Lyoto Machida avoided an ill-timed fight against Rashad Evans, but Black House's Jorge Guimarães may have just ruined the Dragon's chances at fighting for the UFC Light Heavyweight title any time soon. [Image via www.madmedia.com]
Well, that got awkward in a hurry.
What's even more interesting is where this leaves Lyoto Machida.
For the first time in a while, the UFC looked desperate. They needed any warm, breathing body to replace an injured Phil Davis in the UFC 133 main event. Hell, even Vladimir Matyushenko was asked to step in at one point. To me, that indicated something rare for Dana White and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva — they were out of options. What none of us knew at the time was that Machida actually had agreed to replace Davis ahead of time, just in case.
But if Dana White is to be believed, money brought out the worst in Team Black House:
"Machida accepted the fight," White told MMAjunkie.com. "We knew for a couple days this was going down, and Machida accepted the fight. Then when we called back and said, 'OK, we're going to make this fight,' Machida's people came back and said, 'We'll tell you what. You pay us what you pay Anderson Silva, and we'll take the fight.' This was after they had already agreed to take the fight.
"I said, 'Are you [expletive] kidding me? I'll tell you what. You tell Machida (if) he achieves what [expletive] Anderson Silva has achieved, then maybe he'll make Anderson Silva money. Have a nice day.'"
Let's settle one thing right off the bat — this was a ballsy move by Team Black House, and if Dana White had accepted the terms, we'd probably be congratulating Machida & Co. for uncharacteristically outplaying the UFC's biggest players.
But that didn't happen.
Instead, Tito Ortiz rode in on a white horse to save the day at the last minute, secured his job with the promotion, and made Lyoto Machida look even worse than before. Although Machida's wife claims that they decided to turn the fight down because a bad performance on short notice "would not be fair to the fans," that clearly doesn't seem to be the whole entire story. Without Ed Soares in town to head negotiations, it looks to the public like Black House's Jorge Guimarães just botched a big break (and possibly a future, if not immediate, title shot) for Lyoto Machida.
And as we all know, Dana White doesn't reward fighters who, in his mind, work against him or the UFC:
"We’re looking for guys who want to work with us and not against us, and frankly I’m just so [expletive] sick of this [expletive] it’s not even funny," White said from Honolulu, where he flew Wednesday from Toronto to hold a news conference to announce the B.J. Penn-Georges St. Pierre fight for UFC 94 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas.
"Affliction is still out there trying to build its company. Let [Fitch] go work with them. Let him see what he thinks of those [expletives]. [Expletive] him. These guys aren’t partners with us. [Expletive] them. All of them, every last [expletive] one of them."
It'll be interesting to see what happens to Lyoto Machida now.
Many MMA fans were excited at the prospect and slight intrigue of an Evans vs. Machida rematch (a.k.a. The Return of the Stanky Leg), but Machida's reputation will take a hit with Dana White running the story.
And Dana can hold a grudge for a while. Just ask Jon Fitch. Being the #2 welterweight fighter in the world didn't stop Fitch from languishing "in the mix" for years and years. But while Fitch refused to sign over his video game likeness rights, ground out several tepid decisions in key main cards, and got smashed by GSP in their title bout, Machida seems to have done something much worse — he went back on his word when it mattered most.
Hopefully, I'm wrong and there's more to the story than what's being told on Twitter, but it'll be disappointing if Lyoto Machida is stuck "in the mix" after this incredibly gutsy, but failed money grab.
[McKinley Noble is a staff editor at GamePro and an MMA conspiracy theorist. Follow his Twitter account for crazy talk, 1990s movie references, and general weirdness. Or you could just stalk him on Google.]