If there’s any question whether or not Jon Jones wants to fight Rashad Evans, those concerns have been answered.
The UFC’s reigning light heavyweight champion is currently sidelined with a tear in a ligament in his thumb, but his top challenger Evans has claimed that Jones is ducking him after originally stating he needed surgery on his hand and then a few weeks later stating he would not be going under the knife.
In the meantime, Evans booked a fight for August 6 in Philadelphia against rising light heavyweight star Phil Davis.
Jones, who is now fitted with a hard cast until mid-June, will likely be available by the end of September or into October, and he’s happy to face Evans, but he wants to give his hand time to heal and also get some time off after back-to-back fights including a short notice title bout against Maurcio ‘Shogun’ Rua in March.
The timetable for the fight to happen in August was already an issue according to Jones’ manager Malki Kawa, and they were hoping for a later date regardless of the injury to the champion’s hand.
“We were looking forward to booking a Rashad Evans fight, but we were pushing for about an October fight. Rashad was pushing for an August fight. I think the UFC wanted that fight to happen in August as well. We said to him since the beginning his hand was hurt, we couldn’t commit to an August fight, based on the timeline, he needed some time off,” Kawa told MMAWeekly Radio.
“People also forget this guy did camps back to back and fights back to back, he needed some time off.”
Jones fought 3 times in the last 8 months with bouts against Vladdy Matyushenko, Ryan Bader and the title fight against Maurcio ‘Shogun’ Rua.
Kawa states that if Evans was free right now, a bout between he and Jones would already be booked for October. Understanding that Evans isn’t free now however doesn’t change the long term goal for having the two former teammates meet in the Octagon.
“The truth is had Rashad waited till October we would take that fight,” Kawa stated. “We would love to fight him if it’s October. We’ll fight him. I can commit to an October fight today if Rashad’s willing to fight in October. The issue is Rashad needed to fight, and I respect that. He’s been out a long time and to take a chance like to wait and see if Jon Jones’ hand heals properly and correctly, it would probably be foolish on his part.”
If there’s any question however of Jones somehow beings scared of facing Evans or ducking him for the fight, his manager put that to bed right away.
“Jon Jones is one of the toughest guys I know, he fears no one. Especially not Rashad,” Kawa said. “Trust me, he wants to fight Rashad.”
The trash talk between the two former teammates has hit a fever pitch recently with apparent text message exchanges and even an impromptu meeting between Evans and Jones in a nightclub. The situation will eventually come to a head, and Jones even told UFC President Dana White that he doesn’t care if he faces Evans in a non-title fight.
That’s just how badly he wants the fight to happen.
“The animosity’s very real, Rashad is very vocal about it, he’s come at him a couple times, and Jon has basically been responding to it. He pulled him aside in a club and basically had a few words for him, and let him know he was going to do some things to him, and Rashad sat there and they spoke and had some words for each other. That’s it,” Kawa said.
“Jon told me the other day to make sure and let Dana White know and let everyone know, win or lose, whether Rashad wins or loses, he still wants to fight him. Whether it’s a non-title fight or a title fight, he wants to fight him.”
If Evans is successful in August and comes out unscathed, he will likely still get a title shot against Jones, but there’s no telling if that fight will happen before the champion faces another contender or not.