“After my last fight against Tito Ortiz, I dislocated my right thumb, which required it to be set back in place and held with pins. 24 hours ago, my physician removed the pins. At that time, I learned that it would require another three weeks of rehabilitation before engaging in any exercise or training that would require the use of my hand. (UFC President) Dana White and I spoke earlier today, and I fully understand his decision to put Machida against Jones for the title at UFC 140. Given the rehabilitation time I require for my dislocated thumb, I would not be 100 percent ready by December 10. The UFC has to keep making fights that entertain the fans. I would have done the same thing as Dana in his position. I’m asking for the fans to support me as I rehabilitate my hand, and I promise I will be back fighting very quickly.”
— Rashad Evans’ official statement on the UFC’s decision to book Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida at UFC 140
I really don’t get why some people think that Jon Jones is ducking Rashad Evans here. I mean Jones’ whole hand injury fiasco from earlier this summer was definitely questionable. I’ll give you that, but this situation seems to be a simple matter of Evans being injured and the UFC needing a main event for UFC 140. I don’t agree with the direction they went in booking Lyoto Machida, but if they needed Jones to fight at UFC 140 and Evans is hurt, I fail to see how Jones is ducking him. If Rashad believed that, I’m quite sure he would have said something. Just saying.
Image via Dave Mandel for Sherdog
Update: Jon Jones gave Ariel Helwani his version of how the Machida fight came about. He claims the UFC initially offered him Rashad Evans, but Rashad backed out. So now he says Rashad is ducking him.
Ariel Helwani: How did this fight come about?
Jon Jones: The way the fight came about was Dana called me into his office just a few days ago, and he asked me to fight Rashad Evans at UFC 140. Without hesitation, I said ‘absolutely’. There’s nothing I want to do more than to get past this Rashad Evans chapter in my career, because it’s been a nuisance. He’s been the antagonist in my career. So, I’m predicting that maybe Rashad thought that I would turn the fight down, knowing that I just got done finishing my title fight. I’m sure he thought that I would say no to him, and I’m sure he would have went with the approach of, ‘Oh well, Jon Jones is ducking me again; he turns down the fight in nine weeks.’ To his surprise, I took the fight, and after I took the fight, he decides that his hand isn’t ready, and he’s going to need more time. So, with me already agreeing with Dana that I would take a fight at UFC 140, Dana called me back and said, ‘Hey, listen, Rashad decided that he can’t compete at UFC 140, what would think about fighting Lyoto Machida?’ And I said ‘absolutely’. My feet were swollen after my fight, but they are healed now, and I want to fight. My health is good, I’m a young guy, and I want to fight. So I took the fight against Lyoto in nine weeks from now. This is four fights in 10 months against three former champions in the same year. I don’t think that’s ever been done.
Did you tell the UFC that since Evans wasn’t ready to fight in December that you would rather wait a month or two to fight him so you can finally put this beef behind you?
Well, Dana White basically needed someone to save 140. I didn’t necessarily want to fight at 140, but because it was Rashad, I said, ‘You know what? I would take the fight in nine weeks.’ I’m already in shape. I already know what I want to do. Rashad, predicting that I would say no, he kind of kicked himself in the butt because I said yes, he turns around and says, ‘Oh, I didn’t expect Jon to say yes. I don’t want to fight him that soon.’ So in reality, he’s kind of the one who’s ducking the fight. I feel like he’s ducking the fight.
And yes, Jones thinks Machida is a tougher opponent than Rashad. Oh the drama.