UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones had originally pulled out of his UFC 133 bout with Rashad Evans due to a hand surgery. The move raised the ire of some MMA fans, especially when Jones explained the surgery. From his original statement:
(The torn tissue in my right hand in the area between my thumb and forefinger) is an injury that’s been recurring since I was a college wrestler, it doesn’t affect my punching or grappling, but I am taking the time and the proper measures to correct this now, so that it doesn’t happen again. I look forward to getting back to training and to my first title defense. As for Rashad, let’s see what happens with Phil Davis. I will be watching that fight with great interest.
I was fairly vocal in talks with other members of the media and on Twitter that I thought this was a poor move from a management standpoint. Despite a strong push by the UFC to get Jones into the media, he is not yet a proven superstar in terms of the level of business he can do.
The bout with Rashad was the exact kind of fight that Jones needed to take that next step toward becoming a superstar. Evans is generally unpopular and was set to play the perfect "arrogant" foil to Jones' routine. To pull out of that fight made little sense, but then to announce that you were doing it to have a surgery that you don't need and that doesn't affect your grappling or striking was not going to help. MMA fans are accustomed to watching fighters brave much worse injuries in the past so public statements that make it seem like you'd rather take an elective surgery than shut your rival's mouth in a big money fight make no sense.
Now, it appears that Jones is not even having the surgery. His manager Malki Kawa is now tweeting:
I guess its time to put out the truth. @Jonnybones suffered a tear in his thumb in 2 different spots... Every dr he saw said to have surgery
We went to meet with the surgeon on wed and after he looked at @Jonnybones he thought that surgery was a bit evasive and bones didn't have ... To have if he didn't want to. @Jonnybones decided against surgery, and we immediately met with dana and lorenzo the next day to get his next fight scheduled
For the record, every doctor @Jonnybones saw was a @ufc referred doctor. The very last one on the day before surgery thought against it...
Note: I'm sure "evasive" means "invasive"
So they went public with a statement that they were pulling out of a fight for a surgery that would correct an issue that didn't affect his fighting, and now are going public with a statement that they don't need the surgery at all.
Note to fighter management: don't go public with a surgery announcement prior to the surgery actually being scheduled.
It's all playing into Rashad's hands quite well as he was quick to hit up Twitter himself:
If I'm lying, I'm dying! Ask @jonnybones when is his surgery & who was his dr! He so fake he fake surgeries!! Now that's fake!
Regardless of how true it is, Evans now has plenty of ammo to make it seem like Jones went out of his way to duck a fight with Rashad. Jones' management mishandled the entire situation and have managed to mar Jones' reputation almost immediately after he won the belt.
Update: Kawa confirms that Jones is fighting before the end of the year, and not against Evans:
No @Jonnybones is not fighting rashad. Rashad is fighting phil davis. I'll let you know who or when jon will fight real soon...by end of year.