UFC 128: Too Soon for Jon "Bones" Jones?; Faber Debuts

Mark Pare@NEPats17Correspondent IIDecember 17, 2016

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Jon "Bones" Jones (12-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) will be fighting for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on March 19 at UFC 128.  Bones was offered the fight following his decisive second round submission victory over T.U.F. (The Ultimate Fighter reality series) winner Ryan Bader at UFC 126.

That was Feb. 5, a span of 42 days between two fights. Jones, however, isn't worried about it and insists that he's fine.

"I feel great," Jones said. "I've got it so great. I'm going for a world title, baby. Let's do it."

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was originally offered the spot, however, cited poor timing for making weight as the reason he declined the offer.

"It's not enough time to get ready for a five-round fight," Jackson said. "Dana knows that. And 'Shogun,' he's a fighter, and he should know that. He shouldn't even go and say [expletive] like that with him being a fighter. He saw me at the fight this weekend. Everybody saw how big I am."

Jon "Bones" Jones seems to be up to the task that is in front of him, and minus his DQ loss to Matt Hamill, he is undefeated in MMA, including nine of 10 wins being stopped before the third round.

If you dig deeper, it's not the first time he's been fighting in consecutive months. In his early MMA days, and into his UFC debut, Jones fought seven times in a span of four months, his first three fights being three weeks apart, back in 2008.

He is going to have to be ready though, as the fighter before him isn't a slouch at the very least. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (19-4 MMA; 3-2 UFC) is the champion for a reason.

In case the world forgot about him after Forrest Griffin put him under at UFC 76, Shogun quietly came storming back towards the top, and after knocking out not one, but two Hall-of-Famers in Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell, earned a shot at the belt, held by Lyoto Machida.

The first fight at UFC 104 sparked controversy when a number of people had Rua winning the fight by decision; however, the judges leaned in Machida's favour, allowing him to keep the light heavyweight belt...for the time being. 

A rematch was held at UFC 113, one that Shogun did not want to let slip away, coming out hungry and knocking out Machida in 3:35 of the first round, taking the belt and his spot on top of a stacked light heavyweight division.

Jones took the spot from an injured Rashad Evans and wasn't worried about having a different opponent.

"I'll fight anyone, no problem," Rua said. "I'm a professional fighter. No problem."

Rua is very technical on the ground, and as displayed in all his UFC victories, he has a hard hand and he can put you to sleep. He is excited at the opportunity to have an exciting fight with Jones.

"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."

Jones is a threat on the ground and on the feet. The magnitude of the fight would seem to escalate when you are fighting in front of friends and family, but Jones, a New York native, isn't phased by it.

"I'm just enjoying the ride" he said.

"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."

The co-main event is a bantamweight bout between Eddie Wineland (18-6-1) and "The California Kid" Urijah Faber (24-4).

Both are making their UFC debuts and bring a championship pedigree to the Octagon from the WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting).

Wineland, the first-ever "WEC Bantamweight Champion", is on a four-fight winning streak, with his last two bouts receiving "Knockout of the Night" honors after rocking Will Campuzano at WEC 49 and slamming Ken Stone at WEC 53.

Wineland says he will be ready for anything on the feet and is aware of Faber's take down ability.

"He claims that he's ready to stand and trade with me," Wineland said. "I believe him. I think he'll stand and trade. But I think I'm going to punch him a couple of times—I'm going to put a couple on his chin—and he's not going to like the way it feels, and he's going to resort back to wrestling. He's going to go back to what he knows best, and he's going to try and take me down."

Faber, a former WEC Featherweight Champion, has been on an up-and-down slope as of late, alternating wins and losses since losing his title to Mike Brown at WEC 36.  The 13-fight win streak he had before that is the Faber that fans want showing up to the Prudential Center this weekend.

On the line in this fight is a spot as a coach on T.U.F. 14 alongside Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Faber says he is excited with the prospect of coaching.

"I'd love to coach on the show," he said. "I think that would put me out until about December. It would be a trade-off, of course, but it's a great marketing tool, and I think it would be an awesome experience. But again, it depends on what those guys are thinking because I have zero say in it."

Wineland admits his striking-first approach frustrates people sometimes, and believes his win against Campuzano is a layout of what will happen, should Faber choose to stand with him.

"You go back to Will, and after the first five minutes, his head was spinning. He didn't know which way to go. He didn't know when I was coming, when I was going. It's very, very hard to deal with somebody like that."

UFC 128 takes place this Saturday at 10 p.m. EST from the Prudential Center on PPV.  Order from home or head to a local pub or restaurant (check for availability) to catch the action.

All quotes courtesy MMAJunkie.com

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