With the light-heavyweight landscape shifting, it looks as though two men who were locked in for definite title shots will now have to fight their way back in.
Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida will battle for the division's number one contender designation, with the winner staking an impressive claim on the next title shot against the winner of Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort. The news was first reported by famed MMA reporter Dave Meltzer.
Just a month ago, Henderson was locked into his light-heavyweight title fight, scheduled to take on current light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones, but after injuring his knee training for the fight, he was forced from the event, which was eventually cancelled entirely.
Jones was then matched up with former light-heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, and will face the popular Brazilian next weekend at UFC 152.
Machida earned his spot in the UFC light-heavyweight pecking order after his dominant knockout victory over highly regarded Ryan Bader at UFC on FOX back in August. After the fight, UFC president Dana White announced that Machida would fight the winner of Jones and Henderson at a later date, but after Henderson was hurt, Machida declined to face Jones on short notice, and White consequently dropped the Brazilian's number one contender status.
"[Machida] should have taken the fight," White told Meltzer via MMAFighting.com. "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.
"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."
There is no timetable set for the contest, but Machida is healthy coming off of the Bader fight, and Henderson has stated that he could be available to fight again as early as December.