Rashad Evans has turned himself into one of the most well-rounded MMA fighters in all of the sport thanks to the training of Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Sergio Babu.
Babu was asked recently by Tatame.com who he thinks will come out the victor when UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones defends against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on September 24 at UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage.
“The favorite is Jon Jones, but each fight is different. Quinton Jackson was once the champion too, but, right now, it’s obvious Jon Jones is the favorite,” Babu said. “Each fight is different. Didn’t you see what happened with (Antonio Rodrigo) Minotauro (Nogueira)? People said Brendan Schaub would beat him, but he knocked the guy out. Being a star, having luck and being on a good day…But, absolutely, Jon Jones is the favorite.”
Evans, who secured the status as No. 1 contender by defeating Tito Ortiz in August, knows both Jones and Jackson quite well.
Evans trained with Jones while the two were teammates at Greg Jackson’s gym, before they had a falling out due to the possibility of fighting one another.
As for “Rampage,” Evans was a coach against Jackson on a season of The Ultimate Fighter, and scored a decision victory over him last year.
“He’s nothing to do with that guy who left the gym where they used to train together. Same about Jon Jones. Jon Jones is also evolving a lot. He’s a young guy, smart versatile,” Babu said. “I believe he tried to be like Anderson (Silva), because you can tell he tries to play a similar game than his.”
When Evans first entered the Octagon on TUF, the former Michigan State University standout was a grappler who would win fights by taking you down. He began improving his stand-up – as evident by his TKO victory over Forrest Griffin for the UFC title and his KO of Chuck Liddell – and now has started mastering jiu-jitsu.
“Jiu-jitsu is a big weapon, it gives you possibilities,” Babu said. “And not only the technical jiu-jitsu, but that one you incorporate to MMA, that makes you punch the guy to get a position or submit him.”
Evans is likely set to face Jones or Jackson in early 2012 barring any injuries to the winner.