UFC boss: Jon Jones' next opponent picked soon, Rashad Evans not in running

LAS VEGAS – Former friends and training partners Jon Jones and Rashad Evans have been at the center of an increasingly bitter feud, but that difference won't be settled in the cage anytime soon, according to UFC president Dana White.

While an Evans win in a UFC 133 matchup with Phil Davis would unquestionably keep him at the top of the light heavyweight division, the champion will need to book an event before then.

"We'll have to make a decision (on Jones' next fight) before [Evans] fights," White told MMA Junkie. "We probably will make a decision after this weekend."

This past weekend, Jones gave several interviews where he alluded to a potential meeting with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, should he earn a win over Matt Hamill at this weekend's UFC 130 event, or perhaps Lyota Machida. White confirmed those are the two most likely scenarios.

"I think that if 'Rampage wins,' you've got to be more interested in the 'Rampage' fight because 'Rampage' deserves it," White said. "He's at the top. Machida is coming off of a win over Couture, but I think Machida needs another fight. But with the way my luck's gone lately, who knows? We'll see what happens."

When pressed as to why the organization wouldn't wait until the UFC 133 fight in order to allow the possibility of a Jones-Evans grudge match, White said it was all a matter of timing.

"Let's say, hypothetically speaking, Rashad Evans fights and he wins the 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 and wants to fight Jon Jones in December. We will have already shot the commercials. That stuff is three months out. It would be impossible to do."

White said promotion officials considered pulling Davis from the bout with Evans in order to book the fight with Jones, but with the status of the champion's injured right hand still in doubt, there was simply too much risk in tearing apart a sure thing.

"We talked about it," White said. "Could we have made that fight? Maybe. But with what's going on with us lately, we're not into maybes.

"They don't know the exact timeframe (for Jones' recovery), and maybe he would be ready to go. But maybe he wouldn't. We don't want to go on maybes. We knew Phil Davis could take the fight, so we made that fight.

"The other thing you don't want to do is have [Jones] start training again prematurely without knowing 100 percent (that the hand is healthy)."

Despite the confusion and uncertainties, White did want to dispel any notion that Jones was somehow "ducking" Evans or trying to avoid a fight with the former champion, as some fans and pundits (not to mention Evans) have suggested.

"There was never any ducking or dodging or anything," White said. "Never once did Jon Jones come to us and say, 'I don't want this Rashad fight right now.' Not even remotely close."

Jones and his camp have suggested the champ will be fine to fight come fall. White said he can't commit to a particular card for the light heavyweight phenom's next fight, but he believes fans will be impressed with what the UFC is planning next.

"Maybe September; maybe October," White said. "We've got a lot of things going on right now, and we're going to shake some [expletive] here pretty soon. We've got some fun stuff coming."
by John Morgan on May 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm ET






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