Loose in Jersey for UFC 128

CHRIS DOUCETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:20 PM ET

NEW JERSEY — The Douce is loose in the good ole’ U.S. of A.

New Jersey, to be more precise.

And with just a few days remaining until UFC 128 and the much anticipated bout between light heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Jon “Bones” Jones, it should be one helluva week!

The city’s second Ultimate Fighting Championship event kicked off with a press conference Wednesday afternoon at Radio City Music Hall, across the Hudson River.

With New York being one of the few remaining hold-outs when it comes to legalizing mixed martial arts, Manhattan was an obvious choice to launch the company’s latest event.

And UFC boss Dana White seized the opportunity to once again point out that MMA is far safer than other pro sports such as football and hockey.

He pointed out it’s “the most regulated sport in the world.”

White has often reminded anyone who will listen that the UFC has never had a death or serious injury.

It also seems only fitting that the UFC’s New Jersey gig will be followed by a colossal show in Toronto next month.

After UFC 129 sold 55,000 tickets in a matter of minutes, White said he hoped politicians in New York took note of the taxes Ontario will earn from the $11-million gate at the Rogers Centre and the estimated $40 million the city of Toronto’s economy expects to rake in over the week-long expo leading up to fight night on April; 30.

The UFC president would love nothing more than to host a card at Madison Square Garden. Surely it’s only a matter of time.

While the MMA company made its presence known in New York, the week belongs to Newark, New Jersey.

And the highlight will be Saturday’s night main event between Shogun and Jones, both of whom were in attendance at Wednesday’s pess conference.

Jones, a late replacement for the injured Rashad Evans, was offered the fight in the octagon on Feb. 5 after he submitted Ryan Bader in the second round at UFC 126.

Of course, he jumped at the opportunity.

Jones has won all but one of his seven UFC bouts. And his lone loss was a controversial disqualification against Mark Hamill in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 10.

His wrestling ability, combined with his athleticism and his 84.5-inch reach, give the longest ever in the UFC, the 23-year-old stands a good chance of becoming the youngest UFC champion.

However, beating the powerful striker Shogun won’t be easy.

Rua, 29, knows exactly what it’s like to have success at a young age. The Brazilian jiujitsu specialist was also just 23 when he won the Pride Fighting Championship 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix.

Shogun has also fought some of the biggest names in the UFC, including Chuck Liddell, Mark Coleman and Forrest Griffin.

He won the light heavyweight title by beating Lyota Machida 10 months ago.

But Rua hasn’t fought since, so this will be his first title defence.

The UFC 128 card is stacked with other great fights including bantamweights Urijah “the California Kid” Faber and Eddie Wineland, as well as heavyweights Mirko Cro Cop and Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub.

There’s plenty to do and see this week and I’ll tell you all about it in the days ahead.

The Douce plans to paint the town red between now and Saturday night. And I’m sure the fighters will finish off any bits I’ve missed.

This and that

It turns out the decision to start UFC 129 in Toronto an hour early, at 9 p.m., will become the norm. UFC boss Dana White told MMAFighting.com recently that fans want the earlier start.

White also commented on rumours suggesting welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre may not be keen on moving up a weight class to fight middleweight champ Anderson Silva in a much-talked-about superfight.

“Georges St.-Pierre has never turned down a fight in all the years that I’ve known him,” White said. “And neither has Anderson Silva.”

That being said, White reminded fans the match-up is still purely speculative.

All the stars have to line up for the bout to happen, beginning with GSP beating Jake Shields at UFC 129 in Toronto.

Speaking of superfights, just days after saying the UFC’s purchase of its main competitor Strikeforce wouldn’t mean there would be dream match-ups between Strikeforce and UFC fighters, the UFC boss has done an about-face.

While White repeatedly said in a conference call this week that it was too early to know how things would shake out, he also admitted serious consideration would have to be given to such an idea if it’s what fans want.


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