Jon Jones had about ten seconds to relish his title-grabbing victory over former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua before his next opponent was brought into the cage. After the post-fight speeches wrapped up, Jones’ (now former) teammate and a man he once described as an “older brother,” Rashad Evans, appeared in the octagon to congratulate “Bones” on his win, shake hands and confirm their impending fight.
The tension was palpable and it became clear immediately that things will likely never be the same between Evans and Jones and that their situation could possibly drive a spike through the long-standing relationship between Grudge Training Center in Colorado and Jackson’s-Winkeljohn’s MMA in New Mexico. Part of that process has already begun, as a clearly agitated Evans told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani immediately after his in-cage exchange with Jones that he has mixed feelings about their fight and that he has severed ties with his longtime coach Greg Jackson as a result of its booking.
“This whole situation’s awkward,” said Evans.
Jones put on a stellar performance that Evans could do nothing but applaud him for, though he asserted that “Bones'” victory puts the young man directly in his path for the belt.
“Yeah, I’m happy for the dude. He went out there and he fought well, I’m happy for him that he looked phenomenal but at the same time, he’s got that strap and now I’ve got to go and get it,” he said.
Though he neglected to go into detail, Evans stuck to his guns and told Helwani that he has parted ways with his former coach and team in New Mexico now that he and Jones are going to fight, barely trying to contain the anger in his voice as he did so.
“I’m done with Jackson’s,” he said. “I’m done.”
UFC president Dana White said at the post-fight press conference that he has spoken privately with Evans and that “Suga” has reconciled his hesitance to fight Jones and is now actually very motivated to do so as a result of the perceived disrespect he has been shown by Jones and Jackson.
“Rashad is 100 percent on board to fight Jon Jones,” White said. “Rashad is fired up about this. He wants to fight Jon Jones. From what I understand, he has left Greg Jackson’s camp. He’s no longer with Jackson. Rashad and I have had our differences, and we’ll probably continue to have our differences, but Rashad is 100 percent on board to fight Jon Jones and is actually fired up about that opportunity. And you know if that isn’t the case, I’d tell you it isn’t the case.”
When and where Jones and Evans fight is not currently known, but they are going to square off and it promises to be as intriguing a bout – both in the actual fight and during the lead up – as we have seen in the UFC.