Jon Jones is feeling it in his Bones

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

As far as Jon (Bones) Jones is concerned, he is destined to leave UFC 128 the light-heavyweight champion because the big man upstairs wills it so.

No, not UFC president Dana White--think higher.

"I believe in the will of God and I think it's in God's will for me to be a champion right now," Jones said on a UFC conference call. "I just work my butt off and I have a feeling that it's already done.

"I feel that God wants me to win this fight and that's why I feel as if it's already done. Before every fight I say: 'If it's in your will, then it's already done.' I feel as if it's in his will. That's why I'm going to go out there very relaxed, because it's already done."

Even if he thinks it's been divine intervention, no one can deny Jones has, so far, looked unstoppable in the octagon.

His unpredictable offence, freakish athleticism and cerebral fighting style have made him the favourite going into his title fight with champion Mauricio (Shogun) Rua on Saturday in Newark, N.J.

But just because no one has been able to beat him, doesn't mean it's time to label Jones the next big thing. Not yet, anyway. He is young, talented and full of potential, but still hasn't been tested against top competition.

Jones' biggest win was his destruction of Ryan (Darth) Bader at UFC 126. Bader was only considered a top-10 fighter after a debatable decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in September.

Despite God apparently pulling for him, Jones admitted it's ridiculous that Rua is the underdog.

"The fact that I'm the favourite -I think that's bologna," Jones said. "The first time I watched Shogun fight on a studying level for myself, I got a little bit of a headache.

"I think with fighters, you're either a wolf or a sheep. There are a lot of UFC fighters that are sheep, but I know Shogun is a wolf and I believe I'ma wolf, as well."

As it turns out, if there's one thing both men can agree on, it's that the other guy should be the favourite.

"I understand why people think he's the favourite," Rua said through his translator, Eduardo Alonso. "He has been winning all his fights easily and I certainly think he is rightfully the favourite. I understand why people think that and I truly consider myself the underdog.

"He's certainly a very tall guy with a big reach and it's hard to find sparring partners his size. We did our best and found some big guys to help out and imitate Jon Jones. I've been able to adapt my game and hopefully I'll be able to do my thing in the octagon."

Though Rua's UFC career can be described as inconsistent due to multiple knee injuries, he's still the most dangerous fighter in the division when healthy.

Hell, even injured he's vicious.

At UFC 113 last May, Rua knocked out Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida despite fighting with a torn ACL to capture the light-heavyweight title. Immediately following the win, he was forced to have yet another knee surgery and hasn't fought since.

Rua feels too much is being made of his time away from the cage.

"It doesn't really bother me because if you look at it, I'll have been sidelined for about 10 months, but that was almost the same amount of time between the first Machida fight and the second Machida fight," Rua said.

"I've already gone through a lot and conquered my biggest dreams in the fight game. After I won the PRIDE grand prix belt, I went through some hard times to motivate myself. But that's changed. I've learned a lot and since I already went through that, I face every fight as if it's the fight of my life, as my dream that I need to conquer."

Jones said he's ready for the biggest challenge of his career and looks forward to facing someone who can truly test him.

"I really just can't explain it enough how much winning this fight means to me," Jones said.

"That's why I'm going to win the fight, because of how badly I want it.

"I'm excited to be pushed for the first time, if I'm pushed, who knows? I'm embracing the whole situation."

If anyone knows the emotions Jones is experiencing on the cusp of his first UFC title shot, it's Rua.

On Aug. 28, 2005, Rua knocked out Ricardo (The Brazilian Tiger) Arona in the finals of the PRIDE 2005 Grand Prix.

Six years later, Rua is the experienced veteran who has to fend off the young lion.

"There are some good parallels," Rua said. "He's 23 years old and that was the age when I was rising and became a world champion in PRIDE. He has the youth and he's beating people soundly like I was back then. I just think our games are a little different because his strongest point is his wrestling and mine is my striking."

Though Jones has been so dominant in his short career, there are still a number of unanswered questions about his limits.

On Saturday, we find out if Jones can live up to the hype.

FIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL

What started out as a comment by Jon (Bones) Jones seems to have snowballed into a potential scrap with teammate Rashad (Sugar) Evans.

At first, the two refused to fight each other, but Jones recently said he'd take the bout if the UFC asked. In response, Evans admitted he'd have no choice but to accept.

On a recent media call, Jones made matters worse by claiming he hates when people bring up Evans prior to his next title fight. Evans returned fire on his 'suga and Pep' segment of Pro MMA radio, calling Jones "insecure" and saying he'd leave Greg Jackson's camp if the fight were to happen.

neil.springer@canoe.com


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