Following an unfortunate sparring incident incurred while preparing for a planned title shot against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Rashad Evans gave his blessing for younger training partner Jon Jones to step up and fight for the light heavyweight championship in his stead, with plans to bide his time in other fights or switch divisions should Jones win the belt. Evans’ coach Trevor Wittman recently told Sherdog.com that he believes Jones should not have taken the fight out of respect for Evans and that “Suga” should fight Jones if he does become champion.
“Mentally, I know it’s a little rough for [Evans] to see one of the guys he made a pact with to not fight go out there and take his position,” said Wittman. “… I had the conversation with Rashad that I felt Rashad should fight Jon Jones if he wins.”
Wittman told Sherdog that Jones, at 23, has plenty of time to fight for a belt and should allow his older teammate the opportunity to fight for the championship before he hangs up his gloves.
“I feel Jon Jones could have been like, ‘Hey man, I’ll tell you what. I’m going to take another fight,’” Wittman said. “And let Rashad — he’s not at the beginning of his career. He’s at the peak and the tail end of it. Let him go fight for it.”
There is much made of training partners fighting one another and most of them refuse to do so, often drawing the ire of UFC president Dana White. Wittman feels as though a match up between Evans and Jones would not only be a tremendous fight, but would also go a long way for improving the image of the sport.
“It makes for a great fight,” he said. “I think Rashad’s got the speed to do it. I think it’s just one of those things [that] makes for great media. To see two guys go out there, you’re fighting to make a legacy. You’re going out there and fighting one of your training partners: I think it’s a great thing. I think it’s great for the sport. A lot of people think we’re just brutal guys that kick each other’s ass. If we’re not in that mindset of brutality, you should be able to fight your friends, especially if there’s a world title on the line.”
Jones and Rua face off later this month in the main event of UFC 128, which will be going down at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. With a sprained ligament in his knee, Evans will likely be out of action until at least May.