Just a month ago, both “Bones” Jones and “Suga” Rashad claimed they would never fight each other under any circumstances. It’s amazing what 11lbs of gold can do to a friendship.
The first signs of trouble came when Jones broke the non-aggression pact by admitting he would fight Evans if the UFC told him to. Evans was quick to respond, saying he “wasn’t a punk” and would accept the fight if Jones wanted it. You would never imagine these two were calling each other brother only a month and a half prior.
The root of Jones and Evans prior loyalty was undoubtedly due to the policies of mutual trainer Greg Jackson: At camp Jackson, fighters agree not to accept fights against each other under any circumstance. Jackson runs a tight nit group, many of the fighters describing it as being part of a big family.
Greg Jackson hasn’t responded well to the news, stating he would sit this fight out, training neither fighter. The news of the fight visibly upsets Jackson as he considers both Jones and Rashad as some of his closest friends. In an interview with Sherdog.com’s Jordan Breen, Jackson makes his feelings perfectly clear.
‘Fans think it’s great that these teammates are going to fight each other, but for me it’s like if I asked you, hey, wouldn’t it be great if your Mom fought your Dad? Wouldn’t it be awesome to see your Dad knock out your Mom’s teeth, wouldn’t that be great?’
It’s hard not to feel for the guy, he’s worked hard to create an environment where fighters can trust the people they train with. However, In a sport where guys beat each other for a living, it was only a matter of time before something went wrong. Even as unstable as the fight business is, the fight between Jones and Evans almost seemed predetermined. All it took was the right circumstances, and a little prodding from the media.
Writers, reporters and analyzers have been blasting every sound bite these two drop about each other, and Evan’s hasn’t shirked from the call. Rashad blasted both Jones and Jackson in an interview with Bloodelbow.com.
“You can’t say you are not going to have anything to do with it when you are a big part of the reason why the situation originated. That’s like spilling a glass of milk and then walking away and saying that you don’t want to have anything to do with it. You f**kn spilled the milk…so you’re at least going to help clean it up right? When Jon Jones came to the gym over a year ago Greg Jackson came to me and said, “listen, what do you feel about having this kid on the team?” I told him straight up that I didn’t like it. I told him that the kid was talented and that the sky was the limit with him but that was the type of guy I wanted to fight not train with. Greg came back saying, “No, no, no this will be just like you and Keith where he will be just like a brother.” I still told him that I didn’t want to do that. Then Greg said if that situation ever did arise between Jones and I that he would have to turn the fight down because that’s how it works. He would have to turn down the fight with me so that way I wouldn’t be put in a position where I looked like a punk. That’s how it works in the Greg Jackson system. After a while Greg was so high on this kid coming in and I met Jon Jones and he was a very nice and very sweet kid, so eventually I said f**k it, let’ s bring him in. After he got there and I trained with him and tried him out a little bit, something didn’t feel right so I moved my camp up to Denver to train at Grudge for awhile. That is where I spent the majority of my time over the past two fights… Then he comes across on national TV and says that he will fight Rashad if Dana White tells me to and I felt so f**cking utterly disrespected… I mean it’s one thing to say something in an interview but the least you could have picked up the phone and been like, “man I did an interview today and they kind of put me on the spot with a rough question and I answered it this way.” At least give me the heads up so that way I know and not look at it if he’s Judas or something. You know who Judas is? That interview was some backstabbing s**t but now it’s like whatever because now I know the game he is playing. Then for Greg to sit back and say he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it….why not? You f**kn created the situation. Be his coach and be in his corner. That’s what you want so do it. I don’t care if coaches against me. It doesn’t even matter… I feel disrespected by Jon because when I think about when we trained or when we were chilling, was the s**t even real? Or was he just trying to be a master manipulator and try to manipulate the situation so he could get what he wanted out of it? I don’t know and that is a question that I have in my mind but when I get down to it…that doesn’t even matter because we are going to get in there and we are going to fight.”
Evans has called for Jackson to “choose sides” and train either him or Jones, but Jackson will have none of it. Whatever happens between the two champs, it will be without Jackson in their corner. For the more inexperienced Jones, this could pose a problem for his preparation, as he has relied heavily on Jackson in all his
previous UFC wins, while Rashad has been training outside camp Jackson steadily for his last few fights.
Despite that seeming disadvantage, Evans is a heavy underdog. It would truly be a shock to the whole MMA world if he is able to dethrone the new light heavyweight king Jon Jones. Rashad has chosen to be offended and turn this into a grudge match, but the odds are very much in the favor of his younger, bigger more explosive former teammate.
While the falling out behind the bought is unfortunate, and the fighters futures at camp Jackson uncertain, none of it will matter in the fans minds come fight night. They clamored and pushed for this fight to happen and they’re going to get it.