The tension between teammates Rashad Evans and Jon Jones has grown increasingly over the past few weeks, ever since Jones indicated in an interview that he would be willing to fight Evans in defense of the light heavyweight belt (should he defeat Mauricio “Shogun” Rua tomorrow night to capture the strap).
Things have calmed a bit during this week, as media attention is finally being paid more on Jones’ upcoming opponent UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua than on a prospective teammate vs. teammate bout against Evans, but it was evident during their recent exchange on ESPN MMA Live that the issue has not yet been resolved and will likely come to a head should Jones defeat Rua tomorrow night.
Evans and Jones train together under Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but Evans’ main base of operations these days is at the Grudge Training Center in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, where he enjoys the tutelage of Trevor Wittman. Generally speaking, the two camps often work together, with fighters traveling back and forth for coaching and to help each other prepare, but the looming possibility of a Jones-Evans fight threatens to create a rift between the two camps.
In addition to Wittman speaking out in Evans’ favor, UFC heavyweight fighter Brendan Schaub – who is associated with both camps – recently told FightLine.com that he too is backing Evans and will continue to do so no matter what.
“I train a lot with Rashad and not so much with Jon Jones – Jon is strictly a Jackson’s guy and I go down to Jackson’s maybe once a camp, I’m solely based out of Denver. It’s more of a strain on Rashad and just his relationships down there in New Mexico,” said Schaub of the effect the tension is having on the two camps. “He knows I have his back, so whatever Rashad needs I stand behind Rashad Evans 100 percent.”
The outcome of Jones’ title fight against Rua tomorrow night and the subsequent matchmaking by the UFC will go a long way in determining the future of Evans’ relationship with Jackson’s MMA.