The articles praising Jon “Bones” Jones for his stellar, title-nabbing victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua on Saturday night were barely minutes old before the focus shifted to Jones’ impending match up with former teammate Rashad Evans and the implications of that match up on their relationship and as well as Evans’ relationship with coach Greg Jackson.
Oftentimes in MMA, situations between fighters are sensationalized to add drama to impending fights, but this is a situation where, as evidenced by Evans’ recent in-depth interview with BloodyElbow.com in which he went into detail over his split with Jackson’s MMA as a result of his upcoming fight with Jones, there are real and pitched emotions existing between both men that will likely carry into the fight.
“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,” Evans said of Jackson’s pledge to stay out of the fight and not corner either man. “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**kin’ 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 (Jardine) 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.
“For my last two fights I have trained with Greg Jackson five times,” Evans went on. “During my time at Grudge I wasn’t really dealing with Greg too much but we were maintaining a great relationship and friendship so after my last fight I decided I was going to head back to Albuquerque to train with Greg and everything felt good there. My training went great. Jon and I were clicking on another level almost like I did with my first training partner. It was starting to get to the point where it was like what Keith and I have where we feel like brothers. We would share ideas and I wasn’t holding back on him and I felt that he wasn’t holding back on me and I knew that because there were days where Jon would have some rough days in the gym. We worked a rough pace and if you are competing at this level and you train with someone everyday you can tell when they are struggling. I did my best to help and I really felt that our friendship was on another level…but that wasn’t the case. When the first opportunity came and he said that he would fight me if Dana said so, that to me stung more than anything. He said that he didn’t want to lose his job and look man, the UFC isn’t going to fire anyone because they are turning down fights. If anything it would mess up future opportunities for them and they weren’t going to come to him and say, ‘If you don’t fight Rashad you are kicked out of the UFC.’ That wasn’t going to happen. I was always considerate and respectful to our system because if I had the belt then I would want you to do the same for me. 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.”
Evans issued a statement directly to Jackson in the interview, admonishing his former coach for bringing this difficult situation about and now wanting to stay out of it as it has become difficult and awkward.
“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**kin’ created the situation,” said Evans. “Be his coach and be in his corner. That’s what you want so do it. I don’t care if he coaches against me. It doesn’t even matter.”
There hasn’t been a date set yet for Jones-Evans, but it seems clear that the working relationship between Grudge Training Center and Jackson’s MMA will cease at least for as long as Jones and Evans are preparing to face each other, and possibly for even longer afterward.