Shogun Rua’s got some slight disadvantages going into his fight on Saturday against Jon Jones. He hasn’t fought in 10 months. He’s coming back from his third knee surgery, so soon after his second that we still vividly remember how cack he was immediately after that one. He was also prepping for a very different opponent in Rashad Evans. Sure, one might say Jon Jones is at a similar disadvantage there because he’s only had a month to train for Shogun too. Unfortunately for Rua, that’s not exactly true:
The timing for Jones to land this title shot could not have been more perfect. Jones was a primary sparring partner for Evans as he prepared for Rua. It was Jones’ job to doppelgang for Rua, simulating his movement and replicating his strikes.
If ever there was a time for Rua not to face Jones, it’s Saturday night.
“It [imitating Rua to help Evans prepare] will help me a lot,” Jones told ESPN.com. “I have watched a lot of Shogun’s fights, and I have seen a lot of his tendencies, a lot of things that he’s been doing since his Pride[FC] days — in his jiu-jitsu part, in his bottom game, in his striking game. I see a lot.
“While I was preparing Rashad, I was mimicking Shogun: his stance, his steps, his punches and kicks that he throws the most, the hand that he uses the most. I’ve been watching the guy too, since I was young. I’ve really started to understand what he throws and why he throws it. And we will see that when I come out there: a calm, a sense of knowing what I’m into and what I’m doing. I’m really excited.”
I don’t like counting Shogun out – too many people see this as Jones’ fight to lose – but he’d better come back ready to bang like a Charlie Sheen intern or the championship belt he’s been chasing for years is gonna be gone before he’s even able to defend it once.