MMAFighting.com spoke to Jones after the news broke about why he is fighting Machida instead of Evans and his thoughts on the new opponent.
Ariel Helwani: How did this fight come about?
Jon Jones: The way the fight came about was Dana called me into his office just a few days ago, and he asked me to fight Rashad Evans at UFC 140. Without hesitation, I said 'absolutely'. There's nothing I want to do more than to get past this Rashad Evans chapter in my career, because it's been a nuisance. He's been the antagonist in my career. So, I'm predicting that maybe Rashad thought that I would turn the fight down, knowing that I just got done finishing my title fight. I'm sure he thought that I would say no to him, and I'm sure he would have went with the approach of, 'Oh well, Jon Jones is ducking me again; he turns down the fight in nine weeks.' To his surprise, I took the fight, and after I took the fight, he decides that his hand isn't ready, and he's going to need more time. So, with me already agreeing with Dana that I would take a fight at UFC 140, Dana called me back and said, 'Hey, listen, Rashad decided that he can't compete at UFC 140, what would think about fighting Lyoto Machida?' And I said 'absolutely'. My feet were swollen after my fight, but they are healed now, and I want to fight. My health is good, I'm a young guy, and I want to fight. So I took the fight against Lyoto in nine weeks from now. This is four fights in 10 months against three former champions in the same year. I don't think that's ever been done.
Did you tell the UFC that since Evans wasn't ready to fight in December that you would rather wait a month or two to fight him so you can finally put this beef behind you?
Well, Dana White basically needed someone to save 140. I didn't necessarily want to fight at 140, but because it was Rashad, I said, 'You know what? I would take the fight in nine weeks.' I'm already in shape. I already know what I want to do. Rashad, predicting that I would say no, he kind of kicked himself in the butt because I said yes, he turns around and says, 'Oh, I didn't expect Jon to say yes. I don't want to fight him that soon.' So in reality, he's kind of the one who's ducking the fight. I feel like he's ducking the fight.
So you think he was trying to force your hand so you would look bad in the fans' eyes, but you then forced his hand?
Exactly. 100 percent that's what I'm trying to get at. He's tried to call me out on nine weeks' notice. Obviously, who wants to fight on nine weeks' notice? I just got a new car, I want to drive that around. I want to hang out with my family and relax and sleep in my own bed for once. And now Rashad calls me out, predicting that I would say no, to make me look like I was ducking him again, and I say yes, and now he says, Oh, I didn't know he would say yes. I don't want to fight him. He called Dana White, asked for 140, Dana White called me and said Rashad wants this fight. I gave him the fight he wanted and then he pulled out.
Is a part of you disappointed that this rivalry will now drag on even longer?
Obviously all my energy is on Lyoto Machida now. Rashad is just a small part of my being right now. I don't really think about Rashad that much. But it annoys me. The reason why I took the fight on nine weeks' notice is because I wanted it to be over. Like I said, Rashad is the biggest antagonist of my career. He's the biggest hater. He has so much envy. I don't write him, he writes me. He harasses me pretty much. He is so envious and so jealous and it's so obvious, he doesn't even try to hide it. And after I beat him, he's going to hate me even more. So, pretty much the only reason I took the fight is because I thought I was fighting Rashad, and now that I'm fighting Lyoto. Obviously, I'll get up for Lyoto because Lyoto is a worthy and awesome opponent - way better than Rashad Evans, I think. So to anyone who thinks I would duck Rashad by not waiting, let them know that there's nothing more than I would want to do than fight Rashad Evans. Dana asked me to fight at UFC 140, so I am doing this for the UFC.
Do you think Rashad should have to fight someone else now before fighting you?
Yeah. Obviously, I want to fight him. But how long are you going to get to wait and sit around? You go from not fighting for a whole year, and then you get a fight like Tito Oritz, which everybody knows where Tito is at in his career, and now he just gets to sit around and be the No. 1 contender again? It looks like he's the one that's sitting on his glory and riding his glory. There's tons of guys out there. I think when he gets better, he should have to fight Phil Davis or Dan Henderson. How does he get the right to just sit around and say who he is going to fight and when he is going to fight and continue to be the No. 1 contender while everybody else fights all year long?
What do you think about fighting Machida?
I feel great about the fight. Lyoto, I respect him dearly. He's an awesome, awesome guy. I love the way that he carries himself outside of the Octagon. He has a little bit more of that warrior spirit, something that I believe I have, as well. I'm excited to fight somebody with honor. Somebody who respects this sport. You know, fighting a guy like 'Rampage,' all the talk and making our sport look bad. Fighting a guy like Rashad, all the talking, you know, it's not WWF, it's the UFC. Lyoto understands that. So I'm excited to not have to be forced to talk so much. Not be forced to degrade my opponent verbally, but to compete against him the way it's supposed to be.
I think Lyoto Machida is a tougher fight for me than Rashad Evans. I'm fighting the guy who knocked out Rashad Evans. Lyoto is a a completely different test for me. He's the first southpaw that I've ever fought. Rashad sat out a whole year and waited for Shogun. I'm not taking off a year. I think Rashad is the one that needs to be questioned. His credibility needs to be questioned. He said he had a knee injury, now it's a thumb injury. What's it going to be next? He's going to have a toe injury? I'm not the one who took off a whole year to wait for a fight. I'm fighting in between fights. I'm looking to fight as much as possible.
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