"Jon hurt his hand in the 'Shogun' Rua fight," Kawa today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "He hurt his hand really bad, but it's also something that's been bothering him for a long time – all the way back to his wrestling days in college. On his right hand, his thumb and forefinger and the area in between becomes very, very swollen. It gets to the point where he can't even make a fist.
"As the week after the fight with 'Shogun' went by, his hand started to feel a little bit better. The UFC immediately had the hand X-rayed because they thought it might be broken, and the results came back negative. He was told just to rest the hand, and it would probably get better. Unfortunately, the pain remained, and even shaking people's hands was starting to hurt him very badly. He told me how bad it was hurting, and I was in the middle of discussion with the UFC for the Rashad Evans fight, which was expected to take place in Philadelphia."
The UFC had targeted August's UFC 133 event as a host for the much-anticipated Jones-Evans matchup, but Kawa and the world's biggest mixed martial arts promotion wanted to be doubly sure.
"Jon was supposed to start training camp next week, but he admitted his hand was still really bothering him," Kawa said. "I explained to the UFC what was happening, and we were hoping we could push the fight back a little bit, maybe September or so, to let the hand heal through the month of May. This was about two or three weeks ago.
"The UFC suggested we get an MRI done because there must obviously be something wrong with the hand if it was still in pain. We got that done with one of the UFC's doctors, and we just got the results back last week, and he has a torn ligament."
Of course, for the 23-year-old title holder, that news wasn't enough. He wanted a second opinion, then a third opinion. Jones searched desperately for anyone that would give him some good news, but it just never came.
"Jon wanted to fight the fight with a torn ligament, but I was completely against it," Kawa said. "We called a bunch of doctors all across the country – people that he knew, people that I knew – and all the doctors confirmed the same thing: If he's got a torn ligament in his hand, then he needs surgery or it will not heal correctly. At 23 years old, Jon is talking about taking cortisone shots and trying to deal with it as best as he could without really repairing it.
"It's not like this fight is next month. If that was the case, maybe he could push through it. We're talking about a full training camp and then a very tough fight with Rashad Evans. I was against it. Doctors were against it. Every doctor we spoke to said the only thing that could happen is the injury could get worse. There's no way it was going to get better, so there was no upside to staying in this fight.
"It took a lot of convincing, but Jon finally realized he has to consider his long-term career – not just one fight right now."