All that hype for nothin’.
According to UFC president Dana White (props to MMAFighting.com), former UFC 205-pound champ Rashad Evans will have to wait through another title fight before he gets his shot at the belt and at settling the escalating feud between himself and former teammate/current champion Jon Jones.
Jones leapfrogged Evans in the contenders’ queue when “Suga” injured his knee shortly before a title shot against then-champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Jones beat Rua, got the title and it looked like Jones vs. Evans for the title was on — even at the cost of their friendship and Evans’ ties to the Greg Jackson camp. Before the fight could be booked though, Jones bowed out to rehab a hand injury and Evans took a fight with Phil Davis scheduled for late summer.
Eying a return to action in early fall, Jones will likely be set up against an opponent other than Evans, based off of the timeline alone.
“Let’s say hypothetically speaking, Rashad Evans fights and wins this 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 against Jon Jones in September. We will have already shot the commercials and all that stuff. That stuff is three months out. It would be impossible to do.”
White revealed that former champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson or Lyoto Machida are likely up next for the champ, depending on how they fare in their next contests.
“I think that if Rampage wins, you’ve got to be more interested in the Rampage fight because Rampage deserves it,” he said. “I think he’s at the top. [Lyoto] Machida is coming off a win over Couture. I think Machida needs another fight, but the way my luck’s going lately, who knows?”
Machida recently retired Randy Couture with a crane kick knockout and is not currently on the docket for a fight, whereas Jackson — fresh off of a close win over Machida — is taking on Matt Hamill this weekend at UFC 130. A win for the Memphis native could very well set up Jones vs. Jackson for the belt.