Thumb injury puts hitch in Rashad Evans’ UFC title shot

When Rashad Evans finally gets in the cage with Jon Jones, he will face an enormous challenge against one of the world’s best fighters.

For now, just getting that fight booked is proving to be a difficult obstacle for Evans.

This time, it appears karma might have played a role in preventing the long-awaited Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title bout.

Jones, the champion, was unable to accept a bout against Evans when it was offered in the summer because of a thumb injury he thought might require surgery. Evans was adamant in his belief Jones was exaggerating the injury to avoid a fight against a former friend and training partner who quickly became an enemy.

With both fighters now coming off wins over other opponents, it appeared Evans would finally get his shot at Jones.

Not so fast.

Evans is unable to accept the fight because of, what else, a thumb injury.

Instead, Jones will defend the belt against another ex-champion, Lyoto Machida, at UFC 140 in Toronto on Dec. 10.

Evans released a statement explaining his injury situation:

“After my last fight against Tito Ortiz, I dislocated my right thumb, which required it to be set back in place and held with pins. (Last week), my physician removed the pins. At that time, I learned that it would require another three weeks of rehabilitation before engaging in any exercise or training that would require the use of my hand.

“(UFC president) Dana White and I spoke earlier today, and I fully understand his decision to put Machida against Jones for the title at UFC 140. Given the rehabilitation time I require for my dislocated thumb, I would not be 100 percent ready by Dec. 10.

“The UFC has to keep making fights that entertain the fans. I would have done the same thing as Dana in his position. I’m asking for the fans to support me as I rehabilitate my hand, and I promise I will be back fighting very quickly.”

Jones defeated former champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on Sept. 24. Machida snapped a two-fight losing streak with a knockout of Randy Couture in April, also in Toronto.

The December card also features a heavyweight bout between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Las Vegan Frank Mir, and a light heavyweight tilt between Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Tito Ortiz.

■ WHITE IMPRESSED BY EDGAR — UFC president Dana White was so blown away by lightweight champion Frankie Edgar’s knockout of Gray Maynard at UFC 136 on Saturday night, he moved him all the way up to No. 2 in his personal rankings.

“I’m going to say it here tonight and I don’t care who disagrees, you’re wrong and I’m right — he’s the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, period,” White said.

Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre are the consensus top two fighters in most rankings.

■ FLORIAN UNSURE OF FUTURE — Kenny Florian is undecided on what he will do next after falling to 0-3 in featherweight title fights with a unanimous decision loss to Jose Aldo on Saturday.

The 35-year-old Florian stopped short of retiring in a statement released Monday, but said he would take time off to consider his next move.

“Everyone is asking what is next for me. The only response I can give right now is that I’m going to take some time,” he said. “I want to rest, spend some time with my family and friends, and then evaluate all of my options.”

■ CRUZ INJURED — UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is expected to miss an extended period of time after breaking his right hand early in a unanimous decision victory over Demetrious Johnson on Oct. 1.

Cruz had a similar injury to his left hand last year and was out of action for about six months.

When he returns, he will likely face the winner of the Nov. 19 bout between former champions Urijah Faber and Brian Bowles.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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