Rashad Evans isn’t going to let his own misfortune cast a shadow on Jon Jones’ unlikely opportunity. Evans posted a message yesterday on his official website imploring his teammate and friend to “go get that belt.”
Hey my ppl! Last night most of u heard the news. If not here is the latest. I have 2 pull out of my Shogun fight because of injury. I severely sprained my MCL in practice. While in practice I got blindsided by another group of partners right into the side of my knee like football lineman style.. Since I’m hurt my teammate young phenom Bones Jones is gonna step in 4 me! I’m gonna recover & then see what happens next 4 me! Thank all u 4 the encouragement! I love my supports & my haters! Go get that belt brudda Jones!
“I’m happy for Jones, I think it’s a great fight for him. I think Jones is gonna smash Rua.
“Training with Jones in practice, he’s one of the best guys I’ve ever trained with. The level he’s gotten to so fast is scary and alarming. He’s one of those guys at the gym, he’ll be the first one there and the last one to leave… He’s hungry, he wants it, so I’m glad if it’s going to be someone to step into my place, I’m glad it’s him.
“I’m still not going to fight Jon. I will always find something to challenge myself. I will go up to heavyweight or down to middleweight. But I will not fight Jon,” he said.
Oddsmakers seem to think Jones has a good chance to “smash” Shogun as well. Several online sportsbooks have Jones listed as a -195 favorite over the light heavyweight champ. As I mentioned before, I think this match-up will heavily depend on the health of Shogun’s knee. He looked awful against a far past-his-prime Mark Coleman the last time he came off knee surgery. That type of performance won’t cut it against a young dynamic fighter like Jones, and may explain the rather surprising opening lines.
If Shogun’s healthy and in-shape though, I’d have to give him the edge. Jones is dangerous on the feet, but I still think Shogun outmatches him there. Jones is going to want to get this fight to the ground where he can get in top position and drop his elbows. I don’t think he’ll have too much trouble doing that, but Shogun isn’t a guy he’s going to be able hold down as easily as Ryan Bader, Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko. Shogun has a very slick jiu-jitsu game he primarily uses for sweeps and escapes, and he’s very effective at doing that. If Shogun has the energy I think he’ll be able to keep it on the feet long enough to punish Jones and possibly end the fight.