For almost 24 hours, it looked like Lyoto Machida would step in for Phil Davis to fight Rashad Evans a second time at UFC 133.
Tito Ortiz ended up taking the fight instead. After announcing the news, UFC President Dana White painted a picture of Machida accepting the fight in principle before turning around and asking for "Anderson Silva money," sparking a fun meme for everyone to have a fun with on Twitter. White told him "thanks, but no thanks" and calmly hung up the phone.
Machida spoke to Terra Esportes about the episode, sounding like a man without regret (translation by Tom Mendes):
"I ask forgiveness for the misunderstanding, but not for what I've done, because I was not wrong. I never accepted the fight. I was coming back from injury and I had only been training for two weeks. In fact this training routine was only to keep in shape, and not for fighting.
"To patch a pothole, the price is different. It's my career on the line. As I've said, I was coming back from injury and was only training for a small amount of time. I only asked for the type of money that would guarantee me tranquility for a certain time, because if I were to lose it would put me on the back of the line of candidates for the title. Aside from also being potentially injured, Rashad is not just ‘any' type of fighter."
I've always thought both sides share some blame here. If White's version of the events are true, demanding more money after verbally agreeing to the fight is in poor form. Any compensation requests should have been hashed out when the UFC first approached Machida's camp.
At the same time, White's refusal to negotiate comes off as an odd move. Lyoto Machida probably doesn't deserve "Anderson Silva money," even in a one-time deal, but asking for more than you deserve is a common negotiating tactic. (Conversely, I'm sure Zuffa has low-balled plenty of fighters.) White telling Machida's camp to achieve what Anderson has achieved and hanging up comes off as petulant.
It's probably best that things worked out as they did. Ortiz was a much better fight for a returning Evans, who is now back in line for his grudge match with current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. And Machida is now the most obvious candidate to help headline the UFC's debut on Fox in November.