In many people’s eyes, Lyoto Machida’s title shot is long overdue. Immediately following Rampage Jackson’s win over Keith Jardine last Saturday night, it appeared that once again Machida would have to wait.
However, thanks to couple of injuries courtesy of Frank Mir and now Rampage Jackson, it’s looking a lot more likely that Lyoto’s time is finally coming.
Quinton (Rampage) Jackson suffered an injury to his hand in his win over Keith Jardine Saturday, putting a May 23 matchup against (Sugar) Rashad Evans for the light-heavyweight title in doubt.
A banner on UFC.com Sunday showed a picture of the two with the title “UFC 98: Evans vs. Jackson,” and the matchup was listed on the website’s fight card page. However, Monday the banner had disappeared and the UFC 98 fight card listed Evans’ opponent as “TBD.”
Should Jackson feel he is unable to properly prepare for the bout with 11 weeks to go, Evans would instead face unbeaten Brazilian Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida, who is coming off an impressive knockout of Thiago Silva on Super Bowl weekend.
“As I learned, ‘Rampage’ might need time off,” Evans told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show on Monday. “It’ll probably be Lyoto Machida, but I haven’t gotten a confirmation on that.”
Even though nothing is official at this point, all signs seem to be pointing in Lyoto’s direction for Rashad’s first title defense.
It’s a shame Mir got injured which created this situation in the first place, because it’s really put Quinton in a tough spot. By passing on the fight, he’s giving his body much needed rest, but he’s also giving up a large payday and a chance to get his belt back. Even if he’s promised the winner of Evans-Machida, he probably isn’t going to make as much off the fight if it’s against Machida. However, if Quinton’s injuries prove to be too severe to fight in May that all becomes a moot point anyhow.
No matter what happens, it’s going to be an awesome title fight. Jackson and Machida both present Evans with major problems that I’m not sure he’ll overcome. There’s a considerable amount of uncertainty in both matchups. And really, what more can you ask for in a championship fight?