Jon Jones defeats Ryan Bader last night at UFC 126. No sooner than he's announced the winner that UFC commentator Joe Rogan tells Jones that because Rashad Evans is injured, the UFC is offering Jones a title shot against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 128. Some have speculated this is too much, too soon. They are wrong.
The answer to the question of whether or not it's too early for Jon Jones is simple to answer. All you need to do is consult the USA TODAY/SB Nation Consensus MMA Rankings to see there really is no one left for Shogun to fight.
|9||Antonio Rogerio Nogueira||53||UFC||9|
|22||Trevor Prangley||15||Shark Fight||22|
Look at who is left and you'll quickly see the list of possible contenders to Shogun's throne are very slim.
Rashad Evans is ranked second, but Jones is getting the title shot because he's out in the first place.
Quinton Jackson's eventual rematch with Shogun is a highly appealing fight, but he's already slated to take on Brazilian slugger Thiago Silva at UFC 130. The UFC could've yanked that match, but a) Jackson is still on the comeback after a long layoff and b) the match itself is highly appealing. The UFC would be fixing one problem, but creating another by compromising the quality of the UFC 130 card.
Lyoto Machida is not only tied up with Randy Couture at UFC 129, but is on a losing streak, to say noting of the fact that part of that losing streak comes at the hands of a rematch loss to the UFC light heavyweight champion himself.
Ryan Bader might've been an interesting challenge for Shogun, but his loss last night eliminates him as a possible opponent.
Thiago Silva is fighting Rampage Jackson at UFC 130, so he's obviously out.
After losing last night to Forrest Griffin, Rich Franklin would hardly be a suitable contender for Shogun to face, nor is he likely healthy enough to make the turn around in just six weeks.
I'm sure Randy Couture would love a title shot against Shogun, but again, he's set to face Machida on the mega UFC 129 card in Toronto.
When we eliminate all possible contenders, we are left with guys who are either clearly undeserving of a title shot of promising prospects who need much more time and experience before they are thrown to the wolves. Anderson Silva would be an interesting opportunity, but with a potentially mega-fight with Georges St. Pierre looming there's no point in giving Silva a light heavyweight title shot.
I don't think the objections to Jones getting a title shot are necessarily without merit, but by a process of simple elimination Jones is far and away the best candidate for Mauricio Rua to face at UFC 128.
Ready or not, here he comes.