Put the grudge match on hold. Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press broke news on Twitter that Jon Jones has pulled out of his first title defense against former teammate Rashad Evans. John Morgan of MMA Junkie added that Jones "is facing a lengthy recovery from a torn right-hand ligament suffered in his title win."
Phil Davis will step in to fight Evans, which will do little to dispel the inability of some fans to differentiate between Jones and himself. There has been no official announcement, but MMA Junkie reports that the bout is expected to take place at UFC 133 in Philadelphia.
I'm curious as to why it took so long for this news to break. It's been over a month since Jones wrestled the light heavyweight title away from Mauricio Rua.
This is a huge blow for the UFC, who now has to face the possibility of their two marquee divisions stalled with serious injuries to Jones and heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
The biggest loser in all of this, of course, is Rashad Evans. Evans chose to sit out and wait for former champ Mauricio Rua as the latter recovered from a knee injury suffered in his UFC 113 title victory over Lyoto Machida. During training for the bout, Evans suffered a knee injury of his own, and the UFC replaced him with stablemate Jones.
Comments from Jones made to the media caused a rift at Jackson's Submission Fighting, ultimately leading to Evans leaving the camp following Jones' victory over Rua at UFC 128. Facing nearly 15 months of inaction, Evans can't afford to turn down another fight.
Phil Davis is undefeated in nine fights, and he last defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by unanimous decision at the UFC Fight Night: Seattle.
[Update] The UFC confirmed Evans vs. Davis for UFC 133 on Twitter:
[Update] MDAdvice.com suggests a healing time between 6 and 10 weeks depending on the severity of the tear in the ligament.