Jon Jones & His Former Teammate Rashad Evans

In the turbulent world of professional sports, what you say in the media may not only change the perception the audience has of you but it may also change the relationships you have with those around you. This is the case between Jon Jones and his former teammate Rashad Evans.

After winning The Ultimate Fighter reality show tournament on November 5, 2005, Rashad joined Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting camp to train for his UFC career. After winning the title in 2008 and losing it in 2009 it was in this gym where he made his way up the light heavyweight rankings for the second time and was scheduled to fight the champion Mauricio Rua for the title. Unfortunately, he’d have to wait while Rua recovered from an injury. It was around this time that fellow light heavyweight competitor, Jon Jones, was moving his way up the rankings as well.

Jones moved to Greg Jackson’s camp in mid 2009 to prepare for his fight with Matt Hamill. According to Rashad, Greg asked him if he’d have a problem with Jon joining the team and he said, yes. Evans claimed that “that was the type of guy I wanted to fight, not train with.” Mr. Jackson claims the opposite.

Many fighters in the sport refuse to fight teammates for obvious reasons like they know so much about each others’ skills and usually have a personal relationship with them. Teammates spar against each other on a daily basis and may know about certain advantages that other fighters wouldn’t.

In 2010, both Jones and Evans were quoted saying that they’d never fight each other. It would go against their training camp’s policy. Jon claimed, “There’s not many guys that I can relate to like Rashad, and preparing to do physical damage to him just doesn’t add up to me.” and “That would be like fighting my brother.”

Fortunately for the UFC and its fans, it only took a few months and a few short interviews to change both of their opinions. After multiple interviews claiming that he wouldn’t fight Rashad, in March of 2011, Jon claimed that he respects UFC President Dana White and if he wanted the fight to happen, it will happen. Feeling disrespected, Rashad said “I’m no punk” and agreed to fight his former teammate. From that point on it has been one of the greatest rivalries of the sport. When speaking on the topic of hearing Jon’s comment, Evans claimed that he “felt so fucking utterly disrespected.” and that he places much of the blame on Greg Jackson for bringing Jon on the team.

When the time finally came for Rashad to get his title shot at Mauricio, it was reported that Evans had suffered from a knee injury in training camp and could not fight. This led to Jones being publicly offered the fight after soundly defeating Ryan Bader in early 2011. On March 19, 2011, Jon Jones dominated Shogun Rua, making him the youngest champion in UFC history at age 23. Immediately after the fight, in an interview with Ariel Helwani, Rashad said that he’s leaving Greg Jackson’s training camp to start his own in Florida.

Rashad proceeded to take shots at Jones on Twitter and in interviews calling him a fake and a “swagger jacker.” From this point on it appeared that their friendship had completely dissipated. Jon said in interviews that he dominated Rashad in practice on a daily basis but didn’t finish him out of respect.

“We fought each other in practice,” Jones explained. “A finish has been possible several times and it has always been me finishing him. I never did it out of respect that he was the elder of the school. It’s against protocol in a way. Some people would do it but I believe in tradition. He has a lot to study. I have a lot to study, but I get to study[ing] more in-depth. He gets to study[ing] and gets a headache.”

Rashad claimed that he went easy on Jones because he was simulating Bader. He also went to Twitter with these comments: “Jon Jones must be high, because I remember him looking at me, begging me to let him up because he couldn’t get back to his feet in training.”

Insults continued to go back and forth in and out of the media. The two fighters apparently faced each other in a Las Vegas Night club and exchanged words. According to Rashad, during the conversation, Jones proclaimed himself as the best light heavyweight in the world and that he’d “destroy” Rashad. Rashad couldn’t help but laugh since this was the first time he’d seen Jon speak in this manner. Until the recent weeks, Jon had always been a humble person and fighter and had always given respect where it was due. It was very apparent that their relationship and Jon’s character had changed.

Since then, a bout between the two has been planned multiple times but hasn’t materialized because of injuries and scheduling issues. Both fighters have fought twice and now are officially set to fight on April 21, 2012 at UFC 145 in Atlanta.

Jones is the huge favorite in this fight and should be favored over anyone in the division. They’re both elite wrestlers but Jon has the physical advantage. He towers over Rashad who’s 5’11” at 6’4” and has a 9 inch reach advantage. Jon also has a more devastating fighting style than Rashad. He’s very unconventional and will throw elbows, fists and legs unexpectedly. His elbows are deadly and he has the speed to use them. His longer limbs will also give him the ability to control Evans in the wrestling game.

Rashad usually uses his wrestling and lands some pretty good shots when he’s close. Rashad’s style is generally to smother you and win by decision. This won’t work against Jones.

I see Jon finishing Evans in the first or second round but no matter what happens, we’re in for a great fight and a lot of entertainment.

  • P-Body

    Awesome post! Man I totally agree I don’t see Evans beating Jones but I can’t deny the talent Evans has and he is fast also. I don’t see Jones being beat for a long time from now, not to say he is unbeatable but dude is a freak of nature.

  • P-Body

    I need to price out the tickets for this fight so I can see it live

    •  $160-200

      • P-Body

        Well that answered my question. I’ll watch it on TV instead

  • I remember hearing Rashad talking about when he talked to Jones  in Las Vegas. Jones asked him to talk in private then proceeded to talk about how he was washed up. Talking shit to somebody in private? Pretty bold but straight forward.

  • Machida made Evans look horrible. I just don’t take him the same after that match. Bones FTW

  • King Jerm

    I’m pulling for Rashad in this one. Bones let the machine get to him and now its time for him to get that ass whooped. I hope the match lives up to the hype.

    •  I’ll give you that, Bones is hella cocky, but yo, Evans has ALWAYS been cocky…..

  • Anonymous

    Good article, though the opinion filled latter paragraph was kind of bothersome. Not trying to start an argument or in anyway give off the impression that I like Rashad better (or think he’ll win). However, you made a point of mentioning that Jon has more devastating striking, although he’s never knocked anybody out (unconscious, not technically) in the UFC (and only twice outside of) and Rashad has won six of his officially credited UFC matches by knock out (with only two being credited as technical knockouts). You also state that Jon has a physical advantage, backing it up by saying that he towers over him (with height and reach). I feel it would be much appropriate to say he has a length advantage, ’cause having height doesn’t make you physically advantageous over another athlete (Stefan Struve does not have a total physical advantage over Alistair Overeem). You also stated that Rashad attempts generally to grind opponents, when as I stated he has multiple knockout victories, including two Knockout of the Night awards with one being a Knockout of the Year award (and being over a striker in Chuck Liddell). You also mentioned that Jon’s length gives him an advantage in wrestling, when that is not necessarily true, because having a compact build (like Rashad in comparison to Jon) can be advantageous as well. Once again, I’m not saying that you will be wrong, that I like Rashad, or that Rashad will win, and I’m not trying to pick a fight, just trying to add some details I feel noteworthy. Also, I do agree that Jon should be favored (he is the champion), but I don’t necessarily think it should be by a large margin, because they have an equal amount of losses although Rashad has more fights, thus more experience and a larger winning ratio. Nonetheless, I do still like Jon Jones very much as a fighter, with him being in my top five current favorite fighters.

    • Nate Watson

      I actually agree with you on multiple points. You’re right that height and reach don’t necessarily give you an advantage. But I think height and reach can be very advantageous if you use them correctly. Struve doesn’t use his reach the way he should. He doesn’t extend his arm completely on all his jabs and he tends to get into brawls with opponents who have much less reach and height than him. Look at his fight with Roy Nelson. He let Roy get close enough to throw huge shots. Now look at how GSP uses his jabs. His arm is fully extended and stiff when it lands. Greg Jackson trains his fighters very well in maintaining the proper distance from their opponents.

      You’re right that Rashad has the ability to KO people but lately he hasn’t. He hasn’t fought the same since he fought Machida. It’s as if getting KO’d turned him into a safe “fight not to lose” type of fighter.

      Impressive records are good when analyzing a career but fights within the last year are more relevant when analyzing an upcoming fight.

      • Quintinb777

        Greg Jackson’s a great coach, just wanted to agree with that immediately. And, I also agree that height and reach can be very advantageous, as I’m not saying they can’t. However, being compact built in comparison to your opponent (with equal weights) can be very advantageous as well, like Mike Tyson illustrated in his career. There’s a Joe Frazier to the Muhammad Ali, they’re both greats, and they both have a win over each other. So, I see a Rashad Evans to the Jon Jones, in the sense that neither build is particularly superior (unless of course either fighter just comes in to the fight in much better athletic condition), it’s more about how you can use your build to your advantage, which seems to me to fall more under intelligence than athleticism. I kind of see it as, it’s not necessarily having a lengthy frame that wins you fights, it’s knowing how to effectively use a lengthy frame (or whichever build). The one slim advantageous that is clear cut to me for a more lengthy fighter, is that the fight starts at a distance, in contrast to if it started in close, so the more compact fighter does have to make their way inside, but skilled enough fighters should be capable of accomplishing that in my opinion. I’m not trying to say that one human being, of equal weight to another, can’t have a natural athletic advantage, because that is very true and possible, but instead that they don’t necessarily have an advantage because of their body build/frame.

        I can see and in ways agree with your “as of late” perspective. Though, I do think that my before statements show that Rashad has the capabilities of such devastating striking. Rashad has had some pretty good victories as of late as well (not necesarily on Jones level of good victories, though), he stopped Tito Ortiz (although, I know, that’s not quite the accomplishment it used to be) and he handled Phil Davis, a guy with a more lengthy build than Rashad if I’m not mistaken, for 25 minutes, including being in opportunities to almost finish the fight (although, I realize he didn’t). Also, in the as of late perspective, Jon Jones performed at arguably his least dominant against Lyoto Machida, getting caught for one of the first times in his career. 

        Once again, I’m not saying that you’re wrong, that Rashad will win, or that I like Rashad. At this point, I think it’s partially devil’s advocate typing, like I said, still a good article.