Jon Jones file photo | Sherdog.com
In light of a knee injury sustained to No. 1 contender Rashad Evans, Jones was offered a chance to step back into the cage in just six weeks to challenge Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the 205-pound title on March 19 in the main event of UFC 128. Jones immediately accepted the offer, and at the postfight news conference, the blue-chip prospect asserted that he had no problem with taking the fight on such short notice.
“I usually spend my camp getting in shape, but I’m already in shape. [Coach Jackson] wants me to calm down. He said he can't have me peak for six more weeks,” said Jones. “But I’m not taking time off. Maybe physically I'll take some time off, but I have a lot of studying to do. Six weeks is more than enough time, especially since I already have a six pack.”
Jones will step in for a teammate in Evans, who has reportedly done damage to a ligament in his knee.
“It's a sprained ligament,” said UFC president Dana White. “We had him checked out yesterday, and the doctor confirmed today that he couldn't compete. He has to take six to eight weeks off, and he has to wear a brace. Hopefully he doesn't need surgery.”
Though Jones knew about Evans’ injury, according to the fighter he had no idea that he would receive the opportunity to fight the champ.
“I did hear about Rashad being injured, but I had no clue I would get a title shot,” said Jones.
In fact, neither did UFC president Dana White up until a few hours before the event.
“Whenever things like this happen, we have to throw something together. Is Jones even going to win his fight [with Bader]?” explained White. “Actually, right before Jones came out, we told his team, and we told John right after his fight.”
Jones dominated Bader from start to finish, using superior grappling to control the former Arizona State wrestler. “Bones” brought the fight to a close with a nasty guillotine choke in the second frame.
On the horizon, he will face unquestionably the stiffest test of his young career in Rua. A former Pride Fighting Championships phenom, “Shogun” is an explosive striker with knockout power in all four limbs. According to Jones, however, he sees Rua's early successes in Pride as motivation for his own career.
“What I liked about Shogun is he won the Pride [middleweight grand prix] at age 23. That inspires me to be a champion at 23.”
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