For the longest time, coach Greg Jackson drew the ire of UFC president Dana White for encouraging his fighters not to fight one another in order to build a strong team environment. It’s a nice idea, but when you have a massive stable of fighters who occupy the same divisions, two of them are going to run out of road eventually and be forced into a position where fighting a teammate is the best choice one could make.
After Jon Jones defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua Saturday night to earn the UFC light heavyweight championship, he found himself standing at the end of the pavement staring at number one contender and teammate Rashad Evans, who will now be facing him for the title. The two (now former) Greg Jackson teammates seemed less than thrilled by the proposition of fighting one another and the awkwardness that the situation would bring about, but perhaps no one feels more conflicted than Jackson himself, who spoke with Ariel Helwani following his young charge’s big win.
“I’m really happy for Jon Jones,” said Jackson. “It’s a very bittersweet moment for me because Rashad’s gotta fight him next and I love Rashad like a brother, I love Jon like a brother.”
When Evans was brought into the cage to congratulate/challenge Jones for the title, Jackson had to remove himself from the situation, as he plans on doing for the duration of their impending fight.
“I couldn’t even be in the cage. I’m not gonna corner anybody for that fight, the coaches will have to figure that out on their own,” he said. “I love Rashad and I love Jon and I hope after they fight we can be one big, happy family again because, for me, it’s all about the love and I won’t have anything to do with the two of them fighting.”
Evans has announced his permanent divorce from Jackson as a coach, putting blame on Jackson for creating the situation by initially bringing Jones into the camp against Evans’ wishes. “Suga,” who trained at Jackson’s long before “Bones” showed up, has said that he feels disrespected by the favoritism shown to Jones and that he no longer feels Jackson has his best interests at heart. When presented with the news that Evans had decided to cut ties with the camp, Jackson could say only that he hopes things will eventually smooth over.
“I’m hoping that it’s just emotion talking and that that won’t be the case because we love him to death and I love him to death,” said Jackson.
There has been no event or date assigned for Jones and Evans’ upcoming meeting.