How’s this for coincidence -- just a few weeks before Rashad Evans fights Phil Davis for the right to face Jon Jones, Jones has grown bored with his “time off” and says he’s ready to get back in the cage again. As in pronto, as soon as possible.
Remember Dec. 10, 2011, when Jones choked out Lyoto Machida in Toronto? That was eons ago. Turns out, the four or five months off Jones requested were far more ambitious to the antsy 24-year-old than fighting four times in 2011.
This is all great news for the UFC, which could use a headliner for its March 24 show in Montreal at UFC 145, the card now rumored to have been circled for Jones’ next title defense. Perfect, right? Jones is fast becoming (if not already) the promotion’s superstar; the more of him we see annihilating guys, the merrier.
Yet this has to come as galling news to Evans, who, in the midst of training for Davis, might feel like he has seen all the feints and dekes in Jones’ arsenal without ever stepping in the cage with him.
The bottom line is, with a fight on Jan. 28, it would be very difficult for Evans to turn around and be ready to fight for the title on March 24. That being the case, enter No. 1-B, Dan Henderson, who stands at the ready with his right hand cocked and coiled.
As for Evans? It can be awfully cold outside the Bell Centre in March.
Now either Jones thought of all this or he didn’t. And whether he did or didn’t doesn’t ultimately matter, because Dana White has, as he told ESPN 1100.
“[Jones] called up four days ago and said, ‘OK, let’s go -- I’m done with vacation.’ He said he wanted to take all this time off and then [Team Jones] were calling me four days ago saying he wants to fight as soon as possible,” White said. “He’s ready to go. ... What could end up happening is Dan Henderson fights Jon Jones first, and then it would be close to the time that Rashad fights [again]. Or we see how things go with Rashad and Rashad fights him first.”
Not that Jones has to consult with Evans on when he’s ready to fight, but everybody knows the score. If Evans beats Davis, he gets the next crack at Jones’ light heavyweight belt, and all the betrayal and acrimony to their very public, very personal spat will finally come to a head. But with Jones cutting his holiday off, it gets more difficult -- mostly for Evans, who at this point doesn’t know the meaning of easy.
And that’s why this whole thing is interesting. Everybody knows that the only thing that rivals merit in matchmaking is timing. By declaring himself ready to fight again sooner than Evans would/might be available, Jones becomes the matchmaker. It’s not enough that he’s beating No. 1 contenders to a pulp, now he’s determining them. How’s that for becoming the autocrat of the breakfast table? It’s either very smart or very shrewd or very innocent -- or, as is the case of Jones in his shrugging youth, a cocktail of all those things.
In any case, Montreal needs a main event. Jones is suddenly ready. Henderson was born ready. Everything aligns perfectly for all involved -- except maybe for Evans, whose timing genuinely stinks.
Or at least Jones is ensuring that it stinks. And whether it’s mischievous or innocent or something else, you have to admit it’s at least curious.