Things aren’t exactly going Rashad Evans way at the moment. For much of the last year the 205lb division’s No.1 contender had been waiting for current champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua to recover from a knee injury, and with their fight now less than two months away, he himself has had to pull out due to a knee injury of his own.
With Evans now expected to be out for 6-8 weeks recovering, the UFC have opted not to delay the title fight, and instead Evans team-mate Jon Jones will now take his place instead at UFC 128 on March 19th.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but Evans is taking the news on the chin, and has thrown his support behind Jones title bid in a new message on Twitter.
“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!”
Despite putting a brave face on it, it’s far from the ideal set of circumstances for Evans. Having already made a pact with Jones that they would not fight each other, that means that if Jones goes on to defeat Shogun, then Evans route to the title would now be blocked.
It’s also now unclear whether Evans will still retain his No.1 contender status when he returns to full fitness. At last night’s post-fight press conference UFC President Dana White admitted he wasn’t sure where the former champion stands now.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with him now,” White said. “I feel bad about it, too. Look at the 185-pound division. Okami got hurt and couldn’t get that fight [against champ Anderson Silva at UFC 90] and now he’s been waiting forever”
Interestingly, Evans told ESPN last night that he’d rather switch weight-class than fight his friend.
“I will always find something to challenge myself. I will go up to heavyweight or down to middleweight. But I will not fight Jon.”