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
Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Local

NYPD arrest man after finding body inside plastic…

Police said they found a man stuffed inside a plastic container in a Brooklyn home. Authorities arrested Joshua Simser, 24, in connection to the death

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.