Jones makes quick turnaround for UFC 128

The fastest rising star in the Ultimate Fighting Championship will headline this Saturday’s UFC 128 pay-per-view, fighting for the  organization’s light heavyweight championship.

Some could be overwhelmed by pressure. For 23-year-old Jon Jones, it’s a golden opportunity.

“It’s a dream come true,” Jones said on a conference call that included his opponent Saturday, Shogun Rua, Urijah Faber and Eddie Wineland. Faber’s fight against Wineland is his first in the UFC. He had previously fought for the WEC promotion, which was folded into UFC late last year. Faber has a career record of 24-4.

There have been myriad changes to the card. Initially, Rashad Evans was going to meet Rua for the light heavyweight championship. However, Evans suffered a knee injury during training and was replaced by Jones. Jones, who is friends with Evans — both train with Team Jackson-Winklejohn — grew irritated when asked about the man he replaced.

“Rashad, that’s my boy, but I definitely won’t be thinking about (him) at all,” Jones said. Later, he added, “I absolutely hate when people mention Rashad Evans, especially with this training camp. For people to be mentioning Rashad Evans, I think, is ludicrous. Rashad has nothing to do with my mind; he has absolutely zero to do with my heart. From now on, I won’t be answering questions about Rashad.”

Most recently, Yoshihiro Akiyama pulled out of his fight with Nate Marquardt due to last week’s earthquake that devastated Japan. Whippany, NJ, native Dan Miller will replace Akiyama. Miller’s brother, Jim, was already scheduled to fight Kamal Shalorus on the pay-per-view card.

Jones dominated previously unbeaten Ryan Bader at UFC 126, winning via second round guillotine choke submission. But when he steps into the octagon Saturday, it will only be 42 days between fights. Is that enough time to prepare for Rua and recuperate from the Bader fight? If you listen to Jones, the answer is an unequivocal "yes."

“(His camp) are making sure I peak (Saturday night). I started this camp I’m in phenomenal shape already and have had pretty close phenomenal training. Now I’m just going through my mind to prepare, tactic-wise,” the Rochester native said. “I took some time off to rest my body, and more importantly, to rest my mind. I went to Miami for two or three days. I just sat on the beach and relaxed.”

Despite being the light heavyweight champion and boasting a record of 19-4-0, Rua has been installed as the underdog going into the fight against the 12-1 Jones.

“Being champion is the goal that (I’ve) worked for, for (my) whole life,” Rua said through a translator. “Regarding Jon Jones being the favorite, (I) don’t really care to use that as motivation. All (I’m) obligated to do is (my) best.

“Obviously, at this point I don’t fight for money anymore because (I am financially secure). I fight for my family and I fight for my fans. This is where I get my (motivation) from.”

– UFC will be an omnipresent presence in the City and Newark this week, beginning with Wednesday’s  press conference at Radio City that’s open to the public. Hall-of-Famer Chuck Liddell will march in Thursday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. There will be an open training session involving all of the fighters on the pay-per-view from noon-to-2 P.M. at the Newark Penn Station Hilton. Finally, there is a meet-and-greet with UFC lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and UFC light heavyweight Stephen Bonnar from 4 P.M.-to-6 P.M. at a Union Square Best Buy. There will be autograph signings, along with a question-and-answer session, at the Prudential Center practice rink Friday from 1 P.M. to 3 P.M., as a lead-in to the weigh-in, which is scheduled to start at 3 P.M. Doors are scheduled to open at 6 P.M. Saturday at the Rock.

– UFC formally announced yesterday that its parent company, Zuffa, had purchased the MMA Strikeforce promotion. Terms were undisclosed. UFC noted that the contracts Strikeforce has with its fighters and broadcast partner Showtime will be honored.

You can follow us on Twitter @MetroNewYork and @DenisGorman.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Local

60 artists to fill shipping containers with work…

Starting Thursday, 63 industrial shipping containers will fill Brooklyn Bridge Park at Pier 5 for Photoville 2014. The free exhibition was founded three and a…

Local

New York City agencies to provide healthcare, legal…

Child migrants who have recently arrived in New York City and are going through deportation hearings will now have access to services from multiple agencies,…

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."