It didn’t start out as a grudge match, but with their title fight at UFC 128 fast approaching it seems that the tension is building between Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Jon Jones.
Primarily this is coming from the Brazilian who appears to be less than impressed with some of the challengers pre-fight comments, and in particular the fact the Jones has already began signing his name and adding the words ‘Champion 2011.’
“Well I think his demeanor is ridiculous actually as you can’t go signing as a champion without being the champion. That’s disrespectful.” Shogun told MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani yesterday.
Later Jones explained to Helwani exactly why he was signing his name in this manner.
“I believe in the law of attraction, and I believe you can speak things into existence, and I believe that when you know where you’re going and know what you want the universe has a way of stepping aside for you. Me signing my signature with ‘Champion 2011’ on it can’t hurt me, it can only help me to believe it even more. So, yeah, it works for me.”
And while Jones appears somewhat baffled that Shogun and his camp have been critical of his pre-fight comments, he points out that they haven’t exactly been too respectful either.
“I find some of the things he says about me actually disrespectful. Between his brother’s comments about how I have no punching power, how his manager says he’s going to kick my ass, how I have chicken legs and he’s going to kick them repeatedly…so, you know, it’s OK with me, If I’m in his head that’s even better.”
There also seems to be some frustration from Shogun’s camp that the champion isn’t getting the credit he deserves heading into this fight, with his manager Eduardo Alonso being particularly outspoken about it.
“Quite honestly I’m growing tired of people doubting him [Shogun],” Alonso says, adding, “What else has he got to do to prove his worth?”
While that’s not Jones fault, he’s now caught in the firing line.
“We don’t need fancy suits, we don’t need to keep, you know, taking pictures for Twitter every five minutes. We go in there and we do our work, and we’ll do our work on Saturday,” Alonso said.
Again Jones sees this as evidence that he’s winning the mental battle leading up to the fight.
“Yeah, absolutely, I feel as if I’ve maybe got in their head a little bit and maybe they think their back is against the wall, and that’s great. Hopefully it brings out a really vicious Shogun, and I’m definitely going to be as vicious as possible. So, cause for a great fight.”
Watch both fighter’s pre-fight interviews with Helwani below.