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Intermission 03-16-2011 08:29 PM

For UFC 128, Jon Jones brings the magic that Rashad Evans couldn't
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NEW YORK CITY – While it was little more than dumb luck and logical matchmaking that led to UFC 128's upcoming headliner between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (19-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Jon Jones (12-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC), it couldn't have worked out any better.

Proof? Today's UFC 128 pre-event press conference at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Adoration for each fighter was so split that fans turned the event into a raucous free-for-all that's likely to be a precursor to a a wild Saturday night.

The coming-out party for Jones, a late replacement for injured Rashad Evans, may be the result of a patchwork booking, but here in the Big Apple, it feels tailor made.

Today's pre-event presser was open to fans, who were lined up hundreds deep – in the rain – hours before the doors even opened. They struck the match once inside, and opening speaker Joel Rivera – New York City's Council majority leader – lit the fuse with a passionate speech in which he stumped for MMA and its legislation in a state that currently bans it.

In fact, that's why Saturday's event and Rua's first-ever UFC title defense come at the Prudential Center in nearby Newark, N.J. It's also why Jones and UFC president Dana White have tirelessly attacked the New York media circuit ahead of Saturday's pay-per-view event, which will pour millions of dollars into the New Jersey economy.

But for Jones, a native New Yorker, that state line make little difference. For all intents and purposes, this is a New York fight, and the 23-year-old – who's pro-MMA career isn't even three years old – has a small army of supporters ready to sing his praises. (Hell, even the oddsmakers have tapped him the favorite.)

But that's fine with the champ, who already had defeated the MMA kingpins such as Quinton Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona before Jones had even graduated high school. He much prefers fighting the flashy and crowd-pleasing Jones than a grinder such as Evans, whose booking with Rua initially brought about little fanfare.

"I think Rashad Evans is a guy who maybe likes to control the fight more and maybe stall a little more and play it safe," Rua said through translator and manager Eduardo Alonso. "[However] Jon Jones is an exciting fighter that looks for the finishes and brings a hard fight, and that's the type of fight everyone likes."

If the magnitude of the bout and the obvious respect from Rua (arguably the 205-pound division's best fighter) is a lot to take in, Jones isn't showing it.

"I'm just enjoying the ride," he said. "I'm definitely grateful to be sitting where I am today. I realize it's a dream come true, and I'm enjoying the whole thing.

"I realize that I'm fighting here in New York state, and I want to share myself as much with the New Yorkers as much as possible."

Such comments further ignited the hundreds – likely thousands – of fans at today's press conference. While Jones is the local favorite, Rua's had a solid (and vocal) throng of his own supporters, including one fan who proudly displayed a forearm tattoo of the champion's former home: PRIDE Fighting Championships. For every Jones cheer, a jeer followed. For every random mid-presser shout-out for the challenger, the hardcores answered with chants for the champion.

For two fighters who have so split local fights fans, they actually have a quite a bit in common. Rua is every bit the blue-chip prospect Jones was when he was in his early-20s, and he had a small army of similar crazed fanatics who also were comparing to him a legend of the time (Wanderlei Silva).

But while they share a quick ascent in their pro careers, Rua said the similarities end there.

"We're very different fighters, style wise" he said. "You can only compare our careers in the sense that we were rising at a young age. ... Otherwise, we're very different fighters."

For the latest on UFC 128, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of

I agree, I feel like the UFC is going to attract much more PPV buys having Jones fight Shogun rather than Rashad.

Sekou 03-16-2011 10:49 PM

hmmmm...I couldnt disagree with this more :)

Iuanes 03-16-2011 11:12 PM

You think Evans would have been a better draw??

Couchwarrior 03-17-2011 05:49 AM

I's not just about the fan base or how exciting their styles are. Rashad would have been such a huge underdog against Rua that it would have been hard to hype the fight.

limba 03-17-2011 06:26 AM


Originally Posted by Intermission (Post 1381387)

I agree, I feel like the UFC is going to attract much more PPV buys having Jones fight Shogun rather than Rashad.

I've read this last night!
Although i should enjoy it, i really don't.
I expressed this in another thread, but this article give me more reasons (better reasons) to express it again.

I get the feeling Jones is too exposed to the media these days.
I don't know what kind of obligations he has to do all these appearences on TV shows, radio shows, autograph signings, public meetings and stuff like that.
Plus, every 3rd article you read on an MMA related site is something about Jones.
Any fan would like hearing news about one of his favorite fighters, no matter who that is. But i would like those news to be more about his fights and training, than about his time off. That's great also, but right now it feels like the media is abusing the Jon Jones subject, because "he is HOT" and on BIG demand, trying to make the most out of it - ratings + whatever media means (marketing, internet traffic...and others).
This is what creates the biggest HYPE.
Articles like: "the making of Jon Jones" or the clip that will air on Friday, called "In the moment" featuring Jones.

And considering the fact that he has been in the center of the attention 6 weeks ago also, before the Bader fight...wonder if it's not too much and if the line between a MMA fighter and an entertainer hasn't been crossed.

And i don't think a young rising fighter such as Jones can stand up to the UFC and say: "i won't go to that meeting or i won't do that show, because i'd rather train or meditate about the fight..."
It's not normal for a fighter to be so exposed to "the media army", but there is not much he can't do about it, once he's started.

Perfect example:


That was the order of the long day for Jones, who woke up at 5 am to do a morning show interview and has media priorities throughout the day to go with his two training sessions.
Not saying he doesn't enjoy it. Or that it has a negative effect on his performance because the fight didn't take place yet.
He could very well win the fight in impressive manner. And all the thousands posts-million words that have been thrown arround the internet will become a thing of the past - failed speculation.

My impression of the whole thing is: the UFC are going BIG on Jones. He is young, telented, huge potential.
They are trying to impose him as their new SUPERSTAR (wich is not bad).
The guy that will take the UFC into the future (wich is not bad).
The fighter that will bring a whole new fan base for the company (wich is not bad).

But while doing this, i sometimes get the impression the UFC is acting like a Circus and Jones is just the "Main Attraction" - come look at what we have... (wich is bad).

I hope i'm wrong!

mmaswe82 03-17-2011 06:48 AM

Jones is much more of a draw than Evans, most people don't even like Evans or his style very much.

hadoq 03-17-2011 08:47 AM

his what ?

Azemiops 03-17-2011 09:37 AM

I`ve got to agree with limba on this one. Sure, all the media attention seems great, as it gives all the salivating Jon Jones nuthuggers something to feed on...BUT, when you take actual fans, they see the reality of the situation. This is not a good scenario leading up to the fight. Look at the major gap in how many appearances, and how much time is being devoted to the media by both fighters. The unfortunate part too, is Jones seems to be eating it up, which could be devistating. Hell, even look at the presser...Jones seemed more focused on feeding the hype train, and shining for the camera than he did on the actual fight just days away. Whereas Shogun looked like he was just waiting to go straight back to the gym. I guess we`ll see but, the promotion and the hype around this seems to be demanding most of Jones`attention, when he should be training, and letting the hype create itself when the cage door closes.

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