighting (expletive) Dan Henderson. Now you might not even get to the (expletive) title again. You lose to Dan Henderson you're not anywhere near Jon Jones," White said.
He added, "You jump on opportunities when they're available. You get a shot at the title, the biggest money fight you can be in, the highest profile fight you can be in. And if you win that (expletive) fight, the whole world changes overnight."
White didn't talk about a planned date for the fight. Machida is currently healthy coming off his impressive second-round knockout win over Ryan Bader on Aug. 4 on FOX from Los Angeles. Henderson, who was scheduled to face Jones in the later canceled UFC 151 show on Sept. 1 in Las Vegas, suffered a partially torn MCL in early August. He tried to rest the knee for two weeks, but when going back to training on Aug. 18, realized the knee hadn't healed. After being examined by UFC doctors, Henderson pulled out of the fight on Aug. 22. The show was canceled the next day when Jones turned down replacement fighter Chael Sonnen.
Henderson, who didn't need surgery for the injury, has since said he would expect to be ready to fight in December. White at the time was upset with both Henderson and Machida. He was mad at Henderson for keeping the knee injury secret for two weeks, which is against protocol as fighters are supposed to inform UFC of all injuries immediately, and had he not done so, White felt they may have been able to save the show.
"For Dan Henderson, it's the last 30 seconds of the last round on the last day of sparring and (Rameau Thierry) Sokoudjou goes to (expletive) throw him like a Judo throw and pops his knee out. It was almost over. What are you getting out of the last 30 seconds and he goes to throwing him in some crazy judo throw and pops Dan's knee out. It just one of those things," White said.
White then announced Jones vs. Machida as the new main event for UFC 152 before he had signed Machida, feeling since Machida in the past had been so adamant in pressuring him to get another shot, he'd take it. White had announced Machida as the No. 1 contender for a shot at the Jones vs. Henderson match on Aug. 4 due to the Bader win.
But hours after White's announcement of Jones vs. Machida for Toronto, Machida, who had not been in training, said that he would not be ready for Jones in the time frame and asked that the fight take place on a later show. Since UFC had already announced a title match for Toronto, Vitor Belfort ended up taking the match.
"Me and Ed (Soares) thought Machida would take the fight then he turned the fight down," White said. "The press conference was going to start in minutes and I literally had just got done (expletive) fighting with Jones minutes before that. Now I'm (expletive) talking to Soares and I'm like 'Machida will take this fight, right?' Yeah I don't see why he wouldn't take it. This is what he's wanted, he's been waiting for this fight and has got four weeks to train for it. So I'm like (expletive) it, I'm just going to go with it."
MMA Fighting's Andy Samuelson contributed to this report from Las Vegas.