UFC 128: Shogun Vs. Jones Conference Call Updates

UFC 128's media conference call is today with main events Jon Jones and champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Also on the call are bantamweights Urijah Faber and Eddie Wineland.

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UFC 128: Urijah Faber And Eddie Wineland Both Want Title Shot, TUF 14 Coaching Slot

It's like the wild west out there. With the move from the WEC to the UFC and key fighters changing weight classes, the race to get ahead at bantamweight and featherweight is on. The divisions are still pretty thin relative to their larger counterparts and title shots don't come very often. When the opportunity arises, you've got to seize it.

That was essentially the attitude of Urijah Faber and Eddie Wineland, who lock horns in a bantamweigh bout at UFC 128. Both want a title shot against Dominick Cruz and both would welcome a coaching slot on the next season of Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter". To wit:

"I don't think so," Faber today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) when asked if he sees this fight as a qualifier for "TUF 14" coaching duties. "I don't know what those guys' criteria is for that, but they seem to change it up a lot, and I haven't heard anything at all. I feel like this is the shot to get a title shot, which is most important to me.

"The reality show thing would be great, but my focus is getting that belt."

...

"I'd love to coach on the show," he said. "I think that would put me out until about December. It would be a trade-off, of course, but it's a great marketing tool, and I think it would be an awesome experience.

But again, it depends on what those guys are thinking because I have zero say in it."

Wineland, a former WEC bantamweight champ, agreed with Faber about taking a coaching slot on "TUF."

"I want what he wants, and he wants what I want," he said. "What we both want is that belt. If the 'TUF 14' coach position arises in the midst of it, so be it. I'd be happy to do it. But right now, my focus is on Urijah and then that belt."

A Faber loss at UFC 128 would not suit well for what could be the first UFC fight to elevate the lighter weightclasses: Urijah Faber vs. Dominick Cruz.

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UFC 128: Jon Jones And Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua View Themselves As Underdogs

I'm not sure Jon Jones understands how betting lines work. They'd over hype Jones to get action on a bet if there wasn't much action, but the lines aren't out of whack. But that's neither here nor there. The upset is a little more common in MMA and always comes with a little "see, I told you so". Given that both men are probably hearing questions about their ability to perform against a great foe and both are trying to psyche themselves up, both men believe they are the underdogs at UFC 128:

"The fact that I'm the favorite, I think that's baloney," Jones said on Wednesday's media call. "I think the reason that I'm the favorite is oddsmakers are very smart and they probably think I'm going to lose. I think it's a smart strategy on the oddsmakers' part by making me the favorite. So the fact that I'm the favorite actually means that they think I'm going to lose. That's the way I'm looking at it. I feel as if I'm the underdog. Shogun's beaten lots of big names."

You might think that Rua, who knocked out Lyoto Machida last May to claim the 205-pound belt, would be a little annoyed to see himself listed as the underdog against a 23-year-old with less than three years experience as a professional. Not so, said Rua, who remarked that he completely understood why oddsmakers might be siding with the younger fighter.

"I actually understand that people think he's the favorite for the fight because he has been winning all his fights easily," Rua said via a translator. "I certainly think he is rightfully the favorite for the fight. I understand why people think that and how they view that, and I truly consider myself the underdog."

I say whatever they need to make the fight itself compelling and to achieve clear victory is the most important consideration, but it's times like these where the humility is over the top that I long for Ricardo Mayorga.

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UFC 128: Jon Jones 'Hates' Mentions Of Rashad Evans

I was on the call yesterday. I found it a little strange. I'm sure the questions about Greg Jackson teammate Rashad Evans in all of their various permutations are annoying. Still, this statement from Jon Jones on the call yesterday seemed like a bit much:

"I want to be clear to other reporters, that I absolutely HATE when people mention Rashad Evans, especially throughout this training camp. He's a friend of mine but I'm fighting Mauricio "Shogun," one of the best fighters that's been around for a long time. So for people to even be mentioning Rashad Evans right now, I think, is ludicrous. Rashad is not in my mind, he's not in my being, he has absolutely zero to do with my heart and who I am right now. Right now it's me vs. Jon Jones and right now I'm beating all the weakness out of myself, I'm beating all the give-up out of myself, I'm beating the lack of cardio, I'm beating the lack of confidence; any sign of weakness that's within my heart right now, I'm getting rid of it. The fact that people are bringing up Rashad, it almost angers me. Rashad has nothing to do with "Shogun" and I think from here on out I won't even answer a question about Rashad."

Make your own speculation about why this grates so raw. I find the questions to be perfectly natural, which is precisely why reporters ask them. Evans was supposed to get the fight, he does train with Jones and they are top fighters in the same division. What's not to ask?

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UFC 128: Shogun Vs. Jones Conference Call Updates

The coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET. Join us for commentary and analysis. Don't miss any of it:

The Ultimate Fighting Championship, in advance of the upcoming UFC 128: SHOGUN vs JONES scheduled for Saturday, March 19th in Newark, New Jersey will hold a media teleconference with UFC light heavyweight champion Shogun Rua and number one contender Jon Jones, as well as co-main event fighters Urijah Faber and Eddie Wineland.

Follow Luke Thomas on Twitter for live updates and send your questions to him or leave them in the comments below.

The two main fights on the UFC 128 fight card are:

Mauricio Rua vs. Jon Jones (for the UFC light heavyweight title)
Urijah Faber vs. Eddie Wineland

Faber, if he wins, is rumored to be set up to be a coach on the next season of Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter". He'll do so across current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

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