Tuesday, May 31, 2011

White: Jon Jones' next opponent to be determined shortly, will not be Rashad Evans

By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

UFC Light Heavyweight Champion will almost assuredly not fight Rashad Evans in his next fight, as UFC President Dana White said on Wednesday that the organization will need to make a decision on his next opponent well before Evans' bout with Phil Davis at UFC 133 this August.

The front-runner for the shot will be Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, provided he dispatches Matt Hamill at UFC 130 this weekend.

"We probably will make a decision after this weekend," White said after the UFC 130 pre-fight press conference (transcribed by MMAJunkie.com). "I think that if 'Rampage wins,' you've got to be more interested in the 'Rampage' fight because 'Rampage' deserves it. He's at the top. [Lyoto] Machida is coming off of a win over Couture, but I think Machida needs another fight. But with the way my luck's gone lately, who knows? We'll see what happens."

As for why they wouldn't wait until the August 6 bout with Evans and Davis, White said logistically it just wouldn't work out, and with Jones expecting an October return the timing just wasn't right.

"Let's say, hypothetically speaking, Rashad Evans fights and he wins the fight against Phil Davis," White said. "Let's say he wins that fight in 30 seconds and comes out without a scratch, feels like a million bucks and is ready to go and wants to fight Jon Jones in December. We will have already shot the commercials. That stuff is three months out. It would be impossible to do."

One of the talking points in the on-going Evans-Jones saga has been why the UFC didn't just pull Evans from the Davis fight to keep the fight with Jones alive when Jones was told he didn't need surgery. White said it was considered, but again with uncertainties surrounding Jones and when he can actually return, along with the injury issues they've been facing recently, they didn't want to go with an uncertain fight when they had one set up.

"We talked about it," White said. "Could we have made that fight? Maybe. But with what's going on with us lately, we're not into maybes. They don't know the exact timeframe (for Jones' recovery), and maybe he would be ready to go. But maybe he wouldn't. We don't want to go on maybes. We knew Phil Davis could take the fight, so we made that fight.

"The other thing you don't want to do is have [Jones] start training again prematurely without knowing 100 percent (that the hand is healthy)."

But White did want to make one thing clear: Jones didn't duck a fight with Evans. White said there was never a time where Jones said he didn't want the fight with Evans, and ultimately it was the UFC's decision to keep Evans-Davis on and book someone else against Jones.

Now Jones will simply await the outcome of Saturday's main event, and if Jackson should defeat Hamill, it will likely be Rampage vs. Jones in October for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.

Penick's Analysis: It would have been great if they would have been able to pull Evans from the Davis fight to make the bout with Jones happen, but I understand the reasoning behind doing what they're doing here. They've had a lot of shakeups on cards here recently, and when Jones is still recovering from an injury there could be setbacks, and Evans will have already been out for well over a year when the fight with Davis happens. And if Rampage beats Hamill convincingly on Saturday, that will make for his first title fight in over three years.

READER QUESTION: Who would you most like to see get the shot at Jones this fall, and is the UFC making the right decision in keeping Evans booked in a fight with Davis? Web visitors, comment below in our new Reader Comment Area (linked to Facebook). App users, send us your thoughts at mmatorch@gmail.com or visit our desktop website to comment.

Source: http://www.mmatorch.com/artman2/publish/UFC_2/article_9414.shtml

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