As it currently stands, UFC President Dana White has declared Lyoto Machida (19-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) the promotion's current No. 1 contender at light heavyweight. But if the division's champ isn't cleared to fight until the end of the year, "The Dragon" has another plan in mind.
"We just talked about it last night and this morning on the way home, and basically the way Lyoto feels about it is that if Jon Jones is not going to be able to fight until November or December, then Lyoto would rather take the Alexander Gustafsson fight," Machida's manager, Ed Soares, told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps
). "If Jon Jones can fight in like August or September, then Lyoto would love to fight for the title."
Soares and Machida were in attendance at Saturday night's UFC 159 event, which took place at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., and featured Jones (18-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) downing Chael Sonnen in the evening's main event. Machida previously faced Jones in December 2011. "Bones" won the fight by second-round technical submission, and the former UFC light heavyweight champ has pined for a rematch ever since.
The one big variable in the schedule, of course, is Jones' mangled left toe. The UFC light heavyweight champion suffered a fractured big toe during the first round of his record-tying fifth-consecutive light-heavyweight title defense, and the bone wound up protruding through the skin. Fortunately for Jones, he was able to earn a TKO finish before anyone (including himself) noticed the wound, which likely would have led to him being pulled from the fight had it been addressed before the contest was waved off.
Jones was transported to a local hospital after his win, and the toe has since been surgically repaired. Jones on Sunday took to Twitter to proclaim he wouldn't be shelved for long.
"Screw my big toe, I'm on a mission," Jones wrote. "No time to slow down now."
Still, MMAjunkie.com confirmed with Jones' team that the champ has yet to receive an estimate on when he may be cleared to fight again. If it turns out to be longer than hoped, the 34-year-old Machida wants to securely entrench himself as the division's No. 1 contender by taking on fellow top-ranked fighter Gustafsson (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC).
"Lyoto wants to stay sharp, and he wants to fight to support his family," Soares said. "Time is going by, and you can never get back time."
Of course, there is one more potential hurdle in booking Jones vs. Machida II. Another Soares' client, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (33-4 MMA, 16-0 UFC), is said to be interested in a superfight with Jones, according to White.
Soares declined to comment on that potential matchup, pointing instead to Silva's UFC 162 bout with undefeated contender Chris Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) as the lone focus of "The Spider" for the time being.
And so, a little more than two months after downing MMA legend Dan Henderson, Machida's next booking still isn't quite clear. But Jones' next trip to the doctor's office might provide some answers. A short recovery time, and Machida is game for the rematch he so desperately wants. But if Jones is going to need a little extra time to recover, Machida is happy to stand across from "The Mauler."
"Your window of opportunity as a fighter is only so much," Soares said. "Lyoto is here to fight. He's here to his job, to stay sharp and to compete. If Jon needs time to heal, then we'd love to face Gustafsson."