UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua learned over the weekend both that his next scheduled opponent, Rashad Evans, had blown out his knee and would not be able to challenge for the belt this March and also that his replacement opponent would be dynamic young 205’er Jon “Bones” Jones.
Jones earned the shot by taking out fellow up-and-comer Ryan Bader in the second round of their UFC 126 meeting, another dominant win the likes of which Rua told media at the post-fight press conferences justifies his new position as number one contender.
“I thought he did pretty well,” said Rua. “In all of his fights he’s been winning convincingly, so I think he’s the guy who deserves a chance to fight for the belt the most.”
Much has been made of the fact that “Shogun” and “Bones” will be fighting in a mere six weeks, but both men have brushed this off as being a meaningful factor in the fight. Jones is already in shape from his training camp for Bader and Rua is used to taking opponents at the last minute from his days fighting in the slightly more shady Japanese MMA circuit.
“Well, actually being on the sidelines for a while is never good,” Rua said. “You lose a little fighting rhythm. It is what it is. In the UFC, we don’t fight that much in a year. They take care of us as fighters. They give us enough time to get ready properly. When I fought in Japan, they sometimes would tell me the opponent two weeks in advance. I have time to prepare for this mentally, and everything will be fine.”
Jones and Rua are set to meet in the main event of UFC 128, which will take place on March 19th at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.