Lyoto Machida is an Octagon wizard. His fighting style, built on elusive footwork, perfectly timed punches, and uncanny takedown defense, is one we've never seen duplicated. In a world of homogenous style and technique, he's a breath of fresh air. But he's not a title contender.
Don't get me wrong. He's at that level. His ability is unquestioned. It's his results that give me pause about UFC President Dana White's announcement today that Machida would be challenging Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 140 in Toronto.
Prior to dispatching old man Randy Couture, a UFC legend who happened to be 48 years old when Machida kicked his face off in April, Machida had lost consecutive fights. He was outboxed by Rampage Jackson and outhustled by Mauricio Rua. Simply put, Machida hasn't earned a title shot.
I understand the UFC is in a tough spot. Jon Jones is a star on the rise. The young champion wants to fight, obviously often, and against the best. The fight that makes sense is the long awaited matchup with former training partner Rashad Evans. If Rashad will simply miss a few months, it makes more sense to wait for him. That's the fight the fans deserve.
If Rashad will really be out for an extended period, I understand Jones can't wait forever. But Machida is not the answer. As the UFC becomes more sport and less spectacle, it's more important than ever that there be method to White's madness. A fighter who has lost his last two competitive fights doesn't belong in a title bout. Credibility is key - and right now Machida is not a credible title challenger.