You can bet no one was watching the UFC light heavyweight champion’s injury status more closely than Rashad Evans.
The No.1 contender’s title shot has already been such a long time coming and his feud with Jon Jones so acrimonious that Evans must have breathed a sigh of relief on Monday when UFC President Dana White revealed that the champ’s recent six-month injury suspension was more precautionary than anything else.
"He's 100 percent,” White told MMA Junkie of Jones. “I talked to him [on Saturday], and he said he feels great ... I'd like to give these guys time to rest and give them a little break, so we'll see what happens."
Fans were surprised when Jones emerged looking unscathed from his UFC 135 title defense against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, only to limp to-and-from the postfight media event (ice packs duly strapped on his lower extremities) and then be waylaid with one of the longest medical suspensions handed down by Colorado athletic officials in the wake of the show. Finding out the suspension -- like many of their ilk -- was just a formality is sure to be a relief.
It’s also good news for Evans, who has only fought once since May 2010 and saw a shot at Jones initially scheduled for UFC 133 postponed by his former friend’s hand injury.
The fact that White wants to give both guys some short time off might also turn out to be fortunate -- since Evans was reportedly still sporting a cast on his right hand while conducting a public Q&A before UFC 135.
Is Evans’ luck regarding his long-awaited shot at the gold finally turning around?