Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida catapulted himself into the No. 1 contender role in the 205-pound division with his victory over Ryan Bader last month.

However, by turning down a pair of opportunities to fight Jon Jones for the belt this month, it is possible that “The Dragon’s” next fight inside the Octagon will not be vs. Jones – and he’s fine with that.

“If he has to take another fight before the title fight, that’s okay,” said Ed Soares, Machida’s manager, in a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio. “One thing that we want to know is we want to make sure that he’s 100-percent prepared for this next title shot.”

Machida (18-3) didn’t feel like he had a enough time to prepare for Jones to face him at either UFC 151 or UFC 152. Instead, “Bones” will meet Vitor Belfort on September 22.

Back in late 2011, Jones submitted Machida via second round standing guillotine choke.

“Every guy who has lost to a champion twice in that weight division basically has to re-invent themselves and most likely change weight divisions,” Soares said. “For us, the way I look at it, that’s a big step. For the UFC potentially, it’s just another event. But for Lyoto, it’s a much bigger decision in his life.”

Photo credit: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting