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Lyoto Machida out; now it’s Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort on Sept. 22

Could this be the next UFC light heavyweight champion?

Current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will now face former light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 on Sept. 22 in Toronto, Canada.

It was originally announced Jones would fight a rematch with Lyoto Machida after Dan Henderson pulled out of their UFC 151 headline bout due to injury, but now according to an MMAFighting.com report citing a late night confirmation from Dana White, Machida has decided he needs more time to prepare for another go-round with the 205-pound king.

Originally slated to fight Alan Belcher at middleweight at UFC 153 in October, Belfort volunteered to move up to light heavyweight to take the bout. Belfort commented via Twitter (@vitorbelfort):

“I just finish the call with my boss @lorenzofertitta and @danawhite I want to thank booth for put me in where a lot of guys are acting like divas I think this is a big challenge for any fighter that is alive on the game I thank God to provide me with this Blessing 2 fight the youngest champion we will face each other I have all the respect for jones thats why u can`t miss this competition a vintage and hy-tech fight Glory to Jesus also happy for all the fans I will not let no one down I come from the times of #carlsongracie He live inside of me I learn so much thing with him and #alstankie”

Although riding a two-fight win streak, and with his last five wins coming via stoppage, it should be noted Belfort has not fought at light heavyweight (205 pounds) since 2007 when he won the Cage Rage title with a unanimous decision win over James Zikic. Since then he has been competing in the 185-197 pound weight range.

Belfort, now 35, made his first UFC appearance in 1997 at the age of 19. He won the UFC 12 heavyweight tournament and became the youngest fighter to ever win a bout inside the Octagon.

After finding further success in the UFC and Pride FC in Japan, in January 2004 Belfort won the UFC light heavyweight title with a first round TKO stoppage (due to cut) of Randy Couture at UFC 146.  Seven months later he fought Couture again and lost the title via decision.

As far as where Machida goes from here, White stated that because he turned down the fight with Jones he will likely have to win one more fight against a top contender before getting another title shot.

And the saga continues….

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