In news that will likely bring criticism for former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, current champ and past opponent Maurico “Shogun” Rua alleged in a recent interview with Tatame.com that Jackson was offered the opportunity to step in for injured top contender Rashad Evans in a title fight against him, but turned down that fight for unknown reasons.
Evans blew his knee out in training last Friday, and the UFC began scrambling to find a replacement opponent for Rua’s scheduled March 19th title defense. Young prospect Jon Jones stepped up to fill the position in the end, getting offered the fight in-cage after defeating Ryan Bader last Saturday night. Rua also discussed his new opponent with Tatame.
“The UFC thought in other alternatives, but it didn’t worked out. For some reason (Quinton Jackson) didn’t accept (a fight with me),” said. “I’ll have to change my training because (Jones is) a lot different from Rashad, much taller, and it’ll be a great challenge. He’s been surprising everybody in the UFC, defeated everybody with easy, and it’ll be a tough fight for me.”
Considering that Jackson has not appeared in action since November of last year when he defeated Lyoto Machida, he may have turned down the fight (if he was indeed offered the fight) out of concern for not being in good enough shape. Either way, the UFC was able to fill the void left in Evans’ absence with an opponent whom many are more excited to see Rua face.
Rua and Jones will square off this March 19th at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey in the main event of UFC 128. Rua and Jackson fought each other at PRIDE-Total Elimination 2005 and the result was a brutal TKO in favor of “Shogun.”