All right, Rashad Evans seems to really be in a bad spot now that his fight with Phil Davis has been lost due to a Davis injury. I wonder if Dana broke out in a little smile when he heard the news. Many times Dana has questioned Evans' wisdom since declining a stay sharp fight while Shogun was on the mend.
And now the best two possible opponents for Evans, Tito Ortiz (potentially easier fight than Phil Davis, a chance to erase a draw that he was hard pressed to earn, keeps himself at the front of the line for the title) and Lyoto Machida (top 5 opponent, avenge his worst loss, build some confidence in overcoming a tough obstacle, which he'll invariably need to beat Jones) have turned down a chance to step in on short notice to face Evans.
At first glance there aren't many other opponents that make sense. There are probably a lot of guys who would jump in and fight Evans, but I have to wonder if Rashad is all that interested in fighting someone who isn't at least somewhat relevant. Vladimir Matuyshenko has been mentioned, but if I was Rashad I would puke in my mouth if that became a reality. Beating a guy that Jones treated like a child isn't going to do anything for him other than keep him warm. Maybe it isn't a bad idea actually, considering he hasn't fought in 15 months. But taking a look at the rankings and there is almost no one free to fight unless some bouts that are already scheduled are dissolved.
And now I'll finally get to the point of the post:
Machida won't fight on short notice. Okay, fine. His last victory was over Randy Couture, and in his previous fight he lost a confusing decision to Rampage Jackson. I say confusing because he really didn't do much fighting until the third round, when he easily beat Rampage to the punch. I've heard his name being mentioned as one of the guys who could get the next title shot, but I'm not really that convinced that a 1-1 record since losing the title is enough to warrant that. So he needs a big win before he gets the title fight.
You could also argue that Rampage was given the title fight because the timing just didn't work out for Evans/Jones, and the UFC wasn't willing to let Jones sit out until Evans/Davis produced a contender. But now that Evans is free again, there is a brilliant promotional opportunity.
UFC 135 needs to have Rashad reinstalled as a challenger to Jon Jones. Rampage and Machida will fight in a number one contenders match on the same card. Rampage will be supremely pissed off that he won't get the title fight, but I'm sure he'll deal with it and fight all the same, because let's face it, Jones isn't a cup of tea anyone really wants to drink. And the reason this all makes so much sense is that no matter who beats who there will be some great match-ups to make after. Rashad/Rampage 2 is a real possibility with them both coming off losses. Add in the bad blood that this would cause between the two and it would be even bigger than the first one. Or maybe we have Rashad/Machida 2, both coming off losses. Or even better, both coming off wins. It's a can't miss bit of matchmaking. Joe Silva usually finds the best angles to play in bad situations and I'm very interested to see how this plays out.
What do you guys think?